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August 2019

From the Director's Desk


We hope you tuned in to the Managing VBA Performance & Results: Q3 webcast with Paul R. Lawrence, Ph.D., Under Secretary for Benefits. If you missed the presentation, watch the replay and download the presentation to learn how VBA performed in Q3 of FY19. You will also get the latest updates on Blue Water Navy, the Independence Day Challenge and Home Loan funding fee refund initiative, as well as the performance of VBA. 

Update: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act

As a result of Public Law 116-23, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, Blue Water Navy Veterans are now entitled to presumption of service connection for illnesses related to Agent Orange Exposure.  Veterans and surviving spouses can now file for benefits if the Veteran was onboard a U.S. military vessel that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam or served on a vessel not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia. 

There are also several changes to the VA home loan program resulting from the act, including:

  • Appraisals

  • VA-Guaranteed Home Loan Limit

  • Native American Direct Loan program

  • Funding Fee Table

  • Purple Heart Recipients

For more information, please review the Blue Water Navy Fact Sheet   and  VA's Agent Orange webpage.

What Type of Evidence Should I submit to Support My Compensation Claim?

It depends.  Each type of compensation claim requires different evidence to support the claim.  Here are some specific guidelines that provide detailed information about evidence needed based on the type of claim you are filing.  As a general rule, if you have received treatment for the disability, please be sure to provide those records with your claim or complete VA Form 21-4142 .  You may also consider having your private physician complete a Disability Benefits Questionnaire that is appropriate for the condition you are claiming.  There are over 70 DBQs available here!   This may eliminate the need for you to attend a VA examination.

What Other Benefits are Available to Me?

Many Veterans and their family members are not aware of all of the benefits available.  VA developed a benefits eligibility matrix to outline some of the additional benefits you may be eligible for that are based on a favorable decision for a VA benefit or based on special circumstances.  Take a look!  Please note that there are some restrictions to eligibility for Veterans residing abroad. 

How Do I Obtain My Military Records?

Veterans living outside the United States should fill out SF-180 requesting their Military Records.

How to Obtain Standard Form 180 (SF-180) to Request Military Records

There are several ways to obtain an SF-180. You can:

You can mail or fax your signed and dated request to the National Archives' National Personnel Record Center (NPRC). Be sure to use the address specified (either in the instructions on the SF-180

Decrease in SGLI and Family SGLI Spousal Premiums

  • On July 1, 2019, VA reduced Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) monthly premium rates from 7 cents per $1,000 to 6 cents per $1,000 of coverage.

  • Servicemembers with spouses covered under Family SGLI will see an additional average monthly premium decrease ranging from 10 to 32 percent depending on the age and the amount of coverage for the spouse.

For more information about the 2019 SGLI premium reduction and a table of premiums at all coverage amounts,  visit VA's FAQ page.


Vets4Warriors provides a confidential peer support to any Veteran, service member, family member, or caregiver whenever they have an issue, wherever they are in the world.  100% staffed by trained Veterans and members of the military community, they provide immediate, free, and long-term support through confidential phone, chat, text, and email conversations to help those they serve live better lives. They connect you with someone who understands your journey. 

You can contact them at 855.838.8255 or

Employment Opportunities for Overseas Veterans:


The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is recruiting veterans to bring a taste of home to warfighters downrange. Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service has served the Nation's armed forces during combat operations, humanitarian missions and military exercises around the world. The 123-year-old Department of Defense retailer is seeking veterans to deploy to fill various positions wherever the Exchange operates within Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe.

No matter where America’s troops go, the Exchange goes with them. The Exchange operates 41 direct-run stores on 32 installations in eight Middle East countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as well as on installations in Europe, such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Romania, Poland and Bulgaria.

This program supports the Exchange’s commitment to hire 50,000 veterans and military spouses by 2020. Veterans can look for jobs at  Deployments with the Exchange range from six months to a year, with an option to extend up to two years. After their deployments, Veterans are eligible to apply for other jobs with the Exchange. (Courtesy of AAFES News Service)

With over 42,000 jobs in 20 different career areas, there’s endless opportunity for advancement.


Virtual Career Fair for Veterans & Spouses


How do I Enroll in or Change Direct Deposit?

Veterans and Surviving Spouses wishing to enroll or change their International Direct Deposit must complete VA Form 24-0296A.

If assistance is needed, the US Embassy will assist in completing the form.  Unfortunately, you cannot enroll or change your banking information over the phone.  Once completed, the form should be sent to the following location: 

Department of Veterans Affairs

125 South Main St   

Muskogee, OK 74401


or Fax:  (918) 781-7577

It usually takes 30 days to complete processing and once complete, the next payment should go to the new bank account.  If the form is incomplete, we will contact you with instructions on how to correct the problem. 

A common concern is that once processed, the banking information in eBenefits does not appear to be the same account information as submitted.  This is due to international banking conversion of the banking information and possible currency conversion. 

VA.Gov website


VA launched a new, Veteran-focused   VA talked to Veterans and, mostly importantly, listened to what they told us:  Veterans think of VA as a single entity, but delivered services in silos, forcing you to figure out how to navigate VA's different websites to get what you need.  Not anymore. Check out Explore VA.Gov You Tube video and let us know what you think! 

VA spoke with thousands of Veterans, family members, and caregivers and the message was clear- they want to access Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) information online as quickly and easily as possible. As part of VA’s commitment to providing an excellent customer experience for Veterans, VA is modernizing its digital footprint and migrating VA websites into a single, unified, Veteran-centric platform under The redesigned went live on November 7th.

One of the most important aspects of this change is that VA is making it easier for Veterans and those who support them to find the information and tools they need. The new makes it possible for Veterans to get to the top 20 services VA offers (e.g. “schedule an appointment,” “file a claim,” “apply for health care”) with a single click. This new home page also provides a clear and standard way to log in to access a personalized user experience for Veterans. Logged in Veterans will find a dashboard summarizing the current status of services they receive from VA, whether those services are provided by the Veterans Health Administration – such as prescription refills, or the Veterans Benefits Administration – such as claim status. Customers can also update their contact information in one location rather than visiting multiple VA websites or making multiple calls.

Over time, all VA websites—currently a tangle of confusing brands and information—will migrate into a single, unified, Veteran-centric platform under a name Veterans recognize and trust:

Check Your VA Claim or Appeal Status on VA.GOV

You can use this tool to check the status of a VA claim or appeal for compensation. Track your:

  • Disability compensation (including claims based on special needs, like an automobile or clothing allowance)

  • Veterans or Survivors Pension benefits

  • Special monthly compensation (such as Aid and Attendance)

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

  • Burial allowance to help pay for a Veteran’s burial and funeral expenses

You can also use this tool to check the status of a claim or appeal for other benefits like these:

  • VA health care

  • GI Bill or other education benefits

  • Vocational rehabilitation and employment

  • A home loan Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

  • A Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) or Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant

  • Life insurance

  • A pre-need determination of eligibility to be buried in a VA national cemetery

Can I use this tool?

To use this tool, you’ll need to have one of these free accounts:

  • A Premium My HealtheVet account, or

  • A Premium DS Logon account (used for eBenefits and milConnect), or

  • A verified account that you can create on

VBA Rating Schedule Updated

Effective August 11, 2019, there is a new rating schedule for infectious diseases, immune disorders and nutritional deficiencies. The collection of federal regulations used by Veterans Benefits Administration helps claims processors evaluate the severity of disabilities and assign disability ratings. Since September 2017, VA has updated the rating schedules for Dental and Oral Conditionsconditions related to the Endocrine systemGynecological Conditions and Disorders of the Breast and the General Rating Formula for Diseases of the EyeSkin conditions, and the Hematologic and Lymphatic Systems. VA will continue updating the remainder of the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD)—affecting 15 total body systems—over the next several months.

The complete list of updates to the rating schedule for infectious diseases, immune disorders and nutritional deficiencies is now available online. Claims pending prior to August 11, 2019, will be considered under both the old and new rating criteria, and whichever criteria is more favorable to a Veteran will be applied. Claims filed on or after August 11 will be rated under the new rating schedule.

VA is updating the entire VASRD for the first time since 1945. VA remains committed to staying at the forefront of modern medicine to provide the best service to Veterans and their families.

Appeals Update

VA successfully implemented the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 in February 2019.  VA has processed the intake of over 55,000 AMA claims since the implementation.  Higher Level Reviews are being processed in an average of 30 days, well below the 125-day timeliness goal. 

VA is committed to eliminating its non-remand legacy appeals.  At the end of July, VBA had less than 155K compensation and pension appeals in its non-remand inventory.  Pittsburgh had approximately 1,170 pending legacy appeals for Veterans in our foreign jurisdiction.  We are continuing to prioritize claims from Veterans based on advanced age, terminal illness, financial hardship, and homelessness.  Please contact us if you have any questions regarding a pending legacy appeal.

Veterans Crisis Line

Crisis feels different for everybody and can be caused by a wide range of situations before, during, or after military service.  The Military Crisis Line is staffed by caring, qualified responders from VA — some of whom have served in the military themselves.

Confidential support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year through the Military Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1), online chat and text (838255).

There are a number of ways individuals can reach VCL.  How they reach the VCL overseas is dependent on location. 

You can visit this link to see how Veterans, Service members or their loved ones can reach VCL from Europe, Korea and Afghanistan.

  • In Europe call 00800 1273 8255 or DSN 118 *

  • In Korea call 0808 555 118 or DSN 118

  • In Afghanistan call 00 1 800 273 8255 or DSN 111

* In Europe, toll-free service may not be available through all carriers or in all countries


Foreign Medical Program (FMP)

The Foreign Medical Program (FMP) is a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care benefits program for U.S. Veterans who are residing or traveling abroad and have VA-rated, service-connected disabilities. Under FMP, VA assumes payment responsibility for certain necessary health care services received in foreign countries and associated with the treatment of service-connected disabilities, or any disability associated with and held to be aggravating a service-connected condition. Additionally, VA may authorize necessary foreign medical services for any condition for a Veteran participating in the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program (38 U.S.C. 31). For more information, to include submitting claims for reimbursement, please visit here.



What is eBenefits?

Enrolling in eBenefits is easy. Just visit for more information.

How to get an eBenefits account

If you don’t already have an eBenefits account, you can register on the DS Logon Registration page. Instead of using your APO address for registering on eBenefits, use your last recorded United States address.

For dependents of Veterans without a social security number, you must do the following:

Contact the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) at 1-800-538-9552.

    • Provide your dependent's Foreign ID number.

    • Obtain a generated social security number provided by DMDC.

    • Use the generated social security number for registration in eBenefits.

    • You can visit the eBenefits help page for assistance with registering for an account or you can call 1-800 372-7437.


Contact Information for BDD/Public Contact Offices in Germany & Korea

The Landstuhl, Germany office is located in building 3724 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and can be reached by e-mail at

The Camp Humphreys, South Korea office is located in the One-Stop BLDG, BLDG 6400, office V3014 next door to the SFL-TAP office and can be reached by email or by telephone at DSN 757-2911 or 2912 or commercial 050-3357-2911 or 2912. 


Help Us Spread the Word

Please encourage Veterans residing abroad with whom you come in contact to subscribe to “Veterans Abroad” to receive bulletins and information specific to Veterans residing abroad.  Veterans may subscribe to the email service by clicking here


Feedback Requested

We’d love to hear your feedback regarding the VA OCONUS Connection! Please take a few minutes to provide your feedback. In order to obtain your feedback regarding this specific edition of the newsletter, we ask that you use this link, rather than any links to the survey from previous editions.

The new is powerful and secure.

We made sure the new has the power and flexibility you need to manage your relationship with VA. You can now do simple things like update your name and address and have those changes reflected across multiple health and benefit systems across VA. 


Come experience a more connected


#VetResources - for Veterans, their Families, Caregivers, and Survivors

Share this newsletter. Tweet new resources to #VetResources


Veterans have opportunity to grow with USDA

Few pairings more closely align than Veterans and farming. The skill sets developed in military service match many of the characteristics of a successful agricultural professional.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture knows what Veterans bring to the table and is committed to assisting Veterans across the country to keep America’s food supply safe and secure.


VA and DoD announce 2019 Suicide Prevention Conference


This August nearly 2,000 VA and DoD care teams, leaders, allies and subject matter experts from across the country will convene at the 2019 VA/DoD Suicide Prevention Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

This year’s theme is “Many Roles. One Mission.,” which emphasizes that everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide among service members and Veterans.


Code of Support Foundation offers free access to Veteran Resources


The Code of Support Foundation provides essential and critical one-on-one assistance to struggling service members, Veterans and their families with the most complex needs.

One of their goals is to integrate service members, Veterans and families into a searchable, vetted, on-line platform called PATRIOTlink that makes direct connections to resources and services


Did you know the National Resource Directory has more than 14,000 vetted resources available to you right now? Featured Resource: Operation Family Caregiver

Supports families of those who have served our nation and help families of returning Service Members and Veterans adjust to the "new normal" by coping more effectively with problems they never imagined.

Find a VA Facility near you.


Not sure where to start?


VA MISSION Act: Answers to the top 5 questions about urgent care


Urgent care is one of the new benefits offered as part of the VA MISSION Act that gives Veterans greater choice in their health care. The benefit is offered in addition to the opportunity to receive care from a VA provider, as VA also offers same-day services. 



Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one? 

Did you know that VA offers same day services in Primary Care and Mental Health at 172 VA Medical Centers across the country? Make the Connection Resource Locator

What should you avoid doing when talking with a Veteran in crisis? Discuss on RallyPoint.

Contact the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and press 1, Chat, or Text 838255.)

What was your favorite deployment song?

Want to receive this newsletter or other VA updates?


The MISSION Act strengthens VA’s ability to deliver trusted, easy to access, high quality care at VA facilities, virtually through telehealth, and in your community. That means you get the care and services you need, where and when you need them.

How to access care

Eligible Veterans can use VA health care services nationwide, including through mobile health clinics that serve rural areas and via telehealth (care through a phone or computer). 


Enroll in VA health care

To receive care from VA or a community provider, you must be enrolled in VA health care. You can apply online, by mail, or in person. Visit our website to learn more about eligibility criteria and required enrollment documents. 



Find VA medical centers or community care providers

Find a VA medical center or approved non-VA medical (called “community care”) providers near you. Get wait times, addresses, and more.



Using non-VA providers

VA provides care to Veterans through community providers when VA cannot provide the care needed. Community care is based on specific eligibility requirements, availability of VA care, and the needs and circumstances of individual Veterans. To obtain community care, you must receive prior approval from VA.


What's changing with the MISSION Act

Beginning June 6, 2019, under the MISSION Act, you’ll have more ways to access health care. This includes within VA’s network and through approved non-VA medical providers in your community, called “community care providers.”


Appointments with non-VA providers

Under the MISSION act, Veterans can expect a variety of improvements to community care. This includes streamlined eligibility criteria, better access to community providers, and streamlined customer service.  



Urgent and walk-in care

Your VA health care will now include new urgent care access through a network of walk-in retail health clinics and urgent care facilities. With urgent care, Veterans now have a new option for treatment of minor injuries, such as colds, sore throats and minor skin infections.



Copays and insurance

If you have other forms of health care coverage (like a private insurance plan, Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE), you can use VA health care benefits along with these plans.


Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one? 

Contact the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and press 1, Chat, or Text 838255.)

#VetResources - for Veterans, their Families, Caregivers, and Survivors

Have a resource to share? Tweet it using #VetResources


VA MISSION Act: Top Questions Answered

VA implemented changes to community care under the VA MISSION Act. We collected the top questions received from Veterans and provided answers, such as: 

When can I receive community care? 
Can I get dental care through the MISSION Act?
How do I become eligible for the urgent care benefit? 
How can I find an urgent care provider?


VA Podcast: Benefits Breakdown - VA Home Loan Program (Tips and Advice)


On June 22, VA will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the VA Loan Guaranty. Did you know that Veterans who use the Home Loan Guarantee are generally not required to have a downpayment?The VA Home Loan staff discuss these benefits, provide tips, and more.


Join a Team Red, White & Blue Chapter Near You


Whether it’s workouts, races, social activities or community service projects, the 160K Team RWB members support each other through shared values and experiences; there’s probably an RWB chapter near you. New members receive a free Team RWB Nike t-shirt. Click here to join Team RWB.


Cohen Veterans Network Launches Wellness Hub to Share Mental Health Resources


You can now talk about your mental health questions, needs and resources with other Veterans, service members, caregivers and family members. Cohen Veterans Network and RallyPoint have teamed up to launch this digital Wellness Hub so you can discuss mental health issues with your peers, find resources and join others’ discussions on the topic.    



Did you know the National Resource Directory has more than 14,000 vetted resources available to you right now? Featured Resource: PsychArmor Institute

Bridging the gap between civilian and military cultures is the mission of the PsychArmor Institute. They provide tools and resources to help civilians engage and better understand issues relevant to Veteran communities through online courses focusing on military culture,healthcare providers, employers, educators, volunteers, caregivers and families.


Find a VA Facility near you.


Not sure where to start?



Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one? 

Did you know that VA offers same day services in Primary Care and Mental Health at 172 VA Medical Centers across the country? Make the Connection Resource Locator

Talk with other Veterans who have walked in your shoes on RallyPoint.

Contact the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and press 1, Chat, or Text 838255.)

#VetResources - for Veterans, their Families, Caregivers, and Survivors

Have a resource to share? Tweet it using #VetResources


VA's Borne the Battle Podcast: Pearl Harbor Survivors 

This week, VA's Borne the Battle Podcast interviews Dick Schimmel and William Bonelli about their war-time experiences and that day that lived in infamy. 


Humble World War II Veteran oldest Veteran to ever compete at National Veterans Golden Age Games


The 101-year-old woman made her remarks at the National Veterans Golden Age Games in Anchorage, Alaska. She’s one of six World War II Veterans who are at this year’s games and is the oldest Veteran to ever participate in the annual VA sports event.

In her only activity at the National Veterans Golden Age Games—bowling—Gregory won a gold medal in the age 90-and-over women’s category. 


Every VA health care facility provides same-day mental health care - just show up or call


VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has made same-day 24/7 access to emergency mental health care the top clinical priority for VA staff. Now, all 172 VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) provide same-day Mental Health Care services. 


Veterans and transitioning military get a free year of LinkedIn Premium


The one year free upgrade to premium includes a library of over 14,000 business, technical, and creative courses on LinkedIn Learning. This means that courses on software development, graphic design, leadership, data science, photography, and more are all available to eligible Veterans. Almost every professional skill has a course on LinkedIn Learning.

What's your favorite LinkedIn Premium resource?



Did you know the National Resource Directory has more than 14,000 vetted resources available to you right now? Featured Resource Category: Solider for Life Network

Soldier for Life is the Army's program helping connect Army Service Members, Veterans and their families with corporate partners, advisers, and educators.


Find a VA Facility near you.


Not sure where to start?



Keep updated and let us know how we're doing.

You have received this message because you are subscribed to Veterans Affairs. Access your Subscriber Preferences to make changes to your subscription or Unsubscribe. Get this as a forward? Sign Up to receive updates from Veterans Affairs. Having questions or problems? Please visit for assistance.

If you are in crisis and need immediate help, please call 1-800-273-8255 and (PRESS 1) or visit

Please remember the only secure way to ask personal questions is at Explore VA benefits at

Disclaimer: The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products or services on the part of the VA.


Keep updated and let us know how we're doing.

You have received this message because you are subscribed to Veterans Affairs. Access your Subscriber Preferences to make changes to your subscription or Unsubscribe. Get this as a forward? Sign Up to receive updates from Veterans Affairs. Having questions or problems? Please visit for assistance.

If you are in crisis and need immediate help, please call 1-800-273-8255 and (PRESS 1) or visit

Please remember the only secure way to ask personal questions is at Explore VA benefits at


Sent to on behalf of US Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW · Washington, DC 20420

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