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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Veterans Health Care Act of 2005 Passed / Payments for Traumatic Injuries Begin

The Senate has passed S. 1182 - the "Veterans Health Care Act of 2005." Provisions of this bill will:
1) The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will now be allowed to hire Marriage and Family Therapists within VA to provide complete readjustment services and counseling to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans.
2) Require VA to expand the number of clinical care providers dedicated to the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
3) Require VA to expand tele-health initiatives in rural areas.
4) Require VA to expand mental health services in Community-based Outpatient Clinics.
5) Require VA to expand the Global War on Terrorism Outreach Program, which places Iraq war and Afghanistan war veterans in Vet Centers and encourages them to reach out to returning National Guard and Reservists.
6) Require the Secretary of the VA to establish a strategic plan for long-term care.
7) Increase the total funding for VA's programs to assist homeless veterans to $130 million.
8) And the VA will now be allowed to provide up to 14 days of care for newborns of female veterans.
The bill now awaits action by the U.S. House of Representatives. Let your Congressional Representative know how you feel about the "Veterans Health Care Act of 2005."
Payments for Traumatic Injuries Begin
Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) new Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) program has begun making payments. The TSGLI payments, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, are made to servicemembers who have suffered certain traumatic injuries while on active duty. The new insurance program became effective December 1, 2005, and is designed to provide financial help to military families through extended periods of medical care and healing. Benefits are also payable retroactively to October 7, 2001 for servicemembers and veterans who suffered certain traumatic injuries while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. Servicemembers can get more information on the new coverage at http://www.military.com/tsgli.
Video Greetings for Overseas Troops
Stars and Stripes reports that the staff at the Nebraska office of Senator Ben Nelson have set up a camera to film anyone who wishes to send a 20-second video message to the troops. All of the clips gathered between now and mid-January will be uploaded to the Senator's website, where troops with internet access can download and view them. In addition, Nelson has asked anyone interested in the project who cannot visit his office to e-mail video to proud_nebraskan@bennelson.senate.gov. The clips can be viewed on the senator's Hometown to Heroes webpage.

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