Thursday, October 14, 2010

Banner Year on Veterans Legislation

This type of reporting, especially on the popular blog sites of this new technology, should be what more of the posts are about, especially leading into an Election cycle. As to Congress, and especially the Veterans Administration but also all others, these types of advances, and much of what has been done since the 110th Congress, who have been finally holding hearings and over site into what wasn't done during the 108th and 109th Congress, as War was waged, will come to a screeching halt if republicans are once again given the reigns to do more damage, or actually nothing at all!

111th Congress Achieves Banner Year on Veterans Legislation

13 October 2010 - Congress may be receiving low approval ratings from the general voting population, but The American Legion says lawmakers have done quite well on veterans issues this year.

"The 111th Congress may be remembered for banner legislation such as health-care reform, financial regulation and the recovery act," said Jimmie Foster, national commander of the Legion. "But, in our view, the real successes were the passage of bills that affected nearly every veteran in America."

Chief among the pieces of veteran-related legislation was the "Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009", which guarantees appropriations for VA health care one full year in advance.

Another significant milestone for the 111th Congress was the "Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010". The bill included substantially increased VA funding for fiscal 2010 – the agency's first budget to exceed $100 billion.

More recently enacted laws affecting veterans include the "Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010", which created a pilot program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers, and also addressed a number of issues important to women veterans and those residing in rural areas.

A bill signed in July provided $13.4 billion to compensate Vietnam veterans who have suffered ill effects from exposure to the toxic herbicide, Agent Orange.

Within the past month, bills have been passed that provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for veterans receiving VA benefits, and expand state veterans nursing-home care to include parents whose children have died on active duty.


Despite the work yet to be done, the Legion's national commander reiterated his praise for the 111th Congress. Reflecting upon his visit to Washington last month, Foster said, "I came to town to deliver my testimony on the needs of our nation's veterans. Before I left, Congress had passed half of our legislative agenda." {read rest}

Not just Congress and Veterans Issues but also the Veterans Administration, playing catchup at a rapid pace! I've used this a few times before.

VA Obligates Last of its Recovery Act Funds to Help Veterans

$1.8 Billion Investment Improves Care and Services for Veterans

And just how were the American Public finally 'Sacrificing' without even knowing it nor caring once again as to veterans issues but had already been condemning and continue to do, as this Rossi his breatheran and those who not only speak for them but their so called base who worship them, Well this is just a quick run down:

Health Care Services Enhanced

VA obligated $1 billion to improve VA medical care facilities across the country through building renovations, roadway and walkway repairs, high cost equipment replacement, security improvements, new construction, replacement of steam lines and boiler plants, upgrades in emergency power distribution, and purchases of additional emergency generators among others.

To help Veterans access care, Recovery Act projects in VA medical facilities will add or improve more than 26,000 parking spaces and 39 elevator banks are being built or upgraded. VA will upgrade nearly 14,000 inpatient bed spaces, while 16 pharmacy renovation projects will help Veterans get medicines quicker and more efficiently. More than 14,400 clinical improvement projects, some with multiple exam rooms, will be undertaken.

Funds are also helping ensure VA health care facilities function more efficiently (by reducing annual recurring maintenance and upkeep cost) and are equipped to provide world-class care to Veterans.

Specific projects include:

· Bedford, Mass., VA Medical Center (VAMC) mental health unit renovation, $7.165 million;

· Philadelphia VAMC emergency room renovations, $4.74 million;

· Cleveland VAMC surgical suite refurbishment, $8.5 million;

· New Haven, Conn., VAMC private and semi-private inpatient units, $7.743 million;

· Hines, Ill., VAMC electrical distribution infrastructure upgrade, $8 million.

VA serves 5.5 million Veterans annually in its hospitals, outpatient clinics and rural health programs.

Energy Conservation

VA is promoting energy conservation and reducing its environmental footprint by investing $200 million in Recovery Act funds for renewable energy generation technologies, metering systems, and energy conservation and water-saving measures. In total, the renewable energy systems awarded represent more than 9 megawatts of planned power generating capacity from solar, wind, and cogeneration technologies.

Two national cemeteries, in Bourne, Mass., and San Joaquin, Calif., anticipate producing enough electricity to supply nearly all of their energy needs.

VA is installing solar photovoltaic systems at facilities in Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; Dublin, Ga.; Calverton, N.Y.; San Joaquin, Calif., and Riverside, Calif.

VA is erecting a wind turbine in Bourne, Mass., and is constructing a geothermal system at its medical center in St. Cloud, Minn.

In addition, VA is building renewably fueled cogeneration systems at five medical facilities: Togus, Maine; White River Junction, Vt.; Chillicothe, Ohio; Loma Linda, Calif.; and Canandaigua, N.Y.

VA is installing metering systems at all VA-owned facilities to monitor energy utilities, including electricity, water, chilled water, steam, and natural gas consumption.

VA is also investing $197 million in energy and water infrastructure improvements. VA facilities across the country are upgrading their facilities to reduce energy consumption and water usage and better manage related costs.

Claims Processing Improvements

VA is working to improve the systems for processing claims to more quickly and efficiently deliver benefits to Veterans. VA has obligated $150 million to hire, train and equip new employees to improve claims processing and speed the delivery of benefits to Veterans. VA has hired approximately 2,700 temporary and permanent employees to assist with processing Veterans' claims for VA benefits.

National Cemeteries Revitalized

Throughout VA’s system of 131 national cemeteries, 391 improvement projects are underway using $50 million in Recovery Act funding. VA is restoring and preserving 49 historic monuments and memorials, becoming more energy efficient by investing in renewable energy sources (solar and wind), moving forward on nine energy conservation projects, and improving access and visitor safety with 49 road, paving and grounds improvement projects.

Recovery Act funds are also being used to raise, realign, and clean approximately 200,000 headstones and markers, repair sunken graves, and renovate turf at 22 VA national cemeteries.

One-time Benefit Payments

The Recovery Act provided one-time $250 economic recovery payments to eligible Veterans, their survivors, and dependents to help mitigate the effects of the current economy. $7.1 million were intended for administrative support of the one-time benefit payments. VA was able to successfully administer the program with a savings of approximately $6.1 million, and may return the remaining funds to the US Treasury. {Press Release}

As to the VA one can just follow the VA's press releases

You can also get same from the other Agencies not to mention all the Congressional Committee's and Sub Committee's, not what the mainstream media are feeding but the reality.

And add this:

Indian Veterans Housing Act Signed Into Law

13 October 2010 - Representative Ann Kirkpatrick announced today that her Indian Veterans Housing Opportunity Act has been signed into law. This major success on behalf of tribal communities will prevent Native American Veterans, their families and survivors from being denied low-income housing assistance through the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) due to their military service. The law takes effect immediately.

Congress passed NAHASDA in 1996 to allow tribal communities to more easily access housing grants. The program provides support to families who make less than 80 percent of the median income of their area. While it has helped folks in Indian Country, an oversight has allowed Veterans disability and survivor benefits to count as income, causing some former service members to be made ineligible for much-needed housing assistance.

H.R. 3553 fixes this flaw by specifically excluding Veterans benefits from the definition of income, finally correcting a problem that has disadvantaged thousands. Over 20 percent of folks in Indian Country have served in the military.

“For over a decade, Native Americans who fought for this Nation watched as their Veterans’ benefits actually created new burdens for them, and that’s unacceptable,” said Congresswoman Kirkpatrick. “This outrageous defect in the law demanded action, and I am grateful that the Navajo Housing Authority brought it to my attention. {read rest}

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