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1. VA claims backlog dropped during government shutdown. Hyperlink to Article Army Times: Despite the government shutdown, the Veterans Affairs Department continues to cut its backlog of benefits claims… As of Oct. 28, VA reported it had 711,775 claims on hand, down more than 191,000 from the end of March.
2. Lawmakers push for 100% advance funding for VA. Hyperlink to Article Stars and Stripes: Leaders of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees want to make sure the Department of Veterans Affairs has all of its funding a full year in advance, even in the event of a government shutdown… But so far, VA officials haven’t publicly backed the idea.
3. VA yet to endorse shutdown protection bill. Hyperlink to Article Army Times: But it remains unclear whether VA supports the effort, a response to the 17-day partial government shutdown in October that led to furloughs of some VA workers, suspended some programs and threatened benefits.
4. House Backs Bill to Cut VA Bonuses. Hyperlink to Article Government Executive: The House unanimously passed a bill Monday to limit the amount the Veterans Affairs Department can spend on bonuses each year, mandating a 14 percent cut to the agency’s performance awards.
5. House panel to examine VA spending on extravagant conferences. Hyperlink to Article The Washington Post: The two agency events were held in Orlando near Walt Disney World and cost taxpayers a minimum of $6.1 million, according to the VA inspector general. The expenses included $50,000 for a 15-minute video spoofing the Oscar-winning movie “Patton.”
6. Issa slams VA; VA slams The Loop. Hyperlink to Article The Washington Post (In The Loop): A subsequent VA inspector-general investigation on that conference and another in Orlando — total cost more than $6 million — sparked Sepulveda’s resignation, two other officials were placed on leave, and others resigned or were reassigned. The IG found that conference planners allowed up to $762, 000 in unauthorized or wasteful spending and accepted gifts, including spa treatments.
7. Five officials left VA in wake of conference fallout. Hyperlink to Article Federal Times: Five Veterans Affairs Department officials involved in two costly 2011 conferences have resigned or retired since the VA inspector general faulted their roles in planning, managing and overseeing the training events in Orlando, Fla., according to a newly released congressional report.
8. IG Report Criticizes VA for Preventable Deaths of Veterans. Hyperlink to Article Washington Free Beacon: Three patients in a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in Memphis died last year due to negligence by hospital staff, according to a report released last week, underscoring congressional overseers’ concerns about VA accountability.
9. Letter To Jenkins Says VA Is “Aggressively” Recruiting Medical Staffers. Hyperlink to Article WIBW-TV: A letter from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to Rep. Lynn Jenkins says help is on the way… The letter, dated October 22, 2013 from the VA Secretary addresses a letter sent to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs from Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R) about the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center’s staffing problems and concern for patient care.
10. PTSD cases in veterans on the rise. Hyperlink to Article WFSB-TV (Video): As the amount of returning troops rise, the VA Hospital in West Haven said it was preparing for more PTSD cases by expanding PTSD programs and extending it operating hours.
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How will you be honoring Veterans this upcoming Veterans Day? Find locations to celebrate: http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/