VA Claims: Disabled Veterans Community|Hadit.com

Bad Paper Discharge? Mental Health Options Limited

When you get an other than honorable discharge or a bad conduct discharge or a dishonorable discharge, you lose virtually all of your access to Veterans Affairs benefits.

From the article

When service members separate from the military, their futures depend on something called a characterization of service. There are five different possibilities: honorable, general under honorable conditions, other than honorable, bad conduct, and dishonorable.

Other than honorable” means the service member has had a pattern of misconduct or has been convicted by a civilian court of a crime.

Meanwhile, “bad conduct” and “dishonorable” result when a service member commits a felony-level offense. Those two categories, the lowest on the military scale, are also known as “punitive discharges.”

Military discharges are a reward system. Serving without bad behavior or crime earns service members support from the VA. But if they cause trouble, they’re mostly on their own.

In July, the Veterans Affairs revised its policies and began offering 90 days of emergency mental health care to veterans with other than honorable discharges – people who it says are at greater risk of suicide and homelessness.” Continue Reading …


Have you tried going to the Vet Center ? I did and I’m glad.

I haven’t been to the Vet Center in a few years. My therapist there transferred and I moved to the civilian sector. The transition from one to the other was about as seamless as I could have hoped for thanks to my Vet Center therapist. She set me up for success with my new therapist and with myself. I had been in regular therapy since 1991 in California but in 1998 I moved to Missouri and a psych doc recommended I try the Vet Center.
The atmosphere and attitude was far removed from the hospital setting. I felt like even if they weren’t happy to see me they were polite enough to look like they were and I was cool with that.
It made a real difference for me, it might be worth it for you … If you are eligible (see below) and in need check for the closest Vet Center here.

Here’s a little history

The Vet Center Program was established by Congress in 1979 out of the recognition that a significant number of Vietnam era vets were still experiencing readjustment problems.  Vet Centers are community based and part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  In April 1991, in response to the Persian Gulf War, Congress extended the eligibility to veterans who served during other periods of armed hostilities after the Vietnam era.  Those other periods are identified as Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, and Kosovo/Bosnia.  In October 1996, Congress extended the eligibility to include WWII and Korean Combat Veterans. The goal of the Vet Center program is to provide a broad range of counseling, outreach, and referral services to eligible veterans in order to help them make a satisfying post-war readjustment to civilian life.  On April 1, 2003 the Secretary of Veterans Affairs extended eligibility for Vet Center services to veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and on June 25, 2003 Vet Center eligibility was extended to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and subsequent operations within the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).  The family members of all veterans listed above are eligible for Vet Center services as well. On August 5, 2003 VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi authorized Vet Centers to furnish bereavement counseling services to surviving parents, spouses,  children and siblings of service members who die of any cause while on active duty, to include federally activated Reserve and National Guard personnel.


Readjustment counseling is a wide range of psycho social services offered to eligible Veterans, Service members, and their families in the effort to make a successful transition from military to civilian life.  They include:

  • Individual and group counseling for Veterans, Service members, and their families
  • Family counseling for military related issues
  • Bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death
  • Military sexual trauma counseling and referral
  • Outreach and education including PDHRA, community events, etc.
  • Substance abuse assessment and referral
  • Employment assessment & referral
  • VBA benefits explanation and referral
  • Screening & referral for medical issues including TBI, depression, etc.

Veterans Center Eligibility

Any Veterans and active duty Service members, to include members of the National Guard and Reserve components, who:

  • Have served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility*

  • Experienced a military sexual trauma;

  • Provided direct emergent medical care or mortuary services, while serving on active military duty, to the casualties of war, or;

  • Served as a member of an unmanned aerial vehicle crew that provided direct support to operations in a combat zone or area of hostility.

  • Vietnam Era veterans who have accessed care at a Vet Center prior to January 1, 2004

    Vet Center services are also provided to family members of Veterans and Service members for military related issues when it is found aid in the readjustment of those that have served. This includes bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death.

Service in combat theater or area of hostility to include but not limited to:

  • World War II (including American Merchant Marines)
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam War
  • Lebanon
  • Grenada
  • Desert Storm/ Desert Shield
  • Bosnia
  • Kosovo
  • Operations in the former Yugoslavia area
  • Global War on Terrorism
  • Operation Enduring Freedom
  • Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Operation New Dawn

VA Launches Program Aimed at Providing Veterans More Options in Claims Disagreements 

Former Veterans Affairs Attorney Robin M. Webb writes on her blog

By its own terms, the VAIMA does not go into effect until February 2019 and does not apply to current claims and appeals, but recently, VA announced that it was initiating this month the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP), to provide some of the benefits of the VAIMA.  Participation is voluntary at this time.

In this respect, as to whether to stay in the current appeals process, which is called “legacy,” or to opt-in and participate in RAMP, one needs to keep in mind that once you leave “legacy,” you cannot go back.  Your appeal stays in RAMP.

I mention this as an important consideration because RAMP is being initiated without any implementing regulations at all.  Let me explain.  A statute, like the VAIMA, is a law.  In turn, to implement a law, the appropriate agency drafts regulations, putting into place “rules” that govern how that agency enacts, applies, and enforces the statute, the law; in other words, the “rules” lay out what the law really means and its legal and practical effects.  There is none of that with RAMP.

Veterans Affairs Press Release
11/02/2017 WASHINGTON
Veterans Affairs announced that it will launch the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program, or “RAMP,” with the goal of providing Veterans with the earliest possible resolution of their disagreement with VA’s decision on their benefit claims.
RAMP will provide expanded opportunities for Veterans to enter the new, more efficient claims review process outlined in the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on Aug. 23.
“At its core, VA’s mission is to provide Veterans with the highest quality of service,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The new process under the RAMP initiative reflects major steps in not only VA’s effort of continuous improvement, but also in providing greater choice for Veterans and their families.”
VA began its 18-month implementation of the new process immediately after the bill became law.
By February 2019, all requests for review of VA decisions will be processed under the new, multi-lane process. VA’s legacy appeals process was slow and complex. The new law streamlines the process and includes safeguards ensuring claimants receive the earliest effective date possible for their claims.
Participation in RAMP is voluntary; however, Veterans can expect to receive a review of VA’s initial decision on their claim faster in RAMP than in the legacy appeals process. The initiative allows participants to have their decisions reviewed in the Higher-Level or Supplemental Claim review lanes outlined in the law.
The reviewer can overturn previous decisions based on a difference of opinion, or return it for correction. Participants who select the Supplemental Claim Lane may submit new evidence and may receive VA’s assistance in developing evidence in support of their claim.
Veterans who disagree with the decisions they receive in RAMP can appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in the new process and have their appeal decided by the Board when the new law becomes effective in February 2019.  Veterans who participate in RAMP will not be able to return to the legacy appeals process.
VA encourages eligible Veterans with pending appeals to participate in RAMP and the benefits of the new review process. VA will begin sending eligible Veterans an invitation to participate in early November and continue the program until February 2019.
VA will continue working with Congress, Veterans Service Organizations and other Veteran advocates to implement the new appeals process over the next several months as VA continues to make bold, positive change on behalf of Veterans, their families and survivors.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin says “we will not tolerate whistleblower retaliation in the VA”, and yet, 9 months into the new Administration the games continue

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…
VA Secretary Shulkin says “we will not tolerate whistleblower retaliation in the VA”, however 9 months into the new Administration and the games played at the VA that were going to go away are still being played.
Quoted in the article is Katherine Mitchel, a doc at the Phoenix VA. She lists continuing retaliatory measures, including Veterans Affairs breaching the agreement to settle her grievances.
Katherine Mitchell, a VA physician in Phoenix:
“Although I do have a good relationship with my current immediate supervisor, the overall … retaliation in my current job worsened in January 2017 and continues unabated. The overt retaliation from Veterans Affairs Central Office (VACO) also worsened under the Trump administration … Continue Reading

Dec 2015 –  “Dr. Mitchell told a Senate Veterans’ Affairs field hearing outside Phoenix about “dangerous Emergency Department patient safety defects,” including “a significant lack of nurse triage training, and inadequate nursing triage protocols” and the Phoenix VA hospital’s “dysfunctional institutional culture.” The hospital was at the scandal’s epicenter.”

From the written testimony of Dr. Katherine L. Mitchell to the Senate Committee on VA 12/14/15 Field Hearing

“I am a VA physician who worked within the Phoenix VA Emergency Department (EED)) for almost 10 years until I involuntarily was transferred to a defunct VA clinic in retaliation for repeatedly identifying dangerous ED patient safety deficits . After year s of having my reports of life – threatening conditions ignored by internal Phoenix VA mechanisms I publically became a whistleblower in April 2014 in an attempt to have the VA resolve those many serious problems. I alerted the public and Congress to unsafe conditions in the Phoenix VA Emergency Department, whistleblower retaliation, facility scheduling irregularities, and other issues. After the Veterans Health Administration (VVHA)) formally acknowledged the workplace retaliation against me, I accepted a position within the VA Veterans Integrated Service Network (VVISN)) 18 office as a Specialty Care Medicine coordinator.. Although I continually advocate for improvements at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs ED and Mental Health Clinic, in my current position I have been told by Veterans Affairs administrators that I am not allowed to actively address the known dangerous conditions.”

Washington Post Full Article

VA Announces Veterans Coordinated Access & Rewarding Experiences (‘CARE’) Act

Replaces Current ‘30-day/40-mile’ System With Patient/Provider-centric Decision-making 

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has presented the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees with the administration’s draft proposal of the Veterans Coordinated Access & Rewarding Experiences (CARE) Act, designed to improve Veterans’ experiences with and access to health care, building on the best features of VA’s existing community care programs and strengthening VA’s ability to furnish care in its facilities.
In order to meet Veterans’ needs quickly and in a way that is easy to understand, the bill aims to:

  • Clarify and simplify eligibility requirements,
  • Set the framework for VA to continue to build a high-performing network,
  • Streamline clinical and administrative processes,
  • Implement new care coordination support for Veterans, and
  • Merge and modernize community care programs.

“We want Veterans to work with their VA physicians to make informed decisions that are best for their clinical needs, whether in the VA or in the community, and this bill does just that, while strengthening VA services at the same time,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin.
The bill would replace the current wait-time and distance eligibility criteria under the Choice Program (“30-day/40-mile”) with criteria that:

  • Place the Veteran and his or her physician at the center of the decision process on how and where to get the best care available,
  • Ensure VA is improving medical facilities and staffing levels to meet Veterans’ needs in areas where VA care is substandard, and
  • Offer options for Veterans to use a network of walk-in clinics for minor illnesses and injuries.

The CARE Act also includes:

  • Proposals for new workforce tools to assist in maintaining and strengthening VA’s world-class medical staff,
  • A number of business process enhancements to improve financial management of the Community Care program,
  • Provisions that would strengthen VA’s ability to partner with other federal agencies and streamline VA’s real property management authorities.

More information about access to care at the VA can be found at https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/.

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