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BLACK SEA (July 11, 2014) The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) leads the ships participating in Exercise Breeze, the Bulgarian-led multinational training exercise. Vella Gulf, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is conducting naval operations with partners and allies in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility in order to advance security and stability in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Guttierrez III/Released)
In a rare move, both the House and Senate approved a veterans’ bill, which President Obama is scheduled to sign at Ft. Belvoir. This bill, which was approved with strong bipartisan support, is expected to help ease the process of veterans receiving government-paid health care from local doctors. In addition, the $16.3 billion law also allows the Veterans Affairs Department to hire thousands of health care professionals for the VA hospitals and outpatient clinics nationwide. This bill revised the VA employment rules, allowing poorly performing senior VA executives to be fired more easily.
This legislation is in response to the recent reports of veterans dying while on a waitlist to see doctors, and a widespread VA cover up to hide the long wait times. The bill immediately allows $10 billion over three years to pay private doctors and health professionals to care for qualifying veterans who are having difficulty receiving an appointment from a VA physician. It also allows those veterans who live 40 miles away from a VA to receive care locally. Also, this bill has also allotted $5 billion to hire more VA doctors, nurses and other medical staff and $1.3 billion to open 27 new VA clinics across the country.
New VA Secretary Robert McDonald, a former Procter & Gamble CEO, was sworn in July 30. The VA has 310,000 employees and provides health care to nearly 9 million enrolled veterans and disability compensation for nearly 4 million veterans. NERA is encouraged by this first step in helping our veterans receive the health care they need and will keep you updated regarding additional VA changes.