VAA Dispatch
Mar. 4, 2014

Veterans' benefits bill blocked in Senate
CBS News
A $21 billion bill to greatly expand aid and other programs to veterans went down in the Senate, falling victim to election year fights over spending and how much power the minority party should have. "I personally, I have to say this honestly, have a hard time understanding how anyone could vote for tax breaks for billionaires, for millionaires, for large corporations and then say we don't have the resources to protect our veterans," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the measure's chief author, according to the Associated Press.More

GI Bill supports returning vets in planning careers
Casa Grande Dispatch
The biggest challenge facing returning veterans, according to Palmer Miller, veterans affairs case worker for U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick's office, is jobs. "Employment and getting back into the civilian way of life," Miller said. It's such a challenge that it has garnered the attention of first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.More

School decision resources
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Many Veterans Affairs and other government resources exist to help you choose a school and education program. Visit these VA and non-VA sites for guidance.More

Veterans' workshops help open door to life-sciences jobs
University Relations at UMass Lowell via The Boston Globe
University of Massachusetts Lowell student-veterans will learn how to translate their military experience into skills that will help them build careers in the life-sciences industry through Edge4Vets, a workshop series that kicks off Feb. 28. UMass Lowell is the first university in Massachusetts to offer the program, which has a growing national reputation for success helping veterans land civilian jobs.More

Veterans organizations: Senate must focus on veterans, not Iran
Veterans Today
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders welcomed a statement from The American Legion that Iran sanctions "have no place" in a comprehensive veterans bill now before the Senate.More

Expanded veterans benefits bill fails over GOP's budget-busting objections
The Washington Times
Democrats' plans to expand education and health benefits for veterans died in the Senate after Republicans blocked the bill for not having a funding source and thus busting the budget all sides agreed to just two months ago. More

DoD budget plan takes aim at TRICARE
Military.com
The proposed 2015 Department of Defense budget could kill TRICARE Prime and increase out-of-pocket medical expenses for dependents and retirees. Much of the first reports on the proposed 2015 defense budget didn't necessarily focus on the details or specific areas to be cut. Many of details won't be available until March 4. However, there are some details available on one of the most significant benefits areas to be hit — TRICARE. More

In just 100 days, Washington, D.C., finds homes for more than 200 veterans
ThinkProgress
In 2013, a one-night census of Washington, D.C.'s, homeless population found 499 veterans living on the streets, with nearly twice as many at risk for homelessness and in need of emergency housing assistance. Though the numbers have been declining over the past few years, the pace has not been quick enough to meet the Obama administration's goal of ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015.More

Facebook group to servicemembers: Don't be an idiot on social media
Stars and Stripes
A new Facebook group created recently is slamming servicemembers who post controversial photos and comments on social media. The group — Military Social Media Idiots — has one message: "If you are wearing the uniform, don't post pictures of yourself that will disgrace the uniform."More

Congressional black caucus: A bastion of seniority
POLITICO
When Democratic Rep. John Conyers — only the second African-American elected to Congress from Michigan — came to Capitol Hill in 1965, he had loads of free time on his hands.More

Veterans: VA reduced benefits backlog, but needs to get back in gear
The Christian Science Montior
The backlog of veterans disability claims was reduced 37 percent after peaking in March, but hit a plateau after the VA stopped its mandatory overtime policy. The path forward is unclear.More

VA study: E-records enhance veterans' health care
The News Star
Access to electronic records has enhanced patient and doctor communication among the country's veterans, according to a recent U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study and veteran medical providers agree communication and satisfaction with health care have improved.More