VA Announces Expansion of Disability Evaluation System Pilot

VA Announces Expansion of Disability Evaluation System Pilot

The pilot is a test of a new process that eliminates confusing elements of the two current processes.
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Wounded service members leaving the military will have easier, quicker access to their veterans benefits due to the expansion of a pilot program that will offer streamlined disability evaluations that will reach 19 military installations, representing all military departments.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the expansion of the Disability Evaluation System pilot, which started in the National Capitol Region in coordination with the Department of Defense (DoD).

The pilot is a test of a new process that eliminates duplicative, time-consuming and often confusing elements of the two current disability processes of the departments.

“Providing service members going through the disability process with comprehensive information about their benefits from both departments and delivering their VA benefits as fast as possible is our goal. This single evaluation will help us do just that,” Tom Pamperin, deputy director of VA’s compensation and pension service, said in a news release. “The program expansion will allow wounded warriors a smoother and more efficient transition to getting services from the VA.”

The initial phase of the expansion started on Oct. 1 with Fort Meade, Md. and Fort Belvoir, Va. The remaining 17 installations will begin upon completion of site preparations and personnel orientation and training during an 8-month period though May 2009.

“The decision to expand the pilot was based upon a favorable review that focused on whether the pilot met its timeliness, effectiveness, transparency, and customer and stakeholder satisfaction objectives,” Sam Retherford, director, officer and enlisted personnel management for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness said. “This expansion extends beyond the national capital region, so that more diverse data from other geographic areas can be evaluated, prior to rendering a final decision on worldwide implementation.”

The remaining installations to begin the program are:

Army: Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Richardson, Alaska; Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas; and Fort Polk, La.

Navy: Naval Medical Center (NMC), San Diego and Camp Pendleton, Calif.; NMC Bremerton, Wash.; NMC Jacksonville, Fla.; and Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Air Force: Vance Air Force Base, Okla.; Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.; Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.; and Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

In November 2007, VA and DoD implemented the pilot test for disability cases originating at the three major military treatment facilities in the national capitol region. To date, more than 700 service members have participated in the pilot over the last 10 months.

The single disability examination pilot is focused on recommendations from the reports of the Task Force on Returning Global War on Terrorism Heroes, the Independent Review Group, the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors (the Dole/Shalala Commission), and the Commission on Veterans’ Disability Benefits.

Seven Paralympic Swimmers Named to USA Swimming’s All-America Team

Paralympic swimmer
Selection to the team is an honor given to high school students who excel academically and in the pool.
© 2008 iStock International Inc.

U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, announced that seven U.S. Paralympic swimmers, including five Paralympians, were named to the USA Swimming 2007-08 Scholastic All-America team. Selection to the team is a distinct honor given to high school students who excel in the pool and achieve superior academic standing.

Kelley Becherer (Sheboygan, Wis.), Anna Eames (Golden Valley, Minn.), Kate Gibbs (Midlothian, Va.), Sarah Hunt (Bellvue, Colo.), Cortney Jordan (Henderson, Nev.), Tom Miazga (Cedarburg, Wis.) and Marin Morrison (Sammamish, Wash.) were among the 974 athletes selected to the Scholastic All-America roster. Becherer, Eames, Jordan, Miazga and Morrison competed in Beijing at the 2008 Paralympic Games. Becherer, Eames and Jordan won multiple medals, including one gold medal each. Hunt and Gibbs represented Team USA at the 2007 ParaPan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It is a fantastic honor for these athletes to be named to the Scholastic All-America Team,” Julie O’Neill, associate director/head coach, swimming, said in a news release. “Each of these young men and women work hard to excel both in the classroom and in the pool.”

Of all the successful applicants, 68% achieved a 4.0 grade point average. In order to be selected to the Scholastic All-America Team, candidates were required to complete 10th, 11th or 12th grade and achieve a 3.5 GPA or higher. Candidates were also required to be a USA Swimming member athlete and participate in an individual event that met the Junior National Bonus Time Standard during the qualifying period of July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008.

Additionally, swimmers who competed in an individual event in the 2007 Open Water National Championships and met the academic, grade level and membership requirements were eligible to apply. Swimmers with a physical disability must have competed in the 2007 U.S. Paralympics Open Swimming Championships (Dec. 6-8) in College Park, Md. or the 2008 U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials (April 3-5) in Minneapolis.

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