New VA bill established to assist post-9/11 veteran caregivers could fall short

On 5 May 2010 President Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, Public Law 111-163. The bill, first of its kind, intends to provide direct assistance to veteran families. However, recent press releases indicate that the bill is in distress. Many articles are quick to fault the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) after the organization missed the 31 January 2011 deadline to start carrying out provisions of the bill, and before that, the 1 November 2010 implementation plan milestone. The VA signed the long-awaited implementation plan on Wednesday 9 February, but the contents of that bill may be falling short of its mark. For instance, only about 10 percent of the intended post-9/11 caregiver population (est. 850) are said to be eligible for assistance.

New benefits – restricted to caregivers of the critically wounded and seriously ill of the post-9/11 veterans – outlined by the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, include: monthly stipend (based on the average home healthcare costs in the veterans hometown), health care coverage, travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying veterans undergoing care), respite care, and mental health services/counseling.

Among those supporting the bill are the following political figures:

  • Sen. Daniel Akaka (HI)
  • Sen. Richard Burr (NC)
  • Sen. Patty Murray (WA), Chairwoman, Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee
  • Rep. Jeff Miller (FL), Chairman, House Committee on Veteran Affairs

While some of the enhancements are currently available, many will require an issuance of regulations, whereas others will remain unavailable. To date, the VA has given no timeline as to when the services will be available to caregivers. However, under the law, the VA must report to Congress within 2 years about the possibilities of providing the enhanced benefits to all post-9/11 caregivers.

The Warrior Gateway can assist those that are affected by the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 by providing veteran caregivers a place to find assistance services located in their hometown. The free-of-charge Warrior Gateway directory currently has over 100 caregiver assistance organizations available for veterans of all eras.

Please feel free to post comments about this blog and suggest other topics you would like to see covered by the Warrior Gateway Government Relations Blog.

Group Therapy Sessions Help Veterans Ease Back Into Society

Today marks the 220th year, of the Coast Guard—Happy Birthday!  Since its creation on August 4, 1790, the Coast Guard has continued its mission of safeguarding our nation’s shores.

Coast Guard veterans, like many other service men and women protecting our nation, have faced hardships after returning from service.  Ginger Davis, a veteran of the Coast Guard and the Army National Guard, admits that her return to civilian life after deployment to Iraq was not easy.  To cope and ease this transition, she meets with other female veterans for a regular group therapy in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Iraq War Veteran Elizabeth Jackson also attends these group sessions. She shared her biggest concern during her transition: finding a job. She eventually found a job at the local Veterans Affairs Clinic in Daytona Beach and is continuing her employment there.

If you or a military community member is having trouble finding a job or would like to join a veteran support group, the Warrior Gateway can help you. Click here to access the directory and find a local organization that best fits your needs.

Do you have recommendations for service providers in Florida or want to provide feedback on your service provider experience? We want to hear from you—email us at the Warrior Gateway team!

For Audrey Parente’s original article, Group Therapy Helps Iraq Veteran Ease Back into Life, click here.

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Were You “Stop-Lossed”? Don’t Forget to Claim Your Special Pay Benefit

Time is running out for service members and veteran to claim their Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP).   With an average benefit of $3,700, there is good reason for veterans and their families to take action.

The 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act established RSLSP, and provides $500 for each month/partial month served in stop loss status. Those eligible for RSLP include service members, veterans, and beneficiaries of service members whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009.

If you or someone you know may be eligible, visit http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0710_stoploss/ This Department of Defense webpage links to service-specific sites with more information on the RSLSP claims process.

Looking for help navigating the Federal claims process? Visit the Warrior Gateway Directory.  We currently have 1,274 organizations that offer assistance with federal benefits.

Have experience with a claims organization? Write about your experience so others may share your insights. You can also add organizations that are not yet part of the Directory.

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Gateway Guide: Your Search Results Jumped in Number? It isn’t Magic, it’s a Feature!

At the Warrior Gateway, we’re committed to making our Web portal as easy to use as possible.  That’s why we’re launching a new series of updates that highlight capabilities and features, answer community questions, and help you get the most out of our ever-growing Directory and our site as a whole.

This week we are highlighting an interesting element of the Directory’s search technology – it automatically expands your search

Let’s say you searched for “mental health providers” in “Washington, DC”.  After you enter your search term, you’ll see a map overlaid with the first 19 results for that search (as in image 1).  However, the Directory contains more entries than these initial 19. 

Image 1

As you move to page 2 under “Go to page”, you will notice that the total number of results increase (Image 2).  The map has also expanded, allowing you to view a larger geographic area.  Don’t worry, nothing’s broken! 

Image 2

The Directory automatically increases the search radius as you progress through the search. 

In our example, the first page search results (Image 1) are the service providers closest to the center point of the location searched, which in this case was Washington, DC.  As you go to the second page, you are able to view service providers across an expanded radius (Image 2). 

So the next time you run a search and don’t find what you’re looking for on the first page, try going to the next page.  You’ll notice an increased number of results and be able to filter through the expanded list.

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New features launched for service providers: announcements, events, & responding to comments

We’re committed to making the Warrior Gateway a useful tool for service providers. Which is why we’ve added a number of features that should allow service providers to communicate with their clients more, right on their profiles in the Warrior Gateway Directory:

1) Announcements: You can now post an announcement or ‘Message to the Users’ on your profile page. This can be an announcement for a specific piece of information (e.g., “We’ll be closed on Monday”), a general welcome message (e.g., “We are a haven for military families; come join us!”); or anything else you like! You can post an announcement through the ‘Edit profile’ screen…

…and it will display on the right side of your profile, below the map:

2) Events: you can now add listings for upcoming events your organization is hosting, which users will see on your profile. Simply click the ‘add an event’ link below your organization’s description in your profile page…

…fill in the event info in the fields that appear…

…and your event will be displayed on your profile page:

3) Official responses to user reviews: we allow users to leave ratings and reviews about service providers listed in the Directory. We wanted these reviews to spur communication between you and your clients, so we added the ability to add an ‘official response’ to any user review left about your organization. Simply click the ‘leave a response’ link on any user comment on your profile…

…type in your response in the box that pops up…

…and your response will be displayed in a blue box directly below the user’s comment:

Please note that to use all these features, you must be logged in and you must have already claimed your organization’s profile on the Warrior Gateway.

All you service providers out there — give these new features a spin and let us know what you think.

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