Intro

Welcome to our Big News section for all the latest news concerning Military Disability.

We'll do our best to keep you up to date on everything that could affect your disability. Since the majority of our news will cover legal issues that can be dragged out for a long time, if you'd like an update on an issue, let us know, and we'll do what we can.

Please feel free to comment and submit questions. We want to give you the information you need, so help us by letting us know what you want to know.

This page is strictly for the latest and upcoming news. If you are looking for specific information about the disability system or your disability, see our Military Disability Blog: Advice From the Big Guy or our website, www.MilitaryDisabilityMadeEasy.com, for all the answers you'll need.

Monday, March 27, 2017

In Vitro Fertilization Now Offered by the VA

Effective January 19, 2017, the VA has amended the regulation pertaining to fertility treatment to include In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) for eligible disabled veterans and/or their spouses.

The DoD has provided IVF for awhile as part of its assisted reproductive technology (ART) to servicemembers who suffered an injury or illness during active duty which resulted in the loss of their ability to conceive naturally without the help of ART, but IVF has not been provided by the VA until now.

IVF involves removing an egg from a woman, fertilizing it outside of the body and then implanting the resulting embryo into the uterus. It is a common medical procedure for treating infertility that can’t be treated with other methods of ART.


This interim ruling makes IVF available to veterans with service-connected disabilities that render them unable to conceive without the help of ART. This treatment will also be available to spouses of eligible veterans.

Veterans can make appointments with their local VA treatment facility immediately to determine eligibility, undergo consultation and medical evaluation, and begin the treatment process. Funding for these additional ART services is authorized through September 30, 2018.

For more information, please visit https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/19/2017-00280/fertility-counseling-and-treatment-for-certain-veterans-and-spouses.

Monday, March 13, 2017

VA Secretary Proposing to Provide Urgent Mental Health Care for Veterans with Other Than Honorable Discharges

In a historic move, VA Secretary David Shulkin testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on March 7, 2017, that he intends to open up urgent mental health care to former service members with Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharges who are in crisis. This is the first time that an initiative which is focused on providing mental health assistance to OTH service members has been put into place by a VA Secretary.

VA officials emphasize that veterans’ mental health issues are a significant concern.

“The President and I have made it clear that suicide prevention is one of our top priorities," Shulkin said. “We know the rate of death by suicide among Veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than Veterans who use VA care. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. We must and we will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one Veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it…. Our goal is simple: to save lives,” Shulkin continued. “Veterans who are in crisis should receive help immediately. Far too many Veterans have fallen victim to suicide, roughly 20 every day. Far too many families are left behind asking themselves what more could have been done. The time for action is now.”

Of those 20, roughly 14 are not enrolled in VA healthcare. Many of those are combat veterans who received their OTH discharges because of misconduct related to a traumatic brain injury or PTSD, making them ineligible for VA healthcare.

Secretary Shulkin will be meeting with DoD officials, Congress, and Veterans Service Organizations to figure out the best ways to get help to former service members with OTH discharges. As part of the proposed plan, OTH service members will be able to receive treatment at a Vet Center, a VA Emergency Room, or by calling the Veterans Crisis Line.

As part of their ongoing efforts to treat veterans in mental health crisis, the VA has made significant changes to the Veterans Crisis Line, adding new counselors, opening new facilities, and improving response time. The Veterans Crisis Line is a valuable, effective resource for those who are struggling.

In addition, the VA has implemented programs such as #BeThere and REACH VET (seeour article from September 6, 2016 for more information) to help people reach out and help identify veterans who may be in crisis. The resources listed below are available to ANY veteran or service member. You do NOT need to be registered or enrolled with the VA to use these services.

- The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day. You may call 1-800-273-8255 and then press 1, you can text 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

- The Veterans Center Combat Call Centers are also available 24/7 to combat veterans or service members serving in a combat area. These call centers are staffed by other combat veterans. Call 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387). 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Telehealth to Improve HIV Care for Rural Vets

Since October 2012, Dr. Michael Ohl of the Iowa City VA Health Care System has been conducting a study to see if Telehealth services could provide better treatment for rural veterans with human immunodeficiencyvirus (HIV). As a result of that study, Dr. Ohl is now creating a program called Telehealth Collaborative Care, which uses videoconferencing to connect VA specialists with rural veterans who have HIV.

HIV is a chronic condition that attacks the body’s immune system. Lack of care due to reduced access to quality treatment can have serious consequences, including the development of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), which can be life-threatening. There are 26,000 veterans receiving care for HIV from the VA, 18% of whom live in rural areas and do not have access to the high-quality care provided at HIV specialty clinics.

“Veterans should have easy access to HIV testing and state-of-the-art HIV care regardless of where they live,” said Ohl, an infectious disease specialist. “We know that compared to their urban counterparts, rural Veterans with HIV enter care with more advanced illness, are less likely to receive the latest advances in HIV treatment, and have lower survival rates. We want to change that.”

Telehealth Collaborative Care allows rural veterans to participate in videoconferences at nearby VA community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) to receive ongoing care from an HIV specialist at a large VA medical center. Other professionals, such as psychologists, HIV pharmacists, or nurse-care managers can also participate in these videoconferences, allowing the veteran’s on-site primary care doctor to coordinate with the specialty clinic to co-manage the veteran’s care. This process takes a huge travel burden off the veteran.


The Telehealth Collaborative Care program currently includes about 800 veterans who live in rural areas near Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Each of these cities has a VA hospital with an HIV specialty clinic. If this program is successful, it may then be expanded to other areas.

Friday, February 3, 2017

2017 Sporting Events for Disabled Veterans

There are 5 adaptive/rehabilitative sporting events coming up this Spring and Summer that are designed for disabled veterans.

The first is the National Golden Age Games, which will be held in Biloxi, MS May 7-11, 2017. These games are for veterans age 55+ and offer sporting events for senior veterans with many levels of ability. Registration is open from February 1 through March 1. For more information, please visit https://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/gag/.

The Valor Games consist of a wide range of events for all disabled veterans and service members. They are conducted regionally. Valor Games Southeast will be held in North Carolina from May 22-25, 2017. For information about the games and registration, please visit http://www.bridge2sports.org/valor-games-southeast/. The Valor Games Far West will be held at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, CA from June 2-5, 2017. Registration opens March 1. For more information, visit http://valorgamesfarwest.com/valor-games-far-west-athlete-info/.

The National Veterans Wheelchair Games will be held this year in Cincinnati, OH from July 17-22. Registration is online and is open now. For more information, please visit http://wheelchairgames.org.

The VA’s Summer Sports Clinic offers sports and recreational events to recently injured veterans, with its primary purpose to help veterans recovering from injuries. The various sporting and recreational events supplement daily rehabilitation activities to aid in the recovery process. This year’s Summer Sports Clinic will be held in San Diego, CA from September 17-22. Applications are due on or before March 1. For more information, please visit https://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/ssc/.

The 2017 Invictus Games will be held in Toronto, Canada from September 24-30, 2017. The Invictus Games are basically the Olympics for disabled veterans and military members from participating nations across the world. For more information about participating on the US team, please contact
Christopher.p.wright3.civ@mail.mil. For general information about the Invictus Games, please visit http://www.invictusgames2017.com/2017-games/faqs/.