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New VA initiatives to improve benefits delivery

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced the national deployment of claims transformation initiatives to 12 regional offices in the remaining months of fiscal year 2012 to improve benefits delivery to Veterans, families and their survivors. 

“This is an important milestone in our transformation to achieve the goal we established in 2009 of processing all disability claims within 125 days at a 98 percent accuracy level in 2015,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

The 12 regional offices to begin the deployment of the transformation initiatives include: Huntington, W.Va.; Hartford, Conn.; Portland, Ore.; Houston, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Boise, Idaho; Phoenix, Ariz.; New Orleans, La.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Atlanta, Ga.; Newark, N.J.  This deployment follows four pilot programs at Indianapolis, Ind., Wichita, Kan., Milwaukee, Wis., and Fort Harrison, Mont., in 2012.

VA’s transformation plan is based on more than 40 measures that were selected, evaluated, tested and measured from over 600 stakeholder and employee innovation ideas. 

“This national deployment, consisting of people, process and technology initiatives, follows comprehensive planning and testing to ensure we have the right recipe for success,” added Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey.

During the national deployment, VA will further track and gauge the integrated effects of the transformation plan to reduce the backlog of disability claims and provide veterans, their families, and survivors with more timely and accurate claims decisions. VA expects to deploy the transformation plan to the remaining 40 regional offices throughout calendar 2013.

The major components of the transformation plan that will be nationally deployed include:

• The Intake Processing Center, which adds a formalized process for triaging claims documents and other mail, and drives faster and more accurate  association of mail with veterans’ claims files;

• Segmented Processing Lanes, which allow claims that can be more easily rated to move quickly through the system and the more complex claims to be processed by VA’s more experienced and skilled employees;

• Cross-Functional Teams, which support a case-management approach to claims processing that minimizes rework and reduces processing time; and

• The Veterans Benefits Management System, which is a new electronic claims processing system that employs rules-based technologies to improve decision speed and quality. 

VA has already nationally implemented:

• Quality Review Teams, which are composed of dedicated local quality review specialists who will evaluate station and individual employee performance and conduct in-process reviews to eliminate errors at the earliest possible stage.

• Simplified and Standardized Rating Notification Letters, which give Veterans one simplified decision letter that provides notice of VA’s decision, including a summary of the evidence considered and the reason for the decision.

Travel funds

The American Legion Trust Fund for 2011-2012 has been expended, being used for the needs of our veterans.

Funds, when approved, could be available after July 1, 2012.

Ensure you apply for travel through the VA at VAMC Albuquerque whenever possible.

Thanks

Thanks to all the speakers, guests and attendees at the Veteran Reconnect held at the high school on April 23.

Useful links

For further information on VA benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the VSO office.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. Third Ave. in the old Mercy Medical Center.

Meetings

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

American Legion Post 108. Second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

Veterans for Veterans. Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., 164 N. Pagosa Blvd. (Buffalo Inn).

Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans. Every other Monday 6 p.m., St. Patrick Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Karen, 731-0413.

Point Man Ministry (Veterans). Every Thursday at 9 a.m., (Buffalo Inn).

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