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Disabled American Veterans

Department of Florida

Newsletter
By Al Linden
Executive Director
November 30, 2015


As of November 30, 2015 our membership was 60,445.
The goal for life membership for this year 1,225 are needed.




Commander Buddy Rickman Message

The Mid-Winter Conference is quickly approaching and I hope to see many new faces as well as our regular members in attendance.
Remember that our School of Instruction is very informative and will help you as you learn how to help your fellow veterans and their families.
In addition, the Mid-Winter Conference is a learning tool for what is happening and changes at state and national level.

This year I hope to see many CSO’s stay for the Mid-Winter Conference.
The DAVA Auxiliary has a Great Blind Auction to help raise money for their projects.
They need your participation.

As your Commander, I cannot stress the importance of contacting your local, state and national political representatives to let them know we need their support to get our bill passed.
It will not only benefit you but millions of our Brothers and Sisters.
I hope all of you had a great summer but now it is time to get back to work.
Get those new members and show them what we are all about.

I wish all of you a safe and happy Holiday Season.



Proposed Caregiver bill to Expand coverage DAV has worked diligently for several years as a part of a larger coalition of veterans organizations that promoted the advent of family caregiver support services for severely injured and ill veterans.
Congress finally responded five years ago by enacting Public Law 111-163, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010.
However, that act limited services and supports to family caregivers of veterans injured or who became severely ill in military service only on or after September 11, 2001.
That omission left thousands of veterans' families without the level of caregiver support and services they have needed because those veterans' health challenges, many from war injuries, occurred before that effective date.
On June 25, 2015, Representatives Elizabeth Esty and Ryan Costello introduced H.R. 2894, the "Caregivers Access and Responsible Expansion for All Veterans Act," or the "CARE for All Veterans Act."
If enacted, this bill would responsibly and finally address these families' needs on the same basis as those of veterans injured after September 11, 2001.
Ultimately, when fully implemented, the bill would improve the lives of tens of thousands of veteran families, and will save the federal government massive sums that otherwise would need to be spent to provide institutional solutions to these veterans' health challenges and health maintenance.
Therefore, this bill is both beneficial to these families and a taxpayer-friendly measure.



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.



Reminder

All financial disbursements of the chapter must be made by check.
All checks must include the signature of at least two officers.
There should be no debit or credit utilized by the chapter.



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BALANCE SHEET
As of November 30, 2015

TOTAL ASSETS $1,231,634
TOTAL LIABILITIES $80,512


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TOTAL LIABILITIES and FUND BALANCES $1,231,634
FUND BALANCES
Bay Pines VAVS $1900
Gainesville VAVS 1000
Tampa VAVS $1370
Lake City VAVS $3809
WPB VAVS $0
MiamiVAVS $2600
Orlando VAVS $2900
Eglin CBOC $0









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VA BETTER THAN PRIVATE SECTOR


A little-noticed recent report by three leading research groups found that on critical measures, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) consistently performs as well as and often better than private sector health-care providers. The VHA does this with patients who are sicker, older, and poorer than many of their counterparts seen in the private sector.

Among the key findings of the report, conducted by the consulting firm Grant, Thornton & McKinsey Company and by two nonprofit research companies—the RAND Corp and the MITRE Corporation—were that:
Postoperative morbidity was lower for VA patients compared with non-veterans receiving non-VA care.

Inpatient care was more or as effective in VA as in non-VA hospitals. VA hospitals were more likely to follow best practices in the use of central venous catheter line infection prevention and rates of mortality declined more quickly in VA over time than in non-VA settings for specific conditions.

The report also found that veterans in nursing homes were less likely to develop pressure ulcers; that outpatients and those suffering chronic conditions got better follow-up care, and that VA health providers offered better mental health and obesity counseling and blood pressure control, particularly for African Americans. Importantly, in come and educational disparities were smaller at VHA facilities in such areas as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer screenings.

The report confirmed what many fighting for what is known as “right care” - defined as avoiding toxic, unnecessary tests, medications, and procedures—have long understood: that the VHA, contrary to its status as a GOP and media whipping boy, has been a pioneer in providing clinically appropriate care to veterans. Elderly patients in the VHA were less likely to receive the kinds of medications that can make them sicker and sometimes even kill them, the report found. VHA patients were more likely to be spared toxic chemotherapy within 14 days of death or be admitted to an ICU 30 days before death. This was attributed to the VHA’s commitment to palliative and hospice care.

Health care quality expert Charlene Harrington, a professor emeritus the University of California at San Francisco, called the report “really impressive, particularly given the patient mix and chronic underfunding.” The findings of the 600-page report, released in volumes one and two, might come as a surprise to the VHA’s many critics on and off Capitol Hill, including the news media. Media coverage of the VHA has focused on the negative, with little reporting on successful VHA programs. A recent USA Today cover story on performance bonuses for over 150,000 VHA employees, for example, glossed over the bigger picture and cherry picked findings of poor performance by a handful of senior executives. A follow-up editorial called for an end to all bonuses at the VHA.

Republican members of Congress determined to privatize the VHA have similarly ignored its actual overall performance. At a November 18 hearing, House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs Chairman Chairman Jeff Miller, a Republican from Florida, declared that the VHA’s future success would not depend on continuing a record of significant accomplishment, but on “non VA providers.” Indeed Miller warned of “difficult conversations” ahead about “the purpose of the VA health-care system and what it should and feasibly can achieve.” To be sure, the report also details a number of ways the VHA can improve—remedying chronic shortages of primary care and specialist physicians in some areas of the country; dealing with lack of space in older VHA facilities, and repairing an aging information-technology architecture.

The report also points to variation in treatment and quality in a system that has more than 150 hospitals and almost 1,000 community outpatient clinics. Here, however, it offers an important caveat: Variation in the private sector is sometimes even more pronounced. On some measures of care recommended to achieve clinical targets, the report found that “commercial HMOs, Medicare HMOs, and Medicaid HMOs all exhibited much more variability than the VA facilities” on this measure.

Despite recent public criticism of the VA for long patient wait times, the study found the VA is actually performing well on this measure. To wit: “VA’s reported wait times for new patient primary and specialty care are shorter than wait times reported in focused studies in the private sector.” For those who live in rural areas short on VA facilities, the report added that “expanding access to non-VA providers may help with routine or emergency room care, but not with advanced or specialized care.” Nor would veterans living in these areas have better access to teaching or academic facilities. Significantly, most of the clinical research studies summarized in the report were conducted before Congress allocated additional funds last year to hire more doctors and nurses and other staff, thereby improving access to and quality of VHA care. In other words, there was a legitimate basis for many VHA employees getting 2014 bonuses for their individual contributions to overall institutional performance so favorably rated. Unfortunately, the VHA’s better-than average standard of care has received little notice in the news media and Capitol Hill.

Webmaster ibid: This article was written by Suzanne Gordon a journalist and co-editor of a Cornell University Press series on health-care work and policy issues. One of her latest books is Beyond the Checklist: What Else Health Care Can Learn from Aviation Teamwork and Safety. Her website is www.suzannegordon.com. Source: http://m.prospect.org/article/report-va-outperforms-private-sector-key-measures



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Florida Membersip
November 30, 2015




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ibid: G - met or surpassed goal



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Florida Legislation
November 30, 2015




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COLA INFORMATION


On October, 15, 2015, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that due to low inflation this year, no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would be made in 2016 for Social Security beneficiaries. Since that decision would also apply to veterans receiving financial benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, DAV issued a Commander's Action Network alert on November 4, 2015, calling on our members and supporters to contact their House Members and Senators to urge them to introduce and enactlegislation that would guarantee a reasonable COLA for wounded, injured, and ill veterans and their dependents and survivors. Senator Elizabeth Warren and 18 of her colleagues have jointly introduced a bill, S. 2251, the Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefit Act. The bill would provide veterans and others in receipt of VA financial support a one-time payment of about $580 (calculated based on 3.9 percent of the average annual Social Security payment). This one-time payment would soften the financial blow associated with the lack of an increase through a COLA, and the payment would be tax free. Payments would be disbursed to beneficiaries beginning 120 days after enactment. Even if eligible for multiple federal benefits payments, individuals could receive only one payment under this bill. A one-time payment is not comparable to an annual COLA, and a one-time payment becomes less valuable to more seriously disabled veterans because of their higher cost of living. However, in absence of a COLA or other viable alternative, DAV calls up on its members and supporters to contact their elected officials in Congress and urge their support, co-sponsorship and passage of S. 2251. A letter for this purpose has been prepared for your use, or you may write a personalized message to inform your House Member and Senators of your support for this bill. Thank you for your participation in the Commander's Action Network, and for your support of DAV and our mission on behalf of wounded, injured and ill wartime veterans. Your activism makes DAV a more effective organization. Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/tgSvAhcjG9bdLyEFpFD20g



Academic affiliations key to Veteran care


This year, VA and medical schools around the country commemorate 70 years of partnerships in training medical professionals in the care of our Veterans. Last month, we shared a video highlighting achievements, as well as testimonials from leading doctors of medical and osteopathy colleges and their VA colleagues, discussing a strong and growing relationship between VA, medical schools, students and faculties.

More than 7,200 individual affiliation agreements between VA and more than 1,800 educational institutions have made VA the largest provider of health-care training in the United States. In fiscal year 2014 alone, clinical training was provided to more than 120,000 interns, residents, fellows and students in more than 40 professions. Daniel Hoffmann, network director of VA’s Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network (VISN 6) based in Durham, North Carolina, provides his perspective on these crucial relationships. Hoffman has been one of the primary supporters, facilitators and developers of the outstanding relationships between the Richmond VA Medical Center and Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, the Durham VA Medical Center and Duke’s School of Medicine and the Salisbury VA Medical Center and Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine, and a number of other medical schools in Virginia and North Carolina.

Look for more of these testimonials until we reach the 70th anniversary on Jan. 30, the day that Policy Memorandum #2 was issued, creating the association between VA and medical schools 70 years ago.

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POW/MIA UPDATE


AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR: In mid-October and again more recently, DPAA posted changes to the list of Vietnam War missing and unaccounted-for US personnel, now numbering 1,624. For various reasons, including wishes of the family, DoD announcements are often delayed far beyond the ID dates and sometimes not even made, as was the case with the most recent changes. Several of those named in DPAA announcements this yeardemonstrate how remains repatriated many years ago can now be identified using scientific technology and processes that weren’t available in earlier years. The number of Americans now listed by DoD as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is 959. Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and identified before the end of the war, bring the total of US personnel accounted for from the Vietnam War to 1,022. Of the 1,624 still missing and unaccounted-for, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in are as of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control:
Vietnam-1,266 (VN-467, VS-799); Laos-302; Cambodia-49; PRC territorial waters-7. These country-specific numbers can and do fluctuate when investigations result in changes to locations of loss. Since formation in 1970, the League has sought the return of all POWs, the fullest possible accounting for those still missing, and repatriation of all recoverable remains.

DPAA DIRECTOR COMPLETES VISITS TO CAMBODIA, LAOS & VIETNAM:
DPAA Director Mike Linnington recently returned from his first-ever trip to any of the most directly engaged Vietnam War countries. He first visited Cambodia, though for just one day, then made official calls in Vientiane, Laos, then flew by helicopter to visit DPAA and Lao personnel conducting field operations. He returned to Vientiane before going on to Hanoi to meet with senior officials there. This important visit appears to have been mostly introductory and came at a time of ever-increasing political and economic relations, as well as bilateral military-to-military cooperation. He also visited US and SRV personnel conducting field operations in Vietnam before flying back to the US, arriving in time for a DPAA-hosted Family Update in Portland, ME, on November 14th. A report will be provided when available.

GENERAL FOGLESONG VISITS MOSCOW:
US Chairman of the US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIA Affairs General Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong, USAF (Ret) traveled to Moscow to meet on November 9th with the Russian Co-Chairman, General Colonel Valery Aleksandrovich Vostrotin. The two Co-Chairs outlined their hope for renewing and restoring the work of the USRJC and noted the importance of the new Russian Office of the USRJC located in the Embassy of the Russian Federation. This important office was opened in July of this year and is headed by Maxim N. Alekseev, an impressive Russian official with a diverse background and record of experience. The League welcomes this new initiative and looks forward to working with Mr. Alekseev and senior Russian officials in Moscow. It is past time to press forward and end the seemingly endless delays.

MORE GOOD NEWS:
DPAA Director Linnington has decided to invite representatives of responsible national Veteran organizations to attend and observe briefings at DPAA-hosted Updates. The League deeply appreciates this return to including our Veterans in these meetings around the country. Though pretty general in content, the briefings given are firsthand and provided by responsible US officials. Since DPAA is stressing the importance of outreach and transparency, the DPAA-hosted Updates provide an opportunity for both.

ACCOUNTING RESULTS:
Although the pace of joint field recoveries and investigations related to the Vietnam War has resumed to a higher level, the Vietnamese, in particular, have repeatedly called for increasing the pace and scope of such operations, in fact since 2009. It is crucial that there be no reduction in DPAA’s budget or the number of personnel to enable overdue responsiveness to Vietnam’s longstanding request. Now is not the time to pull back on fielding teams to accomplish the Vietnam War accounting. In fact the political climate, regionally and bilaterally with Vietnam, lends itself to expanding cooperation across the board.

It is the League’s hope that there will be no furth er reluctance to moving full speed ahead. The Vietnam War POW/MIA accounting mission is running out of time; that is the reality in terms of eye-witness accounts, immediate family members and preservation of skeletal material under very hostile conditions.

NOW IS THE TIME TO CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS AND ENSURE THEY UNDERSTAND THAT THERE MUST BE NO REDUCTION IN BUDGET AND PERSONNEL FOR THE NEW DEFENSE POW/MIA ACCOUNTING AGENCY (DPAA).





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WASHINGTON — Two high ranking officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs were demoted Friday in response to allegations that they manipulated the agency's hiring system for their own gain.

The VA said in a statement that Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves were demoted from senior executives — the highest rank for career employees — to general workers within the Veterans Benefits Administration. Rubens was paid $181,497 as director of the Philadelphia regional office for the VBA, while Graves earned $173,949 as leader of the St. Paul, Minnesota, regional office. The VA's acting inspector general said in a report this fall that Rubens and Graves forced lower-ranking regional managers to accept job transfers against their will. Rubens and Graves then stepped into the vacant positions themselves, keeping their pay while reducing their responsibilities. Rubens and Graves refused to testify to Congress earlier this month, telling lawmakers they were asserting their Fifth Amendment rights to protect themselves against self-incrimination. Before taking the regional jobs, Rubens was a deputy undersecretary at the VA's Washington headquarters, while Graves was director of VBA's 14-state North Atlantic Region. Rubens and Graves kept their top-level salaries in their new positions, even though they had less responsibility and a lower pay range than their previous positions. Rubens grew up near Philadelphia, while Graves has family in Minnesota, the IG's report said.

In addition to naming themselves to vacancies, Rubens and Graves obtained more than $400,000 in questionable moving expenses through a relocation program for VA executives, the IG's report said. The two face possible criminal prosecution. The relocation program has since been suspended, the VA said in congressional testimony this month. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said Rubens and Graves "clearly should have been fired," adding that, "for those wondering whether VA is committed to real accountability for corrupt employees, VA leaders answered that question (Friday) with a resounding 'no.'"

The VA's failure to fire Rubens and Graves "gives me no hope the department will do the right thing and take steps to recover the more than $400,000 in taxpayer dollars Rubens and Graves fraudulently obtained," Miller said. "The millions of American veterans who depend on VA and the hundreds of thousands of VA employees who are dedicated professionals deserve better than this broken status quo."

Dale Barnett, national commander of the American Legion, said the VA's failure to fire Rubens and Graves was "an insult and a disgrace to all veterans. Any promises that VA officials make about accountability in the future need to be taken with a grain of salt."

Allison Hickey, the former head of the Veterans Benefits Administration, resigned in October amid criticism of a backlog in disability claims and questions about her role in the transfers obtained by Rubens and Graves. The IG's report said Hickey and other top VA officials may have encouraged the scheme. Rubens will serve as assistant director of the VBA's Houston regional office, while Graves will serve as assistant director of the Phoenix regional office, the VA said. Both will take unspecified pay cuts. Cheryl Rawls has been named acting director of the Philadelphia regional benefits office. Kay Anderson will serve as acting director in St. Paul



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