VFW National News

VA Launches Program Aimed at Providing Veterans More Options in Claims Disagreements
WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it will launch the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program, or “RAMP,” with the goal of providing Veterans with the earliest possible resolution of their disagreement with VA’s decision on their benefit claims.  
RAMP will provide expanded opportunities for Veterans to enter the new, more efficient claims review process outlined in the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on Aug. 23. 
“At its core, VA’s mission is to provide Veterans with the highest quality of service,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The new process under the RAMP initiative reflects major steps in not only VA’s effort of continuous improvement, but also in providing greater choice for Veterans and their families.” 
VA began its 18-month implementation of the new process immediately after the bill became law. 
By February 2019, all requests for review of VA decisions will be processed under the new, multi-lane process. VA’s legacy appeals process was slow and complex. The new law streamlines the process and includes safeguards ensuring claimants receive the earliest effective date possible for their claims.  
Participation in RAMP is voluntary; however, Veterans can expect to receive a review of VA’s initial decision on their claim faster in RAMP than in the legacy appeals process. The initiative allows participants to have their decisions reviewed in the Higher-Level or Supplemental Claim review lanes outlined in the law. 
The reviewer can overturn previous decisions based on a difference of opinion, or return it for correction. Participants who select the Supplemental Claim Lane may submit new evidence and may receive VA’s assistance in developing evidence in support of their claim.   
Veterans who disagree with the decisions they receive in RAMP can appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in the new process and have their appeal decided by the Board when the new law becomes effective in February 2019.  Veterans who participate in RAMP will not be able to return to the legacy appeals process. 
VA encourages eligible Veterans with pending appeals to participate in RAMP and the benefits of the new review process. VA will begin sending eligible Veterans an invitation to participate in early November and continue the program until February 2019.  
VA will continue working with Congress, Veterans Service Organizations and other Veteran advocates to implement the new appeals process over the next several months as VA continues to make bold, positive change on behalf of Veterans, their families and survivors. 

Comrades forwarding this from National and Department for your information.

Jose Duran
District 20

Subject: VFW Joins with Veteran-Founded ID.me to Simplify Members’ Online Experience

VFW Joins with Veteran-Founded ID.me to Simplify Members’ Online Experience
Single username and password will streamline verification processes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (January 9, 2018) —The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is pleased to announce it has teamed up with ID.me to provide its members with a more streamlined and secure online experience. The VFW is the first major veterans service organization to use ID.me as a single-sign on for its digital platforms.

VFW members can now sign up for an online account with ID.me, creating a single username and password to log in to the VFW Online Membership System, access VA benefits on Vets.gov, and gain immediate access to military discounts from 200+ retailers.

A single, unified login ensures members can easily access many of their online accounts without the burden of completing the login process at each website. Further, ID.me provides users with instant online verification of military service and proof of identification.

“Trying to remember the login information for several different online accounts is difficult, and further, verifying your identity online can be a cumbersome process,” said VFW National Commander Keith Harman. “So we’re glad to be able to provide our members with a simple solution.”

ID.me was founded by Blake Hall, a third generation soldier, former Army Ranger and a member of VFW Post 15021 in Baltimore, Md.

“I founded ID.me after observing a veteran display his DD-214 separation paperwork, which listed all of his sensitive personal information, just to prove his military service to an organization. I set out to simplify how individuals shared and proved their identity online,” Hall explains. “We are excited to be teaming up with the VFW to continue to streamline the digital experience for veterans.”

VFW Contact: Randi Law, VFW communications manager, rlaw@vfw.org


VFW Opposes New VA Privatization Attempt
Congressman’s proposal breaks nation’s promise to veterans
WASHINGTON (November 27, 2017) — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is absolutely opposed to the latest congressional attempt to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The “fix,” as introduced last week by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), “throws out the idea of acceptable patient wait times and eliminates the requirement of the veteran to ask for VA permission to use civilian medical providers,” he said in a press release. His Veterans Empowerment Act, which is cosponsored by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), would also erode the VA’s health care system and charge veterans for care related to their service-connected wounds, illnesses and injuries.
“Giving veterans access to high quality care isn’t the issue,” said VFW National Commander Keith Harman. “Veterans enrolled in the VA already have access to the best integrated health care system in the world, as well as access to the best outside providers. The issue is whether VA’s role should be limited to being an insurance provider, which is how you dismantle the VA, not fix it,” he said. “You cannot dangle promises of better access and care while stripping funding from VA health accounts to pay outside providers at far greater costs, and with zero guarantee of better access or quality. The only thing this proposal will accomplish is kill the VA as a provider of care to America’s veterans while shifting the cost of care on to veterans.”
Aside from false promises, Lamborn’s bill would also establish a tiered premium support system that would force disabled veterans rated less than 100 percent to pay a certain percentage of their service-connected health care cost, whereas no copayments currently exist. “The VFW has long held that if our nation cannot afford to take care of veterans, then our nation should quit creating them,” said Harman.
The VFW has conducted multiple surveys that reflect nearly 80 percent of VFW members who are eligible for VA care choose to use their earned VA care, despite the overwhelming majority of them having other options, such as employer-sponsored health insurance, the military’s TRICARE plan, or Medicare. “Veterans appreciate options,” said Harman, “and ultimately they choose whichever health plan best fits their individual circumstances, but having unregulated choice puts the onus on veterans to find their own care — and that decision needs to be made between doctors and their patients, not by Washington.”
The VFW national commander explained that it took years for the VA’s internal problems to boil over, yet politicians, new administration appointees and surrogates continue to believe they have a solution where in fact all they want to do is shift an inherent government responsibility into a civilian marketplace. Harman said the civilian marketplace also has waiting lists, can’t match the VA’s continuity and continuum of care, and doesn’t have the VA’s institutional knowledge and ability to address every malady that wounded, ill and injured veterans age 18 to 110 might have.
“Money isn’t the VA’s problem insomuch as effective leadership, management and accountability are,” said Harman. “Shifting finite resources to the private sector will only signal the beginning of the end of a federal department that was created for the sole purpose of caring for America’s veterans,” he said. “The private sector can augment the VA but never replace it, which is a message the VFW will continue to carry to Congress and VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin as we work together to fix what’s broken and restore the faith of veterans in their VA.”
The VFW national commander is now asking all 1.7 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary to contact their elected officials in the House and Senate to help ensure the Veterans Empowerment Act — and any others like it — never sees the light of day. Take action here.


With our Oct. 28 “A Day to Change Direction” event and Veterans Day right around the corner, the holidays quickly approaching and many new VFW initiatives on the horizon for service members, veterans and their families, fall is already proving to be an extremely busy and productive time for the VFW and its members.

With more information available within the email below, here’s a snapshot of a few important initiatives already upon us:

• If you know of a youth interested in their share of more than $3 million in scholarships and awards, the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay entries are due to VFW Posts on Oct. 31.

• If you’re a student veteran interested in advocating for veterans on Capitol Hill, the clock is ticking. The application deadline for the VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is Oct. 20.

• If you’re a student veteran, or know someone who is and could use some help paying for school, the VFW’s “Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship” application is due on November 15.

The easiest way to stay up-to-date with all of the VFW happenings is by following the VFW on social media. If you don’t already, follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and more!


Your VFW Membership Team


Please help us make a huge impact this year!! Spread the message

On October 28, 2017, the VFW and Give an Hour , the lead organization for the Campaign to Change Direction, are partnering for the Second Annual A Day to Change Direction, a national day of service and action to change the dialogue on mental health for America’s veterans and American communities. VFW Posts are encouraged to host events that will educate your community about the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering and the Healthy Habits of Emotional Well-being. You can choose to host a screening of the documentary Into the Light followed by a group discussion or you can participate in or host a community service event. Collectively, we believe in gathering together veterans and their families, community members, and clinicians to connect in a positive environment. Furthermore, we want to use this as an opportunity to encourage all Americans to pay attention to their emotional well-being as well as the emotional well-being of others

A staggering 20 veterans commit suicide every day, and the VFW is committed to helping change the narrative and stigma surrounding mental health in America. In order to raise awareness, foster community engagement, improve research and provide intervention for those affected by invisible injuries and emotional stress, the VFW has teamed up with the nationwide organizations Give an Hour and the Campaign to Change Direction, One Mind, PatientsLikeMe and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to combat this critical issue.
VFW Mental Wellness Program can be found here https://www.vfw.org/mental-wellness

Step One: VFW Posts and Auxiliary interested in participating will identify a central point of contact and report this to Lynn Rolf at LRolf@vfw.org. If you want 5 Signs Cards or Mental Wellness flyers please identify a POC and mailing address.
Step Two: Identify & plan a screening of the documentary Into the Light or identify a community service project.
Step Three: Prepare for the event by using the tools below to market your event and educate yourself on the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering and the Healthy Habits of Emotional Well-being.
Step Four: Host A Day to Change Direction.
Step by step resources and ideas can be found at http://www.changedirection.org/vfw-service-project/

Before the service project (Marketing & Tools)
During the Service project (How to post photos)
After the service Project (Measure your impact and the VFW impact worldwide)

Lynn W. Rolf III
Programs Director
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States


Updated 9/28/2017

Good afternoon comrades. Our last Membership Focus email addressed the issue of expiring members who hold a VFW office.

We explained how a Post Commander or Quartermaster can view their roster and look specifically at Annual members who are approaching their expiration date in order to ensure that these members don’t fall through the cracks.
This week, we’re going to specifically address our Department leadership, Commanders and Quartermasters. Both of these positions have the ability through the Online Membership System to specifically see officers within their Department whose dues will expire before the end of the membership year.
As a Department Commander or Quartermaster, you will need to do the following:
1) Log into www.vfw.org with your email address and password.
2) Once logged on, click the Online Membership System (OMS) link.
3) Under the Reporting tab on the left side, click on the link for “Unpaid/Expiring Officers”.
This will show you a list of ALL Post, District, and Department officers in your Department whose dues will expire on or before June 30th, 2018. You can click on the “Dues Expire” title to sort by that column to see whose dues are coming up soon.
As a Department Commander or Quartermaster, if you see a Post officer whose dues are within 45 days of expiration, we would recommend contacting that Post’s leadership directly to make certain that they are aware of this issue.
The issue of officers who allow their dues to expire is a double-headed problem to deal with; first, the obvious issue is that a member is not renewing their dues to the Post. However, the second and possibly more serious issue is that a VFW member who accepts a role as a Post, District, or Department officer is accepting the responsibility of representing the VFW, our mission, and what we stand for as an organization. If these members are the ones falling through the cracks – that sets a disastrous precedent.
Comrades, some of our Departments have over ONE HUNDRED officers whose dues will expire in the next 90 days. We need to be on top of this issue, not at the last minute but today. Holding a leadership position in the VFW is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly, and we must lead our membership by example.
Also, a few weeks ago we announced a Membership Challenge over the weekend of September 9th through the 11th. Over those three days the VFW saw over 500 new members recruited by our Posts, and we are proud to announce Larry Speelman of Richland, OR and Post 9192 of Killeen, TX as the winners of our $250 gift certificates to the VFW Store. We would like to thank all of our recruiters who went out and got the job done over those three days, and we encourage everyone to keep up that pace of recruiting!
As always, the National Headquarters is here to provide support, training, materials, and anything else you need to reach these goals. We’re just an email or a phone call away.
In addition, under the Membership Recruiting and Retention page – http://www.vfw.org/my-vfw/vfw-training-and-support/membership-recruiting-and-retention – you can find training videos, webinars, as well as downloadable forms, brochures, and posters. If you need it, we will most likely have it available on the website for you or you can order it from the Membership Department.
Matt Nute
VFW Membership Department
Ph: 1-888-JOIN-VFW (888-564-6839)