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Shulkin posted by on 2018-03-29 09:32:54 EDT

Press Release 3/23/2018 posted by on 2018-03-24 10:38:54 EDT

Press Release 3/16/2018 posted by on 2018-03-16 11:46:45 EDT

News Release 3/15/2018 posted by on 2018-03-15 13:20:13 EDT

UPDATE 3/15/2018 posted by on 2018-03-15 11:02:34 EDT

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Posted by on 2018-03-29 09:32:54 EDT

IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 26, 2018 No. 18-6 Contact: Mokie Porter 301-996-0901; 301-585-4000, Ext. 146

VVA On VA Secretary Shulkin’s Departure (Washington, DC) –Statement by John Rowan, VVA National President, on the firing of VA Secretary Shulkin:

“VA Secretary David Shulkin has shown grace under fire amid the long-circulated rumors of his imminent departure, confirmed today by the President’s twitter bomb at 5:31 EST: ‘I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs.’

“We are grateful to VA Secretary David Shulkin for his service to our nation’s veterans and his firm stance to protect the Department of Veterans Affairs from those who would like to see it handed over to the for-profit, private-sector health systems. Despite the pressure, he has never veered from his mission to care for our nation’s veterans while tackling the revitalization of the VA. Secretary David Shulkin will be missed.

“We look forward to an equally productive relationship with Dr. Ronny Jackson. We are pleased that he is a combat veteran with firsthand knowledge of the trauma of war, and as such, will understand what our veterans need.” 

Press Release 3/23/2018

Posted by on 2018-03-24 10:38:54 EDT

IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 23, 2018 No. 18-4 Mokie Porter 301-996-0901 -

Veterans with Bad Paper Discharges to Get Mental Health Screening and Care from the VA [Washington, DC]

-- Following the announcement last night of the final text of the omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, said: "We at VVA owe a debt of gratitude to Senators Murphy, Tester, and Schatz, and Congressmen O’Rourke and Coffman – and to Secretary Shulkin – for fighting to ensure that veterans with a bad-paper discharge despite otherwise honorable service will finally receive the VA services that they so desperately need.

"For far too long we've heard from veterans who were denied help from the VA for a lifetime because of an administrative separation. A key provision of the omnibus will help these veterans, from the Vietnam War to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as to future conflicts,” Rowan said.

“Once enacted, this legislation will save untold lives of countless forgotten heroes." Language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act taken from Congressman Coffman’s H.R. 918, the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act and Senator Murphy and Congressman O’Rourke’sHonor Our Commitment Act, S. 699/H.R. 1685 will entitle veterans administratively separated with another-than-honorable discharge who have served at least 100 days on active duty, were deployed in atheater of combat operations or in support of combat operations, or were in an area in which hostilities were occurring; who suffered a physical assault or battery of a sexual nature or experienced Military Sexual Trauma; or served as a drone operator, to mental and behavioral health screening and care.

In cases which a VA clinician deems therapeutically appropriate, or for those veterans who live far from VA healthcare facilities, the VA can allow them to obtain care and treatment from qualified non-VA providers.

To reach out to these veterans not later than 180 days after they’ve been discharged, the VA will dedicate a toll-free 1-800 number, post information at state veterans’ affairs agencies as well as at VA facilities, and establish a transparent Character of Service Determination process for veterans to appeal if they have been denied services or benefits because of the nature of their discharge. In addition, the VA must submit annually a report to the appropriate committees in the House and Senate addressing how many individuals have requested initial mental health assessment under this program, and how many have subsequently received care.

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.” Copyright © 2016 Vietnam Veterans of America, All rights reserved. Our mailing address is: Vietnam Veterans of America, 8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910 Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Press Release 3/16/2018

Posted by on 2018-03-16 11:46:45 EDT

IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 16, 2018 No. 18-3 Contact: Mokie Porter 301-996-0901; 301-585-4000, Ext. 146

Our Veterans Need VA Secretary Shulkin (Washington, DC) –

“Amid the flurry of contradictory media reports citing various unnamed sources, it’s a challenge deciphering the truth from the ‘Fake’ news. What remains constant, however, is VA Secretary David Shulkin’s firm stance to protect the VA from those who would like to see it handed over to the for-profit, private-sector health systems,” said VVA National President John Rowan.

“Secretary Shulkin understands that veterans would be lost in the private sector, and he knows that President Trump's commitment to caring for our nation’s veterans is paramount. We want to see Secretary Shulkin finish the revitalization of the VA that was ordered by President Trump.”

“Furthermore, some of the recent negative news stories have been misleading. While the issues identified by the VA Inspector General’s report on the D.C. Medical Center were real, they are old news,” noted Rowan.

“Secretary Shulkin fired VA Medical Center Director Brian Hawkins in September 2017 for failure to provide effective leadership at the D.C. Medical Center. He utilized the VA Accountability Act, signed into law by President Trump in June 2017, making effective use of this much-needed legislation.” In a House hearing on March 15, Secretary Shulkin told the Appropriations Subcommittee that he is not in favor of privatization.

“You can’t take the 9.1 million veterans getting care in the VA system — 60 percent of whom carry a mental health issue — and release them into the general public. It simply couldn’t work by turning on a switch and privatizing the system,” Shulkin said. “The President is very, very committed to improving services for veterans,” noted Shulkin, praising him for his support of the proposed $200 billion budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Shulkin told the Appropriations Subcommittee that while there is no pressure to privatize the VA from the White House, there is pressure to fix the VA, and the way to fix the VA is by investing in it where it needs to be improved and also by working with the private sector.

“We have no issue with the VA getting assistance from the outside when relevant and necessary, but veterans prefer to get their comprehensive care at the VA,” said Rowan, noting that many do not realize the VA already makes excellent use of outside medical resources. Most VA Medical Centers are affiliated with a medical school, which provides many of the specialized medical personnel that veterans need. “My aortic valve replacement last year at the Manhattan VAMC was done by the chief thoracic surgeon and his surgical team from NYU Medical Center. But my aftercare was provided by the skilled and caring staff at the VAMC, many of whom were veterans,” noted Rowan. # # #

News Release 3/15/2018

Posted by on 2018-03-15 13:20:13 EDT

IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 14, 2018 No. 18-2 Contact: Mokie Porter 301-996-0901; 301-585-4000, Ext.

146 Secretary Zinke:Don’t Blame Veterans and the Disabled for Raising Park Entrance Fees (Washington, DC) –

In reaction to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s plan to raise the entrance fees for national parks, saying the National Park Service must charge more because too many people, including veterans and the disabled, get in for free, VVA National President John Rowan issued the following statement:

“Secretary Zinke’s rationale to steeply increase the entrance fees for others because disabled veterans and active-duty military get in for free is a small-minded and mean-spirited jab that pits some citizens against others. I believe that we, as a nation, are more inclusive and compassionate than this.

“By discounting fees, we honor our veterans and our seniors and bring a bit of inexpensive enjoyment to our disabled citizens. Does Mr. Zinke really think that citizens who pay $25 or $30 per carload to enjoy some of our most popular national parks are going to pay twice as much? Does he really believe that they will buy his ill-conceived argument that because veterans get in for free the rates must be doubled for everyone else?

“Secretary Zinke’s flawed plan needs to be discarded and forgotten.” # # #

UPDATE 3/15/2018

Posted by on 2018-03-15 11:02:34 EDT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 14, 2018 Marneé Banks | 202.604.5521 Dave Kuntz | 202.224.8544 ***VIDEO*** Tester:

Dysfunction in White House and VA Jeopardizing Veterans Senator: President Must Decide to Empower Veterans or Political Interests (U.S. Senate)

– Dysfunction within the VA and turmoil in the Trump Administration is stalling progress on the bipartisan Caring for Our Veterans Act, Ranking Member Jon Tester told veterans during a hearing today on Capitol Hill. During a joint Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing with several Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), Tester voiced his frustration with the uncertainty over Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin the leadership of the VA. “The dysfunction in the White House has bled over to the VA,” said Tester.

“The President needs to decide whether he is going to empower Secretary Shulkin to do his job or whether he is going to side with political interests like the Koch brothers who, by the way, I do not believe understand what our nation’s veterans are going through. We need to know who’s calling the shots. The stakes have never been higher. We have an obligation to this country and to the next generation of fighting men and women. We need to know, as policy makers in the legislative branch, who to hold accountable to those men and women.”

Tester, the Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, worked closely with Republican Chairman Johnny Isakson to write the popular Caring for Our Veterans Act. The White House and the VA provided input on Tester and Isakson’s bill, but have yet to publicly support it despite overwhelming support from veterans, advocates and lawmakers. “Johnny Isakson and I were hoping to get our Caring for Our Veterans Act out by Veterans Day [2017],” Tester said during today’s hearing.

“It’s still not out yet. We need to move that bill. It’s the final piece of a puzzle of a lot of legislation that we have gotten done, from VA accountability, to taking care of the disability appeals backlog to now redoing the community care piece of the VA. Dysfunction in the administration has hindered our ability to move forward. It’s jeopardizing the ability of the VA to serve you, our nation’s veterans.

” Six of the nine VSOs presenting their priorities today strongly endorsed Tester and Isakson’s Caring for Our Veterans Act. Those organizations are just a few of the 26 military and service organizations that have endorsed the bill. Of the 21 organizations that presented their priorities to the joint Committees over the last month, 14 have come out in support of the bill.



Posted by on 2018-02-15 10:25:20 EST

We are now sending the "INTERCHANGE" directly to your inbox email. All you need to do is click the download button. We had allot of trouble sending with a third party program and it got to a point when we could not send to all of you.

We apologize if you did not receive the Winter edition but if you go to the left of this page click on Interchange and go down to Winter 2017.

Now those of you who did not give us an email for us to send to your inbox please send that to me or if you know of Veterans who want to receive this send those too.

Send to


Posted by on 2018-01-30 12:57:58 EST

Vietnam Veterans of America 8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100, Silver Spring, MD 20910 • Telephone (301) 5854000 • Main Fax (301) 585-0519 • Advocacy (301) 585-3180 • Communications (301) 585-2691 • Finance (301) 585-5542 A Not-For-Profit Veterans Service Organization Chartered by the United States Congress January 29, 2018

RE: VVA’s Guidance for the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) Dear State Council Presidents:

This letter is intended to provide general guidance on the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) for you to use or disseminate as appropriate to your membership. On August 23, 2017, Congress enacted the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which will drastically change the VA claims and appeals process.

The new law will officially go into effect February 2019; however, VA has already initiated a temporary program that partially implements the new law. This temporary program is called RAMP.

To participate in RAMP, veterans must receive an “opt-in” letter from VA asking if they wish to participate in this optional pilot program. Choosing to opt-in to RAMP is an irreversible decision. RAMP uses different legal standards and rules that may not be pro-veteran; a “faster decision” does not mean a “favorable decision.” Due to various factors, it is the current position of the Veterans Benefits Program (VBP) that veterans not opt-in to RAMP at this time.

Importantly, it is strongly encouraged for anyone receiving a RAMP letter who has questions to reach out to his or her local accredited service representative for guidance. Accredited service representatives are able to look up the claim and see what is going on, as well as provide claim-specific advice. Without the proper training and expertise, it may be difficult for a person who is not a service officer to answer some of the more intricate and complex questions that may arise from RAMP inquiries. Thus, the VBP makes the following recommendations:

1. State Council Presidents and leaders in the state that are not accredited service representative should refer any questions about RAMP to an accredited service officer. To locate an accredited service representative that is nearby to your membership, please visit and search by zip code or state.

2. If a state is receiving questions about RAMP from its membership and there is not an active service officer program in that state, state leadership should refer the VVArepresented veteran or family member to VVA’s National Veterans Benefits Program office. The direct line to that office is (202) 530-9180. For states that do not have an active service officer program, please know that VVA’s VBP is directly reaching out to each veteran or family member that will receive an opt-in letter to provide legal support and guidance if the individual is represented by VVA.

For any additional questions about RAMP or the new law, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at the contact information below.

Sincerely, //s// KY Kelsey Yoon Director, Veterans Benefits Program Vietnam Veterans of America (301) 335-2183

New Hotel/Meeting

Posted by on 2018-01-08 10:59:26 EST

2018 Meeting Dates (Saturday meeting) January 27 April 28 June 30 September 22 •

The deadline for making reservation two weeks prior to the scheduled meeting date.

Make sure that your dates are correct. If you do not arrive on this date, your reservation will be automatically canceled and you are personally responsible for one night’s room charge.

• After that date regular rates will apply. • Telephone number - (607) 699-3900 press “1” • Make reservation using name “Vietnam Veterans of America” • Address - 2384 W. River Road (exit 62) PO Box 509 Nichols, New York 13812 •

Tioga Downs is 100% Smoke Free! • Casino Open Daily 9 am – 3 am • Food on premises (not hotel):

o Breakfast  P.J. Clark’s Mon - Fri 7 am – 10 am  Country Buffet Sat – Sun 8-11 • Virgil’s” BBQ o Hours of Operation: o Thursday 4 pm-9 pm Friday & Saturday 4 pm-12 am Sunday 2 pm-8 pm o Saturdays, Live Music, 9 pm-12 am (21 and over) (607) 699-7664 • Sideshow Lounge o Bar Open Daily o Serving Virgil’s Real BBQ Thursday 4 pm-9 pm Friday & Saturday 4 pm-12 am o Sunday 2 pm-8 pm Live Entertainment: Friday & Saturday: 9 pm-12 am • County Fair Buffet o Fridays | Seafood Buffet (Dinner only 4 pm – 9 pm) o Lunch 11:30 am – 3 pm, $9.99 o Dinner 4 pm – 9 pm, $18.99 o Early Bird 4 pm – 6 pm, $15.99 o Saturdays | Steak & Shrimp (Dinner only 4 pm – 9 pm) o Breakfast Buffet 8 am-11am, $9.99 o Lunch 11:30 am – 3 pm, $9.99 o Dinner 4 pm – 9 pm, $18.99 o Sundays Breakfast Buffet 8 am-10 am, $9.99 o Brunch 10 am – 3 pm, $15.99 o Dinner 3 pm – 8 pm, $15.99 • Players Club (points for discounts)

Governor State of State

Posted by on 2018-01-04 08:27:03 EST

 Serving Our Veterans Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York has championed programs to make New York State the most veteran-friendly state in the nation.

The New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs continues to strengthen its ties with the approximately 775,000 veterans living in New York while building upon the programs the Governor envisioned at the Veterans and Military Family Summit in 2014. In 2017, the Divisionis representation of veterans and their family members once again helped these New Yorkers receive more than $100 million in disability compensation and pension benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Additionally, Governor Cuomo unveiled several new initiatives to benefit veterans and their family members during 2017, ranging from offering a million dollars in funding for veteran-to-veteran mentorship programs to providing grants to New York law schools helping veterans address unmet legal needs to waiving civil service examination fees for honorably discharged veterans.

The Governor is committed to meeting the needs of veterans across New York. Taken together, the following proposals will ensure that services for veterans, servicemembers, and their families in New York remain a national model of excellence. Proposal: Prevent Financial Exploitation of Veterans and Their Families Veterans who fight to protect our state and nation should never have to continue fighting enemies when they return home. Far too often, deceitful businesses target veterans who are elderly and/or disabled, promising to help veterans and their family members obtain federal benefits in exchange for an often substantial fee. Even though these businesses are legally forbidden from charging a fee for filing these claims, and even though many of these businesses lack the accreditation necessary to file these claims, states struggle to prosecute these wrongdoers unless the state statute specifically outlaws this harmful practice. By enacting the nation's strongest legislation against pension poaching, New York strives to eliminate this predatory conduct.

This law will implement new disclosure requirements for businesses that advertise their fee-based services of filing claims and appeals for VA benefits, and will enable the prosecution of businesses that violate these standards, In doing so, New York will set a national benchmark for preventing the men and women who served our country from becoming victims of financial exploitation.

Proposal: Properly Designate New York State's Veterans Service Agency The New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs is frequently mistaken for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The acronyms commonly used to designate these agencies compound the confusion, as 'DVR' is similar to "the VA." This confusion frequently leads to misdirected complaints to the Division about claims processing delays at the federal level and management of federal medical centers, and to an overall sense of confusion about the Division's designated role and value for veterans and their families in New York. The Division's statewide outreach efforts have revealed that many veterans decide not to visit the Division's field offices because they believe that the Division is equivalent to the VA. To avoid this confusion, the New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs will now become the New York State Division of Veterans' Services.

This new name accurately defines the constant mission of this agency— serving veterans and their families the rest of the way— and clearly distinguishes the Division from the federal VA, avoiding any unnecessary mistakes and confusion moving forward.

Proposal: Expand Programsfor Veterans Behind Bars Governor Cuomo is dedicated to supporting the brave New Yorkers who have served our country. He recognizes that incarcerated veterans represent a unique segment of the imprisoned population that merit particular attention due to the unique circumstances they face returning home from war, which can often make the duration of incarceration and the transition back into the community upon release especially difficult. Through the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the Governor implemented three Veterans Residential Therapeutic Programs at Medium Security Correctional Facilities that identify each veteran's individual needs and provide them with corresponding services. This year, the Governor will provide resources to expand the programs available and offer the programs in to Maximum Security Facilities for the first time. DOCCS will hire additional Licensed Master Social Workers, as well as a coordinator, and purchase a new professionally designed veteran specific curriculum that will broaden the scope of issues addressed, including conflict reduction and post-traumatic stress disorder and other relevant topics. Expanding the program will increase veterans' successful reintegration into society once they leave prison and reduce overall rates of recidivism, aiding our veterans and improving overall public safety.

Proposal: Deliver Access to Justice for Veterans through Law School Partnerships In 2017, Governor Cuomo established New York State's Justice for Heroes grants, awarding $50,000 to each of five law schools offering innovative proposals to address veterans' unmet legal needs. The funding allowed the schools to provide greatly needed free legal assistance to veterans and their family members in several crucial practice areas, including foreclosure prevention and other consumer protection matters, family law assistance, discharge upgrade cases, and complex appeals regarding VA benefits. Building on the success of the initial awards, Governor Cuomo will expand the Justice for Heroes program to offer each of these schools the chance to renew their grants for the next two years. By providing these law schools with a grand total of up to $150,000, each school will be able to improve the sustainability of its new legal services initiatives, ensuring that free legal services for veterans and their families will be provided by faculty and students at these schools for many years to come.

News Realease 11/30/2017

Posted by on 2017-11-30 16:13:21 EST

VA Announces Rollout and Application Process for New Veterans ID Card WASHINGTON —

Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that the application process for the national Veterans Identification Card (VIC) is now available for Veterans — yet another action honoring their service. This has been mandated through legislation since 2015 to honor Veterans, and today’s rollout of the ID card fulfills that overdue promise. Only those Veterans with honorable service will be able to apply for the ID card, which will provide proof of military service, and may be accepted by retailers in lieu of the standard DD-214 form to obtain promotional discounts and other services where offered to Veterans. “The new Veterans Identification Card provides a safer and more convenient and efficient way for most Veterans to show proof of service,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin.

“With the card, Veterans with honorable service to our nation will no longer need to carry around their paper DD-214s to obtain Veteran discounts and other services.” The VIC provides a more portable and secure alternative for those who served the minimum obligated time in service, but did not meet the retirement or medical discharge threshold. Veterans who served in the armed forces, including the reserve components, and who have a discharge of honorable or general (under honorable conditions) can request a VIC. To request a VIC, Veterans must visit, click on “Apply for Printed Veteran ID Card” on the bottom left of the page and sign in or create an account. Veterans who apply for a card should receive it within 60 days and can check delivery status of their cards at A digital version of the VIC will be available online by mid-December. ### ++++++++++++++++

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Nov. 29, 2017 White House VA Hotline Now Fully Staffed and Operational Around the Clock to Serve Nation’s Veterans WASHINGTON —

Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that the White House VA Hotline, first launched in June as part of President Donald J. Trump’s commitment to reforming VA, is now fully staffed with live agents working to serve Veterans 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. The hotline, which became 24-hour operational in mid-October, is now staffed by a team consisting of 90 percent Veterans or employees who have a Veteran family member, and is in response to Veterans’ requests to talk to agents who could relate to their experiences. “The White House VA Hotline provides our nation’s Veterans with a direct, dedicated contact line that allows them to interact with highly trained, live agents to answer their needs and concerns,” said VA Secretary David J. Shulkin. “Since the initial launch of the hotline in June, we listened to our Veterans, who indicated that they prefer speaking with other Veterans and Veteran family members, and we adjusted our hiring based on that feedback,” added Shulkin. “We’re proud that the hotline is now staffed 24/7 by a team of mostly Veterans or Veteran family members who have direct knowledge of their particular concerns and can use their experience to address them in the best way possible with the resources of the VA. This represents a true win-win for Veterans and their loved ones.” Since 24/7 coverage began in October, the hotline has served more than 10,000 callers. Hotline agents answer inquiries, provide directory assistance, document concerns about VA care, benefits and services, and expedite the referral and resolution of those concerns. Agents undergo regular updates and training on VA services based on hotline trends and are assisted by newly implemented tracking software to help VA capture and improve its response, referral and resolution processes to best support Veterans. The hotline can be accessed at 855-948-2311 and is VA’s first non-clinical, non-emergency around-the-clock call center. It provides Veterans a supplemental option to report issues if they are not being addressed through VA’s normal customer service channels. The hotline’s agents are located at a VA facility in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Agents have access to a multitude of resources and contact information to help Veterans. The hotline also generates real-time reports to VA experts who can help address the specific issues of Veterans as well as make better-informed decisions on where program improvements are needed. ###

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