VA to Expedite Claims Decisions for Veterans Who Have Waited a Year or More

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today it is implementing an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have waited one year or longer. Effective today, VA claims raters will make provisional decisions on the oldest claims in inventory, which will allow Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible. Veterans will be able to submit additional evidence for consideration a full year after the provisional rating, before VA issues a final decision.

“Too many Veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. “That is why we are implementing an aggressive plan to eliminate the backlog in 2015.  This initiative is the right thing to do now for Veterans who have waited the longest.”

Provisional decisions will be based on all evidence provided to date by the Veteran or obtained on their behalf by VA.  If a VA medical examination is needed to decide the claim, it will be ordered and expedited.

To read the entire VA News Release please click here.

Heroes program at Outdoors Without Limits

The mission of the American Heroes program at Outdoors Without Limits (OWL) is to provide a way for wounded and disabled U.S. Veterans, Veteran’s families to transition from the military into civilian life. We understand the obstacles that they face and we strongly believe that assisting them with their transition through their love of the outdoors is beneficial. The goal of the American Heroes program at OWL is to keep all wounded/disabled Veterans active by taking them on hunting and fishing trips and other outdoor activities across North America. Veterans and veteran’s families go through so much in protecting our freedoms, many giving the ultimate sacrifice and we feel it is our duty to show our gratitude for what they have done for our country. Outdoors Without Limits is dedicated to our Veterans and EMS and their families both past and present.

New Research: Combat Experience and Strength of Faith

The authors, VA researchers, wanted to explore the relationship of combat deaths to changes in strength of religious faith.  Findings showed that Veterans’ experiences of killing others or failing to prevent a death weakened their religious faith.  Faith was weakened both directly and through guilt.  Weakened religious faith was related to greater use of mental health services.  That was true regardless of severity of PTSD symptoms or limits in social support.  The finding suggests that a primary motivation for Veterans’ continuing in treatment may be their search for a meaning and purpose in their traumatic experiences.  The authors concluded, “This possibility raises the broader issue of whether spirituality should be more central to the treatment of PTSD, either in the form of a greater role for pastoral counseling or a wider inclusion of spiritual issues in traditional psychotherapy for PTSD.”

Want more information? See the source: The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 2004, Volume 192, Issue number 9, pages 579-584.  Authors: A. Fontana & R. Rosenheck.  Title: Change in Strength of Religious Faith, and Mental Health Service Use Among Veterans Treated for PTSD.