VA, HUD and Jon Bon Jovi Announce “Project REACH” Grand Prize Winner

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the winner of a mobile application competition designed to make local assistance resources accessible to people helping homeless Veterans and others in need. The winner of the $25,000 prize was Reston, Va.-based Qbase, which developed "Homeless REACH." VA's Center for Innovation (VACI) sponsored the competition, called Project REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and Homeless), in collaboration with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services.

"This contest tapped into a community of software developers who rose to the challenge to use mobile and information technology in support of our mission – to better serve Veterans," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "The result is a robust and scalable tool for caregivers, social workers, and anyone who wants to help homeless Veterans access the support and physical care they need."

Read more: VA, HUD and Jon Bon Jovi Announce “Project REACH” Grand Prize Winner

Vet Groups Question White House Budget Plan

Vets-MeetingVeteran service organizations are forming a united front against President Obama's debt-reduction plan that shrinks cost of living increases for retirees and disabled vets by linking them to the consumer price index.

Backers of "Chained CPI" say it would shrink future raises by only fractions. And the same linkage is proposed for Social Security benefits, a move that also has groups representing America's aged population lining up alongside veterans organizations.

"There is a multiplier effect on retirees and disabled retirees from the military," said Mike Hayden, deputy director for government relations with the Military Officers Association of America.

He explained that an E-7 that retired after 20 years could lose about $100,000 if they lived to 85 in military retired pay with Chained CPI.

"If you're a [retired] lieutenant colonel, you can double that," Hayden said.

Read more: Vet Groups Question White House Budget Plan

New Automation Process Cuts Post-9/11 GI Bill Claims Processing Times by More Than Half

WASHINGTON – As part of its ongoing transformation from paper-based to electronic claims processing, the Department of Veterans Affairs has continued to improve the automated payment of benefits for Veterans participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill education program. As a result, VA is now providing benefit payments to currently enrolled students in an average of six days – cutting by more than half the processing time experienced during the spring enrollment period last year.

This enhancement to VA's automated processing system, called the Long Term Solution (LTS), uses approximately 80 business rules to support end-to-end automation of Post-9/11 GI Bill claims, ensuring accurate payments without the need for manual handling.

Read more: New Automation Process Cuts Post-9/11 GI Bill Claims Processing Times by More Than Half

Care and Benefits for Veterans Strengthened by $153 Billion VA Budget

WASHINGTON – Continuing the transformation of the Department of Veterans Affairs into a 21st century organization, the President has proposed a $152.7 billion budget, a 10.2 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2013, that will support VA's goals to expand access to health care and other benefits, eliminate the disability claims backlog, and end homelessness among Veterans. The budget includes $66.5 billion in discretionary spending, largely for healthcare, and $86.1 billion for mandatory programs – mostly disability compensation and pensions for Veterans.

"This budget will have a positive impact on the lives of Veterans, their families and survivors for generations to come," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "The President believes in Veterans and their families and believes in providing them the care and benefits they've earned and deserve."

The $66.5 billion total in discretionary spending includes approximately $3.1 billion in collections from health insurers and Veteran copayments in addition to the $63.5 billion in discretionary funding announced last week.

Read more: Care and Benefits for Veterans Strengthened by $153 Billion VA Budget

VA Will Use 'Preliminary Findings' To Reduce Verification Denials

WASHINGTON - To speed eligibility determinations of Veteran-owned small businesses for Department of Veterans Affairs' "Veterans First" contracts, VA will allow applicants the opportunity to correct minor deficiencies before an initial denial is issued. Starting May 1, VA will begin providing preliminary findings to applicants before completing a comprehensive review of their submissions. This is expected to greatly reduce the number of VA's initial denials and subsequent requests for reconsideration from companies.

"A large percentage of verification denials are due to single points of failure that can be easily and quickly corrected. This improved process will enable us to bring more deserving Veteran business owners into VA's system," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "Our Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) will refine and measure the new process through pilot testing that has begun."

Read more: VA Will Use 'Preliminary Findings' To Reduce Verification Denials

Anonymous - Philadelphia, PA

"I am the wife of a Viet Nam Veteran. My husband started going to PVMSEC 10 years ago for help. No mere words could ever express how much his life and in turn our family life has changed for the better in those years. I am and always will be grateful for the wonderful care he has received at the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service Center & Education Center."

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