Electronic record system earns VA innovation award
The Department of Veterans Affairs received a 2006 Innovations in Government award. What was the innovation?
Answer: The VA system of electronic health records, developed with involvement of health-care providers, won the award. Outside of VA, because patient records are not readily available, one out of seven Americans ends up hospitalized when outpatient care is all that's needed. For the same reason, one out of five lab tests is needlessly repeated outside the VA system. As an example, many of the thousands of residents who fled the Gulf Coast because of Hurricane Katrina left behind vital health records. Records for the 40,000 veterans in the area were almost immediately available to clinicians across the country, even though the VA Medical Center in Gulfport, Miss., was destroyed and the New Orleans VA Medical Center was closed and evacuated.
Q: My husband, who was a vet, recently passed away. I heard the VA provides a death pension for the survivors. Can you elaborate?
A: VA provides pensions to low-income surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased veterans with wartime service. To be eligible, spouses must not have remarried and children must be under age 18, or under age 23 if attending a VBA-approved school, or have become permanently incapable of self-support because of disability before age 18. The veteran must have an honorable discharge and must have had 90 days or more of active military service, at least one day of which was during a period of war, or a service-connected disability justifying discharge. Longer periods of service may be required for veterans who entered active duty on or after Sept. 8, 1980, or Oct. 16, 1981, if an officer. If the veteran died in service but not in the line of duty, death pension may be payable if the veteran had completed at least two years of honorable service. For information on death pensions, contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000.
If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.