Last year was a tough year. The nation was dealing with the COVID Pandemic. Vaccines were just beginning. And no one knew what the future was going to bring. Yet in the midst of all of the uncertainty Veterans had several things to celebrate. There were milestones reached and new laws passed to help Veterans.
Jan 6, 2021 – The VA added bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism (Parkinson-like symptoms) to the list of Agent Orange presumptive disabilities. The VA made the decision and began a quality review of previous cases to determine if cases for these three disabilities had been denied in the past for Agent Orange Veterans and to correct their claims.
Jan 14, 2021 – The Army made the decision to begin reviewing discharge records of Veterans who were affected by military sexual trauma, PTSD, and/or any other behavioral health conditions to determine the discharge status. The Army will review the discharge status and decide depending upon the circumstances, the possibility that the Veteran may be eligible for an upgrade.
Jan 2021 – The VA extended its suspension of debt collection through September.
Feb 2, 2021 – The VA had administered 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccinations went to both Veterans and employees as well as some to federal partners. On just 1 ½ months the VA had ensured that a million of the most vulnerable among Veterans and health care workers were protected.
March 2021 – The VA launched the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP). In order to qualify for the VRRAP a Veteran must be between 22 and 66 years old and unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also must not be eligible for the GI Bill or VR&E benefits or they have transferred their Post 9/11 GI Bill to a family member.
Sep 2021 – The VA says it will make full VA benefits available to Veterans who were forced out of the military solely due to their sexual orientation. In addition, those same Veterans may apply to have their characterization upgraded, though is process is slow and will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Oct 2021 – VA extended the presumptive period for Gulf War disabilities to December 21, 2026. The symptoms of the Gulf War associated disability may occur years after service. The presumptive period was extended from 2021 to 2026 due to the fact that as of now, there has been no establishment of the end date for the Persian Gulf War period. In addition, there is no medical evidence how long the illnesses may take to appear. More information is available at military.com.
These are some of the actions by the VA and the military service branches which have affected and will effect a large number of Veterans. If you haven’t heard of them, or you have questions if they will affect you, please feel free to leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.