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Having Trouble With The VA? You Might Consider Calling Congress
My congressional office recently wrapped up a case for a World War II veteran who saw his delayed appeal approved shortly after contacting me, generating a substantial new monthly payment and back pay of over $32,000. My constituent knew something that I want all of America’s valued veterans to know: They can and should contact their congressional representatives for assistance navigating challenges with the Department of Veterans Affairs and receiving the benefits they earned through their service and sacrifice.
While your representative might not serve on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, all members of Congress employ staff who serve as liaisons between veterans and the VA. When veterans experience trouble with claims or issues involving VA benefits or health care, these designated caseworkers work to ensure that each case receives full and fair consideration based on VA policies. Caseworkers are empowered to place inquiries and request that cases be noted with “congressional interest” on behalf of the elected representatives for whom they serve.
Contacting a congressional representative can also produce a quicker response than a standard inquiry to a public VA point of contact. After a veteran submits pertinent documents and a signed privacy release form, the caseworker contacts a VA representative dedicated to fielding congressional requests. The VA representative acknowledges the inquiry, researches the case, and generates a thorough response, which the caseworker then relays to the veteran. Through inquiries, caseworkers are often able to obtain status updates, answer questions, determine reasons claims were denied, communicate any issues needing correction, and convey the next steps based on the responses.
While not all inquiries can produce results veterans seek, connecting with a congressional office regarding concerns with the VA can help identify common challenges and draw attention to areas in need of legislative action.
Contacting the VA with the support of a congressional office can result in debt waivers, expedited benefits decisions and record requests, bill payments, benefit adjustments, disability percentage increases, resolution of Veterans Choice Program concerns, and many more favorable outcomes in accordance with VA policy. Caseworkers may pass along a constituent’s request for expedited processing due to a veteran’s advanced age, terminal illness, or financial hardship. In some cases, placing a congressional inquiry regarding a disappointing experience can elicit a timely explanation and apology from VA leadership.
It’s important to know that due to strict congressional ethics rules and the constitutional separation of powers, congressional offices cannot place undue influence on the VA to rule in favor of constituents or overrule decisions determined in line with policy. Caseworkers also cannot assist in preparing VA paperwork, provide legal advice, or intervene in matters involving courts. In many cases, however, caseworkers can point veterans toward helpful resources such as veterans service organizations or county resources available to assist.
Assisting veterans in correcting wrongs with the VA is one of the most important functions of Congress. At the same time, I share veterans’ frustration when policy is not on their side. While not all inquiries can produce results veterans seek, connecting with a congressional office regarding concerns with the VA can help identify common challenges and draw attention to areas in need of legislative action. As a member of Congress, I monitor this essential feedback closely and keep it in mind as I consider legislative proposals to improve the VA. Therefore, it is critical for veterans to communicate these issues so Congress can not only assist with individual cases, but also work to implement the best policies that fulfill our nation’s commitment.
I encourage veterans across the country to connect with their elected congressional representatives, regardless of political party affiliation, if problems arise with the VA. Veterans may conduct a search using their home address to connect with caseworkers in their representatives’ House or Senate offices.
Rep. Susan Davis represents California’s 53rd Congressional District. She a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.