May & June 2009 Archives

News Release - President's Budget
May 11 2009

VA's Budget Request a 'Victory' for Veterans

WASHINGTON-"The administration's fiscal year 2010 budget request for the Department of Veterans Affairs shows our wounded and disabled veterans are national priorities," said Disabled American Veterans National Commander Raymond E. Dempsey. "Not only does it provide a legitimate record increase for VA health care, it reaffirms the administration's commitment to advance appropriations this year."

In the proposed $112.8 billion VA budget, discretionary funding is $55.9 billion, an 11 percent increase from last year, even exceeding the $54.6 billion recommendation made by The Independent Budget, which the DAV coauthors with AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The President's budget proposal says the administration plans to "work with  the Congress to develop a specific advance appropriations proposal for the VA's medical care program."

"This is a victory for veterans as it is a clear sign of our efforts to achieve advance appropriations for VA medical care this year," Dempsey said. "It is encouraging to see the administration appears to understand the need to reform the VA budget process to assure sufficient, timely and predictable funding for veterans health care programs."

Dempsey said the DAV is prepared to work with Congress to closely examine the full, detailed proposal to ensure the VA has a viable budget in plenty of time before the 2010 fiscal year begins Oct. 1. In addition to funding the VA in the fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill, Congress could also set the level of funding for the agency's three medical care accounts to become available at the start of the 2011 fiscal year.

"I have been encouraged by the administration's willingness to work with the DAV and other veterans service organizations," Dempsey said. "This budget shows President Obama took note and is moving in the right direction to transform the VA and provide veterans with the care and benefits they have earned.

Report Weighs Higher Tricare Copayments


Recent Defense Department budget proposals have included provisions that would increase out-of-pocket expenses for users of Tricare, the military's managed-care health plan. And each year, Congress has rejected them outright. A June report by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that such copayment increases may be the way for Tricare to meet future obligations without siphoning off funding for other defense programs. Moreover, while unpopular, such increases would fall in line with those incurred by persons covered by civilian health plans. Tricare coverage cost $42 billion, or six percent, of the total DoD budget in 2008.

According to the report, Tricare will cost an estimated 13 percent of the total defense budget by 2026, if current trends persist. The full report is available on the CBO Web site at, under the "Health" heading.

Recent VA News Releases
VA Reopening Health Care Enrollment to Thousands of Veterans
June 19th 2009

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2009) - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA),
which now has nearly 8 million Veterans enrolled in its award-winning
health care system, is poised to welcome nearly 266,000 more Veterans
into its medical centers and clinics across the country by expanding
access to health care enrollment for certain Veterans who had been
excluded due to their income.

"This incremental approach to expanding enrollment ensures that access
to VA health care for a greater number of beneficiaries does not
sacrifice timely access or quality medical care for those Veterans
already enrolled in VA's health care system," Dr. Gerald Cross, VA's
Acting Under Secretary for Health, said. "Over the next four years, we
hope to provide enrollment to more than 500,000 Veterans."

Under a new regulation effective June 15, VA will enroll Veterans whose
income exceeds current means-tested thresholds by up to 10 percent.
These Veterans were excluded from VA health care enrollment when income
limits were imposed in 2003 on Veterans with no service-connected
disabilities or other special eligibility for care. There is no income
limit for Veterans with compensable service-connected disabilities or
for Veterans being seen for their service-connected disabilities.

Veterans who have applied for VA health care but were rejected due to
income at any point in 2009 will have their applications reconsidered
under the new income threshold formula. Those who applied before 2009,
but were rejected due to income, must reapply. VA will contact these
Veterans through a direct-mail campaign, Veterans service organizations,
and a national and regional marketing campaign.

Information about enrollment and an income and assets calculator are
available at The calculator provides a
format in which Veterans enter their household income, number of
dependents, and zip codes to see if they may qualify for VA health care

In addition to applying online, Veterans may also contact VA's Health
Benefits Service Center at 1-877-222 VETS (1-877-222-8387). Each VA
medical center across the country has an enrollment coordinator
available to provide Veterans with enrollment and eligibility


June 19, 2009
VA Eligibility Relaxed for High-Income Vets

Restrictions have ended for many veterans who previously had been shut out of the VA health care system because they do not meet low-income thresholds.

Because of a new rule change, so-called "Priority 8" veterans can enroll in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system more easily as of June 15. Income will remain a consideration for priority treatment, with services going to those with fewer assets first. For more information, visit the VA's health eligibility Web site at or call

(877) 222 8387 (VETS). 

June 19, 2009
AF Sets Up Toll-Free Line for Retirees

Air Force retirees and surviving spouses who are not connected to the Internet can use a new toll-free telephone number to get answers to their questions about pay, annuities, medical and health care, and other benefits. The number is (800) 558-1404. Persons with Internet access are encouraged by the Air Force to pass the phone number along to those who do not. Those with Internet access can still use for benefits information.

Recent VA News Releases
VA Launches 10-Year Health Study of 60,000 New Veterans
June 21, 2009

WASHINGTON (June 22, 2009) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
has initiated a large, long-term study to look carefully at a broad
array of health issues that may affect Operation Enduring
Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans and their
counterparts who served during the same time period. VA's "National
Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans" will begin with
30,000 Veterans deployed to OEF/OIF and 30,000 comparison Veterans who
were not deployed.

"This study will help us fulfill President Obama's pledge to 'stand with
our Veterans as they face new challenges' by enabling us to understand
the health problems of our newest generation of combat Veterans," Dr.
Gerald M. Cross, VA's acting under secretary for health, said. "The
study's findings will help us plan more effectively to provide the best
care possible for these deserving Veterans."

The study will include Veterans who served in each branch of service,
representing active duty, Reserve, and National Guard members. Women
will be over-sampled to make sure they are represented and will comprise
20 percent of the study, or 12,000 women. A combination of mail
surveys, online surveys, telephone interviews, and in-person physical
evaluations will be used to collect data from the Veterans.

The study will compare the deployed and non-deployed Veterans in terms
of chronic medical conditions, traumatic brain injury (TBI), post
traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological conditions,
general health perceptions, reproductive health, pregnancy outcomes,
functional status, use of health care, behavioral risk factors (smoking,
drinking, seatbelt use, speeding, motorcycle helmet use, and sexual
behavior), and VA disability compensation. VA has contracted with an
independent Veteran-owned research firm, HMS Technologies Inc., to
collect the data.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is responsible for providing federal
benefits to Veterans and their families. VA is the second largest of
the 15 cabinet departments and operates nationwide programs for health
care, financial assistance and burial benefits. The VA health care
system operates more than 1,400 sites of care. Nearly 5.5 million
people received care in VA health care facilities in 2008.