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In This Issue December 7, 2012

VA Leadership Told to Fix Wasteful Spending Problems

Senator Cornyn Offers Amendment to Address Claims Backlog

Diabetes Management and Tri-Care

Senator Webb Introduces NDAA Amendments to Help Student  Vets

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Studies Provide More Clues to Gulf War Illness

VVA Veterans Initiative

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House Committee on Veterans Affairs Press Release

VA Leadership Told to Fix Wasteful Spending Problems

On November 28, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing regarding VA’s wasteful spending on conferences, foreign travel, and other information pertaining to healthcare and operations. Senior VA officials admitted that requests made by Congress are delayed internally, but that even when information is provided, it is frequently wrong.

Read hearing press release from HVAC Chair, Jeff Miller (R-FL) at http://veterans.house.gov/press-release/va-leadership-needs-to-step-up-and-fix-spending-problems-to-better-serve-veterans

Backlog Reduction for Veterans Banefits

Senator Cornyn Offers Amendment to Address Claims Backlog

Senator John Cornyn’s  (R-TX) amendment to the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill (S 3254)  would require the Veterans’ Affairs secretary to submit a plan to Congress to reduce the current backlog of pending claims for veterans’ benefits; the amendment was adopted by a vote of 95 – 0.

Screening for Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes Management and Tri-Care

More than 26 million Americans live with diabetes. If current trends continue, one third of all Americans will have the disease by 2050. TRICARE covers screenings for type 2 diabetes, as well as testing supplies, medications, and disease-management training when necessary.  Read more at: www.tricare.mil/mediacenter/press_article.aspx?fid=62

NDAA Amendments

Senator Webb Introduces NDAA Amendments to Help Student  Vets

National Salute To Veterans

On November 27, Vietnam veteran Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) introduced two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)  regarding the bipartisan "Military and Veterans Educational Reform Act of 2012" (S.2179).   

Summary of Amendment #2957 (both of these provisions are in the larger bill S.2179):

  • Requires that all programs receiving funding from Tuition Assistance and Post-9/11 GI Bill be "Title IV" eligible, which is already a requirement for schools receiving other types of federal funding. Title IV eligibility requires, among other things, accreditation by a Department of Education-approved accrediting agency; new schools to have an undergraduate withdrawal rate for all students of no more than 33%; and mandated reviews by the Department of Education if a school has high dropout or default rates, which could lead to sanctions or other penalties.
  • Requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a compliance review of an educational institution when certain quality measures are triggered. 

Summary of Amendment #2958 (this is S. 2179; includes the two provisions in Amdt. #2957):

  • Requires that all programs receiving funding from Tuition Assistance and Post-9/11 GI Bill be "Title IV" eligible, which is already a requirement for schools receiving other types of federal funding. Title IV eligibility requires, among other things, accreditation by a Department of Education-approved accrediting agency; new schools to have an undergraduate withdrawal rate for all students of no more than 33%; and mandated reviews by the Department of Education if a school has high dropout or default rates, which could lead to sanctions or other penalties.
  • Expands the training responsibilities of the State Approving Agencies by requiring them to conduct outreach activities to veterans and members of the Armed Forces; to conduct audits of schools; and to report those findings to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
  • Requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense to develop a centralized complaints process to report instances of misrepresentation, fraud, waste, and abuse, and other complaints against educational institutions.
  • Requires that all schools with 20 or more students enrolled in VA and/or DOD educational assistance programs provide support services to veterans and military students. 
  • Requires the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, to the extent practicable, to provide one-on-one, in-person educational counseling to veterans and members of the Armed Forces participating in programs of educational assistance at or before the individual enrolls. 
  • Requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense to conduct a compliance review of an educational institution whenever certain quality measures are triggered. 
December 7th

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

December 7 is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. This observance honors the more than 2,400 military service personnel who died on December 7, 1941, during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by Japanese forces. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered World War II.

The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument focuses on preserving the history of events that occurred in the "Pacific Theater" during World War II.

Studies Provide More Clues to Gulf War Illness

Damage to the Autonomic Nervous System:

As reported by Kelly Kennedy for USA Today, Gulf War illness--with symptoms ranging from headaches and memory loss to chronic fatigue--plaguing one out of four veterans of the Gulf War, is due to damage to the autonomic nervous system. "This is the linchpin," said the study's lead author, Robert Haley, chief of epidemiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. To read Kennedy’s article:  http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/11/gannett-gulf-war-illness-study-112612

Thyroid Disorders:

The October 2012 edition of Medical Surveillance Monthly Report published recent findings that show increased thyroid disorders for those deployed between 2002-2011. For this active component of U.S. military members, the rates of idiopathic hypothyroidism were 39.7 and 7.8 per 10,000 person-years among females and males, respectively. Unadjusted rates of idiopathic hypothyroidism and chronic thyroiditis (e.g., Hashimoto's disease) were at least twice as high among white, non-Hispanic as black, non-Hispanic service members. However, black, non-Hispanic service members had higher rates of goiter and thyrotoxicosis. Increasing rates of thyroid disorders during the period were accompanied by increases in numbers of screening tests for thyroid function recorded during outpatient visits. To view the study: http://afhsc.army.mil/viewMSMR?file=2012/v19_n10.pdf#Page=07


VVA Veterans Initiative

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