Morning Muster: 3/3/2015 Vets miss disability benefits with incorrect mental health discharges; VA to recoup bonuses?; VA wrongly pays out $96 mill

VA CBO wrongly obligates $96 million; VA encounters IT security issues; transgender vets call on new SecDef to help with discharge papers; VFW focuses on sequestration; military uses improper codes for mental-health discharges; House votes to allow VA to recoup bonuses; veteran’s family seeks answers in Vietnam; House votes in medical foster homes; Florida vet hopes to organize team to fight ISIS

VA’s Office of the Inspector General found VA’s Chief Business Office wrongly obligated more than $96 million medical-support-and-compliance funds to pay for the development of the Health Care Claims Processing System.

HCPS is a new, centralized claims processing system that’s supposed to improve payment to health providers outside the VA system.

The problem? The former deputy chief business officer should have gotten IT Systems appropriations funds, not medical support funds, but he thought it would be faster to go around IT. The investigation came after an OIG hotline complaint. This violates appropriations law.

The recommendation? Give the money back, get funding from the proper source, and check to see if administrative action should be taken against senior officials. Ouch.

The new report comes on the heels of a $180 million request to improve information security, reports ihealthbeat.org. The story lays out VA’s recent IT issues.

Transgendered vets are making a plea for new Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to ensure their DD214’s reflect their accurate gender, reports Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendery. Carter recently said he was “open-minded” about transgender people serving in the military. An incorrect DD214 can mean the veteran loses job possibilities, benefits or entrance into college.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars plans to spend the year lobbying against sequestration, reports Military.com’s Bryant Jordan. The group’s priority list is here.

Though the military is required to use special codes for non-disability mental discharges, they’ve taken to labeling them “condition, not a disability,” reports Military Times‘ Patricia Kime. Just as in the past, when the military was roundly laid out by Congress for labeling PTSD cases as “personality disorders,” this means vets can be pushed aside with no recourse if they’ve been improperly discharged for PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. There has also been a rise in misconduct discharges for troops previously diagnosed with PTSD.

The House voted to give VA the ability to recoup bonuses from fired senior officials, reports Stars and StripesTravis J. Tritten. A similar bill was sent to the Senate last year, but it did not pass. There’s concern about the legality of the bill.

A Virginia family will fly to Vietnam to try to determine what really happened to their father when his plane was shot down over Vietnam, reports Air Force Times’ Kristin Davis. It’s a heart-breaking, long read.

The House passed a bill last night that would allow VA to enter contracts with medical foster homes to attend veterans’ long-term care, reports The Hill’s Cristina Marcos. It also capsVA officials’ bonuses.

A Florida veteran hopes to organize a group of other vets to go fight the Islamic State, reports First Coast News.

Bergmann & Moore, LLC, is a national law firm dedicated to serving the needs of veterans in compensation claims before and against the Department of Veterans Affairs. The firm’s partners are former VA attorneys who are very familiar with the VA system. Bergmann & Moore handles all kinds of cases, but has a concentration in claims involving PTSD, military sexual trauma, Gulf War illness and complex medical issues, such as brain cancer or degenerative issues, veterans exposed to Agent Orange often face. For more information, to submit news or to sign up for an email version of this blog, contact Kelly Kennedy at kkennedy@vetlawyers.com.

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