5th Annual Veterans Job and Benefits Fair

5th Annual Veterans Job and Benefits Fair

Date/Time

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Location:

Northwest Middle School Gynasium
5252 W. Palmer St., Chicago, IL 60639

Contact Information

Commissioner Edwin Reyes Office
3061 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL  60618
Office: (773) 588.1129
Fax: (773) 588.1267
lourdes.garcia@cookcountyil.gov or greateravondale@gmail.com

Details:

Hosted by: Cook County Commissioner Edwin Reyes, District 8
Supported by: The Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) – Bureau of Personnel

Although this is a Veterans fair, it is also open to the general public. This resource fair will offer a variety of services from local to federal governments. Service providers and employers will be available to answer questions in the process of programs particular to their industry.

  • This event is free and open to the public
  • No registration is needed
  • Free parking is available at event location
  • For event details, click on: Event Flyer

The Illinois department of Central Management Services (CMS) supports this event. A representative from personnel will be available to distribute information on the process for doing business with the State.

Please visit the Coaltion of Veterans Organizations (CVO) table

CVO and the VA Budget for 2013 by Bruce E. Parry, CVO Chair

The Obama Administration Budget proposed for 2013 for the VA is $140.3 billion. $76.3 billion is for mandatory benefits such as disability compensation and pensions. The remaining $64 billion is for discretionary spending, primarily for medical care.*CVO and VA Budget

The discretionary spending amount represents a 4.5% increase from the current year. This is more than $4 billion less than the major veterans organizations call for in The Independent Budget. Of particular note is the “minuscule” increase in medical and prothetic research of $1.6 million and in VA facility construction, according to the VFW.*

The CVO position on this budget is that all medical costs ought to be done by formula and counted under the mandatory spending, just as benefits and pensions are. This is what we mean by Full Mandatory Funding of VA healthcare benefits. The formula should be:

(The Number of Veterans to be Treated) x (The Average Cost for Treating a Veteran) x (A Factor for Increased Cost of Medical Care from Year to Year) = (Total Medical Care Allocation in the Proposed Budget)

CVO also demands for full eligibility for VA healthcare for all veterans. This means that the number of veterans to be treated in the above formula, should take into consideration how many veterans would use the VA healthcare system if all veterans had free and unencumbered access to the VA.

If there was full eligibility for VA healthcare, the humiliating and despised Means Test—by which veterans are segregated into different “Priority Groups” based on their income and other factors—could be completely eliminated. In fact, the Priority Groups themselves could be eliminated.

The VA was established as a healthcare system to serve all veterans. This promise has been continually eroded. Thousands of veterans are still excluded from even applying for VA healthcare benefits. This is a travesty and a disgrace in a country where nearly 50 million people have no healthcare. Veterans need healthcare and further burden the public sector when it is denied by the VA. Veterans have already paid for their healthcare through their military service.

CVO calls for Full Mandatory Funding and Full Eligibility for all Veterans of VA healthcare. We ask you and your organization to join us now!

* Source: VFW Magazine, May 2012, Washington Wire.

Full federal funding of VA health care – including mental health care for all veterans without further payment.

Mandatory VA Healthcare Funding: Currently, VA healthcare is funded through a process that requires Congressional debate every year. This means that the VA healthcare budget is a political football tossed back and forth year after year. Over the last five years, a movement has grown to make VA healthcare funding what is called an “entitlement.” In Congressional jargon, an entitlement is something that is automatically funded unless Congress takes action, the exact opposite of what happens now. Instead of being an annual political football, VA healthcare would be funded by a formula.

mandatory funding

Mandatory Funding for VA Healthcare
Coalition of Veterans Organizations
March 19, 2007

VA healthcare funding by Congress is “discretionary” funding. By this, we mean that each year, the VA healthcare is funded according to the judgment of Congress and the President. As a result, VA healthcare funding is a political football, debated each year according to the political needs of the Administration and Congress.

Veterans’ call for mandatory funding means that VA healthcare funding would become an “entitlement.” In Congress, an entitlement is funded each year according to a formula. It is not subject to political debate. The formula Veterans are calling for would include three parts: the number of Veterans using the VA, the cost of actually treating a Veteran, and an annual adjustment for increases in providing medical care.

The number of Veterans using the VA is a straightforward projection the VA makes every year anyway. The cost of actually treating a veteran is already known. Current funding is insufficient to cover the actual costs of covering Veterans and is leading to the cost cuts in services provided to veterans. The mandatory funding bill needs to have a one-time increase in funding to make sure the real costs of treating Veterans is funded. Increases in the cost of healthcare each year are also well known. That is how insurance companies determine how much to raise their rates. The significant increases in recent years in the VA healthcare budget have not been enough to cover these yearly increases in healthcare costs. The GAO has pointed out that recent VA projections of healthcare costs have seriously underestimated actual costs. The mandatory funding bill must ensure that this is corrected immediately.

This year, the Democrats have proposed a VA healthcare budget of $37.1 billion for fiscal year 2008. That is an increase of $4.8 billion (a 14.8 percent increase over fiscal year 2007). The President has proposed a budget of $34.2 billion (an increase of 5.5 percent over 2007). The contrast between these offers gives some idea of how the political process makes VA healthcare funding a political football.
Veterans and the major Veterans organizations have called for mandatory VA healthcare funding. “The DAV and other groups have long urged Congress to enact legislation that will provide a reliable, predictable funding stream for veterans’ health care. Assured funding will enable the VA to efficiently and effectively plan for and meet the growing needs of our nation’s sick and disabled veterans, both now and in the future,” said the DAV National Commander Bradley S. Barton recently.
The Mandatory VA Healthcare Funding bill before this Congress (the 100th) is HR 1382 Sponsored by Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-NY). There are no co-sponsors for this bill. It uses the formula outlined above. While it does not call explicitly for a one-time increase in funding, that is built in to the formula it uses. Mandatory funding bills have been put forward in each Congress since 2002.

Another bill before the House Veterans Affairs Committee was submitted by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ). This could be called the “Not-quite Mandatory Funding Bill” HR 1041. It sets up a board to determine VA healthcare budget needs and requires the President to submit that as his VA healthcare budget. Additionally, it also calls for Vets to face no more than 30-day wait to get into a VA.
One politically connected person has suggested that in order to make VA funding truly “mandatory,” a Trust Fund would have to be set up with an independent funding source. This has, to our knowledge, never been proposed in legislation. The idea is similar to the Social Security, Medicare and Federal Highway Trust Funds. It would be funded by a tax and the funds could not be used for any other purpose than VA healthcare. A tax on military hardware procurement has been suggested as a possible source of funds. The idea behind this is that without a Trust Fund, any Congress can undo what another Congress has done, so VA healthcare would still be, in fact, a political football. Congress has been much less willing to tamper with Trust Funds, so this would better ensure consistent VA healthcare funding.

The key idea here is that the VA should not be the one to determine who they treat. Congress should tell the VA who to treat and then the VA should do it. Thus, Congress should set the eligibility requirements for VA healthcare.
Eligibility for VA healthcare should be extended to all veterans who have been honorably discharged from the military service, including the regular, reserve and National Guard components. There should be no income provisions or “means test” and there should be no exclusions or divisions among veterans as to who shall be treated.
This specifically means that the 2-year limitation on VA healthcare that has been imposed on veterans that served in Iraq and Afghanistan will be eliminated and they, like veterans of other wars, will have lifetime access to the VA.
It also means that the “freeze” or exclusion of so-called “Priority 8” veterans would be eliminated. There would be no longer a need to have any income-related criteria for receiving VA healthcare.
Modern warfare has meant a drastic change in the needs of Veterans. Many more Veterans are living after devastating wounds received in combat. In World War II there were two casualties for every fatality. In Vietnam, it was 3 to 1. Currently, it is running 16 to 1! This means that men and women are returning to civilian life with devastating and lifetime wounds—both physical and mental. Veterans with shattered bodies need the VA specifically to deal with the kinds of conditions that one rarely sees outside the military. The VA has always excelled at this.
But modern warfare is also devastating to the mental state of those serving and we are seeing more men and women returning from war with extreme and severe mental and emotional disorders than ever before. Many of these conditions take years to develop and to manifest themselves with sufficient severity for the veteran to seek help. Setting time limitations is a lesson unlearned from previous conflicts and absolutely demonstrates the VA’s inability to care for the wounded. In addition limitations cut off the veterans possibility for recovery and rehabilitation. Recent legislation has ensured that mental health and physical health are seen as equivalent. This law must be applied to VA healthcare.
There are many more women in combat than ever before. The VA must recognize the expanded needs of women and their particular forms of trauma. In addition to combat-induced suffering of combat wounds and mental and emotional illness, women are subjected to sexual abuse and even assault.
No legislation has yet been proposed that covers everything said above. Two bills, HR 612 (Rep. Filner, D-CA, Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee) and S 383 (Akaka, D-HI, Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee) calls for extending the 2-year limitation for veterans that served in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2 to 5 years. We consider this totally insufficient, inadequate and uncaring. Another bill, HR 463 (Rep. Rothman, D-NJ), calls for the elimination of the freeze on Priority 8 veterans.

Reform of funding and full accounting for all VA mental health services for veterans. Scores of veterans—many returning from Iraq and Afghanistan—do not receive the mental heath care they need, despite front-page stories detailing the horrors these veterans face.

Equality of women’s benefits and healthcare

1. Methods to outreach to women veterans are ineffective without public advertisement. Congress must create legislation that allows the VA to conduct public outreach to the underserved women veterans.

• Thousands of women nationwide are unaware of their VA status. Due to limited healthcareenrollment of women veterans; gender specific healthcare services i.e. mammograms are out sourced to private facilities.

2. VA must do more to provide women veterans with preventive heath care education and increase services for awareness and care for reproductive concerns.

3. VA must do more prevention care for older women veterans.

4. Military Sexual Trauma is a criminal act and must be treated and processed as such. Congress must ensure that legislation mandates that perpetrators are registered in their home of record state and place of discharge, to ensure all women are safe.

The Department of Defense reported on March 16, 2010 that Military Sexual Assaults increased 11 percent from fiscal year 2008.

 

Congress must pass legislation to make sexual assault on women or men in the military a criminal offense and constitute a stiffer penalty when serving in combat zones.

 

5. Women Program Managers in the VA Benefits office and VA Medical Center must do more to ensure staffing in their work place is familiar with them and their appointed roles so that women veterans are tracked through this process of referral.

 There are 56,656 women veterans in Illinois.

 

6. Women veterans with military history of suicide and other crucial mental health issues shouldnot be turned away because of discharge dates. Treatment should be provided until a solid referral can be made for care in an alternative healthcare system.

7. The Center for Women Veterans must improve their strategy to outreach to women veterans across the nation. As of 2009 according to the VA there are more than 1,824,198 women veterans in the United States and Puerto Rico.

8. Congress must ensure that the VA is doing more to provide care to the trend of younger women veterans and their children. When women veterans separate from the military with no healthcare their children are also uninsured.

9. Congress must implement legislation to provide children that were born within the tenure of military service healthcare for a maximum of 2 years when the veteran is unemployed.

More than 128,397 females that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have been discharged from the military since 2002.

 

Within one year (2008-2009) there was an increase of 15% of women registered in VA healthcare services.

 

Obama: New PTSD rules ‘long overdue step’

By the CNN Wire Staff July 10, 2010 11:26 a.m. EDT

Washington (CNN) — The Department of Veterans Affairs is making it  easier for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder to get  benefits, a development President Barack Obama calls a “long overdue  step.”           In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said Veterans Affairs will launch new  rules for easing PTSD documentation requirements starting next week.           Current department rules require veterans to document events like firefights  or bomb explosions that could have caused the disorder. Such documentation was  often time-consuming and difficult, and sometimes was impossible.           Under the new rules a veteran need show only that he or she served in a war  and performed a job during which events could have happened that could cause  the disorder.   “… for years, many veterans with PTSD who have tried to seek benefits  — veterans of today’s wars and earlier wars — have often found themselves  stymied. They’ve been required to produce evidence proving that a specific  event caused their PTSD. And that practice has kept the vast majority of those  with PTSD who served in non-combat roles, but who still waged war, from getting  the care they need,” Obama said.   “Well, I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take  notes to keep for a claims application. And I’ve met enough veterans to know  that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war. So  we’re changing the way things are done.”           Under the new rules, no benefits will be passed along until a Veterans  Affairs psychiatrist or psychologist confirms that a veteran actually suffers  from post-traumatic stress disorder. Department officials say that should  reduce the risk of fraudulent claims.           One congressional analysis reportedly put the cost of the new changes at $5  billion.           A senior department official said the cost is “relatively small”  because under the older, much longer process, most vets eventually were granted  benefits. The new process, while likely granting benefits to more veterans,  will be quicker and easier and therefore less costly per case, officials said.           Obama says the new process “will help veterans not just of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, but generations of their  brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars.   “It’s a step that proves America will always be here for our  veterans, just as they’ve been there for us. We won’t let them down. We take  care of our own.”

CNN’s Larry Shaughnessy contributed to this report.