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Press Realease August 2015
Sat, Aug 29, 2015 9:01 am     A+ | a-






August 27, 2015


No. 15-21
Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146

Initial VA Claims Backlog Reduced; Errors and Appeals on the Rise

(Washington, D.C.)—Vietnam Veterans of America recognizes that the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Benefits Administration has reduced the backlog of veterans’ benefits claims. “However,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, “we assert this reduction came at a loss of accuracy.”

“This is evident by the fact that the claims appeals backlog has skyrocketed by 22 percent to over 307,700 appeals in the past three years. Furthermore, eighty percent of our cases brought before the Board of Veterans Appeals are won outright or returned to the Veterans Benefits Administration to be corrected. As a result, the veteran can wait for over five years for an accurate decision. To address the appeals backlog, it is imperative that the VA hire additional Decision Review Officers whose exclusive duties are to resolve appealed rating decisions at the VA’s Regional Benefits Offices,” said Rowan.

 “Clearly, the pressure put on the VA claims raters to complete claims within the current 125-day standard has increased the VA’s error rate, resulting in more veterans appealing their claims decisions than ever before,” noted Rowan. This error rate has been confirmed by recent VA IG reports. As a result, the backlog has shifted from the claims process to the appeals process. More veterans are now trapped in the archaic and broken appeals system, facing a five-year wait to have their claims accurately adjudicated and their appeal resolved at the Board of Veterans Appeals.

Additionally, the VA has a policy that limits veterans organizations’ service officers to a 16-business-hour window in which to sign off on rating decisions. When an error is discovered in the draft rating decision, the service officer’s only recourse is to contact the rater’s coach. And if the rater’s coach doesn’t get back to the service officer within the 16-business-hour time limit so that the error can be corrected, it is too late to resolve the error informally. “It is wrong to penalize veterans because a rater’s coach does not respond to the service officer within the VA’s defined time limit. Service officers ought to be able to ‘stop the clock’ in those instances so that appeals can be prevented,” said Rowan.

“Simply deciding an initial claim faster and shifting veterans over to a broken appeals process isn’t the answer.  Veterans deserve an accurate decision, first time up, and if necessary, a fair, accurate, and timely resolution at the lowest level possible,” said Rowan. 

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”



Tue, Aug 11, 2015 11:01 am     A+ | a-
On-Line Interchange Award 2015

Tue, Aug 11, 2015 10:50 am     A+ | a-


First adopted in 1983 as R-4-83 (Medical Treatment of Women Veterans by DVA Amended and Renumbered in 1993 as V-WV-18-93

Renumbered in 1995 as WV-5-95

Amended & renumbered in 1999 as WV-4-99

Amended and renumbered in 2001 as WV-3-01

Amended and renumbered in 2003 as WV-2-03

Amended in 2005

Amended in 2007

Amended and renumbered in 2011 as WV-2

Amended in 2013 as WV-2

Issue: Since 1982, Vietnam Veterans of America has been a leader in advocacy and championing appropriate and quality health care for all women veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has made many innovations, improvements and advancements over the past thirty years. However, some concerns remain respective of its policies, care, treatment, delivery mode, and monitoring of services to women veterans.


Background: DVA eligible women veterans are entitled to complete health care including care for gender specific illnesses, injuries and diseases. The DVA has become increasingly more sensitive and responsive to the needs of women veterans and many improvements have been made. Unfortunately, these changes and improvements have not been completely implemented throughout the entire system. In some locations, women veterans experience barriers to adequate health care and oversight with accountability is lacking. Primary care is fragmented for women veterans. What would be routine primary care in the community is referred out to specialty clinics in the VA.   One third of VA Medical Centers (VAMC) do not have a gynecologist on staff.  The number of women Veterans using VHA has risen 80% in the last decade.  In FY12, roughly 19% of the women veterans served in OEF/OIF/OND.  The average age of women Veterans using the VA is 48.


Resolved, That: Vietnam Veterans of America will continue its advocacy to secure appropriate facilities and resources for the diagnosis, care and treatment of women veterans at all DVA hospitals, clinics, and Vet Centers. We ask the Secretary to ensure senior leadership at all facilities and Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISN) be held accountable for ensuring women veterans receive appropriate care in an appropriate environment. Further, we seek that the Secretary ensures:


  • The competency of staff who work with women in providing gender-specific health care.


  • That women veterans are provided women’s health care in a timely and geographically accessible way.

  • That VA provides reproductive health care.

  • That appropriate training regarding issues pertinent to women veterans is provided.

  • That there is the creation of an environment in which staff are sensitive to the needs of women veterans; that this environment meets the women‘s needs for privacy, safety, and emotional and physical comfort in all venues.

  • Those privacy policy standards are met for all patients at all VHA locations and the security of all Veterans is ensured.

  • That the anticipated growth of the number of women Veterans should be considered in all strategic plans, facility construction/utilization and human capital needs.

  • That patient satisfaction assessments and all clinical performance measures and monitors that are not gender-specific, be examined and reported by gender to detect any differences in the quality of care.

  • That the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Quality, Safety, and Value report any significant differences and forward the findings to the Under Secretary for Health, Under Secretary for Operations and Management, the VISN Directors, facility directors and chiefs of staff, and the Women’s Health Services Office.

  • That every woman veteran has access to a VA primary care provider who meets all her primary care needs, including gender-specific and mental health care in the context of an ongoing patient-clinician relationship.

  • That general mental health care providers are located within the women‘s and primary care clinics in order to facilitate the delivery of mental health services.

  • That sexual trauma care is readily available to all veterans who need it and that VA ensure those providing this care and treatment have appropriate qualifications obtained through course work, training and/or clinical experience specific to MST or sexual trauma.

  • That an evaluation of all gender specific sexual trauma intensive treatment residential programs be made to determine if this level is adequate as related to level of need for each gender.

  • The Vet Centers are able to adequately provide services to women veterans.

  • That a plan is developed for the identification, development and dissemination of evidence-based treatments for PTSD and other co-occurring conditions attributed to combat exposure or combat related exposure or sexual trauma.

  • That women veterans, upon their request, have access to female mental health professionals, and if necessary, use fee basis to meet the women veteran‘s needs.

  • That all Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) which do not provide gender-specific care arrange for such care through fee basis or contract in compliance with established access standards.


  • Evidenced based holistic programs for women’s health, mental health and rehabilitation are available to ensure the full continuum of care

  • That the Women’s Health Service aggressively seek to determine root causes for any differences in quality measures and report these  to the Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Deputy Under Secretary for Health Operations and Management, the VISN Directors, facility directors and COS, and providers.

And furthermore; Vietnam Veterans of America will seek legislation:

  • For a permanent VA Readjustment Counseling Service’s Women Veterans Retreat Program.

  • To ensure that neonatal care is provided for up to 30 days as need for the newborn children of women veterans receiving maternity/delivery care through the VA.

New National Leaders 2015 - 2017
Wed, Aug 5, 2015 12:50 pm     A+ | a-

New National Leaders 2015-2017


John Rowan                  President

Marsha Four                 Vice President

Bill Meeks                      Secretary

Wayne Reynolds           Treaserer


At Large Directors

Dan Stenvold                                                      Dave Simmons

Charles Hobbs                                                     Jerry Yamamoto

Pete Peterson                                                     Joe Kristek

Dottie Barickman                                               Sandie Wilson

Kerwin Stone                                                       Richard Delong


Regional Directors

Region 1                  John Miner                       Region 6      Mike Demske

Region 2                  Ted Wilkinson                  Region 7      Dennis Andras

Region 3                   Sara McVicker                 Region 8      Ron Morgan

Region 4                   Craig Tonjes                     Region 9      Dick Southern

Region 5                   Tom Burke


DVD's Finally a Voice
Wed, Aug 5, 2015 12:30 pm     A+ | a-



The Birth of VVA


At the National VVA Convention just held in Springfield, MO. We had the opportunity to show our 1 hour documentary. The response was outstanding. John Giannini, the Film Director was on hand to sign the DVD’s we had for sale and he had standing ovation from over 800 delegates and families. We sold out of the DVD’s in 2 hours. We had 1000 flyers for folks to take and order and they were all gone.

But not to worry. We are producing more. You can order copies by going to www.nvbdc.org/dvd.html. These are great for recruitment, give to libraries and such or have one for yourself. After all it is about your organization. Vietnam Veterans of America. See how we began. See the movers and shakers and see how we have lived up to our motto, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another”

For your info it was just a very small group of us who thought this to be a great project and show some of our history. We raised $60,000 to fund the project, more to produce DVDs. There is no money for us to make but with the DVD sales we hope to recoup the expenses we have incurred to produce this for all to see.

So please order today!



Wed, May 6, 2015 8:56 am     A+ | a-

Wed, May 6, 2015 8:54 am     A+ | a-

Wed, May 6, 2015 8:49 am     A+ | a-

Toxic Exposure Research Act 2015
Tue, Apr 21, 2015 12:49 pm     A+ | a-

We need everyone's help on this bill. It is called the "Toxic Substances Research Act of 2015. Agent Orange that was sprayed in Vietnam is now affecting our children and theirs. We need to act now to establish within the VA to diagnose, treat and research health conditions of the descendants of Veterans exposed.


What we need you to do and your spouse, and your parents and your children and all of their friends and yours and your enemies also. Everyone needs to call their Senators and Congressman now. It is a very easy call to make and we are advising you on how to do this:



my name is _________ and I am a constituent in your congressional district.


I'm calling today to urge you to co-sponsor and support H.R. 1769, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015. This legislation would establish within the Department of Veteran Affairs a national center for the diagnoses, treatment, and research of the health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in the Armed Forces.


Thank you for your attention to my request and please co-sponsor and support Bill 1769, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015.


The Senate can be the same but the bill number for that is S. 901


We need this done now. If we do not get this done in this session we may never get it done and our children will suffer even more. Please. Please call today or as soon as you can.











VVA News Release
Wed, Apr 1, 2015 12:23 pm     A+ | a-





March 30,  2015


No. 15-2
Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146

Vietnam Veterans of America Joins in Lawsuit Against VA Secretary for

New Claims Policy That Violates Rights of Disabled Vets


(Washington, D.C.)-- “Vietnam Veterans of America has joined four other veterans service organizations as a co-plaintiff to The American Legion et. al. v. McDonald in an effort to stop the implementation of a new rule eliminating most informal VA claims and limiting the types of claims the VA will adjudicate,” announced John Rowan, VVA National President. “Informal claims account for approximately half of all claims the VA receives,” said Rowan. “The new rule, which went into effect March 25, eradicates the decades-old right of a veteran to write a letter to the VA, seeking a specific VA benefit and having the VA consider that letter as an informal claim. The new rule also prevents the VA from considering claims that are supported by the evidence in the VA record but have not been specifically claimed by the veteran.”  


The new rule changes, which require claims to be submitted on the VA’s standardized forms, will impose barriers for all those without access to those forms, as well as those without the medical and legal knowledge needed to fill them out correctly. “While the VA has promoted this rule change as being more efficient and therefore favorable to the veteran, in fact, this rule change over-formalizes the veterans claims process, making it more adversarial than ever before. We will not stand by silently as our government places further obstacles in front of our injured and disabled veterans and their families, undermining our nation’s pledge to care for those who have borne the battle and their families,” said Rowan.


Prior to March 25, under the informal VA claims system, any benefits awarded would be paid back to the date that the VA had received a notice from the veteran, signaling his or her intent to file. Under the new rule changes, however, the clock for an effective date for benefits starts only when a veteran files the standardized VA paperwork. The suit, which seeks to have the Department of Veterans Affairs’ new rule declared unlawful by the courts, was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals on March 20 and was entered into the court’s docket on March 26. The other co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the American Legion, AMVETS, The Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program.


Vietnam Veterans of America (www.vva.org) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”





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