Presumptive List To Expand Once Again
August 2, 2018
Once again, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is weighing whether to add several new diseases to the list of health conditions presumed in Vietnam veterans to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange. A VA working group continues to study whether bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and other diseases with Parkinson’s-like symptoms will be added to the presumptive list; illnesses the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said may be more strongly linked to exposure than previously thought. If added to the presumptive list, the diseases should automatically make a Vietnam veteran eligible for VA disability benefits and free health care. In the meantime, VA recommends that veterans who have an illness they believe is directly related to Agent Orange exposure to file a claim immediately. All claims cases are considered on a case-by-case basis if a veteran’s illness is not on the presumptive condition list. Should new diseases be added to the presumptive Agent Orange list, the new regulation would go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register. Stay tuned…
Forever GI Bill Expands VA Educational Benefits
August 2, 2018
Effective August 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented 15 more provisions of the Harry W. Colmery Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also referred to as the “Forever GI Bill.”
These provisions, in addition to the 13 implemented since the law was signed less than a year ago, will have an immediate and positive impact on Veterans and their families using VA benefits to pursue their educational goals.
Some of the provisions that began August 1, 2018 include:
- Recipients of a Purple Heart awarded on or after September 11, 2001, are now eligible for full Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for up to 36 months, if not already entitled.
- Military and Veteran families who have lost a family member can now reallocate transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
- Additional Guard and Reserve service now counts toward Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility.
- Post-9/11 GI Bill students may now receive monthly housing allowance for any days they are not on active duty, rather than having to wait until the next month; and
- Expansion of the Yellow Ribbon Program, which makes additional funds available for GI Bill students, now covers more students.
More provisions are scheduled related to science, technology, engineering and math benefit extensions; increased benefit levels; a pilot program for high-technology training geared toward “upskilling” Veterans to enter the workforce quickly; and another expansion of the Yellow Ribbon Program, which will be implemented by August 1, 2022.