Having trouble viewing this message? Click here to view the web version.

In This Issue February 21, 2014

February is African American History Month

Veteran with 102 Years of African-American History

All Skate Free 2014

Message From The Secretary Of Veterans Affairs

VA Whistleblower Vindicated on Vets' Suicidal Tendencies

Social Security Announces New Expedited Disability Process for Veterans

Recommendations for Testing, Managing, and Treating Hepatitis C

Reducing Hep-C Treatment Costs

FacebookFAO - FacebookYouTube Logo

Special Notice:
If you are a veteran in emotional crisis and need help RIGHT NOW, call this toll-free number 1-800-273-8255, press 1, available 24/7, and tell them you are a veteran. All calls are confidential.

VA Caregiver Hotline

Veterans History
Donate to VVA

Holiday Stress

Support Senate Bill 1602

Click Here For More Info & To Take Action

February is African American History Month

Judgments Random in Military Sex Crimes

Tuskegee Airman - Photo by Toni Frissell, March 1945
Library of Congress - LC-F9-4503-314-7

African Americans serving in the military service throughout U.S. history have often fought on two fronts: fighting the actual enemy and fighting a system of segregation and exclusion. See Veterans History Project (Library of Congress) and The Tuskegee Airmen (National Park Service)

VA News

Veteran with 102 Years of African-American History

Agent Orange Spray

World War II Veteran George Boggess is a man whose character has truly stood the test of time. Celebrating his 102nd birthday on February 17, 2014, he is the oldest male resident of the Washington DC VA Medical Center’s Community Living Center.

Click here to read Regan E. Thornton’s profile of Mr. Boggess’s amazing life of service: http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/2014/February/Veteran-with-102-Years-of-African-American-History.asp#sthash.9nBBCxiZ.dpuf

VVA Video 

All Skate Free 2014

Skate Free Video

Video by Kit Reiner, VVA staff

On Wednesday, February 19, VVA's "Veterans Against Drugs" sponsored the third annual free ice skating party at the Montgomery County, MD, Veterans Plaza from 6—8 pm. Skaters received red carnations, "goody" bags filled with t-shirts, and VAD information, as well as cookies and donuts donated by local businesses. Thanks to VVA's Dave and Elaine Simmons from West Virginia and all the VVA national staff members who helped to organize and promote this community event.

Watch on YouTube

VA Deputy Secretary Appointment

Message From the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

I am pleased to announce the appointment of The Honorable Sloan D. Gibson as Deputy Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, effective today, February 18, 2014. Sloan Gibson is a distinguished businessman with a long history of service and leadership with a variety of nonprofit organizations that assist servicemembers, military families, and veterans. Most recently, he served with distinction as the president of the United Service Organizations (USO). He is also a West Point graduate and former infantry officer in the U.S. Army. Deputy Secretary Gibson is a most welcome addition to the VA leadership team. I look forward to working closely with him as we continue to transform our Department to best serve veterans, their families, and their survivors in the years ahead.
—Eric K. Shinseki

As Reported by International Business Times

VA Whistleblower Vindicated on Vets' Suicidal Tendencies

Half of Nevada’s disability claims sent out of state

In a February 19 International Business Times article by Jamie Reno, a government whistleblower who suffered retaliation from his agency has been vindicated by a Department of Veterans Affairs admission that it failed to reach out to 2,000 veterans in a research study who said they had suicidal ideas, many of whom later committed suicide.

Read complete story here

Social Security Administration Press Release

Social Security Announces New Expedited Disability Process for Veterans

From a Social Security Administration press release on February 19: Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, along with Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) today unveiled a new initiative to expedite disability claims by veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total (P&T). Under the new process, Social Security will treat these veterans' applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions, similar to the way the agency currently handles disability claims from Wounded Warriors. "Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and it is only right that we ensure they have timely access to the disability benefits they may be eligible for and deserve," said Acting Commissioner Colvin. "Social Security worked with Veterans Affairs to identify those veterans with disabilities who have a high probability of also meeting our definition of disability. I am proud of our collaboration and happy to announce this new service for America's vets."

In order to receive the expedited service, veterans must tell Social Security they have a VA disability compensation rating of 100% P&T and show proof of their disability rating with their VA Notification Letter. The VA rating only expedites Social Security disability claims processing and does not guarantee an approval for Social Security disability benefits. These veterans must still meet the strict eligibility requirements for a disability allowance. Social Security plans to launch the expedited process in mid-March.

For information about this service, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability-pt.htm

From the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)  

Recommendations for Testing, Managing, and Treating Hepatitis C

From a February 20 CDC announcement: New direct-acting oral agents capable of curing hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection have been approved for use in the United States. The initial direct-acting agents were approved in 2011, and many more oral drugs are expected to be approved in the next few years. As new information is presented at scientific conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, health care practitioners have expressed a need for a credible source of unbiased guidance on how best to treat their patients with HCV infection. To provide healthcare professionals with timely guidance, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) in collaboration with the International Antiviral Society-USA (IAS-USA) have developed a web-based process for the rapid formulation and dissemination of evidence-based, expert-developed recommendations for hepatitis C management.

For more information, go to: http://hcvguidelines.org/

As Reported by the Journal of Viral Hepatitis 

Reducing Hep-C Treatment Costs

National Intrepid Center of Excellence

From an article in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis, March 2014, Vol.21, Issue 3, pp 208-215 by M. Backx et. al., patients with hepatitis C virus genotype-1 infection who had no detectable levels of the virus on blood tests, also known as sustained virological response (SVS), experienced a 13-fold reduction in treatment costs vs. those who did not achieve a response five years after treatment, according to researchers. "We have shown important cost reductions arising from sustained virological response [SVR], which previous studies have either assumed or only observed on small numbers of patients," William L. Irving, of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and colleagues reported in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis.

For the study, researchers assessed health resource usage and costs associated with treatment outcomes in193 patients who received at least two months of treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy for HCV genotype-1 infection. Unit costs were derived from the National Health Service Payment by Results database and the British National Formulary. Average follow-up was 3.5 years for those who achieved SVR and 4.9 years for non-SVR patients. There were no patients with SVR that experienced progression of liver disease state. Conversely, 7.4% of patients without SVR progressed from chronic hepatitis to cirrhosis, and 4.9% progressed from cirrhosis to decompensated liver disease.

During the five-year post-treatment observation period, researchers observed a 13-fold increase in costs among patients that failed to achieve SVR. This increased to 56-fold among those who were retreated. "Achievement of a SVR has significant effects on health service usage and costs," the researchers concluded. "This work provides real-life data for future cost-effectiveness analyses related to the treatment of chronic HCV infection."

Copyright © Vietnam Veterans of America. All Rights Reserved. 8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100, Silver Spring, MD 20910
If you wish to cancel your subscription to this newsletter or update your e-mail preferences click here