Rep. Grijalva has a long-standing commitment to pro-veteran policies and has a strong constituent service track record for veteran families. He recently presented the family of a Tucson man who died in Vietnam with the medals he earned and never received -- you can learn more about that here.
Rep. Grijalva's comprehensive guide to veterans services in the 3rd Congressional District can be found here.
Hotline for Veterans' Families and Friends Encouraging Vets to Seek Assistance
Callers can reach VA’s Coaching into Care program at the toll-free number 1-888-823-7458, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and online at http://www.mirecc.va.gov/coaching/
Homeless Veterans Assistance Hotline
The Department of Veterans Affairs has founded a National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline to assist homeless veterans and their families. Call 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838) for assistance and more information.
Suicide Prevention Counseling
The Department of Veterans Affairs has established a new suicide prevention hotline for veterans. You can learn more by clicking this link or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and then pressing "1."
Educating the Next Generation of Veterans: The Post-9/11 GI Bill
As of July 2010, VA has issued over $3.9 billion in tuition, housing, and stipends for 292,000 student Veterans or eligible family members pursuing higher education. Early in the program’s implementation, VA took unprecedented steps to expedite over $350 million in advance payments. To encourage more Veterans to use this historic program, in February 2010, VA launched a nationwide Post-9/11 GI Bill advertising campaign through college newspapers, radio adds, outdoor posters and information handouts at 60 schools with large Veteran-student populations. VA has also developed an automated processing system to replace its manual enrollment and payment processing system by the end of 2010.
Ending Veteran Homelessness: VA Embarks on Historic 5-Year Plan
VA’s intense campaign to end Veteran homelessness in five years has secured broad support at federal, state and local levels in both the public and private sectors. It also supports the Administration’s Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. As of March 2010, the number of Veterans homeless on a typical night dropped 18 percent (from 131,000 in 2008 to 107,000 in 2009). The Obama Administration and Congress have joined VA in their commitment with the necessary funds; VA invested nearly $400 million in 2009 to serve over 35,000 Veterans and more than 5,000 spouses and children through outreach initiatives, a 15 percent increase from the previous year. More than 8,300 Veterans are in permanent housing with dedicated case managers and access to high-quality VA health care. In 2010, VA is allocating $39 million to fund 2,200 new transitional housing beds through grants to local providers. To better understand the causes of homelessness and coordinate efforts to end it, VA organized many collaborative events including the National Summit on Veteran Homelessness in November 2009, with more than 1,200 attendees from across federal, state and local levels in both the public and private sectors. To ensure that every opportunity to reach out to our homeless Veterans is taken, VA created a National Registry for Homeless Veterans and established a National Homeless Hotline (1-877-4AID VET).
Meeting Critical Needs: Traumatic Brain Injury and Mental Health for Veterans
In July 2010, VA enacted an historic rule change to relax the requirement for evidence of proof for Veterans who pursue a claim for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Service in a combat zone now suffices as evidence if PTSD is diagnosed. VA also increased its exceptional mental health programs budget by $288 million and hired more than 1,000 additional mental health professionals in 2009 to meet the important need for mental health screenings and treatment. For Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a new disability rating system was fielded to greatly improve how claims are evaluated. More than 400 military leaders, health care professionals, and advocates attended the first National Joint DoD/VA Mental Health Summit in November 2009. One outcome of the Summit was a commitment to develop a Joint DoD/VA Mental Health Strategy.
Preparing for Tomorrow: Progress on Electronic Records
VA’s Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Initiative, directed by the President in April 2009, has already made great progress. In September 2009, VA and its first private-sector partner, Kaiser Permanente, in San Diego, exchanged data in a pilot program. In March 2010, VA and DoD selected the next step, a pilot site in the Virginia/Tidewater area of Southeastern Virginia, to join the Nationwide Health Information Network. Three additional pilots are planned through 2012, with the intent of national deployment of a non-constrained, full production capability throughout VA and DoD.
“Breaking the Back of the Backlog” of Disability Claims: Leveraging Innovation and Technology
VA has launched an aggressive campaign to attack the claims backlog problem on multiple fronts, and has set an ambitious objective: By 2015, with a 98-percent accuracy decision rate in place, a Veteran will not wait more than 125 days for a decision on a claim. To achieve these impressive objectives, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) expanded its workforce by over 3,500 people, began accepting on-line applications for initial disability benefits, initiated an innovation competition, launched over 30 pilot programs and initiatives to identify best practices, and invested over $138 million in a paperless Veterans Benefits Management System that will be deployed in Fiscal Year 2012. Veterans are already directly benefitting from this effort, for example, through a pilot program establishing “express lanes” for simple claim actions and quick benefits payments done on a walk-in basis. Additionally, VBA has awarded a $9 million contract to “fast track” Veterans’ claims for service-connected illnesses associated with Agent Orange herbicide exposure during the Vietnam War.
Delivering High Quality Healthcare: “Best Care Anywhere”
In 2009, VA’s 8.1 million enrollees received award-winning healthcare in the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system, including 153 medical centers, 260 Vet Centers, 773 community-based outpatient centers, 134 Community Living Centers, and 50 domiciliary residential rehabilitation treatment programs. In 2009, J.D. Power and Associates recognized VA pharmacies with the highest customer satisfaction scores in a national sampling of pharmacy customers. VA also received an “Among the Best” ranking in the mail order category, the same overall ranking as Kaiser Permanente. In January 2010, VA won top national honors from the independent Institute for Safe Medication Practices for its excellence in preventing medication errors.
Strengthening Veterans Health Programs: Advance Appropriations
The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act which funds VA’s health care budget a year in advance is now fully implemented. The landmark legislation, signed by President Obama in 2009, will assure timely, sufficient and predictable funding from year to year. For our Veterans, it means improved access to the doctors, nurses, and medical care that they need. Moreover, it does all this without adding a single penny to the deficit.