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Welcome to VAA Dispatch
Veterans Association of America
Welcome to VAA Dispatch We are so excited to introduce you to our new VAA e-newsletter. You will receive a wide variety of information and news about current issues impacting veterans — all of the quality information you have come to expect from VAA. This new format will allow us to provide you with timely information from a variety of sources. Enjoy!
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Veterans fight changes to disability payments
The Associated Press via Logan Banner
Veterans groups are rallying to fight any proposal to change disability payments as the federal government attempts to address its long-term debt problem. They say they've sacrificed already.
Government benefits are adjusted according to inflation, and President Barack Obama has endorsed using a slightly different measure of inflation to calculate Social Security benefits. Benefits would still grow but at a slower rate.
White House closely following VA claims backlog problem
Stars and Stripes
Administration officials said they will consider a presidential commission to deal with the mounting veterans claims backlog, but said top officials from every federal agency are already working on the problem. Members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America delivered a 34,000-signature petition to the White House recently asking for a presidential commission to deal with the backlog issue.
Incentivizing employers to hire veterans through permanent tax credits
The White House Blog
With the Iraq War over and the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close, the Administration has undertaken an unprecedented effort to help our veterans and military spouses find employment and build their careers. Today, the overall unemployment rate for veterans remains below the national rate at 7.1 percent. But for veterans of the post-9/11 generation, many returning to the civilian workforce at a time when our economy, while making progress, is still healing from the Great Recession, too many American heroes are struggling to find work. This is a critical economic challenge that requires our long-term focus, especially as in the coming years more than one million service members will be hanging up their uniforms and transitioning back to civilian life.
Veterans' programs are set for raise in spending plan
The New York Times
Facing growing criticism from Congress, veterans groups and even late-night television hosts, the Obama administration announced that it would include significant increases for veterans' programs, including money for mental health services, in the budget it soon unveils.
Veterans Affairs seeks budget increase in 2014 budget
The Veterans Affairs has seen its budget increase 41 percent since 2009 to $140 billion this year. Meanwhile, the pace of incoming disability claims has stayed ahead of VA's ability to process them. Concerned about nearly 600,000 veterans waiting months or years for disability checks, Obama administration officials recently lifted the veil on a corner of the president's upcoming 2014 budget, promising a hike in VA discretionary spending.
Special ops veterans' group calls for select probe of Benghazi attack
More than 700 Special Operations veterans are urging members of Congress to back a select committee to investigate 2012's Benghazi terrorist attack, according to a letter first obtained by Fox News.
The letter from the group, "Special Operations Speaks," supports the appointment of a special committee tasked with the single mission of investigating the attack that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead, and shut down the CIA operation in an annex of the Benghazi consulate, in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack.
Services stall on renewing tuition assistance
The Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have yet to re-start tuition assistance programs as they wrestle with implementing new spending rules ordered by Congress.
"We're still awaiting guidance" from the Defense Department on how much money will be available, said Lt. Col. Tom Alexander, an Army personnel spokesman.
Military veterans wanted as hackers in cyber war
The Huffington Post
In 2005, Kevin Jorge dodged mortar attacks on a military base in Afghanistan. Today, Jorge, a National Guardsman with an IT background, wants to serve on the front lines of a new kind of war — one being fought with bytes instead of bombs.
Jorge's skills are in high demand. Faced with a shortage of experts to defend the country from online attacks, the government is looking to fill the void by recruiting job-seekers accustomed to physical warfare: returning military veterans.
In January, the Pentagon announced plans to recruit 4,000 more cyber personnel for what former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has called "the battlefield of the future."
Legislation would help wrongfully discharged vets
Minneapolis Star Tribune
As many as 31,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans nationwide may have been improperly discharged for personality or adjustment disorders, even though they may be suffering from service-connected disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder, the signature injury of the wars. Federal legislation supported by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., would make it easier for those veterans to correct a misdiagnosis and qualify for the Veterans Affairs benefits.
Harvard Law School establishes new Veterans Legal Clinic
Harvard Law School
With a huge increase in recent years in the number of combat veterans, and an aging veteran population in declining health, the unmet legal needs of veterans overall are exploding. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a backlog of 600,000 benefits cases, according to the New York Times, with veterans waiting an average of 273 days before receiving disability and other benefits. The VA system is complicated and can be frustrating, especially for low-income veterans, getting legal aid to navigate the process is challenging. That's why HLS launched the Veterans Legal Clinic in the fall of 2012.
Army veteran, UCLA student, teaches class on combat, military life
UCLA senior Andrew Nicholls served eight years in the U.S. Army, including a year in Iraq. Now, he's sharing his firsthand perspectives about the military and combat in a UCLA psychology course he's teaching this quarter called "Fast Cars and Battle Scars: Understanding the Modern Combat Veteran and PTSD."
Donate to VAA
If you are in the U.S., you now can donate online through VetsNet. Everything you donate — 100 percent — will go directly to the Veterans Association of America Inc. to help all veterans. Simply click on the 'Make A Donation' button on the donation page to submit your contribution of choice. All donations made are tax deductible. We appreciate your contribution.
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