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Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Self Description

June 2005: "The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was established on March 15, 1989, succeeding the Veterans Administration. It is responsible for providing federal benefits to veterans and their families. Headed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, VA is the second largest of the 15 Cabinet departments and operates nationwide programs for health care, financial assistance and burial benefits.

Of the 26 million veterans currently alive, nearly three-quarters served during a war or an official period of conflict. About a quarter of the nation's population, approximately 70 million people, are potentially eligible for VA benefits and services because they are veterans, family members or survivors of veterans.

The responsibility to care for veterans, spouses, survivors and dependents can last a long time. The last dependent of a Revolutionary War veteran died in 1911. Six children of Civil War veterans still draw VA benefits. About 440 children and widows of Spanish-American War veterans still receive VA compensation or pensions.

VA's fiscal year 2004 projected spending is $62.1 billion -- $29.1 for health care, $32.4 billion for benefits, and $143 million for the national cemetery system. President Bush is seeking $67.7 billion in the fiscal year 2005 budget for VA, a $5.6 billion increase in budget authority, primarily for health care and disability compensation."

October 2004: "With 158 VA medical centers (VAMCs) nationwide, VHA manages one of the largest health care systems in the United States. VAMCs within a Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) work together to provide efficient, accessible health care to veterans in their areas. The VHA also conducts research and education, and provides emergency medical preparedness.

Veterans Benefits Administration
VBA provides benefits and services to the veteran population through 58 VA regional offices. Some of the benefits and services provided by VBA to veterans and their dependents include compensation and pension, education, loan guaranty, and insurance.

National Cemetery Administration
NCA is responsible for providing burial benefits to veterans and eligible dependents. The delivery of these benefits involves managing 120 National Cemeteries nationwide, providing grave markers worldwide, administering the State Cemetery Grants Program that complements the National Cemeteries network, and providing Presidential Memorial Certificates to next of kin of deceased veterans."

Third-Party Descriptions

December 2010: "In one of the cases before the board, Larry Evans said the Veterans Affairs Department violated his veterans' preference when it used the intern program to fill all nine openings for service representatives in its Columbia, S.C., facility. In support of Evans, the NTEU and the AFGE said the positions should have been subject to regular competitive hiring practices. The board agreed that Evans was entitled to be reconsidered for one of the jobs."

August 2009: "Two reports issued by the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs point to a range of misconduct in the agency's IT department in recent years, including abuse of authority, prohibited hiring practices, and favors gained as a result of a personal relationship involving the agency's former CIO and an IT security official reporting to him."

August 2009: "In April, The Associated Press found that the Department of Veterans Affairs was paying disability benefits to 286 supposed prisoners of war from the Persian Gulf war of 1991 and to 966 supposed prisoners of the Vietnam War. But Defense Department records show that only 21 prisoners of war returned from the gulf war, and that fewer than 600 are alive from the Vietnam War."

July 2009: "WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities do not consistently offer the level of services and infrastructure necessary to properly treat the growing number of female veterans, a government investigation concludes."

July 2009: "Less swift was the government’s response when Mr. Todd submitted, a month later, a disability claim that would entitle him to a monthly benefit check. Nearly 18 months went by before the Department of Veterans Affairs granted his claim late last month, Mr. Todd said."

June 2008: "Other federal agencies are taking steps to remove Social Security numbers from identification cards. The Department of Veterans Affairs said that new identification cards issued to veterans generally did not display Social Security numbers."

March 2008: "In 2007, the Department of Veterans Affairs found that women are reporting signs of mental health issues when they return home at a higher rate than their male counterparts."

November 2007: “Sexual abuse is a risk factor for homelessness,” Pete Dougherty, the V.A.’s director of homeless programs, said.

October 2007: The bulk of the legislation is aimed at eliminating the parallel disability evaluation systems run by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which force wounded troops to endure two sets of examinations, two sets of paperwork and two appeals processes.

July 2007: Existing programs for women are 'probably not yet sufficient. There's not even one in every state,' says Pete Dougherty, director of homeless programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

March 2007: Money is similarly tight at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA's budget for medical care has risen in the past few years—from $28.8 billion in FY 2006 to $29.3 billion in FY 2007 to a request for $34.2 billion in FY 2008—but this hasn't been enough. In each of the past four years, according to a March 1 report by the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, the VA has systematically underestimated the number of veterans applying for benefits in the coming fiscal year. The result is a shortfall of $2.8 billion in the FY08 budget, just to cover the current level of medical services.

April 2007: Facing lawsuits by veterans and their families, the Bush administration relented yesterday and agreed to allow the Wiccan pentacle -- a five-pointed star inside a circle -- on tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery and other U.S. military burial grounds. The Department of Veterans Affairs previously had given veterans a choice of 38 religious symbols, including numerous forms of the Christian cross, as well as the Jewish Star of David, the Muslim crescent, the Buddhist wheel and an atomic symbol for atheism.

December 2006: Critics of the current system say the Department of Veterans Affairs, which by law receives a mandatory discount on drugs, also negotiates effectively to secure better prices for the 4.4 million veterans who use its drug benefit. They argue that, with a pool of as many as 43 million beneficiaries, Medicare would have considerable muscle to force price concessions.

August 2006: As more veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan seek mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, lawmakers, advocates and even some VA experts have raised questions about whether returning troops will get what they need.

June 2006: That space is waiting to be filled by a plaque honoring the life and sacrifice of 34-year-old Sgt. Patrick Stewart, who was killed in action on September 25, 2005, when his helicopter was struck with a rocket-propelled grenade as it flew over Afghanistan. But it may be some time before Sgt. Stewart is remembered with a memorial plaque. That's because his war widow and the Department of Veterans Affairs are at odds over the Stewart family's request to have the Wiccan pentacle, a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, placed on the plaque. As of May 31, 2006, government officials have refused to allow the Wiccan symbol to be placed on Stewart's plaque.

February 2006: Three years ago, then-Secretary Anthony J. Principi announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs was suspending health care enrollment for some higher-income veterans who did not have injuries or illnesses related to their military service.

December 2005: The spiraling cost of post-traumatic stress disorder among war veterans has triggered a politically charged debate and ignited fears that the government is trying to limit expensive benefits for emotionally scarred troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.


RoleNameTypeLast Updated
Owner of (partial or full, past or present) Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) Organization Nov 29, 2007
Owner of (partial or full, past or present) National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (NCPTSD) Organization Nov 16, 2007
Research/Analysis Subject Opponent (past or present) Cooperation (past or present) National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) Organization Nov 29, 2007
Opponent (past or present) VA Watchdog dot Org Source Dec 27, 2005
Status/Name Change from Veterans Administration (VA) Organization Jun 1, 2005
Owner of (partial or full, past or present) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Organization Mar 21, 2008
Founder/Co-Founder of WorldVistA Organization Aug 12, 2005
Employee/Freelancer/Contractor (past or present) Ronald B. Abrams Esq. Person Nov 29, 2007
Employee/Freelancer/Contractor (past or present) Prof. Terence M. Keane Person Dec 27, 2005
Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Jim Nicholson Person Jul 12, 2005
Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Anthony J. Principi Person Oct 7, 2004
Opponent (past or present) Larry Scott Person Dec 27, 2005

Articles and Resources

70 Articles and Resources. Go to:  [Next 20]   [End]

Date Resource Read it at:
Apr 22, 2011 ‘Veterans court’ faces a backlog that continues to grow

QUOTE: Veterans whose claims had already spent years in the VA system often wait several more years for the court to rule on whether they will receive disability payments and free health care. Some have abandoned their appeals. Others, including soldiers from as far back as World War II, have died before a decision was issued.

Washington Post
Apr 14, 2011 Who's Serious Now?

QUOTE: The only real things in it were savage cuts in aid to the needy and the uninsured, huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and Medicare privatization… “There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”

New York Times
Mar 11, 2011 Want to see how the government spends your tax money? Ask for a receipt.

QUOTE: But when it comes to the largest purchase a typical consumer makes in a given year — the amount he or she spends on federal taxes — there’s no detailed record of the transaction that comes with sending that check off to the IRS. The federal government should explain exactly where each person’s tax money goes. We need a taxpayer receipt.

Washington Post
Dec 26, 2010 Obama to shut down Federal Career Intern Program

QUOTE: President Obama plans to issue an executive order, perhaps as early as this week, ending a federal internship program that critics say circumvents proper hiring practices. Since it began in 2001, the Federal Career Intern Program has been used to hire more than 100,000 people - few of them interns as traditionally understood and many of them border and customs officers who later became permanent-status federal employees

Washington Post
Aug 21, 2009 VA Reports Detail Misconduct By IT Officials

QUOTE: Two reports issued by the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs point to a range of misconduct in the agency's IT department in recent years...

Aug 18, 2009 The Most Outrageous U.S. Lies About Global Healthcare

QUOTE: Many of the most wildly inaccurate statements [about health systems] have been directed abroad -- sometimes at the United States' closest allies, such as Britain and Canada, and often at the best health-care systems in the world.

Aug 01, 2009 In Ranks of Heroes, Finding the Fakes

QUOTE: Military imposters are nothing new. But the problem has grown or at least become more obvious as charlatans are easily able to find fake military documents, medals and uniforms on auction Web sites.

New York Times
Jul 24, 2009 Buying a Hearing Aid? You’ve Got a Lot to Learn (Patient Money)

QUOTE: “Unfortunately, hearing aids are seen as one of those medical costs, like vision and dental, that doesn’t deserve full coverage,” said Gyl A. Kasewurm, an audiologist in St. Joseph, Mich.

New York Times
Jul 14, 2009 Veterans' facilities fall short in women's treatment standards

QUOTE: Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities do not consistently offer the level of services and infrastructure necessary to properly treat the growing number of female veterans, a government investigation concludes.

CNN (Cable News Network)
Jul 13, 2009 Veterans Affairs Faces Surge of Disability Claims

QUOTE: The backlog of unprocessed [disability] claims for those [Veteran] disabilities is now over 400,000, up from 253,000 six years ago, the agency said.

New York Times
Jul 07, 2009 Employee: Military Health System was unethical in awarding contract

QUOTE: The Military Health System has engaged in unethical contracting with a technology company that is developing one of government's most complex and high-profile computer networks...

Jun 24, 2009 Will Congress End the Immigration 'Widow Penalty'?

QUOTE: While the Veteran Affairs Department deemed the Russian immigrant [Natalia Goukassian] (not yet a legal resident) eligible for surviving-spouse benefits, immigration officials at Homeland Security took a very different view: at Natalia's interview for legal residence the next year, she was told that because she hadn't been married long enough before Tigran [her American husband] died, she would be deported.

Time Magazine
Jun 22, 2009 VA Moves Texas Brain Laboratory After Years Pass Without Testing

QUOTE: the Department of Veterans Affairs established a laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin with high expectations that it would conduct state-of-the art research into combat-related brain injuries. Last month, VA announced it was moving the facility, after spending more than $3 million without testing a single veteran with traumatic brain injury.

Washington Post
Jun 20, 2009 At V.A. Hospital, a Rogue Cancer Unit

QUOTE: For patients with prostate cancer, it is a common surgical procedure: a doctor implants dozens of radioactive seeds to attack the disease. But when Dr. Gary D. Kao treated one patient at the veterans’ hospital in Philadelphia, his aim was more than a little off. Most of the seeds... landed in the patient’s healthy bladder... It was a serious mistake, and under federal rules, regulators investigated. But Dr. Kao, with their consent, made his mistake all but disappear.

New York Times
Jun 15, 2009 Hearing to detail VA mistakes with hospital equipment

QUOTE: Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs will testify before a congressional panel Tuesday about mistakes they say may have exposed thousands of patients to HIV and other infectious diseases.

Apr 10, 2009 What motive does the Army have to misdiagnose PTSD?

QUOTE: A reluctance to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder could be about the money, and about the need for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nov 11, 2008 WW II vet held in Nazi slave camp breaks silence: 'Let it be known'

QUOTE: a catalog of deaths and atrocities he says were carried out on U.S. soldiers held by Nazis at a slave labor camp during World War II....Acevedo's story is one that was never supposed to be told. "We had to sign an affidavit ... [saying] we never went through what we went through."

CNN (Cable News Network)
Jun 22, 2008 Agency Sees Theft Risk for ID Card in Medicare

QUOTE: Social Security officials, concerned about the risk of identity theft, are calling for immediate action to remove Social Security numbers from the Medicare cards used by millions of Americans. But Medicare officials have resisted the proposal, saying it would be costly and impractical.

New York Times
Jun 11, 2008 FEMA gives away $85 million of supplies for Katrina victims

QUOTE: The material, from basic kitchen goods to sleeping necessities, sat in warehouses for two years before the Federal Emergency Management Agency's giveaway to federal and state agencies this year. James McIntyre, FEMA's acting press secretary, said that FEMA was spending more than $1 million a year to store the material and that another agency wanted the warehouses torn down, so "we needed to vacate them."

CNN (Cable News Network)
Apr 21, 2008 Talking Veterans Down From Despair

QUOTE: The veterans’ hot line is part of a specialized effort by the department to reduce suicides among veterans by enabling counselors, for the first time, to instantly check a veteran’s medical records and then combine emergency response with local follow-up services. It comes after years of criticism that the department has neglected tens of thousands of wounded service men and women who have returned from war zones in Iraq.

New York Times

70 Articles and Resources. Go to:  [Next 20]   [End]