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VETERANS AFFAIRS AND REHABILITATION DIVISION. 2009 Membership Workshop July 31, 2009. OBJECTIVES. Overview of the National VA&R Commission and Division Outline of the Department of Veterans Affairs Digest of Major Commission Issues and Initiatives Heroes to Hometowns Program

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veterans affairs and rehabilitation division

VETERANS AFFAIRS AND REHABILITATION DIVISION

2009 Membership Workshop

July 31, 2009

slide2

OBJECTIVES

  • Overview of the National VA&R Commission and Division
  • Outline of the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Digest of Major Commission Issues and
  • Initiatives
  • Heroes to Hometowns Program
  • American Legion VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) Program
background

Since its inception, The American Legion has assisted veterans in:

BACKGROUND

Readjusting to civilian life

Receiving VA benefits

Improving access to health care

Maintaining dignity and

self-respect

Assuring the well-being of spouses and children

slide4

VA&R COMMISSION - STRUCTURE

Executive Section & Regional Membership

National Cemetery Committee

  • Internal –
  • Conference Committee on Recommendations
  • Committee on Certificates of Appreciation
  • VAVS Committee
  • Convention Screening Committee
slide5

SERVICE FIRST

VA&R emphasizes providing service first through:

Direct Assistance – Division Staff & Department Service Officers (DSOs)

Advocacy – Testimony, Working Relationship with VA, & Representation on Advisory Committees

Development of Resource Material

va r division structure
VA&R DIVISION STRUCTURE
  • VA&R Director
  • Deputy Director for Claims Service
    • Board of Veterans Appeals, Appeals Management Center
  • Deputy Director for Health Care
    • National Field Service Representatives
  • Assistant Director for Claims Service- handles Claims Service area and National Cemetery Administration
  • Assistant Director for Program Management- VA Voluntary Service Program Manager and manages VA&R Resolution Portfolio
va r division structure7
VA&R DIVISION STRUCTURE
  • Assistant Director for Health Policy- handles environmental exposures and their pertinence to illnesses suffered by veterans of past, present, and service members transitioning back into the community
  • Assistant Director of DOD Outreach- Program Manager for the Heroes to Hometowns Program
slide8

BOARD OF VETERANS’ APPEALS

  • Legion Appeals & Special Claims Unit (14 appeals representatives & one medical consultant)
    • Represent appellants before BVA
      • Written Presentations
      • Personal Hearings
    • Medical Consultant reviews cases for purpose of providing medical nexus statement when warranted
    • Department Service Officer Intern Program
    • 3 Appeals Management Center (AMC) Staff
slide9

BOARD OF VETERANS’ APPEALS

  • How are we doing?
    • FY 08
      • Allowed—23%
      • Remanded—36.7%
      • Denied—37.6%
        • Total remand & allowance rate of 59.7% is above BVA average
        • 7,819 appeals presented to BVA (20% of all represented appellants)
the va r division

National Field Service Representatives

    • The System Worth Saving Task Force , accompanied by Field Service Representatives, conduct site visits of VA health care facilities and assess the state of VA health care as a system, as mandated by Resolution 206, “Annual State of VA Medical Facilities.”
    • The American Legion has published six annual reports focusing on the medical centers in general
    • The 2009 report will focus on VA Medical Centers, Community-Based Outpatient Clinics and Vet Centers

THE VA&R DIVISION

the va r division11

THE VA&R DIVISION

VA Insurance Center – Philadelphia

Services include representation, review of files, status reports and account assistance. Provides insurance information and guidance to field service officers.

Debt Management Center – Minneapolis

Representation in VA overpayment, medical debt

department service officers

DEPARTMENT SERVICE OFFICERS

  • DSO Schools twice per year

Accredited, trained and knowledgeable professionals

  • Quality Reviews
  • DSO Association/Seminar
va r resources

VA&R RESOURCES

  • Publications-including pamphlets, Guides for women, Agent Orange benefits and about PTSD

VA&R Bulletins

  • Upon request – staff presentation at Department functions
va r resolutions

VA&R RESOLUTIONS

  • Claims and Ratings
  • Medical and Hospital
  • National Cemetery Administration

Approximately 60+ mandates

(many with legislative intent) involving:

2009 priority resolutions

2009 PRIORITY RESOLUTIONS

The American Legion Policy on Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Consolidation Efforts

Creation of Ad Hoc Committee to Ensure Proper Representation of Claims Adjudicated by VA Pension Maintenance (Management) Centers

The American Legion Policy on VA Billing of Private Insurance

Support Budget Reform of Annual Appropriations for VA Health Care Funding

slide16

VA STRUCTURE

The Department of Veterans Affairs has three Administrations:

  • Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
  • Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
  • National Cemetery Administration (NCA)
va in brief

VA IN BRIEF

Policy is centrally administered

Management is decentralized

Congressionally Funded

  • Field Operations - local delivery Regional supervision and State operations
slide18

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The National VA&R Commission seeks from VA:

  • Improved timeliness and quality decisions on benefit claims (VBA)
  • Improved access to and timeliness of veterans’ health care (VHA)
  • Enhanced access to national and state cemeteries (NCA)
slide19

Helping severely injured Service members and their families

  • connect with their hometown or new community
  • Mission: In 2007, The American Legion and the Department of Defense (DoD) established a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Heroes to Hometowns Program in which DoD provides information of transitioning severely injured service members with The American Legion which will provide outreach assistance.
  • Goal: Facilitate reintegration into the community
  • - Restore highest functioning quality of life
  • - Assist in meeting long-term needs
  • - Educate the community; ease transition home
  • Objective: Coordinate Local, State and National organizations to match potential needs with resources.

HEROES TO HOMETOWNS “-Care for our wounded must be our highest priority.” Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense

heroes to hometowns

Tasks: Complement federal & state entitlements and programs with non-governmental support to

  • - Welcome home celebrations
    • - Assistance securing housing
    • - Temporary Financial Assistance
    • - Adaptations to vehicles and housing
    • - Adaptive Sports
    • - Employment Assistance
    • - Educational Assistance
    • - Family Support & childcare
    • - Advocacy
    • - Transportation Assistance

HEROES TO HOMETOWNS

heroes to hometowns21

Key Committee Members

  • -The American Legion
    • -National Guard Bureau
    • -National Association State Directors of VA
    • Additional Members at Committee’s discretion
    • Other VSOs
    • State Parks & Recreation Societies
    • US Paralympics Committee
    • State Dept of Labor
    • State Dept of Rehabilitation
    • Plus other Governmental & Non-governmental organizations

HEROES TO HOMETOWNS

heroes to hometowns22

Heroes to Hometowns Volunteer Coordinators

  • Pilot Program:
  • The American Legion &
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
    • Voluntary Service
    • Coordinator works with VA Social Work office
    • to identify needs of transitioning service
    • members.
    • Coordinator creates a Community Resource
    • Directory to match needs with resources.

HEROES TO HOMETOWNS

heroes to hometowns23

Heroes to Hometowns Volunteer Coordinators

  • Pilot Sites:
  • Boston Louisville
    • Dayton Phoenix
    • Providence Richmond
    • St. Louis San Diego
    • Washington DC West Haven

HEROES TO HOMETOWNS

vavs program

VAVS PROGRAM

The American Legion supports the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) Program

In FY 08, The American Legion was represented at 153 VA Medical Center Facilities and had 6,105 volunteers that contributed 909,480 hours

Based on an independent volunteer sector rate of $18.77/hr, the total volunteer cost savings to VA is $17 million dollars

For the first time since 2003, volunteer hours in FY 2008 increased by 343 hours, despite losing 397 volunteers

Average age of volunteer is 75; support is needed at National, Department, Staff and local levels to recruit Vietnam, Gulf War and OIF/OEF veterans to lower median age group

vavs program in 2008

VAVS PROGRAM IN 2008

VAVS Handbook was revised and distributed to all VAVS Reps/Deps

System Worth Saving Site Visits began including field data on

Legion volunteering

Legion Magazine did a PR story on a volunteer, citing the personal

fulfillment of volunteering and tying in national statistics

Dispatch ran story on VA Welcome Home Celebrations, a program

to increase awareness and support of transitioning veterans accessing their benefits and enrolling with VA

New volunteer portal launched on national website, site below:

www.legion.org/veterans/affairs/volunteer

vavs program goals in 2009

VAVS PROGRAM GOALS IN 2009

Encourage VA streamline volunteer application and training process to be completed online (paperless)

Create Volunteer Toolkit (Flyer, Poster, Training PowerPoint)

Create Volunteer Online Center (All Legion Volunteer Programs)

The American Legion Magazine dedicate an issue/cover flap to Legion Volunteering

National Commander Register as a VAVS Volunteer

Promote Department Training and Recruitment Fairs

2009 Department Recruitment goal of 22 new volunteers

Support the Ride to Recovery Program

ride to recovery program

Ride to Recovery Program

The American Legion approved Res. 19, The American Legion Support the Ride to Recovery Program at 2009 Spring NEC

Ride to Recovery program conducts week-long cycling trips for military, veteran and civilian personnel to assist them during their time of recovery and rehabilitation

Ride to Recovery has East/West Coast, Texas and Florida rides with hundreds of injured troops, celebrities, athletes and elected officials

Next cycling trip will be December 12-17 from Tampa to Jacksonville; invite National Commander to participate in the ride

Ride to Recovery’s website is: http://www.road2recovery.us.com/

va r division

VA&R DIVISION

QUESTIONS?