Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for 8/25/14

Good news story of the day

Veterans, organizations to Benefit from baseball game  (Bridgeport News)  Connecticut military veterans and several organizations supporting them will be honored at the 4th annual Homerun for Heroes Bridgeport Bluefish Baseball Game on Saturday, Aug. 30.

Military Transition and Jobs News

Army’s top enlisted man speaks about cutting troops  (The Town Talk)  Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler has less than six months left on the job, but he’s still pushing hard on several key soldier issues.

Job fair slated at Turner Center in Fontana  (Daily Bulletin)  The theme of the job fair is “thank a hero, hire a veteran,” but nonveterans are welcome, too.

USAA Taps Analytics to Speed Military Transitions  (Baseline)  Transitioning from the military to civilian life is one of the biggest challenges facing veterans. They need to find a place to live, land a job and deal with other issues involved in this major life change.

Job-hunting veterans get a boost at UMass Lowell  (The Boston Globe)  Jeremy Alaniz was an economics student at Texas A&M University when he watched United Airlines Flight 175 crash into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

Veterans News

Center focuses on supporting veterans  (Daily News)  Veterans Resource Centers of America provides community-based support services for veterans and their families, with a particular focus on homeless and at-risk veterans.

Veterans Affairs plans town hall in Lincoln  (SFGate)  Veterans will have a chance to give feedback the Department of Veterans Affairs services at a town hall in Lincoln on Tuesday.

Women Veterans’ Symposium aims to connect and create awareness  (KTSM)  The Women Veterans’ Symposium is held with the hopes of connecting women veterans with each other and making them aware of the resources they have access to. It is hosted by the Military Veteran Peer Network.

California Army veteran trying to prove he is not actually dead  (Daily News)  An Iraq veteran has been on a 2-year campaign to prove to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that he’s not dead.

Valor Grove apartment complex on Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center grounds targets homeless veterans  (Tuscaloosa News)  An $11 million apartment complex at the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center has received 50 vouchers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, allowing the project to specialize in housing for the homeless.

Veterans Affairs selects Columbus as regional site for Veterans Day  (The Columbus Bulletin)  The Veterans Day National Committee of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has selected the Town of Columbus as a 2014 Veterans Day Regional Site.

Benefits News

The VA Provides Full Coverage for Veterans With ALS  (VA)  ALS has been getting a lot of attention from the Ice Bucket Challenge, but many veterans do not know the military covers them if they have the disease.

California Army veteran trying to prove he is not actually dead  (Daily News)  An Iraq veteran has been on a 2-year campaign to prove to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that he’s not dead.

VETERANS’ CORNER: VA program adds primary care  (Mineral Wells Index)  The Department of Veterans Affairs announces that primary care has been added to the services available to veterans through VA’s Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) contracts, a key and evolving part of the non-VA medical care program.

Federal law guarantees in-state tuition for student veterans  (Red and Black)  A new federal law guarantees veterans tuition benefits when they enroll in a public university in the United States.

Vashon man seeks his gay partner’s federal VA benefits  (Seattle Times)  The ceremony was meticulously planned, befitting a wedding where one of the grooms is a self-professed Virgo with obsessive-compulsive leanings.

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Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for 8/22/14

Good news story of the day

Fishing tournament in Bayonne to help wounded warriors  (NJ.com)  The annual fluke fishing tournament tomorrow at Robbin’s Reef Yacht Club, 21 Pavonia Court in Bayonne will benefit The Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit helping injured vets and their families.

Military Transition and Jobs News

Report: vets’ preference for federal jobs too complicated, sometimes controversial  (The Washington Post)  Uncle Sam’s long-standing policy of giving veterans a hiring preference for government jobs enjoys strong support.

Veteran Job Fair Helps Those Who Help Us  (KGWN)  From fighting for our country, to fighting for a job. Veterans gathered at the Storey Gym on Thursday to look for jobs.

Chamber, MOAA to Sponsor Veterans Job Event  (The Pilot)  The Sandhills Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the Moore County Chamber of Commerce will join next month to sponosr the Moore County Veteran Jobs Initiative.

Veterans benefit expo held at Logistics Health Incorporated  (News8000)  The Wisconsin Department of Veteran’s Affairs organized an expo for veterans at LHI Thursday.

Veterans News

Veterans Affairs Opens New Clinic In Sorrento Valley  (KPBS)  Veterans Affairs officials say the new Sorrento Valley clinic will have the capacity to offer medical and mental healthcare to some 17,000 patients a year.

National Dems hammer Cassidy on veterans’ issues in Louisiana  (The Hill)  The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is launching a new ad charging Rep. Bill Cassidy, Republicans’ pick to take on Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), “put millionaires before veterans.”

Central Ala VA director, chief of staff placed on leave  (Montgomery Advertiser)  The director and the chief of staff at the Central Alabama Veteran’s Health Care System have been placed on administrative leave while the Montgomery and Tuskegee medical centers are assessed.

McCain: Why is Phoenix VA boss still employed?  (AZ Central)  More than two months after Sharon Helman was suspended as director of Phoenix’s VA Health Care System, she remains on the payroll collecting regular checks and benefits despite passage of a new federal statute targeting accountability in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Benefits News

VA facilities to hold town hall meetings  (Philly.com)  Philadelphia’s Veterans Affairs benefits office will host two town hall events Wednesday for local veterans to voice feedback about the quality of their service.

AAFES makes ‘business case’ for allowing veterans to shop online  (Stars and Stripes)  Allowing 18.8 million honorably-discharged veterans to shop online through military exchange services, which also operate brick-and-mortar department stores and concessions on base, could boost store profits enough to pump more than $100 million back into base quality-of-life programs.

Hospital system is having trouble reaching veterans  (AZ Central)  The outsourcing of Veterans Affairs patients to metro Phoenix health providers is in full swing, but one major hospital system has encountered a challenge reaching veterans.

Veterans Find ‘Family,’ Healing In Festival And Electronic Music Culture  (Huffington Post)  Two years and 34 surgeries after Kirstie Ennis was injured in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, the retired Marine Corps veteran is still fighting to keep her leg. And while the road to recovery has been far from easy, one hobby has made a big difference in keeping her spirits up: listening to and creating electronic music.

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Hiring Veterans: Just what is a “Veteran”, anyway?

Hiring Veterans – a resource for Human Resources Professionals, Hiring Managers, and companies that want to hire and retain talented veterans.  

Part 1:  Just what is a “Veteran”, anyway?

This is the first in a string of posts to help demystify the complex world of veteran employment from the perspective of the employer.  There are literally thousands of articles, blog posts, and books about how to help veterans find a job, which is great.  There is a surprising lack of content out there, however, on how a company can best find, recruit, hire, train, and retain veterans.  That is what this and the following posts are all about –  helping hiring managers, Human Resources professionals, executives, supervisors, and the countless other people in a company understand how to bring veterans into their organizations and, more importantly, how to keep them. Veterans bring an exceptional set of technical skills to the workplace, and they have experience working with others, leading teams, accomplishing complex and time competitive tasks, operating under stress, exhibit inherent flexibility, and myriad other abilities and talents that any company would greatly benefit from.

Unfortunately, successfully hiring veterans is not that easy.  Depending on where your company is located, you may have difficulty finding a pool of veteran candidates with the skills that you need.  Are there any military bases close by?  Is there an active community of veterans that you can reach out to?  Do you know what skill sets veterans have?  These questions and more can prove to be very challenging for a hiring manager.

There are some very compelling reasons to hire veterans.  In addition to the skills and dedication that those who have worn the cloth of the nation bring, there are financial and tax incentives at the federal and state levels that can add up to tens of thousands of dollars in grants, tax credits, or other benefits for employers.  We’ll address those in a future post.

For companies holding government contracts there are explicit affirmative action requirements concerning veterans, including a ruling that was released in 2013 that broadened the definition of veteran status in terms of employment.  Known as the Affirmative Action and Nondiscrimination Obligations of Contractors and Subcontractors Regarding Special Disabled Veterans, Veterans of the Vietnam Era, Disabled Veterans, Recently Separated Veterans, Active Duty Wartime or Campaign Badge Veterans, and Armed Forces Service Medal Veterans rule, it is an update on previously existing regulations comes from the Department of Labor’s Office of Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).  The rule establishes a veteran hiring benchmark of 8% (with the intention of having a contractor’s roster of employees mirror the population of veterans in the nation’s workforce) and levies an extensive list of data collection and reporting requirements on firms with government contracts of more than $100,000 and/or more than 50 employees.

The best place to start is to begin by defining what a veteran is in terms of employment, and how it impacts a company’s Affirmative Action Plan. Simply serving in the military is enough to earn the title of “veteran”, but the title alone does not provide any advantages in terms of meeting a company’s affirmative action requirements.  To be able to meet the benchmark objectives set by OFCCP for compliance a veteran must fall into the “Protected Veteran” category as defined within the ruling. While the rule is a thrilling read (which you can download from the Federal Register here), to help get straight to the point here is a quick breakdown of the requirements to be considered a protected veteran along with examples of documentation which proves eligibility:

1.  Disabled Veteran status.  A disabled veteran is one who is entitled to compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  A Special Disabled Veteran is one with a VA-assigned disability rating of 30% or greater (or 10% – 20% in case the veteran is determined to have a serious employment handicap) or was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability.

Documentation:  The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a Summary of Benefits letter to the veteran which denotes his or her disability rating.

2.  Veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition.  In terms of this regulation, the last war was World War II, although active duty service for more than 180 days between August 5 1964 and May 7 1975 counts to establish protected veterans status as a “Vietnam Era Veteran” whether or not the veteran actually served in Vietnam.  All of the operations since 1945 are considered to be campaigns or expeditions, and to be considered a protected veteran a serviceman or servicewoman must have participated and received a campaign medal or badge as a result.  This can be confusing, but in a nutshell if a veteran served overseas in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Vietnam or Korea then that veteran is a protected veteran.

Documentation:  The Department of Defense provides the veteran with a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214), which contains the dates of service and lists all decorations and awards earned in section 13.  If a veteran has a campaign or expeditionary medal, then they are considered protected.  Service medals, except the Armed Forces Service Medal (below), do not count.

3.  Veterans who served on active duty and were awarded the Armed Forces Service Medal.  The Armed Forces Service medal is awarded for military operations that are not considered to be campaigns or expeditions, which essentially means non-combat or non-hostile operations.

Documentation:  As listed above, if section 13 of the DD-214 lists the Armed Forces Service Medal then the veteran is considered protected.  This is the only service medal medal that meets the requirement (the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terror Service Medal do not count).

4.  Recently discharged veterans.  Veterans who have been discharged for three years or less, regardless of whether they meet the requirements of 1, 2, or 3 above.

Documentation:  The DD-214 lists the date of release from active duty/discharge.

Those requirements are all pretty straightforward.  But what about people who served in the National Guard or Reserves?  That is where things get complicated. While those who serve in the Guard and reserve are veterans of the service, they may not fall in the protected veteran category.  Here is a breakdown of eligibility for Guard and reserve:

1.  Traditional service.  Guard/reserve personnel who serve out their obligations by only performing their weekend drills and annual training requirements are not protected veterans.  Even though they serve on active duty during their initial training periods, this service alone is not enough.

2.  Activated or mobilized for Federal service.  Guard/reserve personnel who are ordered to active duty are considered to be protected veterans if they deploy in support of a war, campaign, expedition or an operation that qualifies for the Armed Forces Service Medal.  If they are placed in federal service and do not deploy as listed above then they are not protected veterans.

Documentation:  Section 13 of the DD-214, which lists the medals that the veteran was awarded, just as with regular active duty veterans.

3.  Disabled veteran status.  As with active duty, Guard/reserve personnel who are entitled to disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs are considered to be protected veterans.

Documentation:  The same as for active duty – the Department of Veterans Affairs provides a Summary of Benefits letter to the veteran which denotes his or her disability rating.

Hopefully this helps human resources professionals and hiring managers understand how veterans are defined under the new OFCCP ruling.  If you have any comments, please do let me know!  Next we’ll dive into incentives for hiring veterans…

 

 

Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for 8/18/14

Good news story of the day

Army Officer Recycles Military Surplus and Creates Fashionable Bags  (ABC News)  Serving in the military while also being the CEO of a fashion company can be an intimidating but also a rewarding experience. It’s also a perfect match for U.S. Army 1st Lt. Emily Núñez, 24, who saw a need and filled it, helping her fellow veterans along the way.

Military Transition and Jobs News

Voluntary separations accelerate for officers  (Marine Corps Times)  Recent revisions to the Voluntary Separation Pay program for officers will push those declining orders and then requesting VSP out of the service more quickly.

Veterans employment assistance a growing need  (Daily News)  David Jones worked jobs as a busboy and in fast food when he was a teenager.

Almost 8,000 Navy chiefs face ax; sailors could advance  (USA Today)  Almost 8,000 senior enlisted personnel must go before a continuation board later this year to determine whether they can continue to serve or must retire.

Southington helps promote employment opportunities for veterans  (Record Journal)  Veterans are offered an opportunity to sign up for job opportunities in the area through the state American Legion.

Veterans News

Iraq vets on Hill call for stronger response to ISIS  (The Hill)  Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), both Iraq War veterans, on Sunday called for a robust U.S. response to a terrorist advance in Iraq by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Veterans look to farming to grow and heal  (USA Today)   Mike Simester had always dreamed of a being a career soldier.

Vets seeking care died in VA limbo  (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)  In 2010, the Veterans Administration rolled out a new online application that promised the nation’s veterans a quick, easy way to access one of the chief benefits of military service: enrollment in the VA’s vast network of hospitals and health care facilities.

Congress seeks more information on VA deaths  (The Tampa Tribune)  Still dissatisfied with the Department of Veterans Affairs response to questions about how many veterans suffered death and injury from delays in medical treatment and diagnoses at VA medical facilities around the country, the House Veterans Affairs Committee has widened the scope of its inquiry.

Benefits News

Duty Calls: Volunteers to aid at-risk veterans  (Times Union)  More than several hundred at-risk veterans and their families will receive help Saturday during the Eastern New York State Homeless Veterans Coalition Stand-Down.

For-profit colleges gouging veterans, U.S. Senate report finds  (Tampa Tribune)   On the heels of a student veterans group’s warning, a U.S. Senate report reveals the extent to which for-profit universities benefit from the federal G.I. Bill program.

Local colleges reach out to veterans  (Daytona Beach News Journal)  There is a lounge at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where military veterans, young and old, sit back on couches and prop up their feet.

Veterans’ Next Battle: Legal Rights  (Diverse)  In a year when the Department of Veterans Affairs has repeatedly come under fire for problems ranging from deadly delays in medical appointments to its hefty backlog of benefit claims, the need for legal assistance for veterans has often taken a lower priority.

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Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for 8/12/14

Good news story of the day

Law seeks to expand in-state tuition for all  (Military Times)  A bill signed into law by President Obama on Aug. 7, dedicated primarily to overhauling veterans’ health care, also includes a major victory for education advocates.

Military Transition and Jobs News

The Key to Post-Military Career Success: Prepare Now  (Business News Daily)  Serving in the Armed Forces is one of the most rewarding and honorable paths an American citizen can take.

Veterans’ job fair planned for Aug. 18  (The Beacon)  Members of Delaware’s congressional delegation will hold a job fair for veterans from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 18, at the Carlisle Fire Company, Milford.

New Transition Center Helps MacDill Veterans  (Military.com)  Every year about 1,200 to 1,500 service members from MacDill Air Force Base leave the service.

Vets everywhere can log on to virtual job fair  (Military Times)  Hiring Our Heroes wants to take its veterans job fairs beyond major cities to small towns across the country.

Navy personnel chief: No more enlisted retention boards during his tenure  (Navy Times)  The Navy’s top personnel officer said the two enlisted retention boards, which booted 2,946 sailors, fixed overmanning problems, but he also admitted it sowed mistrust in the ranks that persists.

Booted sailors set sights on Supreme Court  (Navy Times)  A group of 300 sailors separated by the 2011 enlisted retention boards is taking its case to the nation’s highest court.

Veterans News

Feds award $600,000 to Catholic Charities in Syracuse to help homeless veterans  (Syracuse.com)  Catholic Charities of Onondaga County will receive $600,878 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help homeless and at-risk veterans and their families find stable housing, U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei said today.

Iraq Vets in Congress Support Air Strikes, But Are Wary of Another War  (Defense One)  U.S. air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant near the Kurdish capital of Irbil on Friday mark the first combat operations in the country since the Iraq war ended in 2011.

VA will open scheduling books to outside audit  (Military Times)  Veterans Affairs Department officials will open their scheduling books to outside reviewers in an effort to get an independent assessment of how to fix medical center wait time problems, VA Secretary Bob McDonald said Friday.

Benefits News

Free assistance available for veterans government benefits  (The Evening Sun)  The Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars invites veterans of all ages and from all service eras to utilize its Service Officer Network to receive free information and assistance for government benefits including VA healthcare, compensation, pension, education and dependent benefits.

Veterans benefits fair in Tomah Aug. 13  (The Tomah Journal)  The Tomah Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center will host a Veterans Benefits Fair Wednesday, Aug. 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 500 E. Veterans St. in the Tomah.

Despite progress in backlog, thousands of Florida’s veterans still wait for benefits  (Miami Herald) While his mortgage, electric bill and child support payments fell months behind, James Pendleton, a 57-year-old U.S. Army veteran from North Lauderdale, waited years for disability compensation benefits.

VA has higher burden of proof for PTSD claims related to sex trauma  (Military Times)  Jamie Livingston joined the Navy in 2000 because she “wanted to be part of something bigger than myself.”

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Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for 8/4/14

Good news story of the day

Veterans conquer disabilities to reach new heights at Grand Teton National Park  (The  Denver Channel)  Veterans often struggle to reintegrate into civilian life. Finding the special bonds, friendships and camaraderie they once experienced in the military can be difficult.

Military Transition and Jobs News

Coast Guard’s early retirement could expand to enlisted ranks  (Army Times)  Officers nearing 15 years in service next year have an opportunity to retire sooner than usual thanks to the latest early retirement program.

550 majors to be separated in reduction in force  (Army Times)  Secretary of the Army John McHugh has approved the results of reduction-in-force boards that will require 550 Regular Army majors to separate or retire from active duty by next spring.

30-year strategy calls for new approach to Air Force careers  (Air Force Times)  The Air Force should create a way for airmen to leave the service, gather real-world experience and then bring that back into the Air Force without being punished for it, according to the service’s 30-year plan unveiled July 30.

Upcoming options for employment seekers  (Albuquerque Journal)  Several job fairs including a business boot camp are upcoming in the Albuquerque metro in the next two months.

Job fair open to veterans, family members  (Statesville Record & Landmark)  A local job fair planned for Aug. 7 is part of a national program – Operation: GoodJobs – that helps veterans and their immediate family members find meaningful work and gain financial stability.

VA to participate in Veteran Expo  (Iron Mountain Daily News)  The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center will be participating in the upcoming Veteran Expo Aug. 8-9, 2014, in the Superior Dome in Marquette.

Army Preparing for Steep Drawdown, Losing Patience With Congress  (National Defense)  The Army is drawing up plans for how it would operate with nearly 100,000 fewer troops. The analysis will identify specific missions and duties the Army would no longer be able to do at that smaller size.

Veterans News

Two top administrators at New Orleans VA retiring and a 3rd is changing jobs  (NOLA.com)  Two top staffers at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans are retiring and a third is moving on to a new position.

Phoenix VA Whistleblower Punished  (NewsMax)  A whistleblower at the Phoenix Veterans Affair Hospital has been punished by being placed in a lower-ranking job, The Washington Post reported.

VA numbers on treatment delays were misleading  (Tampa Bay Times)  A Department of Veterans Affairs “fact sheet” told Congress and the public in April that the agency reviewed 250 million medical consultations, dating back to 1999, and found 76 veterans seriously harmed by treatment delays for gastrointestinal cancers.

VA Committee Chair: What Went Wrong at VA, and What Must Be Done To Fix It  (NBC)  By now, nearly everyone knows the Department of Veterans Affairs is in dire need of reform. Oversight by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and whistleblower revelations have exposed widespread corruption, systemic delays in access to medical care and failures in accountability across the board at our nation’s second largest federal agency.

Benefits News

Letter: Buffalo VA hospital is doing a terrific job  (Buffalo News)  Anyone who has followed the news recently could get the impression that Veterans Affairs is an evil organization not taking care of veterans.

Married Gay Vets’ Next Battle Is Equal VA Benefits  (Military.com)  U.S. Air Force Capt. CJ Wilkinson was about to settle into his dream life.

Mold forces relocation of Haley hospital patients  (Tampa Bay Online)  About a half dozen patients in the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital Spinal Cord Injury Center had to be moved and a hallway sealed off after mold was discovered in an area near the patient care section in May, hospital officials say.

Tricare appeals lengthy but not unfair, report finds  (Military Times)  Appealing a Tricare decision to the highest level within the Defense Health Agency may take nearly a year but that doesn’t necessarily mean those decisions go against beneficiaries in the end, according to a report recently provided to Congress.

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Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for 7/29/14

Good news story of the day

Effort advances to add names of 74 sailors to Vietnam Memorial  (Navy Times)  The crew of the destroyer Frank E. Evans is fighting once again, 45 years after their ship sank in the South China Sea after a terrifying collision.

Military Transition and Jobs News

HIRING: Veterans Job Fair at VA Loma Linda Healthcare System  (Press Enterprise) The VA Loma Linda Healthcare System will host a “Veterans Job Fair” event at its flagship facility, the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fri. Aug. 8.

Job fair Thursday held at American Legion  (Marrietta Daily Journal)   The American Legion Post No. 294, at 3282 Florence Road in Powder Springs, and Unemployment Eliminators LLC will have a job fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.

YDC unit hosting job fair   (Union Recorder)  One building, to be known as the Bill Ireland Intensive Treatment Unit, will begin operations at the old Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) campus on North Glynn Street by next January.

Army officials on ‘pink slip’ controversy: We don’t have a choice  (The Washington Post)  For weeks, the Army has been taking a verbal beating for sending “pink slips” to officers while they were deployed.

DOT Expands Program to Help Veterans Get Jobs  (Military.com)   The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today that its waiver program that helps experienced veterans and active duty personnel transition into civilian jobs as commercial truck and bus drivers has been expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Veterans News

House-Senate Negotiators Approve $17B VA Bill  (ABC)  House and Senate negotiators have approved a $17 billion compromise bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs and reform a program scandalized by veterans’ long waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays.

It’s a Miracle! Congress Compromises on VA Reform Bill  (The Daily Beast)   Sure, the whole deal almost fell apart and took weeks longer than expected, but Bernie Sanders and Jeff Miller have come up with a $17 billion bill—and it’s expected to pass this week.

Survey: many combat vets worried about exposure to ‘burn pits’ (Christian Science Monitor)  One of the most surprising results to come out of a survey released this week by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) was in response to a question buried in the “general health” section.

Heroes Golf Course, on Veterans Affairs campus, is their cause  (Los Angeles Times)  A miraculous thing happened to Heroes Golf Course in January.

Benefits News

New veteran benefits in Floyd County  (KIMT.com)  There are new efforts in place to help make education accessible and affordable for veterans in Floyd County.

The rising cost of veterans’ healthcare and benefits  (The Los Angeles Times)  The House and Senate are expected to vote this week to approve a $17-billion plan to reduce the long lines for care in the Department of Veterans Affairs health system.

The VA Aid & Attendance Benefit – Don’t take No for an Answer  (Examiner)  Veterans are a valuable asset to our nation; they gave of their time, talents and physical abilities to defend our nation. And they deserve the best rewards for their service.

A simple summary of the new VA bill  (The Washington Post)  Congress is expected to vote this week on a bill to revamp the Department of Veterans Affairs in the wake of a scandal over treatment delays and falsification of scheduling records at VA hospitals across the country.

Top TA & GI Bill schools: Most popular colleges cater to troops by taking classes to them  (Military Times)  Schools known for their flexible learning options are by far the most popular among both active-duty service members using tuition assistance and veterans and their dependents using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, government data show.

AF takes aim at obesity in dependents, retirees  (Air Force Times)  The Air Force is taking aim at obesity among dependents and retirees through two pilot programs that could eventually go servicewide.

Housing Buoyed by 20-Year High for Vet’s Loans: Mortgages   (Bloomberg)     During his third deployment in Afghanistan, Air Force Staff Sgt. Claude Hunter was so eager to return to the U.S. and buy a house that he signed a contract for a property that his agent showed him over Skype.

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