As seen in original PDF
(from email link)

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Disabled American Veterans

Department of Florida

By Al Linden
Executive Director
August 31, 2015
Should be September 30, 2015

As of August 31, 2015 our membership was 59,797.
The goal for life membership for this year 1,709 are needed.

same as July Newsletter numbers

Commander Buddy Rickman Message

Greetings Comrades: October is here and time for our DSO’s to be re-certified. You will be taught by the Best Instructor in the country and at the Best school in the country. I ask that you listen, learn and apply the knowledge you gain to build better long term benefits for our veterans and their families.

Our politicians are still trying to take away our benefits. We MUST not let this happen so pick up the phone, write a letter or e-mail your politicians and let your voice be heard. The greater the numbers the better chance we have, not only in saving our benefits but getting the new bills approved. ACT NOW! Thank You.

DSO Training will be Held Oct 26-27.2015
DSO training will be held on October 26-27, 2015 in Gainesville.

Also be reminded that Chapter Annual Financial Reports are due by September 30 each year.
Chapter Officers Reports are due within 10 days after installation each year or when changes are made. ALL chapters make $50,000 and less and do not file any other IRS form must file a N990 by November 15 each year. Last year 4 chapters failed to due so and their tax exempt was removed and it cost them over $400 to get it reinstated.

On January 13, 2015, Representative Stephen Lynch (MA) introduced H.R. 313, a bill that would protect service-disabled veterans employed by the federal government from discrimination when they are absent from work due to their disabilities and the need for health care.

Wounded, injured, and ill veterans are significant consumers of health care, often due to their military service. Many veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are subjected to reductions in pay and other penalties due to unexcused absences from work while they seek health care to address their serviceconnected conditions.

This bill would prohibit federal departments and agencies from taking any adverse action against veterans who need to be away from work to address their health care challenges consequent to military service. This bill was approved by the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs at a recent business meeting; however, it has not been scheduled for floor debate.

Please write your Representative to urge support and approval of this bill by the House of Representatives.

As always, thank you for your grassroots support and advocacy to enable us to move legislation beneficial to disabled veterans through Congress.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:


As of August 31, 2015
should be September 30, 2015 but the numbers are the same as July Newsletter
TOTAL ASSETS $1,231,634


Bay Pines VAVS $2090
Gainesville VAVS 1600
Tampa VAVS $1370
Lake City VAVS $3809
MiamiVAVS $2600
Orlando VAVS $2900
Eglin CBOC $0



Choice Program Changes

Public Law 114-41, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, was signed into law on July 31, 2015, and aims to “provide resource flexibility to the Department of Veterans Affairs for health care services and other purposes.” Thanks to the new law, VA is able to enhance the Veterans Choice Program in a number of ways, including expanding eligibility to all enrolled Veterans.

The department will implement these changes in several phases, with the first phase being effective immediately. Veterans are no longer required to have been enrolled in VA health care on or before August 1, 2014, in order to meet basic eligibility requirements for the program. If a Veteran is enrolled in the VA health care system and meets one of the specific eligibility criteria, he/she may be eligible for the program. In other words, any Veteran who is enrolled in VA health care, regardless to when they enrolled, may now be eligible for the Veterans Choice Program.

Along with being enrolled in VA health care, Veterans must meet at least one of the additional wait times, distance or other criteria in order to be considered eligible for the Veterans Choice Program. You can find additional details on the full eligibility criteria here. This modification, and the additional changes that will follow in the upcoming months, serve a critical purpose of allowing greater numbers of Veterans access to care under this Program. VA is continually working to make improvements to the Veterans Choice Program, so please check periodically for the latest updates. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Veterans and our partners to ensure continued improvements to Veterans’ access to care.

For more details about the Veterans Choice Program, see

VA Awards Local Grants to Prevent and End Homelessness

Flexible Grants Are Helping Lower Rates of Veteran Homelessness in Southwest Florida

BAY PINES, FL – Hundreds of low-income Veteran families in southwest Florida, who are permanently housed or transitioning to permanent housing, will have access to crucial services with the award of approximately $9.3 million in grants under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.

SSVF funding, which supports outreach, case management and other flexible assistance to prevent Veteran homelessness or rapidly rehouse Veterans who become homeless, went to 286 nonprofits and consumer cooperatives in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Locally, four organizations operating in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Lee, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas received grants under the program.

Grantees within the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) service area include: Jewish Family & Children's Service of Sarasota-Manatee, Inc.; American Red Cross, Lee County Chapter; Society of St. Vincent de Paul, South Pinellas, Inc.; and the Community Coalition on Homelessness Corporation. A full list of grantees is available at

“The SSVF program is one way we are able to promote housing stability among the most economically vulnerable Veterans and their families,” said Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VAHCS.



Florida Membersip
September 30, 2015


ibid: G - met or surpassed goal


Florida Legislation
September 30, 2015


IG Enrollment Informtion

The VA OIG report — Veterans Health Administration Review of Alleged Mismanagement at the Health Eligibility Center — discusses several issues VA has publicly acknowledged to Veterans, Veterans Service Organizations and members of Congress: that our enrollment system management, data integrity and quality are in need of significant improvement. We have worked hard over the past year to address those issues. VA appreciates the work of the OIG and is working diligently to address the issues their report raised to better serve Veterans. We realize the issues raised about our enrollment process are confusing to Veterans and our stakeholders. It is critical for Veterans and our stakeholders understand what this report says, and what it does not say.

Some news media stories based on the report’s findings claim that “over 300,000 Veterans died waiting for care.” That conclusion is not supportable by the information in the report. The OIG found 307,000 out of the over 800,000 pending enrollment system records were for individuals the reported as deceased by the Social Security Administration, and that VA OIG could not determine specifically how many pending records represent Veterans who applied for health care benefits or when they may have applied. This was because of data weaknesses within our system which we are working hard to improve. The VA OIG report further determined that many of the 867,000 records coded as pending do not represent Veterans actively seeking enrollment in VA health care.

These stories, similar to the stories over the past year regarding pending records in our enrollment system, wrongly link these pending records with access to care issues for fully enrolled Veterans that have chosen to use, and who are receiving, VA healthcare. They are separate issues. Although VA has repeatedly pointed this out to inquiring media, several media stories and commentary continue to appear with this incorrect information. Additionally, it is not correct to assume, whether an enrollment application record is complete or not, that all Veterans want to use VA care. Veterans can, and do, choose other healthcare options. For example Veterans who are military retirees can, and do, choose to use TRICARE.

As we have previously stated publicly, VA currently has no authority to move records from a pending status even after VA attempts to contact a Veteran, and the Veteran has not provided financial information or military records required by law to determine eligibility. There are also situations in which a Veteran’s record transfers to our enrollment system even though the Veteran likely did not apply for enrollment. One example is when Veterans in the past applied for State Home benefits. The pending enrollment records population also includes records of Veterans had accessed our health care system in some fashion before the congressionally mandated implementation of the current VA health care enrollment process in 1998. Current regulatory guidelines prohibit us from removing these records, resulting in VA leaving them in a pending status. We retained all of those records with full knowledge that some records are likely not applications for enrollment for health care and some records include Veterans that have passed away, as some of the records go back decades and would put many Veterans’ age at over 100 years. VA is pursuing several remedies to clean up the enrollment records system. Those changes include revamping deceased Veteran verification processes and regulation changes to not only make it easier to remove incomplete enrollment records from the pending file, but also provide continued opportunities for Veterans to reapply for healthcare enrollment at any time. If any issues raised in the report require additional review and accountability actions, VA will act as necessary and pursue them and afford all concerned appropriate due process. VA continues the efforts outlined in previous blogs and public responses to contact Veterans with a record in a pending status (irrespective of whether an application date is present) to determine if they desired to enroll in VA healthcare. As of July 31, 2015, VA has contacted 310,818 Veterans asking them to submit required documents and has received 36,749 responses, with 34,517 Veterans receiving enrollment decisions of which 25,784 were enrolled. As we continue our work to contact Veterans, our focus remains on improving the enrollment system to better serve Veterans.


While we fully support the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and believe the VA health care system is the best model of care to treat service disabled veterans, DAV is not satisfied with the state of VA today. VA absolutely must reform from top to bottom and must refocus its work squarely on veterans.

As we reported last week, there are some key reforms that are essential for building a healthy and robust VA health care system for the 21st Century. Congress must commit to provide the VA the resources it needs to modernize, rebuild and sustain its internal capacity to provide timely, high-quality health care. To better serve veterans, VA needs to restructure and consolidate all non-VA care programs into a single integrated Extended Care Network. VA must also realign and expand its health care services to meet the diverse needs of all generations of veterans, beginning with establishing new urgent care centers out in the community, and continue its extended operating hours. Finally, VA must reform its management culture through increased transparency and accountability.

As we previously noted, some elected officials are proposing additional reforms in VA health care that we believe would ultimately weaken the system and move VA in the wrong direction. We have warned that these types of proposals risk eliminating VA as a direct care provider-and will fracture the care that veterans would be able to find for themselves. Overly simplistic "choice" proposals sound good, unless you are a wounded, injured or ill veteran with complex and specialized medical needs who is left on his or her own to find care in the private sector, equipped only with a card.

DAV needs grassroots support, and your direct experience with VA, to remind Congress-and even your own VA facility, why the VA system is essential and important to you as a disabled veteran. Most importantly, please tell them we want to ensure veterans have the choice to get all or most of their care from VA, and for VA to have the resources and flexibility to provide coordinated care in the community when necessary.

In Washington, DAV continues to work with our service organization partners, and with the Administration and Congress, to address the problems that have been identified. We must work together to ensure a viable health care system for ourselves now, and for future generations of disabled veterans.

We hope in these messages that we have been able to convey the seriousness of the situation, what is at stake for you, and for all veterans nationwide. We are approaching a Presidential election year and it is more important than ever to collectively make our voices heard. Between now and the November 2016 election, it is likely the future course of veterans health will be decided. Please let your elected officials know what is important to you as disabled veterans, and what we need, deserve, and expect from our VA.

DAV hopes this information has helped you understand and appreciate why we are steadfast in our belief that VA is a vital national asset to disabled veterans. We recognize that some veterans have had a negative experience at VA and we appreciate you providing us that feedback. DAV's goal is to ensure VA is reformed and services improved so that all veterans who chose VA are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and most importantly get the care they need in a timely manner.

Please join us in this battle. Click the link below to log in and send your message:


Veterans Choice Program Toolkit for Outreach Partners

The fact sheets, social media content, frequently asked questions and other materials in this toolkit are designed to make it easy to share information and spread awareness about the Veterans Choice Program. It includes sample communications and templates you can customize for specific events.

Click here to download the entire Toolkit (all resources).
Individual Grab - and - Go pieces:
ibid: the 'Took-Kit' is 26 pages in PDF format

Veterans Choice Program: 101 For Veterans

Veterans Choice Program: 101 For Partners

Veterans Choice Program Flyer

Pocket References

Questions and Answers by Topic

Sample Briefing Slides

Facebook Graphic

DAV Joins Forces with USAA

Disabled American Veterans is dedicated to a single purpose: empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. We accomplish this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them, fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill, connecting veterans and their families to employment resources, working to address the unique needs of America’s women veterans and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. Since 1920, we have been fulfilling promises to the men and women who served.As an organization of military professionals and veterans, we have an opportunity from time to time to provide additional benefits to our members.

We are pleased to announce an exciting new relationship between DAV and United Services Automobile Association (USAA). USAA is an organization that began in 1922 with a small group of officers who offered to insure each other’s vehicles when no one else would. Since then, USAA has grown into a respected organization offering a wide range of financial services to the military and veteran community. As of today, USAA Bank is the exclusive credit card provider to DAV. Available in both American Express ® and MasterCard,® the Disabled American Veterans USAA Rewards ™ credit cards support DAV by giving back to its programs through everyday purchases - all with competitive rates and legend ary customer service from USAA Bank. For more information about USAA, call 844-328-8722 (844-DAV-USAA) or visit


DAV Position on VA Health Care

Over the coming weeks leading to DAV's 2015 National Convention in Denver, Colorado, we will be alerting you, other DAV supporters, and convention delegates to the critical issues and emerging threats facing VA health care in the aftermath of the 2014-2015 access-to-care crisis and how DAV believes the system can be reformed to better serve the health care needs of the men and women for whom this system was designed. This alert is the first of those messages. Please send any feedback via email to

Millions of veterans need and rely on the VA for health care and DAV intends to ensure that those veterans continue to have access to high quality, timely health care when and where they need it. We are convinced that VA is the best health care system to treat the unique needs of wounded, injured and ill veterans for a number of reasons. First, VA is structured to treat the whole veteran - that means both their basic primary care, as well as their specialized and service connected conditions. Quality health care must focus on the entire patient, not just certain injuries or illnesses. VA specializes in holistic and preventative care which is more likely to lead to better health outcomes for veterans. VA offers a veteran-centric culture and has developed expertise treating veterans of all generations, particularly for war - related injuries, such as those resulting from exposure to military toxic and environmental hazards. VA has a national, integrated network of health care and benefits that also provides comprehensive and interrelated transition and readjustment services to help veterans throughout their post military lives.

While there are still areas where it can and must improve, VA health care has been consistently judged to be among the best health care systems in the world when measured by objective standards for quality and safety. VA offers numerous specialized programs to treat the physical and mental health challenges of veterans that simply don't exist in general health care, or are very rare and scarce. All DAV members served during wartime, and most are enrolled in VA care because of VA's expertise in treating their wounds, illnesses and injuries.

VA has a track record of providing direct health care to veterans (as well as world class biomedical research programs and graduate medical education for future doctors), but VA has too often been hampered due chronic underfunding of its health care program. DAV and our Independent Budget partners have documented these funding shortfalls annually for more than a decade, a fact that was independently identified as far back as 2003 in an authoritative report of The Presidential Task Force on Improving the Delivery of Health Care to Our Nation's Veterans. And as both the Report and DAV predicted, chronic underfunding leads to a lack of access and waiting lists for veterans, which is exactly what occurred last year.

In response to the problems uncovered last year, Congress and the Administration have made changes to a wide variety of VA policies, programs and activites, including the creation of a temporary, 3-year "choice" program to increase non-VA care options. While these changes are designed to help VA address the access crisis in the short term, it is imperative that we start to focus on about how best to reform VA for the long term. Our goal must be to ensure that wounded, injured and ill veterans have timely access to high-quality health care, which we believe requires a strong and robust VA at its core.

Some groups and even some Members of Congress are calling for the "choice" program to be made permanent and expanded to all veterans. Others have called for VA to greatly shrink or restrict its direct health care mission to combat-related injuries. There is even a proposal to convert VA to an insurance program forcing veterans to receive their care in the private sector.

As Congress and others start to consider these proposals, it is essential that we begin by focusing on what is best for the veterans. "Choice" may be a great sound bite, but it is not a solution that will adequately meet the needs of our nation's wounded, ill and injured veterans. Rather than simply giving veterans a card to find care in the private sector on their own, our goal must be to reform VA so that it can remain the best, most accessible choice for veterans, delivering high-quality, high-value health care.

VA is already the world leader treating PTSD, spinal cord injury, blindness, amputation and other wartime injuries. VA is a proven leader in preventative care for veterans. VA clinicians spend more time with their
Continued on page 12


patients, ensuring they treat the whole veteran.
In dependent studies show that VA screens for service-related conditions that are often overlooked by or irrelevant to private sector providers. This is not to say that we are satisfied with state of VA health care today. Too much of what has been uncovered in the VA health care system is inexcusable and needs reform today. No veteran should have to wait too long or travel too far to get health care. But rather than privatize, downsize or eliminate VA altogether, we believe that veterans need a stronger, healthier VA to ensure they get the care they have earned.

Next week DAV will share its plan to reform the VA health care system to ensure all enrolled veterans, especially those wounded, injured or made ill as a result of military service receive timely, high-quality health care services that meet their unique needs.

We welcome your ideas, suggestions and comments which can be sent to:

Click the link below to log in and send your message:

VISN 8 Information

VISN 8 has a 46% market share rate (enrolled Veterans divided by Veteran population) which is the highest of any VISN
We served more Veterans than ever before including 57,598 first time users of our health care in VISN 8 - accounts for 10% of all users
We offered more care options with 171,219 referrals for Veterans to receive care in the private sector (traditional non-VA care)
We now have 3 major Medical Centers that serve more than 100,000 Veterans a year (North Florida, Orlando and Bay Pines)
We spent $531.5 Million in community care for Veterans
We recruited to fill physician and other staff vacancies, and hired a total of 2,315 new employees
We continued expanding our hours in Primary Care adding evening and weekend hours
We brought the care to Veterans, providing virtual and in-home care where and when appropriate.
In 2015 (through May 31), 210,483 Veterans in VISN 8 used Virtual Care.

There were 34,192 eConsults, giving Veterans and their providers increased access to specialty care services.
And Veterans took great advantage of premium features in My HealtheVet with 159,305 secure messages sent from patients directly to their VA health care team.
(source: Michelle Winslow, Virtual)

85 years of quality care

July 21 marks the 85th anniversary of Veterans Health Administration.

And through the years, our mission has never changed – to provide the best possible care for our Veterans.

Despite our accomplishments, we are more passionate than ever, and we need talented and dedicated health care professionals like you to help us forge ahead into the future.

To help our Veterans heal, VA has remained at the forefront of medical research through the decades.

From effective tuberculosis treatments after WWII to the invention of the implantable cardiac pacemaker to the first successful liver transplants, our researchers, physicians and nurses have made the difference.


VBA Accomplishments
ibid: The Veterans Benefits Administration

1. Reduced backlog from peak of 611,000 in March ‘13 to 119,710 this week, an 80% reduction in 28 months – the lowest it’s been since we started measuring the backlog in 2007; reduced inventory from peak of 884,000 in July ‘12 to 379,370, a 57% reduction and new low since FY08; and increased claim-level accuracy from 83% in 2011 to 91% – at the issue-level accuracy is 96%

2. Met goal of completing a record-breaking 1.32M claims in FY14 – over 150K more than FY13, which was also a record-breaking 1.17M-claim year; today, Veterans with a pending claim are waiting, on average, 166 days less for a claim decision, from a peak of 282 days in March 2013 to 116 days today

3. Productivity rose 67% on medical issues per FTE since 2009; helped mitigate effects of a 154% increase in workload since 2007 (820K claims, 2.1M medical issues in 2007 vs. 1.32M claims, 5.5M medical issues in 2014)

4. Added 1.7M+ Veterans to compensation rolls since 2008 (1.1M net), and added 26% more Veterans and Survivors to compensation and pension caseload (from 3.8M to 4.8M)

5. Went from touching 5,000 tons of paper annually to processing 95% of disability claims electronically, with 360K claims in electronic inventory – only 20K in paper, completed over 3.4M rating decisions and over 1.8 million claims in VBMS

6. Enabling Veterans to file claims online through eBenefits – over 4.9M registered users, 68M contacts with Veterans in FY14 (86% online) vs. 9M contacts (majority by phone) in 2009

7. Expediting Veterans claims: 44% of receipts from VSOs FY2015 to date are Fully Developed, up from 3% in 2012; received nearly 2.5M Disability Benefits Questionnaires in FY14 from VHA

8. Dedicated non-rating workforce completed 2.7M non-rating end products in FY14 – highest production of non-rating work in 20 years – 50 percent more than in FY 2011

9. More automation: 1 in 5 Veterans submit online dependency requests – more than 60 percent receive payments in under 1 day; automatic burial allowance payments to surviving spouses within 6 days (down from 190)

10. Held appeal rates steady amidst increased production – 1.32M completed claims in FY 2014, 11-12% (historical rate) appealed, 4-5% reached Board of Veterans’ Appeals, 1.2% decided in Veteran’s favor, often based on additional evidence

11. Reduced Veterans Pension inventory by 71% from peak of 36.4K to 10.4K; backlog by 96% from peak of 15.3K to 559; reduced Survivors’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation inventory by 59% from peak of 19.1K to 7.8K, backlog by 85% from peak of 8.8K to 1.3K; improved DIC timeliness by 112 days from peak of 182 to 69 days while maintaining 99% accuracy

12. Provided $53B to send 1.4 million Veterans and dependents to school under the Post-9/11 GI Bill; now processing majority of these claims in average of 2.9 days at 99.8% accuracy


DAV supports approach to keep veterans in critical VA program

posted on JUNE 16, 2015 - Over 400 veterans and their caregivers at risk of being forced out of a VA program that helps keep veterans at home rather than being admitted in a nursing home are one step closer to a solution, thanks to a draft bill expected to be introduced and gain approval this week in the Senate.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Purchased Health Care Streamlining and Modernization Act would give VA the flexibility to continue using provider agreements rather than more complex and burdensome federal contracts to operate the Veteran-Directed Home & Community Based Services program. Currently operational at 50 VA Medical Centers in 28 states, DC, and Puerto Rico, roughly 1,000 veterans enrolled in the Veteran-Directed Home & Community Based Services program are authorized a monthly flexible spending budget for purchased care based on their assessed needs.

A veteran, for example, would be able to hire family or friends as caregivers to provide them with the personal care services they need,” said Assistant National Legislative Director Adrian Atizado. “This is part of DAV’s larger legislative focus on caregivers, to comprehensive caregiver benefits to veterans injured prior to September 11, 2001.”

This bill would keep existing Veteran-Directed Home & Community Based Services programs from being terminated and could help make it available at all VAMCs nationwide to expand the pool of eligible participants. DAV believes the bill preserves key protections found in federal contracts including protections against waste, fraud and abuse while helping VA ensure community-based care purchases are cost effective and enhance the level of service provided to veterans.

Ultimately we believe this bill will help VA expand care options, but the bill's provision on care coordination could be improved,” said Atizado. “Care coordination for severely ill and injured veterans and for aging veterans with chronic conditions is essential when VA buys care from private providers. VA must fully integrate community-based care into its health care delivery in order to achieve the best health outcomes for veterans.

VA Urges Congress to Act And Transfer Funds for Veterans' Care

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today urged Congress to act expeditiously and approve its pend ing request for fiscal year 2015 budget flexibility. The request, formally transmitted on June 23, seeks the transfer of funds from the Choice Program to continue VA's efforts to increase Veterans' access to care and life-saving pharmaceuticals.

It is essential that Congress pass legislation to provide the requested budget flexibility by the end of July 2015,” Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson wrote. “This is necessary to replenish critical operations funding that VA had to reallocate from other medical services programs to sustain Care in the Community, after those funds were depleted. If these program funds are not restored, VA will face shutting down hospital operations during August 2015".

The letter and full text of the documents submitted to Congress today are available for download here:

Signed letter to Congress

Putting Veterans First: Legislative Request

Draft Legislation

Choice Act Obligations

End of News Letter

ibid: Two items not in this email are added from the source site:

Care in Community Overview

Hepatitis C Treatment Summary

 Nationally, VA completed more than 56.2 million appointments between June 1, 2014, and May 31, 2015 – 2.6 million more appointments than were completed during the same time period in 2013-2014. VA also made more than three million authorizations for outside care.

*   Updated 7/20/15.  Information inadvertently included in an earlier version has been updated.
ibid: the * states Information inadvertently...but there are NO * found in the article on the page other than here.


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