VA Selects Providers for Dental Insurance Program

09/28/2017 12:54 PM EDT

VA Selects Providers for Dental Insurance Program

WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has selected Delta Dental of California and MetLife to once again offer private dental insurance plans as part of the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP).

The program was extended until Dec. 31, 2021, by the VA Dental Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2016.

“It is important to provide this care to eligible Veterans, especially those who need lower-cost insurance,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “VADIP underscores our commitment to support America’s Veterans and their family members.”

Veterans enrolled in the VA health-care system and beneficiaries of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA) can enroll in the program beginning Nov. 15, 2017, for coverage to start Dec. 1, 2017.

VADIP offers eligible individuals the opportunity to purchase discounted dental insurance coverage, including diagnostic services, preventive services, endodontic and other restorative services, surgical services and emergency services.

Individuals who enroll in one of the dental insurance plans will pay the entire premium in addition to the full cost of any copayments. Enrollment is voluntary and does not affect eligibility for VA outpatient dental services and treatment.

The plans are available to eligible individuals in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Delta Dental and MetLife previously offered insurance plans as part of the three-year VADIP pilot program. Coverage under the VADIP pilot began Jan. 1, 2013, and more than 115,000 Veterans and CHAMPVA beneficiaries enrolled in the program before it expired in January 2017. Individuals who enrolled in a plan during the pilot period must select and enroll in one of the new plans offered by Delta Dental or MetLife. While the insurance providers will remain the same, plan options, fees and other factors may have changed from those offered during the pilot.

For more information, visit or call 877-222-VETS (8387).



VA Providing Support to Veterans in Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands in Aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria

09/22/2017 04:24 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it continues to provide vital health care and other support to displaced Veterans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

In Puerto Rico where electricity was knocked out by Hurricane Maria, the San Juan VA Medical Center (VAMC) — currently operating on generator power and staffed by 800 employees — is providing health care for 338 inpatients, with primary care and mental health services available for walk-in patients.

“We have been in constant contact with VA Caribbean Healthcare System leadership in San Juan and are sending relief resources to the VA Medical Center as soon as possible through available transportation assets,” said VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour. “Along with hurricane-hardened construction standards, the San Juan VAMC has enough fuel, water and other supplies to last at least seven days, if not more.”

Since Hurricane Maria also damaged communication systems, such as cellular phone towers and telephone landlines, VA officials have been monitoring the VA Caribbean Facebook page, and responding to family requests for status of both patients and staff.

Meanwhile, all community clinics, including Vet Centers in Puerto Rico and USVI, have been closed until further notice. Patients with appointments will be contacted as soon as possible to reschedule. Veterans Benefits Administration offices are also closed. VA national cemeteries in Puerto Rico are also temporarily closed.

VA is also coordinating standby personnel to deploy in the event they are needed, along with mobile shelters for use as sleeping quarters, as well as mobile medical units, which can be used to augment medical services in the area.

VA teams will begin damage assessments as soon as it is safe to do so and travel routes are clear. Once assessments are complete, officials will share information about when VA clinics will be operational.

The following resources are available for Veterans and employees impacted by the hurricanes:

VA Employee Accountability hotline for staff to report their status and safety: 866-233-0152
VISN 8 TelCare 24/7 hotline to assist Veterans with health-care advice and information, to include facility status updates and emergency prescription refill information: 877-741-3400
Current operating status of VA Caribbean Healthcare System:
Get more information about the VA Caribbean Healthcare System at, or on its Facebook page at:
VA’s blog with information on VA facilities and services impacted by hurricanes Irma and Maria:



VA Removing Employee Arrested for Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon

09/21/2017 01:49 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it is taking immediate steps to propose the termination of a Memphis VA Medical Center employee arrested over the weekend for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal impersonation of a police officer.

Upon learning of the employee’s arrest, VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour said, “This behavior is not in line with the norms and values of the VA, and as a result the employee has been suspended from all duties. VA has initiated the process for removal from employment.

“Secretary Shulkin has made clear that VA will hold employees accountable when they fail to live up to the high standards taxpayers expect from us. And that’s exactly what we’re doing in this case.”



Veterans Crisis Line to Open Third Call Center in Topeka, Kansas

09/13/2017 05:27 PM EDT

Veterans Crisis Line to Open Third Call Center in Topeka, Kansas

VA also expects to hire 100 employees for new center

WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it is opening a Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) call center in Topeka, Kansas, the third such center nationwide, and expects to hire 100 employees to staff the center, located on the campus of VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System.

VCL currently operates two centers in Canandaigua, New York, and Atlanta, Georgia.

The new call center, expected to open this fall, will give VCL the additional capacity as VA expands the “automatic transfer” function, Press 7, to its Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) and Vet Centers.

“When it comes to preventing Veteran suicide, we will do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for Veterans to reach us,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The new center in Topeka gives us more feet on the ground and an easier way for Veterans to connect with us when they need us most.”

The Press 7 function is already available at VA Medical Centers and provides immediate access to the crisis line from a main phone tree. Currently, CBOC and Vet Center phone systems do not provide that option, forcing Veterans to take an added step by dialing 800-273-8255, and then pressing 1.

Since its launch in 2007, the VCL has answered more than 3 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in imminent crisis more than 84,000 times. Since launching chat in 2009 and text services in November 2011, the VCL has answered nearly 359,000 and nearly 78,000 requests for chat and text services, respectively.

For more information or to apply for openings at the new call center, visit or and search for announcement No. 10046052. The positions are open to applicants with prior comparable experience or a master’s degree in a health science, such as mental health, social work or psychology.

Veterans in crisis can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at 800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at or text to 838255.



VA Awards Grants to Help Homeless and At-risk Veterans and Families

09/13/2017 01:45 PM EDT
WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it has awarded $343 million in grants to 288 nonprofit organizations to help low-income Veterans and their families.

The grants were awarded under VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.

“With these important grants, we are able to leverage the expertise of local experts to help our most economically vulnerable Veterans avoid or exit homelessness,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “This is another VA program that moves at-risk Veterans toward housing and independence.”

SSVF funding, which supports outreach, case management and other flexible assistance to rapidly re-house Veterans who become homeless or to prevent Veterans from becoming homeless, was awarded to organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

SSVF served more than 148,800 participants, including approximately 95,300 Veterans and 31,950 children in fiscal year 2016. As a result of these and other efforts, Veteran homelessness is down significantly since 2010.

In addition, approximately 360,000 Veterans and their family members have been permanently housed, rapidly re-housed or prevented from falling into homelessness as a result of VA’s homelessness programs and targeted housing vouchers through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Today’s recipients competed successfully for grants under a Dec. 7, 2016, Notice of Fund Availability. The funding will support SSVF services in fiscal 2018.

Information about the SSVF program, including the complete list of grantees, may be found at



NAMI – Family-to-Family Education Program

Click HERE to enlarge image



NAMI Homefronts – Mental Illness Workshops


Click HERE to enlarge the image. “



VA Hundreds of Veterans to Participate in National Veterans Wheelchair Games

Largest wheelchair sporting event provides therapeutic benefit to disabled U.S. Veterans

WASHINGTON — Nearly 600 of the country’s best wheelchair athletes are arriving in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the 37th National Veterans Wheelchair Games being held July 17–22.

“The Wheelchair Games is a great example of some of the finest athletes on the planet displaying true skill and determination,” said Dr. David J. Shulkin, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). “These Veterans have overcome significant injuries and through intense rehabilitation and training, they have pushed themselves to the limit of athletic ability and competition.”

For a complete schedule of events and additional information about the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, visit Follow #NVWG on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


VA Expands Transparency, Accountability Efforts

Becomes First Agency to Post Information on Adverse Employee Actions, Requires Senior Official Sign-off on All Settlement Actions Above $5,000. Click here to see the full article. “


Hotline for Veteran Complaints

“According to a June 1 Military Times article by Leo Shane III, the President’s long-promised hotline for veteran complaints was officially launched on June 1. The phone line—live now at 855-948-2311—is designed to “collect, process, and respond to the complaints of individual veterans in a responsive, timely, and accountable manner,” according to Department of Veterans Affairs officials.”


Urgent Mental Health Care.


VA expands mental health care for discharged veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs will offer urgent mental health care beginning this summer to thousands of former service members with less-than-honorable discharges, part of its expanded initiative to stem stubbornly high rates of suicide.

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Portland VA Crisis Help Line

Portland VA Crisis Help Line

Good afternoon from VA Portland Health Care System:
I wanted to share this news that has been discussed in a number of venues I have been at over the past couple years.
VAPORHCS has changed our phone message and capabilities so when Veterans call us on our main number (503)220-8262 they can be connected directly to the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing “7.”

This is the new message:

“Welcome to the VA Portland Health Care System. If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, hang up and dial 911. If you are having thoughts of suicide, press 7 now to be connected with the Veterans Crisis line or you may call 1-800-273-8255 then press 1″.

Daniel E. Herrigstad
Public Affairs Officer
VA Portland Health Care System

Office: 503-402-2975
Mobile: 971-221-4920


VA Announces New Local Director 

Welcome New VA Medical Director‏

Here is a link to the VISN 20 press release announcing the selection of Michael Fisher as the new Director of VA Portland Health Care System.

Some of you may know Mr. Fisher as he was the Interim VAPORHCS Director for several months in 2014 and was a former VISN 20 Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Network Director.

Mr. Fisher’s start date is July 24, 2016.  In the time between Dr. Burnett’s departure on July 8 to Mr. Fisher’s arrival on the 24th, our Deputy Director, Ms. Tracye Davis, will serve in an acting director capacity.


VA Program for Geriatric and Extended Care

This is the VA Program for Geriatric and Extended Care presented by the VA at the last meeting of the Medical Advisory Board. It gives an outline of what the VA offers for geriatric and extended care.

Click here for more information