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Investigation Into the VA Reveals a Culture of Retaliation Against Whistleblowers
VA watchdog accuses leadership of withholding access to employee complaints
Appeals Court Tosses Veterans' Lawsuits Over Burn Pits
Incresed Compensation for Back Injuries
Medicaid Expansion Helped Vets

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Investigation Into the VA Reveals a Culture of Retaliation Against Whistleblowers

VA employees in one Southeast district say a toxic culture of retaliation has undermined veterans' care and worker morale. There is growing skepticism among whistleblowers the VA can police itself

VA watchdog accuses leadership of withholding access to employee complaints

Veterans Affairs’independent watchdog officeis accusing department leaders of improperly withholding records dealing with employee complaints, saying the action could be covering up potential criminal misbehavior.
Veterans Affairs leaders have responded by accusing the inspector general of overstepping its authority andimproperly issuing reportsthat “recklessly cast the VA and its employees in an unfavorable light.”
Lawmakers pulled into the fight this week call the conflict concerning.
“The total lack of cooperation from the VA is alarming and a disservice to American veterans and taxpayers,” said

Appeals Court Tosses Veterans' Lawsuits Over Burn Pits

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a federal judge in , who last year threw out the lawsuits brought against KBR, a former Halliburton Corp. subsidiary. You may remember that Vice-President Dick Cheney was the CEO of Haliburton.

More than 60 lawsuits allege that KBR's practice of dumping tires, batteries, medical waste and other materials into open burn pits created harmful smoke that caused neurological problems, cancers and other health issues in more than 800 service members.

Incresed Compensation for Back Injuries

The US Court of Appeals recently held that the Board of Veteran Appeals erred by relying on a C&P exam which only measured the current loss of  Range of Motion and did not ascertain the Loss of Motion during flare-ups of the back condition.

If you have an orthopedic injury, the amount of compensation depends upon your functional loss of range of motion. VA examiners routinely push you beyond your functional range of motion to lessen your compensation.  Now they at least have to estimate the degree of limitation during flare-ups.

Medicaid Expansion Helped Vets

The number of uninsured veterans in the U.S. declined by nearly 40% from 2013 to 2015, but that number could drop even more if more states opt to expand Medicaid, according to a
.

The Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the number of uninsured veterans ages 19-64 dropped from 980,000 in 2013 to 552,000 in 2015, according to a study published Wednesday.

The majority of the coverage gains occurred in states that decided to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

NEW RULE

New Rule:

You may now request another hearing before the Board of Veteran Appeals when you case is remanded!Cook v. Shulkin

The old case said there was but one administrative review by the Secretary which meant upon a remand either to the BVA or the Regional Office, you did not get another hearing to testify or submit evidenceat a hearing.

Under Cook, there is no limit the number of BVA hearings a Veteran may have after a remand.

Cases go up and down from the Board to the Court, Remanded back to the Board and sometimes remanded back to the Regional Office.

VA Lost Docs

VA has mailed a development letter to claimants and private representatives (where there is one) affected by an "application defect" that occurred when uploading documents on both the VA's eBenefits and Stakeholder Enterprise Portal (SEP) sites.  The defect resulted in users being incorrectly informed that documents were successfully uploaded, when in fact the documents may have been rejected.  These errors occurred from August 1, 2015 through December 21, 2015.

VA Aid & Attendence Proposed Rule Chanes are Devastating

On January 23, 2015, the Federal Register released Document No. 2015-00297. This document has caused quite a
stir in the elder care industry, and has climbed to the top of the “hot-button issues” list. If you’re not yet familiar with
the document, you’re likely wondering what could possibly cause such widespread interest. It’s an unexpected rule
proposal by the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) regarding net worth determinations, asset transfers, and
income exclusions for Veterans pension benefit eligibility.

Mandatory New VA Forms Effective March24, 2015

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working to make filing claims and appeals as fast and easy as possible. Beginning Tuesday, March 24, 2015, claims and appeals must be filed using the appropriate form. Standardizing forms will ease frustration among claimants, make claims processing more efficient and help VA reach more accurate decisions.
There are three major actions that will require a specific form or standardized process: Intent to File, claims applications, and Notice of Disagreement.

Ten U.S. MIAs Announced as Accounted for From the Vietnam War

As reported March 12 by the National League of POW/MIA Families, since November 24, 2014, the following ten US personnel have been announced as accounted for: Capt. Richard D. Chorlins, USAF; LT Richard C. Clark, USNR; Col William E. Cooper, USAF; MSG James W. Holt,USA; CMSgt Edwin E. Morgan, USAF: SSG Warren E. Newton, USA: CW3 Larry Phipps, USA; SSG Bunyan D. Price, Jr., USA: CW3 Ranier S. Ramos, USA: and LTJG Neil B. Taylor, USNR.
The number of Americans now listed by DoD as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is 954. Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and identified before the end of the war, bring the total of US personnel accounted for from the Vietnam War to 1,017.
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