Read NACVSO-Nov-Dec-Jan C text version

NACVSO

2200 Wilson Blvd. Suite 102, #530 Arlington, VA 22201-3324

News

Nov-Dec 2006, Jan. 2007

Ann Knowles, President

A Publication from the National Association of County Veteran Service Officers, Inc. Volume 16, Issue 5

Message from the President

IN THIS ISSUE.... Message from the President -- Page 1 1st Vice-President's Report -- Page 2 Letter from Chairman Buyer -- Page 3 New Kid on the e-block -- Page 4 Continuing Education Requirements -- Page 4 NACVSO Scholarships -- Page 4 110th Legislative Platform -- Page 4 Articles: VA Takes Nine Months to Locate Data on Disability Claims by Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars -- Page 5 Court Martial Records -- Page 5 TRICARE Retiree Dental Program -- Page 6 Veterans to Receive Annual Cost of Living Adjustment -- Page 6 TSGLI - Not Just a Combat Benefit -- Page 7 Vet's Commission votes 13-0 Not to Recommend Lump Sum Payment -- Page 8 GAO Report on IU -- Page 9 Happy Holidays! -- Page 9 What's Happening? I had this question a couple of days ago and I realized it was time to give a report on what your President has been doing. Well, I have not been in my office very much but have been to Washington, DC for meetings and testimony before the House Veterans Affairs Committee: have been to my State Conference and numerous day meetings. I have had to knock on the door to make sure I was at the right office. But back to the Washington trips. We had the honor of being invited to testify before Chairman Steve Buyer and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on the past year in veterans legislative efforts and the upcoming year and suggestions for improvement in Veterans Affairs. We were very pleased to be able to give our comments to the committee on how things were in the past and how we feel they can be improved for the next year. Darlene McMartin, our 1st Vice President, gave the testimony and did an outstanding job. She was one of five presenters and she stood her ground and made us all proud. "Way to go Darlene!" At the end of the testimonies of the different presenters, the Chairman asked each of the presenters what their position was on the Senate legislation that had been introduced," Veterans Choice of Representation Act of 2006", (lawyers being able to file claims for veterans). The vast majority of the presenters did not state a position but NACVSO did. I had previously addressed this issue back in July before the subcommittee, with Chairman Jeff Miller, so we were prepared to give not only a position but what could be the very best solution. We have since then been asked by Chairman Buyer to tell how we arrived at this position and we have responded to his request. I have asked Gary to get this on the web as soon as possible so everyone can read our comments. I am sure each of you will be very proud of the response that the Judge Advocate, Legislative Chairman, Washington Liaison, Executive Director, Darlene and I pulled together for this response. This was truly a case of several committees and officers working together for the good of the association. Well this is part of what has been happening in the President's corner as well as working with the conference director Jane Roland, getting in gear for the next conference and working on the next two. There is never a quiet moment around here. We will be attending the Executive pre-conference meeting in Jan. 2007 in Milwaukee and if you have any concerns that need to be brought before the board please get them to me or any member of the executive com-

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mittee so it can be addressed. I would like to hear from the membership on how you feel the board is responding to your needs and if we are doing the wishes of the association. I have stated many times, and I will again, this is the memberships association we are the caretakers and are carrying out the business of the membership. So if you have a concern please let me or any board member know, if you have any comments or suggestions. This association will only be as good as you all make it. Looking forward to seeing you in June 2007!

The veterans served our great country and through effective advocacy we can serve them using a nonadversarial approach. NACVSO does this through our Legislative efforts; we want to effect changes in policies and procedures. We know who the veteran is and by our taking their concerns to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs we can have their voice heard in a positive concise manner. We address problems that we have encountered and solutions to those problems. This association has always provided a solution and as an active participant in the solution we work with others not against them. In the testimony we addressed two issues; the first one being NACVSO' s efforts in Legislation during the past year; and what we envision for the upcoming year with suggestions for improvements in Veterans Affairs. The testimony reported on legislation that NACVSO has fully supported as HR 4264 The Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2005 and its companion bill in the Senate S1990, HR 4355 The Rural Veterans Services Outreach and Training Act and HR 616 Department of Veterans Affairs Claims Backlog Reduction Act of 2005. Both of these NACVSO believes to be on the right track to improve services to our great nation's veterans. The current and next legislative session needs to ensure that the County Veterans Service Officers are utilized to their full potential. It is necessary to make certain education training is standardized. The CVSO's and VSO's need to be assisting the veteran with the same knowledge of benefits no matter where the veteran lives. Education to the service officer providing the information to the veterans at the grassroots level is paramount. Funding is necessary to provide assistance to those who are not afforded the same opportunities in training. NACVSO provides an outstanding training program; just imagine what we could do for veterans if all CVSO's were given the chance to attend our annual training conference. We have determined that if all CVSO's, who do the work providing services to the veterans living in our communities are given the best educational opportunities and provided the best resources, we will be able to recognize, locate and file benefit applications for the veterans and widow's who have fallen through the cracks. Along with our continued partnership with the VA in providing them with fully developed claims, which speeds up the claims process, to get the benefit back to the veteran or dependent that truly deserve what

....cont'd on Page 4

1st Vice-President's Report

Darlene McMartin, 1st Vice- President

Throughout the year, the National Association of County Veteran Service Officers and other Veteran advocates are requested by the Legislature to present issues that are important to veterans that we serve. NACVSO has had several opportunities to express our point of view on many issues several times during the last few years. Through these efforts, the Legislative Committee has produced written testimony of our beliefs and recommendations in which we have so much to say and to propose it can sometimes be a difficult thing to condense into a 10-page synopsis. The committee prepares testimonies for NACVSO Executive Board members to present and White Papers to provide on many legislative issues and their joint efforts need to be recognized and applauded. This September I had such an opportunity to express through verbal and written testimony, NACVSO's position at the September 20-21st Look Back, Look Ahead hearings to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Over these two days members of this committee heard points of view from over 20 different organizations. The 10 minutes of verbal presentation that we were given to get our views heard took preparation, even though the information is what I know and truly believe to be in the best interest of the Association and the veterans we serve. As I listened to the others I was impressed with the organizations that testified, as we all are, they are just as passionate in what they believe to be in the best interest of the veterans they serve. We all talk the same talk providing services to the veterans who are entitled in a timely manner.

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Page 3 2006-2007 NACVSO Officers President Ann G. Knowles 910-592-2862 [email protected] 1st Vice President Darlene McMartin 712-328-5797 [email protected] 2nd Vice President Jim Tackett 719-444-5626 [email protected] Secretary Beth Barnes 209-533-6880 [email protected] Treasurer Jim Golgart 507-357-2251 [email protected] Judge Advocate Clarke Barnes 309-944-3674 [email protected] National Service Director John Dorrity 732-929-2096 [email protected] Executive Committee Members Bob Park 330-297-3545 [email protected] Tom Risch 419-586-3542 [email protected] Jim Young 608-637-5273 [email protected] Olie Pope 512-854-4138 [email protected] Women Veterans Rep. Rebecca Lee 740-474-3650 [email protected] Immediate Past President John Dorrity 732-929-2096 [email protected] Executive Director Ron Melendez 909-623-4200 [email protected]

Letter from the U.S. House of Representatives

Committee on Veterans' Affairs

The following are excerpts from Rep. Steve Buyer's letter dated Sept. 28, 2006 to NACVSO 1st Vice President Darlene McMartin for her testimony at the Look Back, Look Ahead hearing: "Over the course of two days of productive hearings, the Committee heard the views of 20 veterans' and military service organizations (VSOs and MSOs). The testimony was substantive, insightful and will ultimately be very helpful as we develop our budget views and estimates and consider legislation in the near future. The quality of testimony underscores the importance of hearing from VSOs and MSOs early in each year's budget cycle, and I appreciate your contribution on behalf of your membership. During the past year, we saw a strong VA budget for 2007, as the administration responded positively to Congressional oversight and veterans' advocacy in the wake of last summer's projected funding shortfalls by improving its budget processes. VA once again earned praise for quality health care, but we saw a deepening of the disability claims backlog and little progress from the Pentagon in closing the gap with VA on electronic medical records. If we are to achieve truly seamless transition between the military and VA, this is a key component that cannot be shortchanged. I was pleased to hear the Committe's concerns in this arena echoed by our VSO and MSO partners last week, and I ask your continuing help. The House has now passed H.R. 5835, the Veterans Identity and Credit Security Act of 2006. This bipartisan legislation will safeguard the sensitive information belonging to veterans and give the VA Secretary the tools he needs to ensure an information management and security system equal to the importance of VA's mission. We are working with our colleagues in the Senate to move this legislation to the President. As I said in the hearing, America is at war. Our men and women in uniform are performing their duty magnificently and coming home with the simple expectation that we will be there for them. It is up to all of us to help these returning servicemembers transition into civilian life. VA has its structure, but personal contact, which is your strength, plays a tremendous role. When you put your arm around a young specialist or lance corporal or seaman or airman just back from war on terror you help honor our promise. I look forward to working with you and the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers over the next year, and will anticipate your testimony in February, as we begin developing the Committee's budget views and estimates for VA's Fiscal year 2008 budget."

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was promised. This is what I foresee as a win win for the veteran the widow as well as the CVSO and the VA. It has been a great honor to represent County Veteran Service Officers across the nation and when the opportunity presents itself again, I will continue to do my very best for our association.

**Note: The testimony, the legislation and white papers referenced are on www.nacvso.org

see 16 hours on the form as long as you fulfill the 4 C/P, 2 Appeals, 1 medical hours. I hope this helps.

NACVSO Scholarships

Jerry Lolley, Chairman

New Kid on the e-block

Jim Young, Executive Board Member

As a new member of the Executive Board, it is my intention to voice the membership's principles as it relates to our future as an Association and the only way to do that is by being involved. I believe we have to stay focused, open communications to help eliminate internal disputes, work together towards common and realistic goals, and make decisions that are in the best interest of NACVSO. If we do those things I know we stand a real good chance of becoming an organization to be reckoned with at the Federal level.

Continuing Education Requirements

George Hunt

A new year is only a couple months away. Its time to begin planning for the Annual NACVSO meeting and school. 2007 will be in Milwaukee, WI. At the Conference, in Reno, our Assn. voted to provide three $500 scholarships for the 2007 Conference. If you are planning to attend and need financial assistance to get there for Accreditation Training, I encourage you to access the NACVSO website and print off a scholarship application. You can FAX the completed application to me; Jerry Lolley (Meade County VSO) at 1-605-347-5925 OR snail mail to Meade County Veterans Service; 1425 Sherman St.; Sturgis, SD 57785-1484. In order for the selection committee to have time to consider the applications, make selections and get the money to the winners in time for registration, I need the applications (at least) postmarked by March 15, 2007. I am planning a raffle to raise money for 2008. If anyone knows of some legal restriction on raffles in Wisconsin, please let me know so I can plan something else. As always, we're looking for corporate sponsors for the scholarship program, to ease the fundraising efforts and possibly even fund a larger number of scholarships. See you all in Milwaukee in June!

The NACVSO Education Committee policy requires: (1). Attendance at the annual training conference CEU, TRIP or Accreditation courses. OR (2). Attend 16 hours of classroom instruction to include 4 hours of compensation and pension, 2 hours of appeals and 1 hour of medical instruction. The remaining 12 hours are elective. -- Provide a completed NACVSO CEU form (Can be downloaded from the NACVSO WEB site: www.nacvso.org) -- Copy of training syllabus All of item 2 should be mailed to CEU coordinator prior to December 31 of each year. George Hunt P.O. Box 905 Carthage, NC 28327 Many of you do not complete the CEU form as required. Please make an effort to comply as this creates additional work at a critical time of the year. I only need to

The 110th Legislative Platform

John Steele,Legislative Committee Chairman

NACVSO members, the Legislative Committee will shortly be in the process of preparing the Legislative Platform for the 110th Congress to present to the Executive Board for their consideration and adoption at the January 2007 meetings in Milwaukee. Your input in this process is invaluable, please e-mail me ([email protected]) any legislative efforts or bills that you believe we should support or oppose. I will then pass the suggestions on to the Legislative Committee for further consideration. For reference, the 109th Legislative Platform can be found on NACVSO Web Site under Legislation. As a note, I am sure the 110th Legislative Platform will contain much of the same language, as did the 109th

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Legislative Platform; however, this is a grand opportunity for you to provide valuable input at a critical time in the process. After the January meetings in Milwaukee, it is our hope once again to hit the ground running in this effort. Once the 110th Congress is sworn in, whether it is the Republicans or the Democrats, or a combination of both which lead in the House and Senate, we must be flexible and be prepared to work very hard to continue our efforts to succeed. The Legislative Committee looks forward to continuing its effort in serving this Association.

VA Takes Nine Months to Locate Data on Disability Claims by Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

For more information contact: Meredith Fuchs/Catherine Nielsen - 202/994-7000

Washington DC, October 10, 2006 - One in four veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are filing disability claims, according to records released by the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) under the Freedom of Information Act after nine months of denying their existence and posted today on the National Security Archive Web site. The VA responded to the Archive's original January 2006 FOIA request for documents about the number of disability benefits claims filed by veterans from the current war in Iraq by claiming that no documents existed, apparently because the reports concern the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) rather than being limited to the Iraq War. Notably, one of the reports indicates that GWOT is the "military name for the current wars in and around Afghanistan and Iraq." A similar report was released in December 2005 detailing Gulf War veterans' benefit activity. An updated copy of this report was released in March 2006. Only after the Archive administratively appealed the VA's "no documents" claims and advised the VA that it was prepared to file a lawsuit did the agency manage to locate the records. One is a January 30, 2006, document: "Compensation and Pension Benefit Activity Among 464,144 Veterans Deployed to the Global War on Terror." It reports that more than 150,000 deployed Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq) veterans, out of more than

560,000 veterans of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), filed disability compensation and pension benefits claims with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). The other is a July 20, 2006, document: "Compensation and Pension Benefit Activity Among Veterans of the Global War on Terrorism." Veterans' groups have criticized the VA for using emergency appropriations to fund veterans' benefits rather than realistically planning and budgeting for the veterans' needs. According to Veterans for America, the newly released data suggests official estimates dramatically understate the future cost of the current Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. If the current trend continues, then VA could receive as many as 400,000 disability claims from the 1.6 million deployed active duty and reserve service members in the Global War on Terrorism. Jonathan Powers, Associate Director of Veterans for America and an Iraq War veteran, warned, "VA already has a backlog, and the claims process is only going to get worse unless VA takes action now. VA has no plan or funding to process and pay existing and future claims to ensure our veterans promptly receive the disability benefits and healthcare care they earned." In its most recent FOIA Annual Report, the VA purported to process 1.9 million FOIA requests during FY 2005, with a median processing time of 11 days. Meredith Fuchs, the Archive's General Counsel, expressed dismay at how the FOIA request was handled: "For the agency to take nine months to `find' information that is of clear current public interest in the context of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism is astounding. It is one thing for VA to be reluctant to deliver bad news, but another thing entirely to deny the existence of the information."

Court Martial Records

In response to a request for information from Louis Williams, Veteran Service Officer from Cabarrus County, North Carolina, the following information was provided from the US Army Judiciary, Office of the Clerk of Court. This office has custody of the Army's permanent courtmartial records; namely, all records of trial by general court-martial and records of those trials by special courtmartial in which the sentence approved by the convening authority included a bad conduct discharge. Copies can be obtained by writing to: Department of the Army US Army Judiciary 901 N. Stuart St Arlington, Virginia 22203-1837

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The other records that is, records of trial by summary court-martial and by special courts-martial not involving a bad conduct discharge are maintained temporarily by the reviewing staff Judge Advocate office, then transferred to a Federal records Center and destroyed 10 years after the staff judge advocate review was completed. Evidence of a court-martial conviction are promulgating orders maintain in the service member's military personnel records jacket (DA Form 201). You may write for additional information at the following address: National Personnel Records Center ATTN: Military Personnel Records 9700 Page Ave. St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5200

and making sure to have regular dental checkups are all important steps in maintaining good dental health. The TRDP also covers such preventive services as cleaning and fluoride treatments for adults and children at 100 percent of the program's allowable amount, with no applicable deductible of maximum. Coverage for preventive and diagnostic services with no deductibles or maximum gives enrollees the incentive to take good care of one of their most valuable assets: their smile. And when enrollees need more than just the basics to maintain their smile, the TRDP offers coverage for major services like crowns, bridges, partial and full dentures, and even braces for both children and adults. Visit www.trdp.org for complete information about all the benefits available under the TRDP, or call Delta Dental of California, TRDP contract administrator, toll-free at 888-838-8737.

TRICARE Retiree Dental Program

Preventive and diagnostic services with no deductible or maximums add to TRDP value

Major services are also available to help keep good dental health on track

Early diagnosis and prevention of dental disease is key to good dental health. The TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) provides the coverage necessary to help enrollees maintain good oral health and often prevent the need for major dental treatment down the road. Benefits available to TRDP enrollees include diagnostic and preventive care such as regular oral exams and X-rays, routine cleanings and fluoride treatments. Diagnostic dental procedures like oral exams and X-rays - which are covered by the TRDP at 100 percent of the program's allowable amount and are not applicable to the annual deductible and maximums -help the dentist screen for changes in the oral tissues and detect some diseases at a stage when they can be more successfully treated. Preventive care can also help enrollees avoid more serious dental problems in the future. Enrollees should start by developing food dental habits at home along with a program of professional care. Maintaining a balanced diet, limiting snacks, brushing and flossing daily,

Veterans To Receive Annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment

Washington, D.C. ­ On October 16, 2006, President Bush signed into law S. 2562, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2006. S. 2562 passed the House on September 30, 2006. The law provides, effective December 1, 2006, a 3.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to the rates of disability compensation for veterans with serviceconnected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation paid to the survivors of certain service-disabled veterans. The increase exceeded the 2.6 percent projected in the administration's Fiscal Year 2007 budget request. The COLA, based on the rise in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), is equal to that received by Social Security recipients. "I am pleased that we are able to provide for this important cost-of-living adjustment to the benefits provided to our nation's disabled veterans and their survivors," said Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.).

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"TSGLI-Traumatic Injury Protection Not Just a Combat Benefit"

By Karen Naccarelli, VA Insurance Service

Your TSGLI Points of Contact ARMY

Phone:(800) 237-1336 Email: [email protected]

NAVY

Phone:(800) 368-3202 Email: MILL_ [email protected]

A new VA insurance benefit became a reality on Dec. 1, 2005, when the Traumatic Injury Protection program under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) went into effect. TSGLI pays benefits of between $25,000 and $100,000 to seriously injured service members and reservists. Contrary to what you may have heard, you do not have to have been injured in combat. If you are a reservist, you do not have to be on active duty when the injury occurred. Although TSGLI does have a retroactive provision that is limited to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF/Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) injuries, beginning on December 1, 2005, TSGLI protects both active duty and reserve members 24 hours a day, seven days a week regardless of where the member is serving or what the mission is, not just if they are serving in combat missions or in war zones.

TSGLI Lightens the Load

AIR FORCE

Phone:(210) 565-3505 Email: [email protected]

MARINE CORPS

Phone:(877) 216-0825 or (703) 432-9277 Email: [email protected]

Thomas M. Lastowka, the Director of the VA Insurance Program explained the impetus of this new program: "TSGLI was developed because the administration and Congress wanted to address the plight of injured service members and their families who were facing financial difficulties". Family members were leaving their residences and jobs behind to be with the injured member at a medical facility far from home during an extended period of recovery. According to Lastowka, "This resulted in situations where service members and their families were living under tight economic conditions while the member was recovering from a serious injury, often incurring large debts. TSGLI is designed to provide rapid financial assistance to help members and their families during this difficult period."

COAST GUARD

Phone:(202) 267-1648 Email: [email protected]

TSGLI Payments: What's Covered and for How Much

You are eligible for TSGLI payments if you suffer a qualifying traumatic loss. Such losses include but are not limited to, anatomical loss of limbs, blindness, quadriplegia or loss of sight, hearing or speech. Payments range from $25,000 to $100,000 depending on the severity of your injuries. A complete list of covered losses is available at www.insurance.va.gov. This site also describes certain losses that are not covered under TSGLI, such as those incurred due to an illness.

PUBLIC HEALTH

Phone:(301) 594-2963

NOAA

Phone:(301) 713-3453 Email: [email protected]

TSGLI is Automatic and Offers 24/7 Coverage

If you are one of the 2.4 million members of the uniformed services covered by the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program, then you are automatically covered by TSGLI. TSGLI does not however, cover spouses and children covered under Family SGLI. The premium for TSGLI coverage is $1.00 per month. TSGLI offers 24/7 coverage if you incur certain losses due to a traumatic injury. It is important to note that if these injuries or losses are incurred after December 1, 2005, they do not have to occur while on duty or in support of any military operation. Whether you are on active duty or in full-time reservist status, the traumatic injury can occur any time. For example, if you are on

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active duty and you suffer one of the qualifying losses in a stateside car accident while you are on leave, you are still covered. If you receive a TSGLI payment, this will not reduce your life insurance or any other VA or military benefit.

**Karen Naccarelli works at the Veterans Affairs Regional Office and Insurance Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is an Insurance Specialist who has worked at the Philadelphia office for 15 years.

TSGLI and the Reservist

Full-time Reservists: You are covered full-time under TSGLI if you are covered full-time under SGLI. Ready Reservists are covered full-time, by SGLI and TSGLI, if they are assigned to a unit and are scheduled to drill at least 12 times during the year, including members who are drilling for pay and those drilling for retirement points. Full-time TSGLI coverage means 365 days a year, both on and off duty. Part-time Reservists: Part-time TSGLI coverage for Reservists is automatic for those who are covered by part-time SGLI. A Ready Reservist who is under a call or order that specifies less than 31 days, OR who is not scheduled to drill at least 12 times during the year, is covered by part-time SGLI and therefore, part-time TSGLI. Part-time TSGLI covers the Reservist only during the actual days of duty and while proceeding directly to and returning directly from their scheduled duty.

Vets' Commission Votes 13-0 not to Recommend Lump-sum Buyouts of VA Disability Benefits

www.vetscommission.org On October 19, 2006, the Vet's Commission held a briefing at the Ballroom of the Beacon Hotel, 1615 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington D.C. In addition to CAN Status Update and Summary of the Lump Sum Analysis (Draft Report), they entertained VSO Collaborative Statements on Lump Sum Alternatives. Preliminary reports indicate after listening to testimony from Joe Violante, National Legislative Director of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) as well as other veteran inputs, led to an overwhelming verdict. ".....In the final analysis, any lump-sum scheme devised would constitute a reduction in veterans' benefits to save the Government money. The proponents of lump sums have never been veterans' advocates who have veterans' interests at heart. As veterans' advocates, we are compelled to oppose any recommendation that would have the Government pay disability compensation in lump sums. We hope this Commission, in looking at the "appropriateness" of disability benefits for veterans, will also conclude that it would be highly inappropriate to use lump sums as a means to relieve the Government of its moral obligation to provide adequate resources for veterans' programs and its responsibility to administer those programs efficiently." Although the Vet's Commission may utilize their 8Step Process to reopen the issue, sources close to the Commission indicated little chance. The Vets Commission voted unanimously 13-0 not to recommend an alternative Lump-Sum payment system for VA Disability payments. The minutes of their October 19, 20 meeting are pending official approval.

TSGLI Payments to Deceased Service Members

If a service member suffers a loss due to a traumatic injury, survives at least seven days, and then dies, a TSGLI payment can be made to the beneficiary of his or her regular SGLI coverage.

How to File a TSGLI Claim

To file a TSGLI claim, download the TSGLI Certification form from the VA Insurance website, at: w w w.insurance.gov/sgliSite/legislation/ TSGLIFacts.htm. This form is also available from the military branch of service contacts listed on the left. You should complete Part A of the form, and then have a medical professional complete Part B. Forward the form to your branch of service and they will complete Part C.

More TSGLI Information is on the VA Insurance Web Site

More detailed information about TSGLI is available at the VA Insurance website. w w w.insurance.gov/sgliSite/legislation/ TSGLIFacts.htm. Questions should be referred to the branch of service contacts shown in the accompanying box.

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better ensure their effectiveness.

Page 9

VA Should Improve Its Management of Individual Unemployability Benefits by Strengthening Criteria, Guidance, and Procedures

Highlights of GAO-06-309, a report to congressional requesters

What GAO Found Under VA's disability compensation program, VA can award IU benefits (that is, total disability compensation) to veterans of any age who cannot work because of service-connected disabilities even though VA did not rate their impairments at the total disability level. The added value of IU benefits over a veteran's lifetime depends upon the veteran's level of impairment at the time he or she begins receiving IU benefits and the length of time these benefits are received. To illustrate the potential amount of IU benefits that could be received, GAO estimated the lifetime present value of the added benefits in disability compensation for veterans with different impairment levels who began receipt of IU benefits in 2005 at different ages. GAO found that the lifetime present value of these benefits can range from: · about $300,000 to over $460,000 for veterans age 20 in 2005, and · about $89,000 to about $142,000 for veterans age 75 in 2005. GAO also found that just under half (46 percent) of new IU beneficiaries was awarded IU benefits at the age of 60 or older, and 19 percent were age 75 or older. VA's criteria, guidance, and procedures for awarding IU benefits do not ensure that its IU decisions are well supported. VA regulations and guidelines lack key criteria and guidance that are needed to determine unemployability.VA guidelines also do not give rating specialists the procedures to obtain the employment history and vocational assessments needed to support IU decisions. As a result, some VA staff told us that IU benefits have been granted to some veterans with employment potential. In addition, VA's process for ensuring the ongoing eligibility of IU beneficiaries is inefficient and ineffective. This enforcement process relies on old data, outdated, time-consuming manual procedures, insufficient guidance, and weak eligibility criteria. Moreover, the agency does not track and review its enforcement activities to

VA is among the federal disability programs GAO has identified as high risk and in need of modernization, in part, because it is poorly positioned to provide meaningful and timely support to help veterans with disabilities return to work. Specifically, VA's compensation program does not reflect the current state of science, technology, medicine, and the labor market. VA's management of IU benefits exemplifies these problems because its practices lag behind those of other disability programs. Approaches from other disability programs demonstrate the importance of providing return-to-work services and using vocational expertise to assess the claimant's condition and provide the appropriate services. Incorporating return-to-work practices in IU decision making could help VA modernize its disability program to enable veterans to realize their full potential without jeopardizing the availability of benefits for veterans who cannot work.

Happy Holidays!

It's this time of year most of us seem to throw our hands up and forget about our diets. Stuffed turkeys, yams, dressings, hams, home baked pies, cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy, eggnog, potato salad, stuffed eggs, pumpkin pie with lots of whip cream, maybe just one more.... and more candy, and then we realize, way too late, we can't eat another bite. Oh just pass the chocolate covered pecans, and the cheese. Are we blessed or what? As we look around this year, let us remember, there are those that are less fortunate. Whether it be visiting veterans in a local hospital, or ringing the bell for Salvation Army, Gifts for Yanks, serving in a soup kitchen, whatever God has placed on your heart, may you bring joy to those that would otherwise have little to look forward to. Sometimes all it takes is an embrace, a smile, or a compassionate ear. It's our hope and prayer that you shall strive to step beyond your comfort zone, and help those that society deems less deserving. And let us not forget to keep our active duty members, stationed abroad, as well as their family members at home, in our gifts, cards, and prayers during the holidays. On behalf of the NACVSO President, the officers, and staff, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! May God bless each and everyone and keep you and your families safe in all that you do. Amen.

NACVSO ATTN: Membership/-Nov 2006 2200 Wilson Blvd., Ste 102, #530 Arlington, VA 22201-3324

PRSRT-STD U.S. Postage PAID Lincoln, NE Permit No. 927

National Association of County Veterans Service Officers Membership Application and Renewal

Please provide your address information EXACTLY as it must appear on your incoming mail.

Name: _______________________________ Office Name: __________________________

Current Membership No: _________________________

If known, please provide

Position: ________________________________

Address: __________________________________________________________________________ City: _________________ County: ________ State: ______ Zip Code:__________ - ________ Email: ____________________________ Send Applications and Renewals to:

NACVSO c/o Jim Golgart, Treasurer LeSueur County Veterans Services 88 South Park Ave. LeCenter, MN 56057-1600

Work Phone: _________________

Fax: ____________

Date Submitted: _____________________________ Please indicate the appropriate category: New Member _____ Renewal _____ Member State: Individual Membership $30.00

Non Member State: Individual Membership $45.00

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