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Under U.S.C 38, Chapter 63, the Department of Veterans Affairs is obligated to conduct outreach to inform veterans, survivors, and their family members of the benefits and services to which they are entitled. However, many veterans and their families still lack crucial information about the full scope of VA services.
Task & Purpose recently spoke with one veteran — Jared Moore — who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. His family was unaware of the Veterans Choice Act, which could have drastically improved their quality of life. Though the bill was passed in 2014, the Moore wasn't informed of it until early 2016.
But he is just one among countless others who have had trouble navigating the VA’s complex bureaucracy.
Right now, the VA typically communicates its services and benefits through an online portal called Explore VA.
“Explore VA is our primary digital outreach tool that describes the nine benefit and service lines, along with testimonial videos,” according to Walinda West, VA’s deputy director for media relations. “Outreach may include the coordinated and integrated use of traditional and social media, advertising and marketing programs along with direct involvement with veterans at local events.”
In an email exchange with Task & Purpose, West also pointed out that there are 300 centers located around the country where veterans can walk in with no appointment to seek access to care. She added that voluntary services engage with thousands of volunteers and organizations to assist veterans and their families. And the department is currently working to overhaul its communications system to close any gaps between veterans and the services they’re entitled to.
“VA is in the midst of the largest transformation in its history with MyVA. The hallmark of that transformation is engagement with veterans, the organizations working on their behalf, and employees,” West said.
Still, the VA will have to work hard to eliminate the communications gap the and rebuild veteran trust.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Ryan Gallucci, deputy director of the VFW National Veterans Service, said the communication issue is complex.
“I think it’s multi-faceted,” he said. “I think some of this is spillover from how we used to transition service members out of the military into the veterans community.”
He added, “Sometimes when you leave the military, you stop seeking out information for what many of us who still work [with the department] would consider traditional outlets. Whether it’s Task & Purpose, or Military Times, or even looking at the military’s website, it may not be the first place you go.”
“On the VA side, I feel that sometimes it is an issue with communication or how VA communicates their programs, who programs serve, and how to tap into them,” Gallucci said.
According to Gallucci, the VA’s implementation of new programs often poses problems, leaving gaps in communication between the department and veterans. As the department has moved into more digital outreach, that disparity has widened.
Gallucci, who is also a veteran, shared a personal anecdote about the current system being unclear sometimes, alluding to the multiple accounts that veterans need for various services.
Under this system, veterans benefits are currently spread between the e-Benefits portal and MyHealtheVet portal, both of which require separate accounts, and it can be difficult for veterans to keep track of benefits across multiple platforms.
In a separate case reported by Scripps News Washington Bureau and WCPO, Vietnam veteran Ted Dickey struggled to physically find a Veterans Choice program coordinator in his VA when he was assigned to the program for hip replacement surgery.
“She shared a phone with someone else, and (had an) office in the basement that was restricted where the vets couldn’t get to her. I got lost for about six weeks. The right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing,” Dickey said.
Still, Gallucci said he was optimistic that Secretary Robert McDonald will be able to implement real, effective change and streamline the system for veterans.
“As far as improving communication, I think the team that Secretary McDonald is trying to assemble is serious about it.”
The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.
"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.
The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.
Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.
Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."
"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"
WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."
"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.
"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.
The Pentagon’s troop deployment denials means nothing when the White House screams ‘fake news’ all the time
The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.
We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.