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VA Shortens Benefit Enrollment Program Window For Troops To Expedite Disability Claims
Servicemembers will have less time to claim disability compensation before leaving the military but should get benefits faster under changes being made by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Starting Oct. 1, troops who want to resolve disability claims before leaving the military must enroll in the “Benefits Delivery at Discharge” program 90 days from separation rather than the current 60 days, the VA announced this month.
Quick Start, a program launched in 2008 that allows troops with 59 or fewer days left to begin their claims process, will also end, the VA office at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, told Stars and Stripes this week.
“The VA’s goal is to process disability claims for those leaving active duty so they have a decision on their claim the day after they leave,” manager Thomas Gwaltney said.
Late-filed claims mean veterans will be waiting an average of 90 days after separation to get a decision on benefits, he said.
“Many claims are not complete when servicemembers leave active duty,” Gwaltney said. “Submitting disability claims between 90 and 180 days before separation will ensure claims can be fully developed.”
Troops enrolling in the benefits program will need to be at their duty station for 45 days after enrolling to make sure they can attend medical exams, said Yongsan VA representative Steve Tucker.
Those who miss the deadline can still file claims through the VA’s “eBenefits” program after they leave the military, but might have to wait 18 months for a resolution, he said.
A smarter option is to file a claim while still in uniform, Tucker said.
“By filing here and getting their exams done they can ensure they receive their disability claim right after separating,” he said.
More information on the program can be found at: http://bit.ly/2w78XAn.
©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.
The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.
During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.
"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."
"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."
Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.
Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.
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Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.
Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."
"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.
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Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
An airman at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday after a shooting at a Raleigh night club that killed a 21-year-old man, the Air Force and the Raleigh Police Department said.