VAA Dispatch
May. 5, 2015

Most veterans say new program offers no choice
At a Pagosa Springs, Colorado, Veterans for Veterans meeting, nearly everyone in attendance said they should qualified for the Veterans Choice Card program, but a KUSA-TV review of Veterans Affairs data shows only a handful have managed to get an appointment. "The Veterans Choice Card is so hard to use," said Archuleta County Veterans Service Officer Raymond Taylor. "The veteran gets frustrated so quickly that they are not going to try to use it," he added.More

House panel approves $612 billion authorization bill
Military Times
The House Armed Services Committee adopted a $612 billion defense authorization bill, which would radically reform military retirement but reject changes to a host of other benefit trims proposed by the Pentagon. More

Veterans face losing food stamp benefits
With unemployment lower than it has been in seven years, federal lawmakers are looking forward to the end of a waiver that gave single adults long-term access to food stamps even if they weren't working. When the waiver expires at the end of 2015, an estimated 1 million people — able-bodied adults without dependents, or ABAWDS — will once again be limited to three months of assistance. More

Retirement reform faces challenge from veteran lawmakers
Military Times
House lawmakers pushing for military retirement reform had to fight off opposition from veteran colleagues who warned against moving too fast and upsetting current service members.More

Audit: VA left 100,000 veterans waiting for care
Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs said it has reached out to 50,000 veterans across the country to get them out of a waiting line for health care and into a VA facility or private care. The action follows the release of a VA audit that found about 57,000 veterans have been waiting 90 days or more for their first VA medical appointments. An additional 63,000 veterans have never received appointments over the past 10 years after enrolling and requesting them, the Veterans Affairs Department said.More

VA Crisis Line under investigation
Military Times
Amid concerns that the Veterans Affairs Department's suicide hotline has left veterans stranded during high-volume call periods, a senator has asked VA to investigate the service to ensure it is meeting veterans' needs.More

Veteran tells Congress VA fails at providing maternity care
When combat-wounded veteran Dawn Halfaker learned she was pregnant, she thought that the Department of Veterans Affairs would help coordinate her care and pay related bills. But Halfaker quickly found that the VA was not much help, leaving her on her own to find a provider and pay for services.More

The US military is failing its canine veterans
Yahoo Politics
Something was wrong with Baddy. It had been eight months since Charlsie Hoffman adopted the handsome 10-year-old Belgian Malinois, and together they had gotten used to taking long, uneventful walks around the neighborhood. Today started out the same. The sun was shining. The palms were swaying. And then, suddenly, Baddy stopped. More

First lady announces jobs, training for 90,000 vets, spouses
U.S. Department of Defense
First lady Michelle Obama announced that numerous technology and energy companies have committed to hire or train 90,000 veterans and military spouses in the next five years as part of the Joining Forces initiative ... Shortly after Joining Forces was launched, President Barack Obama also challenged the private sector to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses, the first lady said. Now, less than four years later, "America's businesses have continued to race past my husband's initial goal, and together, those businesses who answered the president's call have hired or trained more than 850,000 veterans and military spouses." More

'Licensing barriers' keep skilled veterans out of civilian job markets
Stars and Stripes
Navy corpsmen who saved lives under fire but struggle to find work as paramedics; soldiers who navigated bomb-ridden roads in Baghdad but can't drive trucks in the U.S. Troops coming back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are facing the same problem that skilled veterans have grappled with for decades: What they learn in the military often isn't recognized in the civilian world.More

Jobless rate for Post-9/11 veterans hits record low
The February unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans fell to the lowest on record at 6.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently. While still higher than the 5.5 percent national average for all workers, the unemployment rate for younger veterans was down from 9.2 percent the same month a year ago and reflects a double-digit decline from previous years.More