Veterans Corner: VA to resume mailing notification letters to veterans for benefit overpayments placed in suspension

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    By Raymond Taylor
    PREVIEW Columnist

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced recently its nationwide plan to resume mailing notification letters to veterans for benefit overpayments placed in suspension from April 3, 2020, through Jan. 1, 2021. 

    The collection of these overpayments was deferred to provide financial relief to veterans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “VA recognizes veterans and beneficiaries may still experience financial distress from COVID-19, and it will continue to offer enhanced relief options for impacted veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “These include extending repayment plans, waivers, compromises and temporary hardship suspensions. Most importantly, the department will pause collections through October 2021 for veterans who remain in financial hardship and request relief.”

    Veterans and beneficiaries with questions regarding benefit overpayments may submit requests or call (800) 827-0648. Call volume is generally lower Tuesday through Friday.

    For health care co-payment debts, veterans should contact the Health Resource Center at (866) 400-1238 or https://www.pay.gov for payments.

    VA announces Employee Experience journey map

    The VA also recently announced the creation of a new, first-of-its-kind tool that supports the VA’s public servants in providing the highest level of service to veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors they serve.

    The Employee Experience (EX) journey map identifies moments that are significant during an employee’s career, using the same human-centered design process the VA applied in the development of 45 customer journey maps to improve the experience for veterans and their families.

    “As we strive to give our veterans, families, caregivers and survivors every reason to choose VA for their care, benefits and services, we also want our employees to remain a part of the VA family,” said Wilkie. “Our more than 400,000 VA employees know serving veterans is one of the most rewarding careers in federal service, and the EX journey map helps empower our workers to better serve VA customers.”

    The journey map is based on 11,000 insights collected from a diverse set of VA employees across 33 geographic areas. The VA will use employee insights acquired from the EX journey map to also make improvements that will help the department attract top talent, and continue to rise in “Best Places to Work” rankings among federal agencies.

    VA pioneered customer journey mapping among government agencies in 2015 and leverages the human-centered design expertise to understand the pain points and bright spots for improvements to the customer experience.

    Like the previously released Customer Experience Cookbook, the VA EX journey map is being shared government-wide as an example to help other agencies meet their employee and customer experience goals.

    Vets4Vets grant

    Vets4Vets has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is to support veterans in our community through the following assistance: housing, utilities, mental health counseling, dental services, travel assistance, automobile repairs, gas and food cards, and emergency veteran assistance. 

    Contact Vets4Vets at 799-VETS or www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

    Contact information

    Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.

    For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office (VSO), located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

    The office: 264-4013, fax number: 264-4014, and email is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. 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 Archuleta County VSO. Always leave a message and phone number to contact you.

    The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

    • American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

    • Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Tennyson Building Event Center, 197 Navajo Trail Drive. Breakfast meeting on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. Contact 799-8387 for more details.

    • Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.

    • Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at 903-9690.

    Important information

    • 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

    • Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

    • Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

    • VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.

    • VA Health Care Emergency Notification: (844) 724-7842.

    The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.