What's New

Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment Act of 2020 (COMPACT) 

Effective January 17th, Veterans in suicidal crisis can go to any health care facility for free emergency care, including transportation costs, and receive inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days, and outpatient care for up to 90 days, including social work. 

Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs

MDVA's annual report provides stakeholders and community members with a comprehensive look at their activities and finances. Take a look at the 2022 report here

New Life Insurance Program Is Here

Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALife) provides guaranteed acceptance whole life coverage of up to $40,000 to Veterans age 80 and under, with service-connected disabilities rated 0% to 100%.  Lesser amounts are available in increments of $10,000. Under this plan, the elected coverage takes effect two years after enrollment as long as premiums are paid during the two-year period. VALife took effect January 1, 2023. To find out more information about eligibility, type of coverage, cost and more click here.

VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
On October 1, 2022, the VA began Phase II Expansion of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). This phase opened PCAFC to Veterans who served after May 7, 1975 and before September 11, 2001, making Veterans of all eras eligible to apply to PCAFC. Veteran my be eligible for this clinical program if they:
* Have a single or combined service-connected disability rating by the VA of 70% or more AND
* Be in need of personal care services (requiring in-person personal care services) for a minimum of six continuous months based on any one of the following: 
          - An inability to perform an activity of daily living
          - A need for supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological or other impairment or injury; or
          - A need for regular or extensive instruction or supervision without which the ability of the Veteran to function in daily life, would be seriously impaired. 

Caregivers PCAFC - Application Process Fact Sheet
Caregivers PCAFC - Eligibility Criteria Fact Sheet
Caregivers PCAFC - Monthly Stipend Fact Sheet

St Cloud VA Medical Center Travel Pay Change
For several years Veterans could file claims for travel pay using the self-service kiosks. The VA is phasing out use of the kiosks and by September 29th the kiosks will no longer be available for use. Veterans will have to file their travel pay claims either through the web-based Beneficiary Travel Self-Service System (BTSSS) or by submitting a paper claim form

BTSSS provides an easy to use web-based application that allows Veterans to enter and track their travel claim over the internet using AccessVA. View the informational pamphlet for instructions on how to set-up and file a travel claim using BTSSS. 

PACT Act Signed into Law

The PACT Act is perhaps the largest health care and benefit expansion in VA history. The full name of the law is The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans, and their survivors, with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

The PACT Act will bring these changes:

  • Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras
  • Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures
  • Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation
  • Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care
  • Helps the VA improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures

2022 PACT Act: Understanding Health Care Eligibility and Benefits
PACT Act VA Health Care Eligibility
Gulf War Service – Burn Pits & Other Toxin Exposures Presumptive Conditions
Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions
Ionizing Radiation Exposure
Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water Presumptive Conditions

New Crisis Line Phone Number
The Veterans Crisis Line has a new phone number: Dial 988 then Press 1.

Veterans will still be able to call 1-800-273-8255, then Press 1, chat at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, and text 838255 to reach responders. This change is a result of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020, which requires all telephone service providers in the U.S. to activate 988 by July 16, 2022, for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Because VA administers the Veterans Crisis Line through the Lifeline's national network, the Veterans Crisis Line is affected by this transition. The new, shorter number directly addresses the need for ease of access and clarity in times of crisis, both for Veterans and non-Veterans alike. Though the number is changing, the Veterans Crisis Line dedicated service is still the same. The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7, 365 days a year to provide confidential crisis support to Veterans and their loved ones.

Post 9/11 Veteran Service Bonus
The 2022 Legislature passed the first-ever Veterans Omnibus Bill that included funding for a service bonus payable to eligible Veterans who served from 9/11/2001 to 8/30/2021. The application opened July 7, 2022 and will run until June 30, 2024, or until funds have been exhausted. There are three tiers of this bonus: $600, $1,200 and $2,000. For more information, visit here. To apply, visit here

VA Community Care Update for Veterans, Family Member and Caregivers

Emergency Visit Notification Call Center Now Available
In an emergency, Veterans should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. Veterans do not need to check with VA before calling for an ambulance or going to an emergency room. An important part of determining eligibility for VA payment for community emergency care visits is prompt notification of VA with three days of the visit. To help this process, starting June 8, 2020, VA has established a single national location, the Community Care Centralized Call Center, to accept reports of Veterans visits to an emergency department. VA is asking that all community hospitals and/or community providers notify the Call Center when a Veteran visits an emergency department. Community hospitals and providers can report emergency visits to VA either by email at: VHAEmergencyNotification@va.gov or by phone at 1-844-72HRVHA (844-724-7842).

Please print and keep the following reference card available so you or your family members can assist community hospitals in reporting this information:  Veteran Emergency Notification Reminder Card

Urgent Care Transitions from Tri-West to Optum
As part of the contractor transition underway in Community Care Network (CCN) Region 2, beginning June 30, 2020, community urgent care benefits will be solely administered by Optum instead of TriWest. While the contractor is changing there is no change to the urgent care benefit or the way Veterans access care. Eligible Veterans can receive care from an in-network community urgent care provider, the provider is part of VA's contracted network of providers, and services are not excluded under the benefit (excluded services include preventative services and dental services).

View complete VA Community Care Update here.

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