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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

VA Progress Report: Choice Program and Telehealth

The VA recently hit a milestone of over 2 million appointments scheduled through the Veterans Choice Program. Despite getting off to a slow start, the Choice Program has grown significantly. The number of network providers has increased by 85 percent over the last 12 months, making now more than 350,000 providers and facilities in the Choice network. In addition, authorizations for care increased 103 percent from October 2015 through March 2016. While the Choice program still has quite a ways to go to realize its original designs, clear progress has been made.

The VA’s Telehealth Services allow veterans access to healthcare via the phone and internet. Although the initial reaction of many veterans to Telehealth Services was skeptical, more positive feedback is being given as more telehealth hubs come online (including the most recent TelementalHealth hub) and people give them a try. Veterans report being pleasantly surprised by the quality of the technology used, the ability to have their concerns addressed by a physician, and the convenience of not having to travel long distances to receive care.

Telehealth Services offer several benefits, among which are convenient access to care for veterans in remote or rural locations and significant savings for the VA by making it possible for the VA to utilize specialists unavailable in the local area. Over 12,000 veterans have used the VA’s Telehealth Services so far this year. If you live in an area where you do not have convenient access to a VA facility and would like to know more about using Telehealth Services, please visit www.telehealth.va.gov/real-time/.

These are just a couple of the positive changes at the VA. While they are an improvement, the VA recognizes that much more needs to be done and pledges to keep working to improve not only veterans’ access to care, but also the quality of care they receive.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mustard Gas Claim Denied? Help May Be Coming

The Arla Harrell Act was introduced in the Senate last month and aims to make it easier for veterans who were exposed to mustard gas to receive benefits for conditions related to that exposure. Many of these veterans have had their claims denied for several reasons, often multiple times—over 90% of these claims have been denied since 2005.

These denials are because proving exposure to mustard gas is incredibly difficult since service records are highly unavailable. Most records simply never existed due to the secret nature of the testing, and of those that did exist, many were destroyed in a fire. The Arla Harrell Act calls for speedy reviews of previously denied claims and strives to make it easier for veterans to establish service-connection.

Since the mustard gas testing was de-classified in 1991, the VA has made only 2 attempts by mail to locate those veterans who participated. In June, VA spokesman James Hutton stated that the VA acknowledges that full-body exposure to mustard gas may indeed be linked to disabilities and that “the VA is committed to identifying, locating and fairly compensating all WWII veterans who developed disabilities because they were exposed to mustard gas, whether through DoD testing or on the battlefields abroad.”

He also stated that the VA planned to send letters to veteran participants and their families with instructions on how to get help. Do note, however, that their list of participants is not complete, and so if you do not get a letter but were exposed, you may still qualify.

If you or someone you know was exposed to mustard gas either through testing or on the battlefield, and you have developed one or more conditions you think might be related to that exposure, you can check out the VA’s Presumptive List for Mustard Gas and Lewisite Exposure  on our website. Please note that exposure to mustard gas alone is not enough to apply for VA Disability. You have to have developed a medical condition because of the exposure. You may email questions about mustard gas related benefits to the VA at mustardgas@vba.va.gov.


 [rj1]http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/vapresumptivelist.html#mustard