VAA Dispatch
Jun. 16, 2015

Commissary funding restored in Senate plan
Military Times
The Senate Appropriations Committee added $322 million in commissary funding back into its fiscal 2016 defense budget plan, with the panel's top Democrat describing the initial lowball funding total as a White House "cheap shot" at military families.More

Student loan provider to repay $60 million to military vets
The Hill
The Department of Justice has secured $60 million in refunds for military veterans it contends were illegally charged too much interest on their student loans. The student loan service provider formerly known as Sallie Mae, which has since changed its name to Navient Corp., has begun issuing the refunds to 77,795 veterans who were overcharged for their educations.More

Database may help identify veterans on the edge
The New York Times
Researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health have developed a database they say can identify veterans with a high likelihood of suicide, in much the same way consumer data is used to predict shopping habits.More

Editorial: Congress should cover in vitro for military veterans
Tampa Bay Times
Access to in vitro fertilization should be provided to every service member injured in battle. The U.S. military has seen a dramatic increase in reproductive injuries due to the use of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan, preventing thousands of young veterans from starting families. Many of those wounded consider IVF their only hope for conceiving children. Yet they find little help from the federal government, since the Department of Veterans Affairs enforces a ban on paying for the procedure. Congress should change this outdated policy and make treatment available for all veterans who seek it.More

Opinion: Military veteran explains why veterans deserve access to medical marijuana
The Weed Blog
After Congress' recent vote to deny veterans the opportunity to speak to their VA doctors honestly and openly about their own medical treatment, it was necessary that we sit back, analyze and now determine exactly what the consequences will be for America's veterans. By voting "no" or abstaining from the vote on the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, Congress literally is telling veterans, " ... if you're caught with THC in your system, we'll have the VA stop treating you immediately."More

New military retirement system gets Pentagon OK
Military Times
After months of official silence, the Defense Department sent to Capitol Hill its formal recommendation for transforming military retirement benefits, a move that is likely to clear the way for major changes to become law. More

Proposal gives help to spouses of some convicted troops
Spouse Buzz
The spouses of retirement eligible troops who are convicted of crimes and have their pension taken away as a result could soon receive cash payouts to help them get back on their feet. The benefit proposal is the brain child of Kris Johnson, former wife of Col. Jim Johnson, who pleaded guilty to 15 counts of adultery, bigamy and fraud and was convicted on two others. Rather than having his retirement stripped as punishment for his crimes, the courts marital demoted him to Lt. Col. and levied a $300,000 fine. The light sentence was generally viewed as being given out of compassion for his wife, who is entitled to a portion of the now-retired colonel's pension even after divorce thanks to the duration of their marriage. More

Democratic country star Tim McGraw bought 144 homes for veterans
Occupy Democrats
Tim McGraw, famed country star and diehard liberal, has found a new way to give back to our brave veterans and thank them for the sacrifices they've made and the risks they've taken defending our nation. McGraw will be giving thirty-six mortgage-free homes away to veterans during his 2015 summer tour; he already has given more than 108 homes to vets in association with the charity Homefront. More