By Chanda Johnson and Walter Weathers
On Saturday, May 11, 2019, the local Jesse Brown VA and Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) joined the America’s Heroes Group radio talk show to discuss enhancements to veterans care through two sources. The first is the “VA MISSION Act” and face-to-face interaction with veterans via the “Public Contact Team” for VA claims.
The panelists were Director Marc Magill and Community Care Business Manager Alex Higgs from Jesse Brown VA. Director Hughes S. Turner and Public Contact Supervisor Madaline Haywood joined from VBA.
Jesse Brown VA panelists discussed how the MISSION Act will strengthen the VA’s ability to deliver timely, trusted, high quality care at VA facilities, virtually through telehealth, and in their communities allowing veterans to get the care and services they need, where and when they need them.
MISSION Act stands for Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks. Six areas will be enhanced through the MISSION ACT to improve access to care to include health care eligibility, community care partnerships, access to urgent/walk-in care, co-payments and insurance. Veterans will be able to schedule their own appointments as part of improvements to access and quality standards. Lastly, there will be updates for clinical and non-clinical appeals to improve the complaint and appeals process.
The MISSION Act is not about privatizing VA but more about giving veterans options and easy access to care. Implementation for the VA MISSION Act will begin on June 6, 2019.
Madaline Haywood and Hughes S. Turner from the Veterans Benefits Administration explained the operations of the Public Contact Team (PCT), which included explaining that it is done face-to-face. PCT, as the name implies uses face to face interactions with veterans and their dependents to assist with inquiries about VA Claims, obtaining DD214 and other VA related inquiries and paperwork.
In addition to assisting the veterans with face-to-face interactions, the team also assist with congressional inquiries, White House inquiries and conducts outreach within the community. “PCT finds it rewarding when we can conduct claims clinics in urban and remote areas. The claims clinics allow us to take the VA to those veterans who have difficulty making it to our Chicago office. The Public Contact Team can be considered a full-service team when it comes to meeting the needs of our nation’s veterans,” said Chandra Johnson.
The Department of Veteran Affairs consist of three Administrations geared toward caring for the veteran at different stages in life. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) manages one of the largest healthcare systems in the world. The Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA) supplies compensation and vocational assistance to disabled veterans. The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) honors veterans with a final resting place and lasting memorials that commemorate their service. Working as ONE under the VA, these administrations proudly provide responsive, timely, and compassionate service to those who served our nation.
For additional questions, contact the Veteran Benefits Administration at 312-980-4583.
Visit missionact.VA.gov or call 312-569-8387 for details on the VA MISSION Act. The VBA Chicago Regional Office is co-located with the Jesse Brown VA at 2122 West Taylor. The VBA office is open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.