WASHINGTON – Today the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced key changes in the processing of GI Bill benefits payments under the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (Forever GI Bill).
VA hosts music therapy retreat in Nashville to help Veterans heal
‘Operation Song’ connects professional songwriters, former service members to help participants improve their lives
WASHINGTON — Aimed at helping former service members process some of their military experiences, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the nonprofit Operation Song launched the first of a series of national music therapy retreats Nov. 14-17 in Nashville, Tennessee.
In collaboration with VA Voluntary Services and Veterans Canteen Service, the four-day songwriting retreat connected Veterans from around the country with professional songwriters and VA therapists, as they translated their service experiences into songs, which will be recorded in a music studio for the Veterans to keep.
“VA is always striving to find unique ways to help Veterans build on their military experiences, and music therapy is just one component of VA’s robust Recreation Therapy programs, which serve Veterans around the country,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Music can provide an outlet for expression of feelings, as well as be an avenue of communication for those who find it difficult to express themselves.”
Founded by Grammy and Dove Award-nominated songwriter Bob Regan in 2012, Operation Song brings professional songwriters together with Veterans to help create music from often difficult experiences. To date, Nashville-based Operation Song has created more than 600 songs with Veterans of nearly every military conflict, to include World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Veterans who wish to participate in the Operation Song retreat program must be referred by their VA health care provider. Operation Song officials said no musical background is necessary to participate in the program; Veterans only need a desire to tell their story.
VA’s Office of Transition and Economic Development engages Puerto Rico’s Veteran community
Partnership events support Veterans Day and beyond
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently hosted and participated in a series of partnership events in Puerto Rico to advance the economic success of service members, Veterans and families living on the island.
VA’s Benefits Delivery at Discharge program improves service to Veterans
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program has made significant improvements in disability claim processing over the past year, with most service members who submitted claims through the program receiving decisions within 30 days of discharge.
BDD allows service members to file a claim for disability between 90 and 180 days prior to discharge from active duty, which provides time for paperwork review and medical exams prior to leaving.
“This is an important program for our service members as they transition to Veteran status,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “The faster we can connect our Veterans with the benefits they deserve, the smoother their transition.”
In fiscal year (FY) 2018, the first full year of the revamped program, more than 36,000 service members submitted claims through BDD and about 53 percent of completed claims received a decision on their claim within 30 days. In the first month of FY 2019, 3,437 claims were completed with 57.7 percent completed within 30 days.
Throughout FY 2018, the program made continuous improvements, which include:
Expanding BDD claim review from two locations, to processing at any regional office
Enhanced software partnerships with the Department of Defense to improve record transfers
Additional claim training and performance standards for military service coordinators.
By participating in BDD, service members ensure that their disability medical exams become part of their service treatment record and that service connection for their conditions may be established as early as possible. Medical conditions can get worse over time and establishing eligibility at discharge may make it easier to increase disability ratings in the future.