Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘aid’

VA Called To Showcase American Veterans Artwork

 

After it was revealed the VA spent some $20 million on lavish art at facilities around the country, a watchdog group is calling on the Veterans Affairs Administration to showcase and support American Veterans Artwork. A report was released on spending at the VA — showing the administration purchased millions in luxury art at the height of the veterans  healthcare scandal during which thousands of veterans died while waiting to see doctors.

The $19.7 million tab included a $700,000 sculpture to adorn a California facility for blind veterans. The VA also spent $21,000 for a 27-foot fake Christmas tree; $32,000 for 62 “local image” pictures for the San Francisco VA; and $115,600 for “art consultants” for the Palo Alto facility.

The watchdog group, as well as several U.S. lawmakers, are now calling on the VA to feature the work of their own. “American veterans should benefit from art displays, not vendors who sell the VA pricey art,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder and CEO at OpenTheBooks.com.

“Veterans have their own art museum. Why is the VA spending millions on lavish art when American veterans are already producing great art?”asked Andrzejewski.

A social media campaign was started on Twitter with the hashtag #vetsart4va. Veterans can upload their art with this hashtag to showcase their work to the VA.

Such art can be found by members of the group, Veteran Artists Program, or VAP, a New York City-based nonprofit that takes artists who are also veterans and propels their works and careers into the mainstream creative arts community.  VAP covers the performing arts and fine arts — showcasing many talented painters, sculptors and photographers whose work portrays the struggles and triumphs of America’s brave.

Shawn Ganther, an Air Force Veteran who served with U.S. security forces in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, said, “I want Americans to see soldiers as the heroes who fight and die in the name of freedom — and to stop and reflect on the privileges they sometimes take for granted.”

Veteran Artists Program has previously displayed artwork by veterans at the Pentagon and U.S. Senate office buildings. BR McDonald, founder and president of VAP, said his organization is currently working with at least 10 VA hospitals around the country to feature work by veteran artists.

McDonald said spending such money on veteran artists gives them a “voice to tell their story” and helps them transition into civilian life. We hsoudl be ebbcouraging the support and use of American Veterans Artwork.

Follow American Veterans Aid on Twitter

American Veterans Aid on LinkedIn

 

 

Please follow and like us:
error

American Veterans Complaints About Response Time

VA backlogs and wait times are a consistent  cause for American Veterans complaints. Vets in need of care  cite long waits at the VA.  Currently there are more than 70,000 veteran disability claims that are backlogged in Veterans Affairs processing centers, seven months after department officials missed their public goal of getting the number down to zero.

VA Acting Under Secretary for Benefits Thomas Murphy said that figure includes a substantial number of claims left open longer than four months intentionally to ensure veterans are receiving all of the payouts they deserve. But he acknowledged his agency needs to drive that number down further.

“This is still a continuous improvement process for us,” he said. “We are not satisfied with the number now, and we won’t be satisfied until we are much closer to zero.”

It’s no wonder then that this is on the list of American Veterans complaints.  Roughly one in five benefits claims submitted to the Veterans Benefits Administration ends up taking longer than four months to process, the department’s long-held promise for processing the cases. That does not include appeals cases, which follow a different process and often take years to resolve.

That ratio and the total number of backlogged cases have remained steady since last fall, when department officials announced they would not reach the goal of zeroing out the backlog by the end of 2015.

The goal of eliminating the backlog was announced by President Obama and VA leaders in 2009, part of an ambitious push for service improvements. As recently 2013, the backlog total was over 600,000 cases, causing an outcry from veterans and lawmakers frustrated with waits in some instances topping a year.

New electronic records systems and mandatory overtime for claims processors drew down the backlog by almost 90 percent over two years, but pulling it down even further has proven difficult for officials despite their added efforts.

Follow American Veterans Aid on Twitter

American Veterans Aid on LinkedIn

Please follow and like us:
error

VA Wait Times Not Fixed Yet

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has not done enough to prevent schedulers from manipulating appointment wait times.  VA wait-time data remains misleading and underestimates how long veterans wait for care, according to a nonpartisan watchdog report. So fixing the VA wait times is still a long way from done.

“Ongoing scheduling problems continue to affect the reliability of wait-time data,” the Government Accountability Office found.

The Piecemeal Approach to American Veterans Aid

The GAO said the VA has taken a “piecemeal approach” to addressing the problems since the wait-time scandal broke in 2014 in Phoenix, where schedulers falsified wait times and at least 40 veterans died awaiting care. But the agency needs to take comprehensive action, the GAO concluded in its audit, which stretched from January 2015 through last month.

Auditors found schedulers at three of the six medical centers they reviewed had improperly changed dates so the VA system falsely showed shorter or zero wait times. In a review of scheduling records for 60 individual veterans at those three centers, they found improper scheduling in 15  — or 25% — of the appointments.

While the system showed average wait times of between four and 28 days in the cases reviewed, the actual averages were between 11 and 48 days. The audit characterized the schedulers’ actions as mistakes rather than deliberate falsification.

“Until a comprehensive scheduling policy is finalized, disseminated, and consistently followed by schedulers, the likelihood for scheduling errors will persist,” the GAO said in its draft report.

The findings bolster recent claims by VA whistle-blowers that schedulers across the country are still falsifying wait times. And they cast doubt on the effectiveness of corrective actions VA officials touted as recently as 10 days ago.

USA TODAY reported April 7 that the VA inspector general found schedulers at 40 VA medical facilities in 19 states and Puerto Rico regularly “zeroed out” veteran wait times and supervisors at seven of those facilities instructed them to do so.

VA Wait Times for Aid and Care

VA officials at the time said many of those probes had been finished more than a year ago and they had already imposed discipline in some cases and instituted refresher training for all schedulers. But local VA officials overseeing five centers told the GAO their own internal audits also found schedulers continuing to enter dates improperly.

The VA, in its response to the GAO report, said it will review the situation and make improvements where necessary by the end of the year.

While we know we can do more to improve our access to American Veterans aid and care, we are aggressively implementing changes in our systems, training and processes to improve access, the statement said.

They claim they are doing everything they can to fix the VA wait times and rebuild the trust of veterans who depend on the VA for care.

Connect with American Veterans Aid on LInkedin

Follow American Veterans Aid on Twitter

Please follow and like us:
error

Homeless Veterans Numbers Down by Half

The good news is that the number of homeless veterans in America is down significantly since 2010. According to HUD and the VA the number is 47% overall and some states are even better than that.  Minnesota reports homelessness is down 57% for veterans there.

HUD’s annual Point-in-Time (PIT) estimate of America’s homeless population, communities across the country reported that there were fewer than 40,000 homeless veterans on a given night in January 2016. This change is the result of the partnership among HUD, VA,  USICH, and other federal, state and local partners sparked by the 2010 launch of Opening Doors, the first-ever strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.

American Veterans Aid

This kind of American Veterans aid goes a long way towards addressing the problems our soldiers encounter when they come home. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says the nation’s homeless veterans are mostly males (four percent are females). The vast majority is single, most come from poor, disadvantaged communities, 45 percent suffer from mental illness, and half have substance abuse problems.  So there is much more to deal with than just being homeless.

President Obama hailed this statistic in a speech in Atlanta yesterday.  “We have just about cut veterans homelessness in half. We’ve helped bring tens of thousands of veterans off the streets, but we’re not slowing down,” he said. “We will not stop until every veteran who fought for America has a home in America.”

Michelle Obama plans to hold an event this fall to celebrate this  progress and establish additional milestones in the fight to end veteran homelessness.  The president expressed his commitment to helping and serving the country’s veterans.  “Every single veteran matters,” he said.

Connect with American Veterans Aid on Linkedin

Follow American Veterans Aid on Twitter

Please follow and like us:
error

Aid for Older American Veterans with TBI

Studies on American veterans with TBI – traumatic brain injury – reveal that they may be at greater risk for developing dementia later in life. One such study published in July 2014 issue of Neurology, examined more than 188,000 American Veterans over the age of 55 for nine years. During that time, 16 percent of the vets with a past diagnosis of TBI developed dementia, compared with 10 percent among those with no history of TBI.

That’s a 60 percent increase in the risk of developing dementia for older Veterans with TBI.

Studies on Older American Veterans with TBI

A new study conducted in 2016 in two American veterans retirement homes looked at 75 vets with previous TBI and 71 without.  The veterans with TBI had greater functional impairment and had higher rates of prior depression and substance abuse.  Although composite memory and language scores did not differ between the two groups, participants with TBI performed worse on tests of executive functioning/processing speed.

This study suggests that TBI may have adverse long-term neuro-behavioral consequences. American Veterans with TBI may require careful screening and will probably need more aid as they grow older.

 

Connect with American Veterans Aid on LInkedin

Follow American Veterans Aid on Twitter

Please follow and like us:
error