Last week, VA reopened 20 medical centers as part of a three-phase timeline. The speed of the phases will depend upon the VA medical center’s ability to minimize and control exposure to COVID-19. Even though these VA medical centers are not fully open, certain non-emergency in-person appointments and some elective procedures may be permitted. Physical distancing, mandatory face masks, screening processes, and other rigorous safety measures remain in place for now. Telework, telemedicine, phone consults, and wellness checks will continue whenever possible. VA continues to strongly suggest that a veteran contact their local VA medical center before arriving at a facility. The initial sites will indicate how other VA medical centers reopen in the coming weeks and months.
Legislation Introduced to Preserve 48-Hour Claims Review
Last Tuesday, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced VFW-supported S. 3761, the Veterans Claim Transparency Act. This important legislation would reinstate VA’s former policy of permitting VSOs to review claims decisions within the 48-hours preceding promulgation to ensure all claims were properly evaluated and are error-free prior to a veteran receiving notification of a ratings decision. “The 48-hour review period is an essential feature of the VA claims process,” said VFW National Legislative Service Associate Director Matthew Doyle. “It functions as an independent quality review check on claims decisions before final ratings are sent to veterans.” The VFW thanks Sen. Tester and all cosponsors for introducing this important legislation.
Legislation Introduced to Expand Survivors’ Benefits
Last Tuesday, Rep. TJ Cox (D-CA) introduced VFW-supported H.R. 6933, the Caring for Survivors Act of 2020. This important legislation would increase Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments to an amount equal to 55 percent of the permanent and total disability monthly compensation rate, and would make survivors eligible for DIC after a veteran has consistently held a permanent and total disability rating for five years. This idea was put forth in the Independent Budget Report, co-authored by the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, and Paralyzed Veterans of America. The VFW thanks Rep. Cox and all cosponsors for their efforts to expand survivors’ benefits.
CARES Act Extends VA Home Loan Pre-Foreclosure Options
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, was signed into law to help Americans economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic avoid home foreclosure. VA’s Loan Guaranty Service is focused on ensuring veterans and their families facing temporary or more long-term difficulty paying their monthly mortgage understand their options. If you experience financial hardship caused directly or indirectly by COVID-19, you should immediately contact your loan servicer and explore options to avoid foreclosure on your VA home loan.
Important Dates in June
June 6 – D. Day
June 12 – Women Veterans Day
June 14 – Army birthday
June 14 – Flag Day
June 21 – Fathers Day
June 23 – Coast Guard Auxiliary Birthday
June 27 – PTSD Awareness Day
Army Cpl. R.B. Cherry, 19, was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 27, 1950, near Anju, North Korea. Interment services are pending.
Army Sgt. William E. Cavender, 20, was a member of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. Interment services are pending.
Marine Corps Pfc. Mervin D. Galland, 24, was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio. Interment services are pending.
Navy Fireman 1st Class Louis J. Tushla, 25, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.
Till next week, praying for all.
– Charles Castelluccio