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Patient Access Progress Update Access Spotlight: Staffing Release 26 – July 30, 2015


In keeping with the commitment to improve transparency in Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) processes and in accordance with Section 206 of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA), VA today released the latest update of facility-level patient access data and is highlighting notable access improvements. In this release, VA is providing two reports:

 1. Completed Appointments (As of June 30, 2015)*

  2. Pending Appointments (Snapshot of data on July 15, 2015)*

Notable Improvements:

  • Nationally, VA completed more than 56.5 million appointments between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. This represents an increase of 2.47 million more appointments than were completed during the same time period in 2013/2014.
  • VA completed 97 percent of appointments in June 2015 within 30 days of the clinically indicated or Veteran’s preferred date; 92 percent within 14 days; 88 percent within 7 days; and 22 percent are actually completed on the same day.
  • Between June 1, 2014, and July 15, 2015, the electronic wait list (EWL) went from 56,000 appointments to 40,730, a 27 percent reduction. 

In addition to the data contained within the reports, VA made over 3 million authorizations for Veterans to receive care in the private sector from June 1, 2014 through June 15, 2015. This represents a 41 percent increase in authorizations, when compared to the same period in the previous years.

Access Spotlight: Improving Healthcare Services for Women Veterans

  • VA has enhanced provision of care to women Veterans by focusing on the goal of developing Designated Women’s Health Providers (DWHP) at every site where women access VA. VA has trained over 2,000 providers in women’s health and is in the process of training additional providers to ensure that every woman Veteran has the opportunity to receive her primary care from a DWHP.
  • VA now operates a Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC), created to contact women Veterans and let them know about the services for which they may be eligible. As of March 2015, WVCC received over 20,000 incoming calls and made over 162,000 successful outbound calls.
  • As of June 2015, WVCC received over 24,000 incoming calls and made over 219,000 successful outbound calls.
  • VA accomplished its goal of expanding eligibility for both male and female Veterans in need of health care for mental or physical health conditions resulting from military sexual trauma (MST). Now Veterans who experienced MST while on inactive duty training, not just active duty or active duty for training, can receive free MST-related health care with no need for documentation of the experience or the Veteran to file a disability claim.

The 7th Annual Biggest Little Airshow in Hawaii is Dedicated to Vietnam Veterans

Quick tidbits: 


Vietnam vets and their families will receive free admission, as well as access to a VIP tent where they will be treated to free food and beverages.


In tribute to Vietnam Vets, the Museum will also have special aircraft on display:  Bell UH-1 Iroquois (Huey), Bell AH-1 Cobra Helicopter, McDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom II, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21, and Cessna O-2 Skymaster.


The Museum will have extended hours till 8 pm on August 15, so visitors can stay all day until the special Nagaoka fireworks are launched from Ford Island.  The Navy will join Hono­lulu and Naga­oka, Japan, in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific on Aug. 15 with Pearl Harbor’s first-ever display of Naga­oka fireworks on Ford Island to honor the memory of the war’s victims and to celebrate 70 years of peace and friendship.  Fireworks are scheduled for 8 pm, and the Museum offers the perfect spot to view them.



Request for Volunteers:


We need your help to make this a great experience.  30 volunteers, each day, will to assist with exhibits, greeting in special VIP Welcome Home Chalet on the flight line and serve food and drink.  Pacific Aviation Museum is asking for volunteers to call Lori at 445-9189 or email

Pearl Harbor Colors Ceremony on 16 Jul 15.

As a reminder, the monthly Pearl Harbor Colors Honor and Heritage Ceremony
serves to enhance the recognition and preservation of Navy history and
heritage, as well as honor the sacrifice of veterans and those currently
serving.  Each month focuses on a different theme in military history and
heritage, diversity in the military and/or recognition of significant
military operations. 

The theme for July is “military youth outreach programs” with participation
from the USS Missouri Sea cadets and local JROTC units in formation, along
with several dozen active duty joint military as well. 

July’s ceremony will also include participation by the MEPS (Military
Entrance Processing Station) and the mass induction of new military
enlistees. This is how the new Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen and
Coasties will begin their military career.  We think it should be a great
experience for the applicants and their families; something they will never
forget.  MEPS is hoping to induct as many as 30 applicants during the
ceremony. Family and friends for each applicant are highly encouraged to

We would be honored if veterans and veterans groups would attend the
ceremony and lend their support to the new inductees, sending them off with
a sense of pride and congratulating them on their decision to serve our

WHAT: Pearl Harbor Colors
WHEN: Thursday, July 16.  7:30am – 8:00am
WHERE: USS Arizona Visitor Center


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VA Expands Disability Benefits for Air Force Personnel Exposed to Contaminated C-123 Aircraft

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today published a new regulation that expands eligibility for some benefits for a select group of Air Force Veterans and Air Force Reserve personnel who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange through regular and repeated contact with contaminated C-123 aircraft that had been used in Vietnam as part of Operation Ranch Hand (ORH).

VA published this regulation as an interim final rule so that it could immediately begin providing benefits to eligible Air Force veterans and Air Force Reserve personnel who submit a disability compensation claim for any of the 14 medical conditions that have been determined by VA to be related to exposure to Agent Orange.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald made the decision to expand benefits following receipt of a 2015 report by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM) on Post-Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange-Contaminated C-123 Aircraft. This VA-requested report found evidence that as many as 1,500 to 2,100 Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel who served as flight, medical and ground maintenance crew members on ORH C-123 aircraft previously used to spray Agent Orange in Vietnam were exposed to the herbicide.

“Opening up eligibility for this deserving group of Air Force veterans and reservists is the right thing to do,” said Secretary McDonald. “We thank the IOM for its thorough review that provided the supporting evidence needed to ensure we can now fully compensate any former crew member who develops an Agent Orange-related disability.”

Under this new rule, Air Force and Air Force Reserve flight, medical and ground maintenance crewmembers who served on the contaminated ORH C-123s are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides during their service, thus making it easier for them to establish entitlement for some VA benefits if they develop an Agent Orange-related presumptive condition. In addition, for affected Air Force Reserve crew members, VA will presume that their Agent Orange-related condition had its onset during their Reserve training. This change ensures that these reservists are eligible for VA disability compensation and medical care for any Agent Orange-related presumptive condition, and that their surviving dependents are eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation and burial benefits.

The interim final rule can be found on the Federal Register: VA will immediately begin processing claims and issuing benefits to eligible Air Force crew members.

VA encourages reservists who were assigned to flight, ground or medical crew duties at Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio (906th  and 907th Tactical Air Groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadron), Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts (731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron) or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, International Airport ( 758th Airlift Squadron) during the period 1969 to 1986, and developed an Agent Orange-related disability to file a disability compensation claim online through the joint VA-Department of Defense web portal, eBenefits (

VA also has identified several active duty locations where ORH C-123 aircraft may have been used following their service in Vietnam. Active duty personnel who served in a regular USAF unit location where a contaminated C-123 was assigned and who had regular and repeated contact with the aircraft through flight, ground or medical duties during the period 1969 to 1986, and who develop an Agent Orange-related disability, also are encouraged to apply for benefits. For more information on applying for these benefits, including the affected units, Air Force Specialty Codes and dates of service for affected crew members, and a listing of Agent Orange-related conditions, visit

In order to avoid unnecessary delay of benefits, claimants should annotate “(C-123)” after each Agent Orange related disability in Part II, Block 14 of VA Form 21-526 or Section I, Block 11 of VA

Form VA Form 21-526EZ when filing on eBenefits.  Example: Diabetes (C-123).  If claimants have any of the following documents, they should be attached to their application:

  • Discharge, separation papers,  (DD214 or equivalent)
  • USAF Form 2096 (unit where assigned at the time of the training action)
  • USAF Form 5 (aircraft flight duties)
  • USAF Form 781 (aircraft maintenance duties)
  • Dependency records (marriage & children’s birth certificates)
  • Medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports)

VA will process all claims related to C-123 exposure at the St. Paul, Minnesota, VA Regional Office.  Claims not filed through eBenefits should be mailed to the following address (or faxed to 608-373-6694):

Department of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

Attention: C123 Claims

PO Box 5088

Janesville, WI 53547-5088

Individuals with specific benefit questions related to herbicide exposure on C-123s may call VA’s special C-123 Hotline at 1-800-749-8387 (available 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST) or e-mail

Hundreds of Veterans to Participate in National Veterans Wheelchair Games

Largest Wheelchair Sporting Event Provides Therapeutic Benefit to Disabled U.S. Veterans

WASHINGTON – More than 600 of America’s best wheelchair athletes, all disabled U.S. military Veterans, are arriving in Dallas, Texas, for the 35th National Veterans Wheelchair Games being held there June 21–26, 2015. The Wheelchair Games is occurring this year during the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA)“Summer of Service,” an initiative designed to build upon existing partnerships to grow the number of individuals and organizations serving Veterans in their communities.

“The Wheelchair Games is a great example of courage and athleticism,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “If you want to see grit, determination and some of the finest athletes on the planet, this week in Dallas is the place to do it. These Veterans have overcome obstacles, they’ve trained, they’ve persevered, and now they’re ready to compete on the world’s stage.”

VA and Paralyzed Veterans of America present the Games each year. The multi-event sports rehabilitation program is open to U.S. military Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, amputations or certain neurological problems, and who receive care at VA medical facilities or military treatment centers.

“For 35 years now the National Veterans Wheelchair Games have provided a venue for veterans to experience the life-changing power of adaptive sports,” said Al Kovach Jr., national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “We’re proud to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs each year to present the Games, and encourage the Dallas community to come out and support our veteran athletes.”

VA research and clinical experience verify that physical activity is important to maintaining good health, speeding recovery and improving overall quality of life. For many injured Veterans, the Games provide their first exposure to wheelchair athletics. Veterans competing in the Games come from nearly every state, as well as Puerto Rico and Great Britain.

Opening ceremonies will be held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Main Arena, 650 S. Griffin St., where many of the week’s competitive events will be held. The closing ceremonies will be held at the Sheraton Downtown Dallas Ballroom, 400 N. Olive St.  Other events will be held at Southern Methodist University, Victory Plaza, Fair Park, McKinnish Park, Ellis County Sportsman Club and many more venues around the Dallas metroplex.

For a complete schedule of events and additional information about the National Veterans Wheelchair Games visit For more information about the Summer of Service initiative, visit