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, September 29, 2014

Specially Adapted Housing now Easier to Get for Vets with ALS

On August 14, 2014, the VA changed its rules for its Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) program to automatically issue certificates of eligibility for SAH to disabled American veterans with amyotropic lateral sclerosis (“ALS” or “Lou Gehrig’s disease”). To qualify, the ALS must be service-connected with a Military Disability Rating of 100%.

This means that veterans and active duty military with service-connected ALS will automatically be considered eligible for an amount up to the maximum SAH grant amount of $67,555. This money may be used to adapt an existing home or help build a new home to meet their needs. These grants may also be used to help purchase or reduce the mortgage amount on an already adapted home.

Because ALS is a progressive disease (one that gets worse with time), veterans often had to file multiple claims with the VA to increase their benefits as their conditions got worse. This rule change eliminates the requirement for multiple claims for SAH and allows our veterans to create barrier-free living spaces that will increase their ability to be independent in their own homes.

The VA anticipates that this change will streamline the application for and delivery of SAH grants, saving approximately 12 months in the overall process. The VA hopes that by making the SAH grant process easier and faster, more ALS sufferers will be able to enjoy greater independence and remain in their own homes.

If you have ALS and have not received any information about SAH grants from the VA, please contact your local VA office to obtain more information.



Monday, September 22, 2014

VA Announces New Pilot Program for Veterans in Rural Areas

The VA announced in early September that it has chosen 5 organizations in 8 states to participate in a pilot program, Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot (RVCP), designed to help Disabled American Veterans who live in rural or underserved areas receive the best possible medical care.

These organizations include:

- The Maine Department of Labor
- The New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services
- The Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors
- Volunteers of America North Louisiana (also covers Arkansas and Texas)
- Westcare Washington, Inc. (covers Washington state and Oregon)

The RVCP is a 2-year program that will focus on assisting disabled rural service members in their transition to civilian life. Grants of up to $2 million will be awarded to the participating organizations. The money is to be used to provide assistance to veterans in one or more of the following areas:
1.     Easier access to benefits. This would include better coordination between the VA and non-VA providers to help veterans and their families get the care and benefits they are entitled to.
2.     Greater availability of medical and mental health care. The recently authorized Veteran’s Choice Cards (see our article from 8/11/2014 for more information) would be used to help veterans and their families more easily receive care from non-VA providers.
3.     Improved transition assistance. This would make it easier for veterans and their families who don’t live near a VA facility to get help as they make the transition from active duty to civilian life.
4.     Increased outreach. The VA would use a variety of methods to make sure that veterans in rural areas had the most accurate and up-to-date information to help them receive the care and benefits they deserve.

“We want to do everything that we can do to support our Veterans and their families,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “We are looking forward to working with these organizations. This two-year pilot will not only be beneficial to those Veterans we currently serve, but to future Veterans as we learn best practices to replicate it in other rural communities throughout the country.”

If you live in one of the areas covered by the participating organizations, contact your closest VA office to ask about options that may be available to you through this program. 


Monday, September 8, 2014

Suicide Prevention: The VA’s “The Power of 1”

The VA and DoD are launching their joint suicide prevention campaign, “The Power of 1,” this month (September) for Suicide Prevention Month.

Throughout September, the VA will use trained suicide prevention specialists to coordinate with local organizations to host health fairs and other local events to provide information about suicide prevention and the mental health resources available through the VA. You can contact your local VA office to find an event near you. At these events, veterans and their loved ones will be taught to identify warning signs and how to respond if a crisis occurs. 

In the VA's official press release, Dr. Caitlin Thompson, the Deputy Director of VA’s Suicide Prevention Program, commented, “Sometimes, when we suspect a Veteran or Service member in our lives may be going through a crisis, we are unsure how to help—but we all have the power to take the first step to reach out, to find time in our day to talk with the Veterans close to us and see how they’re doing. It takes only a moment, and just one small act can start them down the path to getting the support they need.”    

The VA offers help to veterans or loved ones through the Veterans Crisis Line. The Veterans Crisis Line can be reached:

- by phone at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
- by live chat at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat
- by text to 838255

These services are available to anyone (veterans, active duty, or loved ones/concerned individuals), and they do not have to be enrolled in the VA system to qualify.

Sadly, suicide is a very real problem for our Disabled American Veterans.  If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, we encourage you to get help.  Call the Veterans Crisis Line or a local suicide prevention line. Tell someonefriend, loved one, clergy, medical professionalanyone. There is helpand hopeavailable.


If you are a friend or loved one of a veteran in crisis, reach out. Offer a kind word, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on.  Use the resources listed here to get help. You never know what kind of an impact one small act can have.  You may turn a life around. That’s the Power of 1!

Monday, September 1, 2014

$8 Million in Grants for Adaptive Sports Available from the VA

The VA recently announced that it has $8 million in grant money available to eligible organizations to provide adaptive sports programs for disabled American veterans.

Adaptive sports are traditional sports that have been modified, either through the use of specialized equipment (assistive technology) or different techniques, so that disabled individuals can participate. Assistive technology refers to equipment that is developed or modified to help disabled individuals participate in sports activities.  For example, a cyclist who loses the use of his legs and can no longer ride a traditional bike may use a handbike which is pedaled exclusively by hand.  Similarly, wheelchairs that have been modified to make them lighter and more maneuverable make it possible for a disabled individual to play basketball or race in a track and field event. 

Organizations may use these grants from the VA to plan, develop and put in place adaptive sports programs, provide equipment and supplies, and train coaches and recreational therapists. The grant money can also fund the development of new and improved assistive equipment that enables disabled veterans to participate in these sports activities.

“Adaptive sports can help Veterans confront challenges and redefine their capabilities, which is critical to successful rehabilitation,” said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. Hopefully, as more organizations take advantage of this grant money, opportunities for adaptive sports will be available for more of our disabled veterans.