VA Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (Ramp) launched

on Monday, 28 May 2018.

What is RAMP?

In November 2017, VA launched Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) with the goal of providing eligible Veterans with the earliest possible resolution of their disability compensation claim.

Initially started as an invitation only program. On April 2, 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs expanded RAMP, by removing the requirement that Veterans first receive an invitation from VA in order to elect participation in the program.

RAMP is voluntary and will provide eligible Veterans the opportunity to enter the new, more efficient review process outlined in the historic Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 before the law becomes effective in February 2019.

Your Benefits: Active Guard Reserve

on Monday, 25 March 2019.

National Guard and Reserve members with active service may qualify for a variety of VA benefits. Active service includes:

Active duty (Title 10) - full-time duty, such as, but not limited to, a unit deployment during war, including travel to and from such duty, OR

Full-time National Guard duty (Title 32) - full-time duty, such as responding to a national emergency or duties as an Active Guard Reserve, where you receive pay from the Federal government

The VA Program For Veteran Caregivers You May Not Know About

on Tuesday, 22 March 2016.

VA caregiver benefits provide financial, medical, and peer help for family members that support veterans.

Roughly 5.5 million people serve as caregivers for veteran family members. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a lesser known benefit for these family members. Known as Caregiver Support Services, these benefits aim to help family members who are tasked with the primary care of a disabled veteran.

The services available include access to a caregiver support line, support coordinator, peer support for caregivers, adult day health care centers, and home care, among other things.

VA Mission Act Approved

on Monday, 28 May 2018.

WASHINGTON – The Senate easily approved extensive reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs extending benefits to more Veteran caregivers, averting a funding crisis and increasing Veterans’ access to private-sector health care.

The bill went through multiple iterations and debate dragged on for months, at times dividing Veterans groups and straining ties between lawmakers and the VA. The legislation went to the President and was signed before Memorial Day.

Service Platoon Offers Opportunities to Give Back

on Monday, 11 March 2019.

 Maguire 3

My name is Mike Maguire, and it is my honor and pleasure to be named the new Service Platoon leader for the Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation (LCVFSF). Let me state up front that I am not a Veteran, but I am a life long American citizen, and I have the greatest respect and admiration for all our Veterans.

I believe that we as citizens, and the beneficiaries of the service and sacrifice that these brave men and women, and their families, have willingly given for our freedom and liberty, must never forget them. LCVFSF is run by Veterans for Veterans, but they also firmly believe that a partnership between civilians, and Veterans is vital to their primary mission of providing assistance to ALL Veterans, in areas ranging from employment, health and family issues, housing, any many others. I know by the fact that you have all signed up to participate in this service that you all feel the same way.

Veterans Appeal Act Effective February 19th

on Friday, 08 February 2019.

The Veteran Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 became law on August 23, 2017 (Pub L. 115-55). It is also known as the Appeals Modernization Act. You can read the law in full on Congress.gov.

Know More
The need for a Modern Appeals System Rapid Appeals Modernization Program

Frequently Asked Questions

  • VA's Implementation Plan
  • Opt-in Letter with election Form
  • Multimedia Materials
  • RAMP Overview Video
  • Benefits of RAMP Video
  • RAMP Fact Sheet
  • RAMP Infographic
  • RAMP Poster
  • RAMP Brochure

Changes to MST-Related PTSD Claims Processing Means More help for Veterans

on Monday, 02 April 2018. Posted in News

Image of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) poster

Women are disproportionately likely to have experienced sexual harassment and/or assault during their military service. This trauma, referred to by VA as military sexual trauma (MST), can result in conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a cascading impact on all aspects of life. (Click here for more information on military sexual trauma and treatments available for resulting conditions from VA.)

Due to increased awareness of this problem and the challenges of providing corroborating evidence in many cases, VA has taken a number of steps over the years to better serve MST survivors applying for disability compensation for conditions caused by MST, beginning with relaxing evidentiary standards in 2002. Because events involving sexual trauma are not always officially reported, VA looks for “markers” (i.e., signs, events or circumstances) that provide an indication the traumatic event happened, which include but are not limited to records from rape crisis or mental health counseling centers, tests for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, statements from family members or roommates, transfer requests, deterioration in work performance, episodes of depression or anxiety without an identifiable cause and relationship issues – a longer list is available here.

In response to an identified gap in the percent of claims granted for PTSD caused by MST compared to other causes, such as combat-related PTSD, additional changes were made. These include conducting special training for VA regional office personnel who process MST-related claims beginning in 2011 and offering specialized training to medical examiners who provide input on these cases in 2012.

How effective have those efforts been? The table below shows the percent of PTSD issues granted for MST-related and non-MST related claims. In FY11, there is a substantial gap: 59.5% of non-MST related PTSD claims were granted, compared to only 35.6% of MST-related PTSD claims, a nearly 24 point gap. Three years later, in FY14, the gap had shrunk to less than six points, with grant rates of 54.1% and 48.5% respectively. So far this fiscal year, the gap is only around one point, with grant rates of 54.6% for non-MST related claims and 53.4% for MST-related claims.

Impact of Changes to MST-Related PTSD Claims Processing

The dramatic narrowing of the gap, from over 20 points six years ago to virtually indistinguishable today, shows the success of those efforts. The Veterans Benefits Administration and the Center for Women Veterans will continue to analyze data to sustain these improvements in equitable decision-making.

For help with disability compensation related to MST, read more here and contact the MST coordinator at your local Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office.

VA Social App Connects Veterans

on Monday, 01 October 2018.

Motorcycles – retired Navy – fuel exposures. Sonja Skinner says those are three items she added to her profile on VA DoD Veteran Link, a new social networking app just for Veterans and current service members. The app creates a secure, closed community where users can connect and feel comfortable talking about common interests and life circumstances – including any health concerns they may have.

After retiring from the Navy in 2005, Skinner began her second career at VA. Today, she works at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple, Texas, as a My HealtheVet Coordinator, a VA Online Scheduling Manager and a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Representative. She’s busy, but not too busy to help test new VA technologies and apps. She tested VA DoD Veteran Link this past spring.

Free Bikes for Jobs and Job Interviews

on Monday, 11 March 2019.

Lake County veterans have learned about the chance to receive free bicycles from Mitch Siegel, who works as a job developer for Catholic Charities.

Siegel has delivered about bikes to veterans in Lake County, with 19 more to go. One by one, his intern Matt Lindemeier is polishing them, greasing the chains and making repairs.

The veterans are using them to get to work or a job interview and for recreation, Siegel said.

Siegel recalled lamenting to Lake County Bike Project board member David Motley about the transportation situation in Lake County. "It's hard for anyone without their own transportation to get to jobs or to interviews for potential jobs. There's a big gap in the bus service," Siegel said.