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June 12 update on C&P Exams

Veteran Leaders,

We previously advised that VBA’s contract medical disability examination vendors are resuming in-person exams in 20 areas across the country. In addition, we have added 64 other areas of the country. These additional areas are within 38 states and address 54% of VBA’s pending exam inventory. This includes 68 of the 127 military treatment facility sites (listed in download at right). Vendors will begin scheduling and completing pending in-person exams in these areas as soon as possible. These exams must be held according to the COVID-19 screening, personal protective equipment, sanitation, and distancing requirements prescribed by VBA. We expect to continue expanding our in-person exam capacity in the coming weeks as we monitor conditions and will update you as we make progress.

For more information on the areas where VBA has resumed in-person exams go here. Please note that this website (if you scroll down past the map) also has helpful tips for Veterans regarding what to expect when they go to an exam, including some YouTube videos pertaining to specific types of exams. This will help set expectations for the forensic nature (versus treatment focused) nature of the exams.

06/15/20/ WNC MOAA/ Serious/

VBA Education Service consolidating to two Regional Processing Offices by October 1, 2020

Dear Veteran Leaders,

The Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration’s, Education Service is reallocating the resources of its St. Louis Regional Processing Office (RPO) and redistributing its workload to the Buffalo RPO. This transition will not impact GI Bill students or the educational institutions they attend.

No action is required from the Veteran or dependent using his or her education benefits. Educational institutions will continue to submit enrollment certifications and changes to enrollment to VA. The only change will be the office where the claim is processed. No disruption in service is expected to take place as a result of these changes.

The transition to two offices (Muskogee and Buffalo) processing education claims will improve timeliness, quality, service and operational efficiency for GI Bill students and stakeholders. All impacted St. Louis RPO staff will be given the opportunity to seek employment with the Veteran Service Center in St. Louis or continue with Education Service in Buffalo or Muskogee. There is no impact to the overall FTE levels within education claims processing only a jurisdictional change. This transition will also enhance benefit administration and the beneficiary experience for those with and seeking disability claims as additional staffing resources will shift to the St. Louis Veterans Service Center.

St. Louis RPO workload will begin to transition to the Buffalo RPO in the coming months through a phased approach. By October 1, 2020, the St. Louis RPO will no longer support Education claims processing and all staff will have transitioned. In the interim, Education Service will provide updates as necessary to students, schools and stakeholders.

If you are aware of any GI Bill Beneficiaries who require assistance, please have them contact the Education Call Center at 888-442-4551 between 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday-Friday to speak with a representative.

Paul R. Lawrence, Ph.D.

Under Secretary for Benefits

For more information:

Michael (Mike) Stoddard

VBA Veteran Organization Liaison

Under Secretary for Benefits

Department of Veterans Affairs

Email: michael.stoddard2@va.gov

Office Phone: 202-461-9079

Mobile: (202) 891-9168

05/18/20/ WNC MOAA/ Serious/

The Education Call Center (ECC) now has a dedicated phone line for GI Bill beneficiaries

The Education Call Center (ECC) now has a dedicated phone line for GI Bill beneficiaries who are a surviving spouse or child of an active duty Servicemember who died in the line of duty and need assistance with their education benefits.

Starting today, May 11, 2020, a child or surviving spouse can contact the ECC at 1-888-442-4551 and select Option 5. The ECC is available Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET.

05/11/20/ WNC MOAA/ Serious/

VA kicks off online campaign emphasizing mental health support

Goal is to build awareness of resources available to Veterans

WASHINGTON — In recognition of Mental Health Month, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced the launch of the “Now Is the Time” campaign.

The focus is on getting Veterans the support they need from family and friends through professional mental health treatment.

“As VA’s health care environment continues to evolve, the department is working to serve as many Veterans as possible by reaching Veterans where they are, said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This May, VA encourages everyone to explore Mental Health Month resources at MakeTheConnection.net/MHM. Veterans and their families can help themselves or someone they love learn about the support that can improve their lives.”

Read the entire article here. Also available in PDF format to the right.

05/11/20/ WNC MOAA/ Serious/
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