Vietnam War Commemoration Program

Vietnam War veterans and their families are invited to receive a long overdue “thank you” for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States at this commemoration ceremony March 29, 2016, 3 p.m. at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory, 2700 Southampton Road, Philadelphia, PA 19154. Every Vietnam War veteran in attendance will be personally recognized by current U.S. service members and community members.

Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam War veteran Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Sinn, Ret., will also provide a keynote address on his experiences as a “tunnel rat” and leader of a Rome Plow team. There will also be a live performance by the USO Show Troupe!

Military service veterans who served during the years of the Vietnam War and relatives of fallen veterans can RSVP at 215-737-5700 or to be honored at the program. Within the RSVP attendees are asked to state their name, telephone number, number of expected guests and if they require special assistance. Doors open at 2 p.m.

The Vietnam War Commemoration Program is sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army and commemorative partners Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support and Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Vietnam War Commemoration Program
March 29, 2016, 3 p.m. (Doors open at 2 p.m.)
Pennsylvania National Guard Armory
2700 Southampton Road, Philadelphia, PA 19154
RSVP at 215-737-5700 or

To learn more about the Vietnam War Commemoration visit

VA releases FY2017 budget request of $182 billion dollars


VA releases FY2017 budget request of $182 billion dollars

VA News Release

Care and Benefits for Veterans Strengthened by $182 Billion VA Budget

02/09/2016 01:40 PM EST

Care and Benefits for Veterans Strengthened by $182 Billion VA Budget

WASHINGTON — In his FY 2017 budget, President Obama is proposing $182.3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Funding will continue to support the largest transformation in VA history; expand access to timely, high-quality health care and benefits; and advance efforts to end homelessness among Veterans.

“VA has before it one of the greatest opportunities in its history to transform the way it cares for our Veterans who nobly served and sacrificed for our Nation,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “As we work to become a more efficient, effective and responsive, Veteran-centric Department, we can’t do it alone; we need the help of Congress. This year, VA submitted over 100 legislative proposals, including 40 new proposals to better serve Veterans. Our goal is provide the best care to our Veterans while removing obstacles or barriers that prevent them from getting the care they deserve.”
Highlights from the President’s 2017 Budget request for VA

The FY 2017 budget includes $78.7 billion in discretionary funding, largely for health care and $103.6 billion for mandatory benefit programs such as disability compensation and pensions. The $78.7 billion for discretionary spending is $3.6 billion (4.9 percent) above the 2016 enacted level, including over $3.6 billion in medical care collections from health insurers and Veteran copayments. The budget also requests $70.0 billion, including collections, for the 2018 advance appropriations for medical care, an increase of $1.5 billion and 2.1 percent above the 2017 medical care budget request. The request includes $103.9 billion in 2018 mandatory advance appropriations for Compensation and Pensions, Readjustment Benefits and Veterans Insurance and Indemnities benefits programs in the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Health Care

With a medical care budget of $68.6 billion, including collections, VA is positioned to continue expanding health care services to its millions of Veteran patients. Health care is being provided to over 922,000Veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn/Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS). Major spending categories within the health care budget are:

* $12.2 billion for care in the community;
* $8.5 billion for long-term care;
* $7.8 billion for mental health;
* $1.6 billion for homeless Veterans;
* $1.5 billion for Hepatitis-C treatments;
* $725 million for Caregivers;
* $601 million for spinal cord injuries; and
* $284 million for traumatic brain injuries.

Expanding Access

The President’s Budget ensures that care and other benefits are available to Veterans when and where they need them. Among the programs that will expand access under the proposed budget are:

* $12.2 billion for care in the community compared to $10.5 billion in 2015, a 16 percent increase;
* $1.2 billion in telehealth funding, which helps patients monitor chronic health care conditions and increases access to care, especially in rural and remote locations;
* $515 million for health care services specifically designed for women, an increase of 8.5 percent over the present level;
* $836 million for the activation of new and enhanced health care facilities;
* $900 million for major and minor construction projects, including funding for seismic corrections, two new cemeteries, and two gravesite expansions; and
* $171 million for improved customer service by providing an integrated services delivery platform.

Improving the Efficiency of Claims Processing

The President’s Budget provides for continued implementation of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) robust Transformation Plan — a series of people, process, and technology initiatives — in 2017. This plan will continue to systematically improve the quality and efficiency of claims processing.
Major claims transformation initiatives in the budget invest $323 million to bring leading-edge technology to claims processing, including:

* $180 million ($143 million in Information Technology and $37 million in VBA) to enhance the electronic claims processing system — the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS); and
* $143 million for Veterans Claims Intake Program (VCIP) to continue conversion of paper records, such as Veterans’ medical records, into electronic images and data in VBMS.

In addition, the President’s Budget supports increasing VBA’s workforce to address staffing needs so it can continue to improve the delivery of benefits to Veterans. As VBA continues to receive and complete more disability compensation rating claims, the volume of non-rating claims correspondingly increases. The request for $54 million for 300 additional full-time equivalent employees (FTE) and claims processing support will allow VBA to provide more timely actions on non-rating claims.

Appeals Reform

The current appeals process is complicated and ineffective, and Veterans on average are waiting about 5 years for a final decision on an appeal that reaches the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, with thousands waiting much longer. The 2017 Budget proposes a Simplified Appeals initiative — legislation and resources — to provide Veterans with a simple, fair, and streamlined appeals process in which they would receive a final appeals decision within one year from filing an appeal by 2021. The Budget requests $156 million and 922 FTE for the Board, an increase of $46 million and 242 FTE over 2016, as a down payment on a long-term, sustainable plan to improve services to Veterans.

Ending Veterans Homelessness

The Administration has made the ending of Veteran homelessness a national priority. The Budget requests $1.6 billion for programs to prevent or reduce Veteran homelessness, including:

* $300 million for Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) to promote housing stability;
* $496 million for the HUD-VASH program, wherein VA provides case management services for at-risk Veterans and their families and HUD provides permanent housing through its Housing Choice Voucher program; and
* $247 million in grant and per diem payments that support temporary housing provided by community-based organizations.


The 2017 budget continues the largest Department-wide transformation in VA’s history through the MyVA initiative, which is changing VA’s culture, processes, and capabilities to put the needs, expectations and interests of Veterans and their families first. MyVA has developed five objectives fundamental to the transformation of VA: 1) improving the Veterans’ experience; 2) improving the employee experience; 3) improving support service excellence; 4) establishing a culture of continuous performance improvement; and 5) enhancing strategic partnerships. To aid in this transformation, the Department established the Veterans Experience Office (VEO). The VEO will represent the voice of Veterans and their families in Departmental governance; design and implement customer-centric programs to make interactions with VA easier; and support VA’s “mission owners” in carrying out MyVA improvements across the system.

Veterans Choice Act

The Veterans Choice Act provides $5 billion to increase Veterans’ access to health care by hiring more physicians and staff and improving the VA’s physical infrastructure. It also provides $10 billion through 2017 to establish a temporary program (the Veterans Choice Program) to improve access to health care by allowing eligible Veterans who meet certain wait-time or distance standards to use eligible health care providers outside of the VA system. In 2017, VA will use the Choice Act funds in concert with annual appropriations to meet VA staffing and infrastructure needs and expand non-VA care to Veterans who are eligible for the Veterans Choice Program. VA plans to spend $1.4 billion in 2016 and $853 million in 2017 to support more than 9,700 new medical care staff hired through the Choice Act; $980 million in 2016 and $116 million in 2017 to improve VA facilities.

Other Key Services for Veterans

* $286 million to administer VA’s system of 134 national cemeteries, including additional funding for operations of new cemeteries and the National Shrine program to raise and realign gravesites;
* $4.3 billion for information technology (IT), including investments to strengthen cybersecurity, modernize Veterans’ electronic health records, improve Veterans’ access to benefits, and enhance the IT infrastructure; and
* $125 million for state cemetery grants and state extended care grants.

Enhanced Oversight of VA’s programs

* The 2017 budget requests an additional $23 million and 100 FTE for the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to enhance oversight and assist the OIG in fulfilling its statutory mission and making recommendations that will help VA improve the care and services it provides.

VA operates the largest integrated health care system in the country; the tenth largest life insurance program in the Nation, with $1.3 trillion in coverage; monthly disability compensation, pensions, and survivors benefits to 5.3 million beneficiaries; educational assistance or vocational rehabilitation benefits and services to nearly 1.2 million students; mortgage guaranties to over 2 million homeowners; and the largest cemetery system in the Nation.

Information about VA’s 2017 budget submission and links to related documents may be found here. Information about the President’s budget may be found here.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2017
House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
334 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Feb 10, 2016 10:00am

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Statement from VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson

“I will continue to use VA’s authority to impose discipline where
warranted by the evidence. That is simply the right thing to do for
Veterans and taxpayers.”
WASHINGTON – Today VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson released the
following statement after decisions were issued related to disciplinary actions
taken against two VBA employees:
“VA continues to pursue sustainable accountability for the Department,
which requires us to follow evidence of wrongdoing wherever it may lead, issue
disciplinary charges based on the evidence without regard to outside pressures, and
ensure that every employee is afforded due process. This is how we must proceed
because this is what is right for Veterans and taxpayers.
“While I felt demotions were appropriate for both executives, Diana Rubens
and Kim Graves, I respect the decision on the Merit System Protection Board
(MSPB) judges’ to reverse the imposed penalties.
“The Choice Act created an oddity for VA Senior Executives where the
MSPB judge is restricted to sustaining or reversing an imposed penalty and may
not impose a lesser penalty, even when he or she believes a penalty is appropriate.
No other agency functions by these rules. And while the law does not allow the
judge to mitigate to a lesser penalty, I am not precluded from doing so and I intend
to consider lesser penalties for both executives.
“To ensure any ultimate discipline is fair and appropriate, I have directed an
expedited fact-finding inquiry into whether discipline of others involved in these
matters is warranted based on new evidence that came out as this process unfolded.
As I have in the past, I will use VA’s authority to impose discipline where
warranted by the evidence. That is simply the right thing to do for Veterans and
“I will continue to take accountability actions based on my review of the evidence, not on media reports, hearsay or political pressure because we know that is how we ultimately best serve Veterans.”