VAA Dispatch
Apr. 16, 2013

Veteran groups question White House budget plan
Veteran service organizations are forming a united front against President Barack Obama's debt-reduction plan that shrinks cost of living increases for retirees and disabled vets by linking them to the consumer price index. Backers of "Chained CPI" say it would shrink future raises by only fractions. And the same linkage is proposed for Social Security benefits, a move that also has groups representing America's aged population lining up alongside veterans organizations.More

Pentagon presses for higher fees for military health care beneficiaries, Congress resists
The Associated Press via Star Tribune
The loud, insistent calls in Washington, D.C., to rein in the rising costs of Social Security and Medicare ignore a major and expensive entitlement program — the military's health care system. Despite dire warnings from three defense secretaries about the uncontrollable cost, Congress has repeatedly rebuffed Pentagon efforts to establish higher out-of-pocket fees and enrollment costs for military family and retiree health care as an initial step in addressing a harsh fiscal reality. More

New VA mental health center puts veterans, families under one roof
Stars and Stripes
At a new VA mental health facility, veterans go to the right, their families to the left — and their doctors meet in the middle. The Unified Behavioral Health Center for Military Veterans and Their Families in Bay Shore, N.Y., is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and private health care that will treat veterans and their families holistically under one roof.More

More troops, families using Post-9/11 GI Bill
Air Force Times (Subscriber article)
Spouses and children of service members made up almost one-fourth of Post-9/11 GI Bill users in 2012, and their numbers appear to be growing, according to data provided by the Veterans Affairs Department. Troops and veterans, who can transfer the generous education benefit after meeting time-in-service thresholds, still accounted for the majority of Post-9/11 users in 2012: nearly 500,000 people, representing about a 13 percent increase from the previous year.More

Supporting our veterans, military families on campuses
The White House Blog
Over the next few years, more than a million service men and women will end their military careers and transition back to civilian life. Many of these veterans will decide to go back to school to finish their degrees, enroll in a community college for the first time or work to obtain a master's degree. That's why, on our campus communities, we need to make sure that our veterans have access to the programs that will help them succeed and obtain good jobs to support their families.More

Budget plan gives VA big funding boost for veterans care
Military Times
The Veterans Affairs Department does not appear to be feeling the pinch of fiscal austerity in President Barack Obama's 2014 budget proposal: The White House has proposed a 10.2 percent boost in funding for VA next year, totaling $66.5 billion in discretionary spending. The $153 billion VA budget request, with a proposed 4.3 percent increase for services including health care, education, employment, transition and claims processing, "keeps faith with veterans," Obama said in a statement to Congress.More

Pentagon presses for higher fees for military health care beneficiaries, Congress resists
The Associated Press via Star Tribune
The loud, insistent calls in Washington, D.C., to rein in the rising costs of Social Security and Medicare ignore a major and expensive entitlement program — the military's health care system.More

Veterans' programs are set for raise in spending plan
The New York Times
Facing growing criticism from Congress, veterans groups and even late-night television hosts, the Obama administration announced that it would include significant increases for veterans' programs, including money for mental health services, in the budget it soon unveils. More

Legislation would help wrongfully discharged vets
Minneapolis Star Tribune
As many as 31,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans nationwide may have been improperly discharged for personality or adjustment disorders, even though they may be suffering from service-connected disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder, the signature injury of the wars. More

A Vietnam veteran reflects: How I found peace 40 years later
The Guardian
Vietnam veteran Andonios Neroulias writes: "In his farewell address before Congress in 1951, Army General Douglas MacArthur said, 'Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.' Before following his lead, I want to share my Vietnam War experience with the new generation of troops back from war in Iraq and Afghanistan, in hopes that as those conflicts wind down, their wounds will also heal with time." More

COLA change would cost careerists tens of thousands
Marine Corps Times (Subscriber article)
President Barack Obama's proposal to cap annual cost-of-living adjustment increases in federal benefits — including military retired pay — is a good example of how seemingly small changes can have a huge impact over time. That small difference would add up tremendously over time, especially for military retirees and disabled veterans who start receiving retired pay at a young age.More

WWII veteran recalls once top-secret flights over Europe
Stars and Stripes
For more than 40 years, World War II veteran Russell Bond couldn't talk about his 33 top secret combat flight missions over Europe with the Office of Strategic Service as a Carpetbagger. He couldn't even tell his family, including his eight brothers who also served in World War II — all of whom returned back home to Fond du Lac, Wis., alive. It has been 72 years since the United States' involvement in World War II began. With each passing day, about 1,000 veterans of the 16 million who served pass away — and with them goes a piece of American history. More

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