VVA National Press Releases


IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

March 28, 2018                    No. 18-6


Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

-

VVA On VA Secretary Shulkin’s Departure

(Washington, DC) –Statement by John Rowan, VVA National President, on the firing of VA Secretary Shulkin:
 
 “VA Secretary David Shulkin has shown grace under fire amid the long-circulated rumors of his imminent departure, confirmed today by the President’s twitter bomb at 5:31 EST: ‘I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs.’ 
 
“We are grateful to VA Secretary David Shulkin for his service to our nation’s veterans and his firm stance to protect the Department of Veterans Affairs from those who would like to see it handed over to the for-profit, private-sector health systems. Despite the pressure, he has never veered from his mission to care for our nation’s veterans while tackling the revitalization of the VA.  Secretary David Shulkin will be missed.
 
“We look forward to an equally productive relationship with Dr. Ronny Jackson. We are pleased that he is a combat veteran with firsthand knowledge of the trauma of war, and as such, will understand what our veterans need.”

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

March 23, 2018                    No. 18-4


Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

Veterans with Bad Paper Discharges to Get

Mental Health Screening and Care from the VA

[Washington, DC] -- Following the announcement last night of the final text of the omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, said: "We at VVA owe a debt of gratitude to Senators Murphy, Tester, and Schatz, and Congressmen O’Rourke and Coffman – and to Secretary Shulkin – for fighting to ensure that veterans with a bad-paper discharge despite otherwise honorable service will finally receive the VA services that they so desperately need.

"For far too long we've heard from veterans who were denied help from the VA for a lifetime because of an administrative separation. A key provision of the omnibus will help these veterans, from the Vietnam War to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as to future conflicts,” Rowan said. “Once enacted, this legislation will save untold lives of countless forgotten heroes."

Language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act taken from Congressman Coffman’s H.R. 918, the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act and Senator Murphy and Congressman O’Rourke’sHonor Our Commitment Act, S. 699/H.R. 1685 will entitle veterans administratively separated with another-than-honorable discharge who have served at least 100 days on active duty, were deployed in atheater of combat operations or in support of combat operations, or were in an area in which hostilities were occurring; who suffered a physical assault or battery of a sexual nature or experienced Military Sexual Trauma; or served as a drone operator, to mental and behavioral health screening and care. In
cases which a VA clinician deems therapeutically appropriate, or for those veterans who live far from VA healthcare facilities, the VA can allow them to obtain care and treatment from qualified non-VA providers.

To reach out to these veterans not later than 180 days after they’ve been discharged, the VA will dedicate a toll-free 1-800 number, post information at state veterans’ affairs agencies as well as at VA facilities, and establish a transparent Character of Service Determination process for veterans to appeal if they have been denied services or benefits because of the nature of their discharge. In addition, the VA must submit annually a report to the appropriate committees in the House and Senate addressing how many individuals have requested initial mental health assessment under this program, and how many have subsequently received care.




IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

November 28, 2017                    No. 16-58


Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

Vietnam Veterans of America to Partner with WWP and TAPS to 

Partnership will Conduct Research, Develop Data, and Advocate for Solutions to Support Affected Service Members, Veterans, Family Members, and Survivors

(Washington, D.C.) – “Our service members who served after 9/11 have been exposed to a range of environmental and chemical hazards, some of which carry very real risks. Whether from burn pits, depleted uranium, toxic fragments, they are getting sick and dying young from uncommon illnesses and early onset disease. For Vietnam veterans, it’s déjà vu all over again, and we are heartened to join in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) to share our lessons learned and advocate for our younger veterans and their families,” said John Rowan, VVA National President.
 
“While much anecdotal evidence exists to suggest veterans’ exposure to burn pits and toxins during deployment is related to a host of illnesses and ailments, conclusive evidence is lacking,” said René Bardorf, WWP senior vice president of government and community relations. “To better understand toxic exposure, Wounded Warrior Project is pleased to work collaboratively with Vietnam Veterans of America and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors to gather research and data that will help us understand the risks and effects of toxic exposure so we may work to ensure service members, veterans, and survivors have access to the care and benefits they need.”
 
“Though our war ended more than 40 years ago, our battle for justice and answers for our veterans exposed to Agent Orange and other toxic substances and their families has never ceased,” said Rowan. “We are thankful for the support of the Wounded Warrior Project, which has allowed VVA and TAPS to come together in partnership to ensure that our Post-9/11veterans don’t wait a lifetime for government to make good on its promise to care for those injured in defense of the Constitution and their families.”
 
For Bonnie Carrol, president of TAPS, “the primary focus of the partnership will be to ensure that the families of military service members and veterans who have died as a result of illnesses related to toxic exposure are recognized, cared for, and are able to receive all benefits they are entitled.”

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

November 16, 2017                    No. 16-57


Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

 

VVA:  Enact Gillibrand’s
The Military Justice Improvement Act Now

(Washington, DC) – “Military Sexual Trauma is eroding the unity of force, its mission capability, our service members’ trust in one another, and the honor of all those who serve our nation in uniform. We, at Vietnam Veterans of America, have grown very weary of the Department of Defense claim that it has ‘zero tolerance’ toward Military Sexual Trauma,” said John Rowan, VVA National President.
 
“Military Sexual Trauma will not abate without changes to long-standing procedures, regulations, and legal systems, and these changes must be accorded a total buy-in by all military brass. Most importantly, leadership must be held accountable at all levels of the command structure,” said Rowan.
 
“Last month, we learned of a case of sexual harassment and assault by a senior officer at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base that was the kind of misconduct Pentagon leaders had promised Congress and the public it would no longer tolerate,” said Rowan. “Air Force investigators confirmed much of the victim’s account, and under military law, charges would have automatically resulted in a court-martial. However, the decision on what to do rested with a three-star general, 600 miles away, who did not charge the perpetrator with abusive sexual contact, or any crime at all. Instead, he imposed ‘non­-judicial punishment,’ discipline for minor offenses. There would be no trial, no publicity, and no public record.
This incident is ample evidence for why the legislation Senator Gillibrand (N.Y.-D) is introducing today is needed,” Rowan said.
 
The Military Justice Improvement Act removes the prosecution of military sexual violence cases from the chain of command and allows for prosecution to be led by experienced criminal justice professionals, thus ensuring victims of MST an avenue to seek justice. It’s well past time for Congress to enact this needed reform,” said Rowan. “VVA calls on the Senate to take another look at the deplorable statistics and pass this legislation. Only then, will the corporate culture in our military begin
to evolve toward justice.”

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

 

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

September 19, 2017                            No. 17-48

Mokie Porter 
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

RAND Study Finds ACA Repeal Will Strain VA;Any ACA Repeal Must Invest in VA Infrastructure
 

 

(Washington, D.C.)—“Last week, RAND Corporation, a widely respected, nonpartisan research institution, released the report, Veterans Health Insurance Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act and Implications of Repeal for the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said John Rowan, President of Vietnam Veterans of America. “The study released by RAND Corporation adds weight to this argument that we've been making to Congress through countless meetings and hearings.”
 
The report found that efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act would result in the VA being flooded with older, lower income, and less-healthy nonelderly veterans. This additional patient load would be caused by the end of ACA insurance plans that formerly uninsured veterans have opted to use.
 
“We’re at a time when demand at the VA is increasing because the Vietnam generation is aging, and new veterans are starting to deal with health issues related to their recent deployments,” Rowan continued. “VVA urges in the strongest possible terms that any ACA repeal must be tied to an increase in funding for the Veterans Health Administration to offset any influx of new VA patients. Our veterans shouldn't be an after-thought.”
 

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”



IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

August 29, 2017                    No. 17-46

Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org 

VVA Applauds DoD’s Progress on Bad-Paper Policy;
Renews Call for Presidential Action

 

(Washington, D.C.)—“Years after Vietnam Veterans of America and Yale’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic sued the Pentagon for its mistreatment of veterans with bad-paper, we're finally beginning to see specifics on how they're planning to make things right for some veterans with bad-paper,” said John Rowan, President of Vietnam Veterans of America. “Words matter, and for a long time, veterans and the military review board agencies have been unsure of what 'liberal consideration' actually means.”

 
On September 3, 2014, then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a memorandum to the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force as a response to VVA and Yale’s class-action lawsuit, Monk v. Mabus. The memo directs the Boards to give “liberal consideration” to applications that raise PTSD and to various types of evidence related to PTSD. However, advocates have found that the “liberal consideration” policy has been applied unevenly across the services, as well as to veterans of different generations.
 
“This clarification is a step in the right direction, establishing rules that should be used now and in the future, but it’s nowhere near enough,” continued Rowan. "Countless veterans who have suffered from PTSD, TBI, and MST have been issued bad-paper and unfairly denied access to critical services and benefits. For too many, this has caused their symptoms to fester and become worse -- and it’s caused more suicides than we'll ever know.”
 
Veterans with bad-paper discharges are more likely to struggle from untreated physical and mental illnesses, be without employment, to struggle with substance-abuse disorders, to have interactions with the criminal justice system, and to die by suicide. 
 
“We can't afford to keep forcing veterans into a discharge upgrade process that takes years to navigate through when they're desperate for immediate help. That's why VVA is renewing our request to President Trump that he immediately issue pardons re to veterans who have been unfairly denied critical veterans benefits without having the due process rights of courts martial. We hope that President Trump will be the first Commander-in-Chief in modern history who doesn't ignore these often-forgotten veterans.”

“The danger is that this memo, like past guidance, will fail to alter the historic hostility of the military’s review boards toward veterans with bad paper,” said Michael Wishnie, a professor at Yale Law School who, with his students, has represented VVA in several recent lawsuits on behalf of veterans with bad paper. “The key now is meaningful outreach to veterans and rigorous oversight of board implementation, or better still, an immediate pardon by the President.”
 
“If Sheriff Joe Arpaio deserves a pardon, then why not wounded warriors who are suffering from PTSD, TBI, or sexual violence?” said Michael Wishnie, a professor at Yale Law School who with his students has represented VVA in several recent lawsuits on behalf of veterans with bad paper.

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

August 25, 2017                    No. 17-45

Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

Appeals Modernization Bill Falls Short
 

(Washington, DC)—On August 23, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, a bill which dramatically overhauls the claims and appeals process for veterans seeking disability compensation benefits to which they are entitled.
 
“While the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 is touted as a means for veterans to receive ‘faster and more efficient decisions,’ we fear this new law limits due process protections and fails to address—much less fix—the fundamental problems with the broken claims system, the need for binding legal precedent,” said John Rowan, VVA National President.  
 
“Under this new law, without a precedent-setting mechanism that actually works, veterans who have nearly identical records will continue to receive drastically different decisions, and the never-ending churn of cases between all levels of appeal will go on and on,” noted Rowan.
 
“Making a claims system more efficient at the expense of veterans is not justice for veterans. We know the job to fix the broken appeals system is far from over. Vietnam Veterans of America remains committed to working with the best legal minds in America--in Congress and elsewhere--to develop legislation that would establish an appeals system that works to address, first and foremost, the needs of veterans and not just the needs of VA,” continued Rowan.
 
 “America’s veterans deserve a claims system that is just, consistent, and efficient. In the short term, it is up to VVA and our fellow veterans’ service organizations and stakeholders to ensure that the regulations promulgated to implement this law are consistent with a pro-veteran and non-adversarial claims system. We are confident that our colleagues will join in this effort to make the regulations as fair as possible, within the limits of this new statute,” said Rowan.

 

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”


 

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

August 25, 2017                    No. 17-45

Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

Appeals Modernization Bill Falls Short
 

(Washington, DC)—On August 23, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, a bill which dramatically overhauls the claims and appeals process for veterans seeking disability compensation benefits to which they are entitled.
 
“While the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 is touted as a means for veterans to receive ‘faster and more efficient decisions,’ we fear this new law limits due process protections and fails to address—much less fix—the fundamental problems with the broken claims system, the need for binding legal precedent,” said John Rowan, VVA National President.  
 
“Under this new law, without a precedent-setting mechanism that actually works, veterans who have nearly identical records will continue to receive drastically different decisions, and the never-ending churn of cases between all levels of appeal will go on and on,” noted Rowan.
 
“Making a claims system more efficient at the expense of veterans is not justice for veterans. We know the job to fix the broken appeals system is far from over. Vietnam Veterans of America remains committed to working with the best legal minds in America--in Congress and elsewhere--to develop legislation that would establish an appeals system that works to address, first and foremost, the needs of veterans and not just the needs of VA,” continued Rowan.
 
 “America’s veterans deserve a claims system that is just, consistent, and efficient. In the short term, it is up to VVA and our fellow veterans’ service organizations and stakeholders to ensure that the regulations promulgated to implement this law are consistent with a pro-veteran and non-adversarial claims system. We are confident that our colleagues will join in this effort to make the regulations as fair as possible, within the limits of this new statute,” said Rowan.


Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

August 16, 2017                    No. 17-43


Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

Forever GI Bill Now Law of the Land

(Washington, DC) –"Today military, veterans, and family service organizations have made history -- They have willed the Forever GI Bill into law," said John Rowan, President of Vietnam Veterans of America. "We are incredibly grateful for this unity, and an opportunity to leave future veterans with better benefits than we, ourselves, were afforded as we transitioned from service. As a community, we have changed the conversation on the GI Bill, from being a 'cost-of-war,' to being a part of every veteran's successful transition."
 
"Today, and in the future, service members are not choosing when they go to war, so the government shouldn't be able to tell veterans when they can use the GI Bill that they earned through service," continued Rowan. "Thank you to Congress, for your unanimous support of the Forever GI Bill, and to all of the advocates who have stood with us in fighting for the Forever GI Bill."

 

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

August 14, 2017                    No. 17-41

Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

Vietnam Veterans of America Condemns Neo-Nazis
 

(Washington, DC) – Vietnam Veterans of America vociferously condemns neo-nazis, white supremacists, and wanna-be KKKers, whose violent, anti-American tendencies resulted in the death of Ms. Heather Heyer, who was exercising her legitimate Constitutional rights to free speech. It also resulted in the death of Trooper Berke M. M. Bates and Lt. H. Jay Cullen, Virginia State Troopers, who were trying to protect everyone's rights.

"Our parents did not sacrifice during World War II to defeat Nazism in Europe, only to have it return on our shores. When so-called protesters show up in helmets and flack jackets, carrying shields and clubs, they clearly are not planning to peacefully exercise their rights. They are trying to intimidate America, and their bigoted ideology must be resisted by all true patriots,"  said John Rowan, VVA National President.

"If there are any VVA members who harbor any of these bigoted ideologies, they are encouraged to turn in their membership cards. We did not don the uniform and serve our country to enable the acceptance of intolerance," said Rowan. 

 

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

August 7, 2017                    No. 17-35

No.  17-35
Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

VVA Slams DoD for Failing to Treat Troops with PTSD
 

(Washington, DC) – “What is made clear in the RAND report released early this morning is that the Department of Defense is treating troops' health as a box-checking exercise," said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America. "Why is it that once a service member is screened positively for depression or PTSD, that they aren't focusing on evidenced-based treatment and positive outcomes?"

RAND released a study today, entitled "Quality of Care for PTSD and Depression in the Military Health System," which found the Military Health System (MHS) performed well in providing initial screening for suicide and substance use, but needs to improve at providing adequate follow up to service members with suicide risk. The study found that fewer than half of service members screened positively for PTSD and depression received adequate care when beginning treatment. RAND also found that quality of care varied by branch of service and location, indicating that best practices are not being shared, and resources are insufficient.

"The reports we have seen this year about how the military treats troops with PTSD are infuriating," continued Rowan. "In May, the Government Accountability Office released a report showing that tens of thousands of veterans with PTSD and related conditions were kicked out with bad paper and reduced access to GI Bill and health benefits. What was made clear in RAND's report today is that Congress needs to step in and hold people accountable for kicking out so many veterans with psychiatric conditions without ever giving them the tools they need to recover." 

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

August 3, 2017                    No. 17-34

No.  17-34
Mokie Porter  
301-585-4000, ext. 146
mporter@vva.org

Congress Sends Forever GI Bill to President's Desk

(Washington, DC) --"The passage of the Forever GI Bill shows just how much can be accomplished when military and veterans organizations join forces," said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America. "We were guided by our founding principle to improve the GI Bill so that it works for future generations. We called for a GI Bill that wouldn't arbitrarily be taken away fifteen years after a veteran leaves the service -- and because everyone from the traditional organizations to the newest stood with us -- Congress answered the call by quickly passing the Forever GI Bill."

"We're glad that Congress recognized that this needed to be done before they went home for August recess," Rowan continued. "We are thankful to both chambers, both sides of the aisle, and all of our partners in the military, veterans, and family organizations that helped to craft the Forever GI Bill and send it to the President's desk. We're especially thankful to Student Veterans of America for their leadership of the Forever GI Bill coalition, as well as the leadership of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs who gave Congress a great reason to overcome partisan gridlock."

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

August 1, 2017                    No. 17-33

No.  17-33
Mokie Porter  
301-585-4000, ext. 146
mporter@vva.org

VVA Lawsuit Challenges DoD’s Leaking of Personal Information Belonging to Active Duty and Veterans


(Washington, DC) – Vietnam Veterans of America filed a federal lawsuit today, in order to end the Department of Defense’s systematic violation of veterans’ and service members’ privacy rights. DoD operates a website that reveals details pertaining to the military service of millions of veterans and service members to anybody at all, anonymously, for any purpose. The website discloses sensitive details, including exact dates of active-duty service, future dates of call-up to active duty, and branch and unit of service.
 
“Veterans and active duty military are disproportionately targeted by scammers and identity thieves,” said John Rowan, President of VVA. “DoD is fueling the problem by leaving personal and private information easily accessible on the internet, and DoD has refused to properly secure this information,” noted Rowan. “We are asking a court to order them to do so.” The case was filed in federal court in Buffalo, N.Y., by Vietnam Veterans of America, the VVA New York State Council, VVA Chapter 77, and VVA member Thomas Barden.
 
Thomas Barden, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, was defrauded by scammers who gained his trust through the use of private details accessible on the DoD website. “We expect the military to protect our private information,” said Barden. “The government should not be giving con artists and scammers easy access to information they can use to rip-off veterans like me.” The DoD website allows anybody to search for an individual’s record, simply by inputting a last name and birthdate (or social security number).
 
“Veterans and service members face a multitude of challenges when they return home. Many veterans want control over who learns details about their service in order to avoid stereotypes, prejudice, or worse,” said Mike Walker, President of VVA Chapter 77, in Tonawanda, NY. “The government is taking that decision out of our hands by operating this unsecured online database.”
 
“The site, which receives 2.3 billion queries every year, is intended for the exclusive use of banks and other regulated institutions to verify whether an individual is on active duty and, therefore, entitled to certain legal protections, but DoD does not limit access in any way and has no idea how many of those searches are illegitimate,” said Jonathan Manes, supervising attorney at the Civil Liberties and Transparency Clinic of the University at Buffalo School of Law, which represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Plaintiffs are represented by student attorneys Jessica Gill, Arthur Heberle, and Thora Knight of the UB School of Law under the supervision of Assistant Clinical Professor Manes.
 

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.

IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

March 23, 2018                    No. 18-4


Mokie Porter  
301-996-0901
mporter@vva.org

-

Veterans with Bad Paper Discharges to Get
Mental Health Screening and Care from the VA

[Washington, DC] -- Following the announcement last night of the final text of the omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, said: "We at VVA owe a debt of gratitude to Senators Murphy, Tester, and Schatz, and Congressmen O’Rourke and Coffman – and to Secretary Shulkin – for fighting to ensure that veterans with a bad-paper discharge despite otherwise honorable service will finally receive the VA services that they so desperately need.

"For far too long we've heard from veterans who were denied help from the VA for a lifetime because of an administrative separation. A key provision of the omnibus will help these veterans, from the Vietnam War to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as to future conflicts,” Rowan said. “Once enacted, this legislation will save untold lives of countless forgotten heroes."

Language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act taken from Congressman Coffman’s H.R. 918, the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act and Senator Murphy and Congressman O’Rourke’sHonor Our Commitment Act, S. 699/H.R. 1685 will entitle veterans administratively separated with another-than-honorable discharge who have served at least 100 days on active duty, were deployed in atheater of combat operations or in support of combat operations, or were in an area in which hostilities were occurring; who suffered a physical assault or battery of a sexual nature or experienced Military Sexual Trauma; or served as a drone operator, to mental and behavioral health screening and care. In
cases which a VA clinician deems therapeutically appropriate, or for those veterans who live far from VA healthcare facilities, the VA can allow them to obtain care and treatment from qualified non-VA providers.

To reach out to these veterans not later than 180 days after they’ve been discharged, the VA will dedicate a toll-free 1-800 number, post information at state veterans’ affairs agencies as well as at VA facilities, and establish a transparent Character of Service Determination process for veterans to appeal if they have been denied services or benefits because of the nature of their discharge. In addition, the VA must submit annually a report to the appropriate committees in the House and Senate addressing how many individuals have requested initial mental health assessment under this program, and how many have subsequently received care.

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