Welcome to your Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs

We are committed to providing you with the information you need and invite you to use us as your resource if you or someone you know needs assistance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Making a Year of Service the American Way of Life

In March, 2014 WDVA’s VetCorps joins the Nation’s Leading National Service Organizations in a campaign to show how AmeriCorps members are making an impact on some of our nation’s toughest issues.  From disaster relief and veteran reintegration to college access and childhood nutrition, AmeriCorps has engaged writers and producers in Hollywood who are ready to tell these stories. Our goal is simple, but ambitious: We envision a day when young Americans turn to each other and ask, “Where will your year of national service be?”

As one of the faces in this campaign, WDVA’s VetCorps is being highlighted for our work in Empowering Veterans! 

Over the next three years, ServiceNation will lead this initiative, engaging entertainment companies and TV show executives in an effort to integrate powerful stories of service by AmeriCorps members into the scripts of their shows. Only two weeks ago, AmeriCorps was mentioned in an episode of HBO's True Detective, a direct result of this effort. In the coming months, the campaign plans to roll out other partnerships with humorous digital platforms, YouTube stars, social-minded brands, athletes, celebrities, and more successful integrations that will help tell the story of national service in America.

We also want to hear from you -- share this exciting news with your friends and family on social media using the hashtag #serveAyear. Tell us what you think or if you have a great idea about how AmeriCorps could play a role in your favorite show.

To learn more about this exciting campaign, check out http://www.serveayear.org/. And to find a VetCorps member near you, visit: http://www.dva.wa.gov/vet_conservation_corps.html Stay Tuned!

Monday, March 24, 2014

VA Eliminates Veterans’ Annual Financial Reporting Requirement (Means Test)

Beginning in March 2014, most Veterans will no longer be required to complete the annual financial assessment known as a Means Test. Instead, VA will receive income information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA), and will contact the Veterans only if the information received indicates a change in their VA health benefits may be appropriate. However, Veterans who are eligible for enrollment only because their income is below an established threshold will be required to complete a means test when applying for VA health care enrollment.

What is Changing?

Beginning in March 2014, most Veterans will no longer be required to complete the annual financial assessment known as a Means Test.
Under the new process, Veterans will be required to have one financial assessment on file – their current file if they’re already enrolled, or the assessment they provide when they
apply. That assessment will be maintained and monitored by VA and updated only as substantial income changes occur.

VA will receive income information from the IRS and SSA, and will contact the Veteran only when the information received indicates a change in VA health benefits may be appropriate. Consistent with VA’s current income verification processes, no changes to the Veteran’s health benefits will occur unless the review process confirms the Veteran’s income exceeds applicable thresholds.

Veterans applying for enrollment for the first time are still required to submit income information.

There is no change in VA’s long-standing policy to provide no-cost care to indigent Veterans, Veterans with catastrophic medical conditions, Veterans with a disability rating of 50 percent or higher, or for conditions that are officially rated as “service-connected.”

If at any time the Veteran’s financial status changes, the Veteran may submit an updated financial assessment. VA encourages Veterans to continue to report changes in their income information as well as their personal information, such as address, phone numbers, dependents, next of kin, and health insurance using VA Form 1010EZR available online or at their local medical center.

Veterans may contact their local VA health care facility or call VA’s toll-free number at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).


Monday, December 30, 2013

A Call for Applicants: Rebuilding Together Seattle - Guest Blog

Dear Friends,
Happy Holidays from Rebuilding Together Seattle!  On behalf of our organization, I wanted to thank you for your support of our programs in recent years.  Your efforts to refer clients to our organization are truly appreciated.  Last year, Rebuilding Together Seattle was able to help 98 families in the greater Seattle area with free home repairs – 35 more than the previous year.  This year we hope to help 112 families in need.  We are (again) asking for your help in meeting this goal.

Our office has begun the process of planning for our Spring programs, including our 24th Annual Spring Rebuilding Day (Saturday, April 26, 2014), where we hope to help 27 homeowners in the greater Seattle area with the support of over 1,000 volunteers.   We also hope to help 30 more families through our year-round maintenance program, Safe at Home, and 16 more families through our Team Build program by June 30thWe are currently in need of more applicants to consider for all of our programs.  

This year, Rebuilding Together Seattle has made a number of changes to our programs and operations in order to serve more homeowners in need of our services than ever before.  We have reduced our average wait list time by more than 50%.  Through the expansion of our year-round maintenance program (Safe at Home), we are often able to serve homeowners within just a couple weeks of having been approved for our programs.   RTS has also made adjustments to some of our basic qualifications.  Through our partnership with the King County Emergency Medical Service (One Step Ahead Fall Prevention program; 206-263-8544), we are now able to provide grab bar installations for homeowners throughout the county.   Likewise, we have increased our income guidelines for veterans and their families from 50% to 80% of the HUD very low income guidelines for the Seattle metro area.  Rebuilding Together Seattle is proud to be the only comprehensive and free home and nonprofit facility rehabilitation organization in our area, and we look forward to continuing our missing of bringing together volunteers and communities to help low income homeowners live in warmth, safety, and independence.

While Rebuilding Together Seattle accepts applications year round, we are requesting that interested homeowners apply ASAP or by January 17, 2014 to be considered for our Spring programs.  www.rtseattle.org  Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.  Rebuilding Together Seattle is happy to visit your office in person to talk about our programs in greater detail, or deliver program fliers and/or homeowner applications upon your request.   Thank you in advance for your support!

Margie Thirlby
Executive Director, Rebuilding Together Seattle
811 Harrison St, Seattle, 98109
P: (206) 682.1231 F: (206) 682.8962

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Veterans to Receive 1.5 Percent Cost-of-Living Increase

WASHINGTON: Veterans, their families and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in their monthly payments beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

“We’re pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for Veterans, their families and their survivors,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The increase expresses in a tangible way our Nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service-disabled and wartime Veterans.”

For the first time, payments will not be rounded down to the nearest dollar.  Until this year, that was required by law.  Veterans and survivors will see additional cents included in their monthly compensation benefit payment. 

For Veterans without dependents, the new compensation rates will range from $130.94 monthly for a disability rated at 10 percent to $2,858.24 monthly for 100 percent.  The full rates are available on the Internet at www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/rates-index.asp.

The COLA increase also applies to disability and death pension recipients, survivors receiving dependency and indemnity compensation, disabled Veterans receiving automobile and clothing allowances, and other benefits. 

Under federal law, cost-of-living adjustments for VA’s compensation and pension must match those for Social Security benefits.  The last adjustment was in January 2013 when the Social Security benefits rate increased 1.7 percent.

In fiscal year 2013, VA provided over $59 billion in compensation benefits to nearly 4 million Veterans and survivors, and over $5 billion in pension benefits to more than 515,000 Veterans and survivors. 

For Veterans and separating Servicemembers who plan to file an electronic disability claim, VA urges them to use the joint DoD/VA online portal, eBenefits.  Registered eBenefits users with a premium account can file a claim online, track the status, and access a variety of other benefits, including pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.

For more information about VA benefits, visit www.benefits.va.gov, or call 1-800-827-1000.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Washington Veterans Home Receives Donation of Cutting-Edge Rehab Equipment

ICARE: Intelligently Controlled Assisted Rehabilitation Elliptical - Talk about a mouth-full!
The Madonna ICARE by Sports Art is a highly functional and affordable, therapeutic, motorized elliptical trainer used in hospitals, fitness facilities and homes to help people of all abilities, even those with very limited mobility, regain or improve their ability to walk and enhance their cardiovascular fitness.

Kourtney Kerr, sales representative for SportsArtAmerica from Pompano Beach, Florida and Brant Wacker, delivery and installation technician for SportsArtAmerica half-way through set-up of ICARE Elliptical Trainer.

The ICARE was delivered and installed into the Rehabilitation Gym at the Washington Veterans Home last week, possible through a generous donation of the equipment from SportsArt Fitness in Woodinville, WA.
The ICARE system is the product of collaboration between Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, one of the nation’s foremost facilities for medical rehabilitation and research, and SportsArt Fitness, an international manufacturer of premium exercise and rehabilitation equipment.

(l-r)Don Underhill, Brant Wacker and Kourtney Kerr of SportsArtAmerica setting up the new ICARE Elliptical Trainer.

Mr. Kourtney Kerr, ICARE sales representative came all the way from Pompano Beach FL to help set-up the machine and deliver training to the Skilled Therapy staff and the Restorative staff.

Steps on left and wheelchair ramp on the right make it easily accessible.

We are really excited to have this equipment and have a chance to partner with Dr. Judith Burnfield, PT, PhD; director of the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering and the Movement and Neurosciences Center at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska and developer of this particular piece of equipment.

Our Veterans and their family members will definitely benefit from this very generous donation.

 Kourtney Kerr, Sales rep for SportsArt instructs WDVA staff on use of the ICARE
(l-r) Tina Chilson-RA, Bella Rose-PT/A, Tracy Parker-RA, Luis Balbosa-RA.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Spare Wheelchairs find New Purpose

WDVA recently partnered with Veterans & Friends of Puget Sound and the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 23 to donate wheelchairs left behind by veterans or their families at the Washington Veterans Home, Retsil or the Washington Soldiers Home, Orting.
DAV Chapter 23 was able to offer many of these wheelchairs to the VA Medical Center Seattle Campus where they will help transport veterans to and from appointments at the VAMC.

Pictured left to right: Lael Hepworth, Superintendent of the WA Soldiers Home; Marvin Burnett, Commander DAV Post 23 and Jeff Spoclstra, DAV Chapter 23 
Our Veterans Homes we will continue working with the Veterans & Friends of Puget Sound and DAV Chapter 23 to ensure any chairs donated by veterans or their family members are provided to organizations or veterans who need them.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Quilts of Valor - July Display at Secretary of State's Office

Quilts of Valor groups across the State of Washington submitted more than 30 quilts to be considered for display in the Secretary of State’s office during the month of July.

On July 2, a public ceremony was held in the Secretary of State’s lobby to open the display of the 13 quilts chosen. The ceremony can be viewed on TVW .

Secretary of State Kim Wyman said she felt honored to have on display these beautiful quilts that are handmade by the volunteers from across Washington as a way to honor and thank veterans and wounded warriors for their service and sacrifice in keeping America safe.

Six of the quilts were presented to soldiers from the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis McChord. Woody Stone, Outreach Coordinator of the WTB thanked the quilters and said, “Our soldiers are going through transitions.  When I see all the love that comes from the quilts, it is exciting to see how our communities come together and really support the soldiers.”

The six soldiers who received a quilt at the event were: Specialist Cyril Suh originally from Cameroon; Specialist Artis Larry, Missouri; Private First Class Samantha Terrazas, Wyoming; Private First Class Bryan Box, California; Private First Class Shane Pires, Michigan; and Private First Class Christian Barnett, California.

The Quilts of Valor program began in 2003 with a mission to “cover all warriors and combat veterans who have been touched by war or wounded with healing and comforting Quilts of Valor”. To date, more than 87,000 quilts have been presented.
 Thanks so much to Secretary of State Kim Wyman for hosting this beautiful exhibit and recognizing the Volunteers of the Quilts of Valor and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces!

Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs stands in front of the beautiful quilt presented to PFC Samantha Terrazas from Wyoming.