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February 2014

BY CHRIS ADAMS
McClatchy Washington Bureau | February 27, 2014

WASHINGTON — The average time for a denied claim to work its way through the cumbersome Department of Veterans Affairs appeals process shot up to more than 900 days last year, double the department’s long-term target.

After hovering between 500 and 750 days for the past decade, what the VA refers to as its “appeals resolution time” hit 923 days in fiscal 2013. That was a 37 percent jump in one year, from 675 in fiscal 2012, according to a review of the department’s annual performance report.

ITT Pushed Consumers into High-Cost Student Loans Likely to Fail

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against ITT Educational Services, Inc., accusing the for-profit college chain of predatory student lending. The CFPB alleges that ITT exploited its students and pushed them into high-cost private student loans that were very likely to end in default. The CFPB is seeking restitution for victims, a civil fine, and an injunction against the company.

February 25, 2014 | by Bryant Jordan

A new study found that airmen who flew and maintained the C-123 Provider long after the planes were used to spray Agent Orange over Vietnam were exposed to dangerous levels of the dioxin that remained in the aircraft.

A report in Scientific Research titled "Post-Vietnam Military Herbicide Exposures in UC-123 Agent Orange Spray Aircraft" found that environmental testing of the planes revealed traces of dioxin levels above the Defense Department's own standards for maximum permissible exposure to poisonous chemicals.

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has initiated a multi-faceted approach to reduce the use of opioids among America’s Veterans using VA health care.   The Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI) is a comprehensive effort to improve the quality of life for the hundreds of thousands of Veterans suffering from chronic pain. 

By George Altman
Army Times Staff writer

Lawmakers in a deeply divided House of Representatives can’t agree on much anymore, but they’re unanimous on at least one thing: Veterans shouldn’t be stuck with out-of-state tuition costs at public universities.

A bill that would force schools to ease such residency rules for vets — or lose GI Bill eligibility entirely — passed the House Feb. 3 without a single dissenting vote, 390-0.

Feb 24, 2014 | by Michael Hoffman

An internal investigation found the Department of Veterans Affairs' data security is so poor a data breach is "practically unavoidable" within 18 months, according to a draft of the VA's report.

"It's practically unavoidable that a data breach to financial, medical, and personal Veteran and employee protected information may occur within the next 12 to 18 months, with no way of tracking the source of the breach," according to a report obtained by Military.com and first reported by CNBC.

WASHINGTON -- For the fourth consecutive year, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy receives the highest customer satisfaction score among the nation’s public and private mail-order pharmacies, according to a respected, independent study. “Our Nation’s Veterans deserve a first-class pharmacy as a part of the exceptional health care available,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “It is an honor to hear from Veterans that we are delivering on that commitment.”

WASHINGTON -- In the wake of numerous reports of misconduct and poor management practices by personnel charged with recovering and identifying the remains of missing servicemembers from past conflicts, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered the Pentagon to come up with a plan to consolidate all Defense Department assets into a single, more accountable entity that will manage all personnel accounting resources, research and operations.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    
February 20, 2014

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced  the phased roll out of newly designed, more secure Veteran Health Identification Cards. The new cards are distinguished by additional security features and will have a different look and feel. 

Fargo, ND - Breton M. Weintraub, M.D. has been selected as Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, Fargo VA Health Care System.

Dr. Weintraub received his undergraduate degree at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.  He completed his residency in the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

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