President Donald Trump's pick to run the Department of Veterans Affairs has pledged to improve access to health care in rural areas and decrease patients' wait times - all while protecting the agency from the threat of privatization.
Robert Wilkie, who faced the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Wednesday during his nomination hearing, has more than 20 years of experience serving the nation from home and abroad. Aside from being Trump's choice to lead the massive VA health system with its 1,700 centers that care for 9 million people, Wilkie currently serves as undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness for the Defense Department.
He's also a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve and is currently assigned to the office of the chief of staff.
You can read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Wilkie-Lays-Out-5-VA-Priorities-During-Confirmation-Hearing.aspx
More than 90,000 sea-service veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War are one step closer to receiving disability pay and health care benefits from the VA.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act was overwhelmingly approved by the House 382-0 on Monday night. The bill will now move to the Senate for final approval.
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/House-Votes-to-Extend-VA-Benefits-to-More-Vietnam-Vets-Exposed-to-Agent-Orange.aspx
The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued a new policy to protect veteran homeowners from predatory lending.
The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act of May 2018 protects veteran homeowners from predatory lending practices when obtaining a VA-guaranteed refinance loan. The VA Home Loan program works to maximize opportunities for veterans and servicemembers to obtain, retain, and adapt homes by providing fiscally responsible benefits in recognition of their service.
“We want to ensure veterans have the informed ability to take advantage of economic opportunities and make sound decisions that enable them to prosper when using their benefits,” said Peter O'Rourke, acting VA Secretary. “This is yet another tool that will help veterans meet their personal goals.”
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/VA-issues-new-policy-to-protect-veteran-homeowners-from-predatory-lending.aspx
The Army has sent its doctors to far flung places all over the globe, but next year, one physician will go where no others have traveled.
Lt. Col. Andrew Morgan, an emergency physician at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas and NASA astronaut, is set be the first Army doctor in space. NASA will launch him to the International Space Station in July 2019.
“I'll be taking Army history, military medicine and this supportive community with me,” Morgan said in an Army news release. “I'm hugely honored to represent all of that.”
You can read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Army-Doctor-Will-Make-History-During-His-2019-Voyage-Into-Space.aspx
Next week the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee will hold a nomination hearing for Robert Wilkie, President Trump's pick to lead the VA.
The hearing is set for June 27. Peter O'Rourke, previously the VA chief of staff, is serving as the acting secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department as Wilkie goes through the confirmation process.
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/VA-secretary-confirmation-hearing-set-for-next-week.aspx
While ratings for many of its nursing homes were subpar last spring, the VA is reporting it has made drastic improvements for the same time period this year. The VA posted its full list of rankings here.
The VA said there are 11 nursing homes with the lowest rating - a decrease from about 60 facilities with that rating last year. The VA said it continues to improve its facilities.
The VA said its disclosure of the ratings aligns with its efforts to be more transparent, but it follows persistent requests from reporters from USA Today and The Boston Globe, who had been making requests to the VA dating back to at least 2017.
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/VA-Releases-Rankings-of-Best,-Worst-Nursing-Home-Facilities.aspx
Servicemembers' spouses will soon have access to new employment leads through an online job networking site.
LinkedIn, a website for professional networking, has partnered with the Defense Department's Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program to provide one year of LinkedIn Premium access to military spouses during moves to new installations. That population typically reports an unemployment rate four times higher than the national average as they are faced with constant moves to new military bases.
The program will launch in July.
You can read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Military-Spouses-Now-Qualify-for-Free-Premium-LinkedIn-Accounts.aspx
Picking up a prescription could soon be as easy as making a withdrawal from an ATM.
The Defense Health Agency's TRICARE division is exploring machines developed by MedAvail that could dispense prescription medication. The company is piloting several machines, and military health officials say they are monitoring their progress.
TRICARE serves about 9.4 million beneficiaries, including about 5.4 million retirees and their family members.
“It could be a game-changer,” said Kathy Beasley, director of health affairs for the Military Officers Association of America and a retired captain in the Navy. “It's worth trying.”
Read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/TRICARE-is-exploring-ATM-like-pill-dispensing-machines.aspx
The Defense Department is expanding its travel policy to Dover Air Force base to accommodate more families of fallen troops.
Service secretaries may now authorize government-paid travel so families can attend the dignified transfer of their loved ones who die overseas, but not in combat. Robert Wilkie, serving as the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, signed a memo May 25 that granted this authority.
Previously, the government paid for travel only for troops killed in the theater of combat operations.
Travel may be granted to a service member's primary next of kin plus two additional family members, according to the memo.
There are two requirements:
1. The service member died overseas.
2. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner at Dover has called for a forensic pathology investigation.
You can read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/DoD-expands-travel-policy-for-families-of-fallen-troops.aspx
Surviving spouses of fallen troops from across the country connected virtually in a new group that aims to solve problems and shape future legislation.
About 25 members of the newly formed Surviving Spouses Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America met in a telephonic meeting on Tuesday night. It's the association's second virtual group - following the Uniformed Services Nurse Advocates group.
“The purpose is to provide a forum for surviving spouses across the United States to come together,” said Gail Joyce, one of the group's founding members. “We want to find solutions to problems we might be having.”
You can read the story here: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Publications-and-Media/News-Articles/2018-News-Articles/Surviving-Spouses-Launch-New-Virtual-MOAA-Chapter.aspx