News Round Up: New Changes for Veterans Choice Program, VA Apologizes to Veterans Exposed to Chemical Weapons in Iraq, Desertion Charges Brought Against Bergdahl

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We scour the web for the latest news on veterans and compile it here every other week. Here are the top headlines for March 12-26.

VA Seeks New Law to Change Veterans Choice Rules

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has announced it will be making changes to the VA Choice program in an effort to make it easier for veterans to access health care. They will be removing the “as-the-crow-flies” provision from the program, allowing any veteran who lives more than 40 driving miles away from a VA clinic to access health care from private facilities. The VA has also asked the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to pass new legislation to expand the program so it can also pay for private health care for veterans who live near a facility, but cannot receive the treatment they need because it is not offered at that location. Read More

Veterans Hurt by Chemical Weapons in Iraq Get Apology

VA Under Secretary Brad R. Carson recently issued an apology to Iraq veterans exposed to chemical weapons, recognizing that the military did not follow its own policies for caring for troops exposed to old and abandoned chemical munitions scattered around Iraq. He also announced that the department reversed its previous decision and awarded a Purple Heart Medal to a soldier burned by sulfur mustard agent, and said the agency would take new steps recognize other veterans who were denied awards while working to provide medical support to those experiencing health problems from exposure. Read More

Military: Bergdahl May Face Life in Prison if Convicted

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has officially been charged by the U.S. military with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and could spend life in prison if convicted. Last May, the U.S. government traded five Taliban commanders in exchange for Bergdahl, who had been captured by a branch of Al Qaeda five years prior. Some believe Bergdahl’s captivity should be punishment enough, but most agree he should be stripped of pay, benefits and receive a dishonorable discharged. If Bergdahl is found innocent, he will be eligible for special compensation as a prisoner of war. Read More

 

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