Veterans claim and health issues that have been posted on various
Veteran News Update!
COMMITTEE PASSES MEASURE MANDATING VA ASSISTANCE TO VETERANS FILING CLAIMS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs approved
legislation Thursday providing a cost of living adjustment, enhanced
compensation and benefits programs, and improved claims process.
VA Committee Chairman Bob Stump (R-AZ) said both bills, along with a
third measure designating the name of a Rome, NY outpatient clinic, hopefully
would go to the full House floor for a vote Tuesday, July 25th.
The Veterans Benefits Act of 2000, H.R. 4850, would increase, effective
December 1, 2000, the rates of disability compensation for veterans
with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity
compensation for survivors of certain disabled veterans. The measure would
consider a stroke or heart attack suffered or aggravated by a reservist
during inactive duty training as service-connected. H.R. 4850 would also
provide a special monthly compensation for the service-connected loss of one
or both breasts due to a radical mastectomy, at the same rate as that for a
service-connected "loss or loss of use of one or more creative
Finally, H.R. 4850 will permit certain members of the Individual Ready
Reserve to participate in the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program.
The Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000, H.R. 4864, would eliminate
the requirement that a claimant first submit a "well-grounded claim"
receiving assistance from the VA Secretary. A well-grounded claim
service-connected disability benefits would be one that included
supporting medical opinion and evidence "Our action on this legislation
demonstrates the VA Committee's bipartisan dedication to fair treatment of
veterans," Chairman Stump said. "There is a long history of assisting
veterans to obtain government and other records which may substantiate their
claim for benefits, and this bill reaffirms the government's obligation to
continue that practice."
"It has been a classic Catch-22," said Congressman Lane Evans (D-IL),
the VA Committee's Ranking Democrat. "If you can prove you've got a
case, the VA will help you prove you've got a good case. If you need help,
they can't help you. We've added some additional useful ideas to the
legislation I introduced last year, we've got wide-spread bipartisan support,
and the House Veterans' Affairs Committee has adopted it. We're an
step closer to eliminating this obstacle for America's disabled veterans."
The measure would require the VA Secretary to make a reasonable effort
to obtain relevant records identified and authorized by the claimant.
VA Secretary would also have to provide a medical examination if warranted.
H.R. 4864 would permit veterans who had claims denied or dismissed by
the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to request a review of those claims
within two years of enactment.
Finally, H.R. 4864 would require other federal agencies to furnish relevant
records to the VA at no cost to the claimant.
CONTACT: Dan Amon
<A HREF="http://veterans.house.gov/">CLICK> House Committee
"POW/MIA Poster En Route to
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 18, 2000 -- Military units and ships at seas around the
world are receiving copies of the POW/MIA Recognition Day 2000 poster,
according to Larry Greer of DoD's POW-Missing Personnel Office.
Greer said the poster's somber black tones symbolize the darkness in the
lives of those who suffer through the agony of having a loved one missing in
action. Family members of missing personnel and veterans served as a "focus
group" that helped decide design ideas appropriate for all conflicts and
the services, he said. This is the POW-Missing Personnel Office's second
The POW/MIA Recognition Day poster is en route to troops and veterans and
family organizations worldwide. The poster is available on the Internet at
www.dtic.mil/dpmo > <A
POW/MIA Recognition Day, 2000 Poster</A> . (Click photo for
image; high-resolution image available
The office polled the services and veterans and family organizations and
printed 116,000 copies of the poster for their use, Greer said. Family
members of missing personnel who would like to have a poster may contact
their respective family organizations, or Greer's office at (703) 602-2102
POW/MIA Recognition Day, 2000 Poster</A>
He said his office will periodically post information on the Web site about
POW/MIA Recognition Day -- the third Friday of September -- to help
installations plan local observances.," Greer noted. The day falls on Sept.
15 this year. People visiting the Web site also will find a lot of
information about what the government is doing concerning servicemen missing
in action, Greer said.
"Two years ago, we were only getting about 2,000 weekly requests for
information on our Internet Web site. Now we're getting as many as 62,000
weekly requests for files of different documents -- posters, newsletters and
WWII Veterans Living or Deceased
Many WWII Veterans left High School to serve their country's call to arms and
upon their return from war, were unable to continue/receive their high school
diplomas for a variety of reasons.
A program known as OPERATION RECOGNITION now makes it possible for those
veteransother than dishonorable discharged, to obtain an honorary high school
To obtain the diploma, the veteran or the veterans family should send for an
application from the:
Commission of Veterans Affairs
7700 Beaver Drive, Camp Dodge Building A6A,
Johnston, Iowa 50131
Applications may also be obtained by calling the Commission at their
toll free number 800-838-4692.
To receive the diploma the veteran must have been a resident or former
resident of Iowa who served between September 16, 1940 and December 31, 1946.
Deceased veterans are also eligible should that veterans family apply and,
are awarded posthumously.
Dave Fleming, Local 893 Veterans Committee
Rec. Sec., Iowa Veterans Council
YNCS Don Harribine, USN(Ret)
Ronald B. Abrams, the deputy director of the National
Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), Scolds VA Claims Processors
"We have discovered that full and fair adjudication of claims for VA
benefits is still not a reality," the deputy director of the National
Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), which recently completed an audit
and evaluation of VA claims processing, recently told lawmakers on Capitol
Veterans seeking service-connection, an increase in service-connected
benefits or service-connected death benefits have "a greater than 50
chance of having [their claims] improperly adjudicated by a VA regional
office," Ronald B. Abrams testified at a hearing of the House Veterans
Affairs oversight and investigations subcommittee.
"There are far too many premature VA adjudications resulting in adverse
decisions," Abrams said. "Many VA managers were promoted to their
position during an era when timeliness and production were emphasized over
quality. VA regional offices are eager to adjudicate claims and thereby
obtain credit.... As a result, many VA regional offices prematurely deny
claims before all necessary evidence has been obtained. Some claims are
adjudicated and denied even before the service medical records are
Abrams said that some VA managers say they feel pressured to make premature
judgments on claims. He said that too many regional offices look for
negative evidence, which would allow them to refuse good claims, even when
there is good, reasonable evidence on file to support a claim.
"For example," he continued, "veterans seeking service-connection
conditions, entitlement to individual unemployability benefits, back
benefits or compensation based upon secondary service-connection have to
jump over a higher bar than other veterans."
"VA notifications often fail to provide an adequate explanation of the
reasons and bases for the adverse VA determination. It is a matter of VA
policy not to inform veterans what diagnostic code has been assigned to a
service-connected disability for rating purposes."
In further testimony, Abrams, who is an attorney, outlined other problems
cited in the NVLSP audit including:
Assignment of erroneously low disability ratings for service-connected
Erroneous denial of claims for service-connection for mental conditions;
Inadequate requests for medical opinions;
Non-responsive VA examination reports;
Lack of coordinated regional office quality control and a subsequent failure
to act on recognized patterns of errors.
Among recommendations offered by Abrams:
RO quality reviews should always be validated by an independent quality
VA employees who do a good job should be paid a reasonable salary and
receive bonuses and promotions.
VA management should more clearly communicate with its employees what it
wants from them. If management focuses on quality as well as efficient work,
veterans will be better off.
VETERANS RESOURCES NETWORK
A veteran has sent to my attention records which show that a Vets Center Team
Leader; Jessica McNamara, has destroyed Veterans records, and also that these
allegations were directed to the VA Inspector General, but the VA employee
concerned has not been punish, or even received a reprimand for this illegal
action. Two people can testify that Ms. McNamara destroyed veterans
records, and Ms. McNamara herself confesses to destroying records which she
said were not official records.
According to the evidence I have seen, this occurred in the 1995 time period,
but it's distance in time should not be a justification for the continued
cover-up of the destruction of veterans records. While the statute of
limitations may prevent prosecution, the VA employee should non-the-less be
I offer for your inspection the following:
1. At the bottom is a scanned image of an official letter by James N. Barber,
LCSW who was a social worker at the Vets center in question. Wherein he
states that he observed veterans records which were discarded in an open
2. A direct quote from a 10 page statement dated 10/25/95, signed and
submitted by: Jessica C. McNamara, MSN, RN Team Leader, Peninsula Vet
Center, 2946 Broadway street, Redwood City, CA . Wherein she states that
she did in fact destroy veterans records, but her defense is that the records
were "NOT official records". Item 6. of the 10 page
(editor's note: If McNamara's determination of
what constitutes part of a veterans records were to be believed, then no
handwritten records could ever be included in a veterans files. I myself
have submitted for my own claim Doctor's records, and a good portion are notes
in the Doctor's handwriting. Also my AMVETS service representative made
notes in a log which are part of my official VA claims file.)
"6. Dr. Teachout states that he has personel knowledge that I destroyed
some vet Center records.. The "Records" in question were unofficial
notes that Dr. Weber kept on her clients to assist her. with her entries into
the progess notes. The notes were on yellow legal paper and were NOT official
records. It was Dr. Teachout who advised me to destroy these records since
they were not official documents and we could not legitimately transcribe
someone else’s notes into the official clinical record. He states that Jim
Barker had found client charts fully intact in the outside rubbish container.
I have no knowledge of this occurring. If indeed this happened, it raises
issues with Mr. Barker as to why it was not brought to my attention. I have
since audited our Master Client List with our records and we have NO MISSING
UNQUOTE. (Item 6, from a signed statement of
Ms. Jessica McNamara.)
3. I have not included, but have a 29 page statement from a Dr. Teachout
dated 1995 (the person referred to in Ms. McNamara's statement item 6 above).
Wherein Dr. Teachout states that he also can verify the fact that
McNamara destroyed veterans records which were important to the veterans
4. And the Law: Title 18 USC section 2071 (a) and (b), prohibit
the destruction of records. (see also Title 44 USC sections 3314 and 3315)
18 USC Sec. 2071
TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I - CRIMES
CHAPTER 101 - RECORDS AND REPORTS
Sec. 2071. Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally
(a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals,
mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so,
intent to do so takes and carries away any record,
book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited
clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in
public office, or with any judicial or public officer of
States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not
three years, or both.
(b) Whoever, having the custody of any such
map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and
unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates,
destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or
not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his
and be disqualified from holding any office under the
States. As used in this subsection, the term ''office''
include the office held by any person as a retired officer
Armed Forces of the United States. ----end of citation----
>##### START #####
>The VONAPP (Veterans On Line Applications) website is an official
of Veterans Affairs (VA) website designed so U.S. military veterans and
servicemembers within six months of separation or retirement can apply for
compensation, pension, and vocational rehabilitation benefits through the
Internet. This is a first step towards an electronic VA. VONAPP will allow
veterans, and in the future, dependents and other VA claimants, electronic
access to file applications with us on-line.
How is Using this site different from visiting a VA office?
When you use this site to complete and send an application to VA, your
application will be sent directly to your local VA office. Processing
begin right away, and you will receive a response from the VA office
you know the status of your application.
If you use the VA Form 21-526, you will be using a special form with a
design based on the results of research in readability and the use of plain
English. VA has a major initiative to rewrite letters and redesign forms
based on plain English. It is called Reader-Focused Writing.
What VA Forms (now and future)
You have available:
VA Form 21-526, Veteran's Application for Compensation and/or Pension, and
VA Form 28-1900, Disabled Veterans Application for Vocational
More forms will be added later.
A. Questions about VONAPP
1. What does the name "VONAPP" mean?
VONAPP is an acronym for Veterans On Line Applications.
2. What can I do on this web site?
You can apply for VA compensation, pension, and vocational rehabilitation
3. Who should use VONAPP?
Veterans and some servicemembers may use VONAPP. Servicemembers will
their estimated release from active duty date or retirement date.
4. When will other application forms be available?
The next form we plan to add will be an education application form later in
2000. We plan to add more forms as fast as we can starting in 2001.
5. What can I do to help get my application processed faster?
The more complete your application is when you send it, the faster we can
process it. Filling in accurately and completely as many questions as
can on the application is a big help. To ensure that your application is
complete and well grounded, you should have evidence for the claims that
are making. "Evidence" is information that confirms that what
telling us is correct. For instance, if you are claiming service
for a certain disability, you should send us medical records that tell us
more about that disability. Your records should also show how that
disability is related to your military service and that disability still
6. How does this "well grounded" requirement affect my application?
"Well Grounded" is a legal requirement which we must follow.
In short, it
means that before we can work on your claim, we must have certain evidence
from you or available in our records. The VA Regional Office which
processes your application will include well grounded requirements in its
review and let you know exactly what you must do, if anything, to well
ground your claim.
7. Do I have to complete every question?
No. There may be questions that do not pertain to you. However, there
some questions that will require an entry, like your name, mailing address,
Social Security number, etc.
8. The printed VONAPP form, Veteran's Application for Compensation and/or
Pension, VA Form 21-526, looks different from one I saw recently-why is
This is a new form rewritten to be more easily understood. It still
requires the same information as older forms but should be easier to fill
out. Its use in VONAPP when received by a VA Regional Office will be the
same as the older form.
9. Will I see this new form on the screen as I fill it out?
No. You will see certain questions from the form. VONAPP will lead you
through the form requiring you to fill in answers based on your answers to
earlier questions. Therefore, the question numbers you see on the
may not be in strict numerical order and some numbers may be skipped.
10. Will using VONAPP make the application process easier?
Yes and no. There is still a lot of information needed on the
and pension application. It will take a lot of time to fill it out
you use the paper form or use VONAPP. But VONAPP will help guide you
through the form and supply you with help topics. It also edits certain
items so that there will be fewer typing errors.
11. How do I sign a VONAPP form?
You cannot sign these forms electronically. However, we still need your
signature. If you fill out the application for compensation or pension,
VONAPP will give you a special signature page for you to sign and mail to
12. Should I use this "special signature page" if I don't submit the
No. You should only sign and send VA the special signature page by
if you submitted your application through VONAPP. Only then will the
identifying information be at the bottom of the special signature page so
can link it to the electronically submitted form.
13. What if I filled out the application and just printed it out without
submitting it electronically? Can I use the special signature page?
If you filled out and printed the form but chose not to submit it
electronically, we suggest you only sign the 21-526 application where
indicated on the form and send it to VA. You may also sign and send in
special signature page with the application but be sure to sign the
requested places within the 21-526 application, too, and mail them in all
14. Can I fax my signature to the VA Regional Office?
Yes. For your submitted claim, you can fax the RO the Special Signature
Page or the signature pages from your printed form. Be sure that they
contain the confirmation information at the bottom of the pages-your name,
date, and confirmation number. Contact the RO to get their fax number.
15. Do I still have to sign and mail in the 21-4142 Authorization and
Consent to Release Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
which are attached to the 21-526 benefits application?
Yes. You should read the authorization and consent forms, sign each in
appropriate block, and mail them to the VA Regional Office you see on your
confirmation notice. Medical providers require original signatures and
require that you fill out their consent forms.
16. After I submit my application using VONAPP, how do I know which VA
Regional Office will process it?
After you submit the application through VONAPP, you will receive a
"Confirmation Notice" which will show the VA Regional Office which
your claim. This notice will also show your name, date you submitted the
form, and your unique VONAPP "Confirmation Number."
17. Is this Confirmation Number the same number VA will use to process my
No. This will be used to track your application in VONAPP. When
Regional Office starts processing your application, you will be assigned a
VA file number. This may be your Social Security number or a VA claim
number. Once you learn what your VA file number is, you should always
that when dealing with VA. Up to that time, your application will be
tracked using the VONAPP Confirmation Number. But if you already have a
file number, be sure to put that on your form where asked.
18. What if I'm filling out a form in VONAPP and something happens such as
a power outage, computer crash, etc.,--will I lose everything I put in?
No. As you begin filling out an application in VONAPP, the information
saved as you move from screen to screen. So the most you will lose is
information on the screen you were on at the time of the problem. You will
be able to reenter VONAPP, select the application you were on, and start
work on it again.
19. You said that there is a lot of information needed on the compensation
and pension application-what if I can't complete it at one time?
You can suspend working on the form and come back to it up to 30 calendar
days from the time you suspend it. This will give you a chance to
find/verify information, seek help, etc.
20. If I return to the form and just look at it, will the 30 day suspension
start over again?
No. You must make an entry or change on the form. Just looking at
not restart the 30 day clock.
21. If I'm working on a form in VONAPP but I want to take a break, can I
leave it running?
Yes, but only up to 20 minutes. VONAPP will automatically shut down if
sees no input from you for 20 minutes. Input means that you make or change
an entry then move on to another screen.
22. Will I get a warning before VONAPP shuts down?
Yes. After 15 minutes of no activity, VONAPP will give you a message
warning you of the impending shutdown.
23. If VONAPP automatically shuts down, will I lose everything I typed in?
No. You will only lose the information on the last screen you were on
unless you had saved that information.
24. If I need help to fill out any forms, who is available?
Help is available from many sources. You can call a VA Regional Office
toll-free at 1-800-827-1000. You can seek help from a National, County,
local service organization, an agent or an attorney. From the VONAPP
Page, click on the "VA Partners" button or "State and County
and Other Help" for detailed information.
25. Will VONAPP check information I put in the application?
Yes. VONAPP checks some information on the page you are on. In
after you have filled in all required information and other information as
best you can, VONAPP will check it all again before you can submit it to us
electronically. This presubmission check will allow you to change any
information you entered.
26. What if I submit the form but forgot to print it for my records?
While you cannot alter the form after you submit it to us, you can still
print it. Do this by going back to the form selection screen and request
the "Create a new claim based on prior claim" option. Note
that this will
not give you the confirmation number of the application you previously
27. While I was using VONAPP to fill out a form, I saw that sometimes
everything I typed showed only capital letters and sometimes both lower and
upper case-why is that?
Answers for some of the questions on the forms always show as capital
letters no matter what you do. Others, such as your name, allow all
characters and cases. Entries with all capital letters are the easier
to capture information in VONAPP and make no difference in processing your
28. Can VONAPP be used worldwide?
No. There are a very few countries which do not have a sufficient level
Internet security to allow VONAPP use. The security requirement is
128 bit encryption. If this is not available to you for any reason, then
you will not be able to use VONAPP.
29. My foreign mailing address looks difference than U.S. addresses, how do
I input in VONAPP?
VONAPP mailing addresses usually have three different selections:
(United States), Foreign (other than U.S.), and Military Overseas (U.S.
military addresses outside of the United States). Use the
selection if you live in a country outside of the U.S.
30. Can I give VA feedback about my experience using VONAPP?
Yes. After you submit the completed application, you may fill out the
questionnaire which you will receive. Your comments are valuable to us
please use the form.
B. Questions about VA Benefits
1. Where can I learn more about what compensation, pension, and vocational
rehabilitation benefits are?
On the VONAPP Home Page, click on the "Who Should use VONAPP"
will get more detailed information about what these benefits are. You
also look at the benefits section available on the VA Home Page.
2. Where can I find information about all VA benefits?
This is an Internet link to VA's booklet, Federal Benefits for Veterans and
You can also call 1-800-827-1000 and a VA Regional Office representative
answer your questions or refer to another contact.
3. I'm already receiving VA compensation (or pension) benefits-should I use
VONAPP to ask for an increase in compensation (or pension)?
No. If you want to have your current compensation (or pension) benefit
increased, you should contact the VA Regional Office nearest you, or the
you usually contact, and ask them how to seek an increase.
4. Even though I'm getting VA compensation now, I want to apply for
vocational rehabilitation benefits-can I use VONAPP?
Yes. Fill out only the Disabled Veterans Application for Vocational
Rehabilitation,VA Form 28-1900.
C. Computer Requirements and Issues
1. Where can I get more information about what I need to run VONAPP?
Click on the "What do I need to run VONAPP on my computer" button on
VONAPP Home Page.
use them while you are working in VONAPP to make its use easier. Do not
disable cookies or you may not be able to run VONAPP.
3. Are there certain settings my Internet browser should have to best use
Yes. There are optional settings which will make VONAPP easier to use and
make the information you put in more secure. For Internet Explorer version
4, under View on your browser menu bar; then Internet Options; then in the
"General" tab, Temporary Internet files, then "Settings".
There choose the
radio button "Every visit to the page", then click on "OK"
and a second
Submit non-encrypted form data
do not save
encrypted data to disk
saved page when browser closed
For Internet Explorer version 5, under Security:
Allow per-session cookies (not stored)
enable Submit non-encrypted form data
enable Active scripting
do not save
encrypted data to disk
empty temporary Internet files folder when browser is closed
For Netscape Navigator, under Edit/Preferences/Advanced:
4. Is there anything special I should do to close out VONAPP once I'm done?
Yes. This is very important if the computer you are on is used by other
people and especially if it is in a public location such as a library. You
should close all VONAPP screens by clicking on the "x" in the upper
hand corner of all pop up screens you opened as well as the VONAPP screen
you were last on and the VONAPP Home Page. And before you leave the
once you are done working in the Internet, close the Internet browser
completely. This will help ensure that no one can see information you put
D. Questions about VA and other related issues
1. How can I contact VA if I have questions about this form, how to fill it
out, or about benefits?
You can contact VA in the following ways:
By Internet: http://www.vba.va.gov/benefits/address.htm
By mail: You can locate the address of
the closest VA Regional
in your telephone book blue pages under "United States Government,
Veterans." Also, our addresses can be found at
By telephone: 1-800-827-1000; 1-800-829-4833 (Hearing Impaired TDD
2. Can I visit a VA office for help?
Yes. After you find out its location, you can visit your nearest VA
Regional Office during business hours. You should call the office at
1-800-827-1000 to confirm its hours and location. If you visit a
office, you should gather the necessary materials and complete as much of
the form as you can before you visit.
3. I've noticed that VA Regional Offices sometimes have two addresses, why
Some VA Regional Offices have both a mailing address and a street address.
Use the mailing address to send in anything but if you want to visit an
office, use its street address. If you are unsure of the address, call
1-800-827-1000 for information and to make an appointment.
4. Where can I go on the Internet if I have questions about my military
records and how to get them?
There are links from the VA Home Page which will include these:
National Personnel Records Center (NPRC):
Link to SF 180 form to request records:
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) link:
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