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Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced a critical step forward in providing an easier process for Veterans seeking health care and disability compensation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with the publication of a final regulation in the Federal Register. “This nation has a solemn obligation to the men and women who have honorably served this country and suffer from the often devastating emotional wounds of war,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “This final regulation goes a long way to ensure that Veterans receive the benefits and services they need.” By publishing a final regulation in the Federal Register to simplify the process for a Veteran to claim service connection for PTSD, VA reduces the evidence needed if the trauma claimed by a Veteran is related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the Veteran’s service. This ... keep reading »
  Break out the balloons! Sunday marks the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the law that guarantees equal opportunity for the nearly 54 million Americans with disabilities. Signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, the ADA touches many areas of life, including employment. Hold on, did that balloon just deflate? I’ve just read the most recent employment numbers for the 13 million working-age Americans with disabilities. In June, only 23 percent of disabled people had jobs, vs. 72 percent of those without disabilities. This makes me wonder, is the nearly 20-year-old ADA really helping? The disabled unemployment rate – currently at 14.3 percent — has steadily declined since the passage of the ADA. Disability-friendly companies like IBM, Wal-Mart and Ernst & Young openly hire qualified people with disabilities, and from high-profile disability organizations like the U.S. Business Leadership Network. More employers are aware of disability, reasonable accommodation and ... keep reading »
The New York Times reported that veterans who use Veterans Affairs’ health care system and have a disability that requires equipment being added to their homes — such as wheelchair ramps — can get their bills paid in full by the VA. “Your V.A. doctor can refer you to a specialist who will come to your home and determine what changes need to be made. The V.A. will then find someone to make the modifications, at no charge to you. If your home requires permanent changes, like a ramp instead of front steps, you will have to apply for a Home Improvements and Structural Alterations grant, said Neal Eckrich, the National Prosthetic Program Manager for the V.A. The grants range from $1,200 to $4,100. If your income in the past has been slightly too high to qualify for V.A. health benefits, you should check the new limits. The income thresholds were raised ... keep reading »
Today’s the day! The U.S. Business Leadership Network, a national B2B disability organization, is launching a soft pilot of a new certification program for disability-owned businesses. Yes, you heard it right: The BLN’s new Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE) certification program will certify companies that undergo a rigorous application process and meet strict criteria, including being 51 percent or more owned and operated by a disabled person, including service-disabled veterans. According to John Kemp, BLN’s executive director, the DOBE program is the first of its kind, and will be accepted as the “gold standard” by which U.S. companies, federal and government agencies make corporate supply chain and procurement decisions. The program is modeled off the Women-Owned Business Enterprise, a program run by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council that’s is recognized by more than 1,000 U.S. companies. Business Leadership Network has affiliates around the country. DOBE certification is a great resource for corporations ... keep reading »
Kicking off its second year, the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities will hold summer sessions around the country to teach recent veterans on how to start a business or new career. The first group of 20 veterans has reported for duty at Florida State University’s College of Business. They’ll immerse themselves in entrepreneurship ideas and concepts during the week-long program, which is run by faculty and successful entrepreneurs. Veterans will also get to hear from professionals in various industries about entrepreneurship. In this the second year of the program, the students will hear a keynote address by a 2008 boot camp graduate, J.R. Martinez, who attended the program to learn how to market his persona and now is a regular cast member on the television show “All My Children.” The EBV program begins with a three-week online course and culminates in the on-campus residency “boot camp.” There is ... keep reading »
More than 300,000 soldiers are expected to return from recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with either Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a Traumatic Brain Injury. The National Council on Disability released a report recommending changes in the continuum of health care provided to service members and veterans with either condition. The report, titled Invisible Wounds, addresses the experiences of service members and veterans at risk of developing PTSD and TBI. Although PTSD and TBI have different origins—PTSD is caused by exposure to extreme stress, whereas TBI is caused by blast exposure or other head injury—they are closely related, NCD Chairperson John Vaughn says not enough is being done to prepare for the effects of TBS and PTSD on families and the healthcare system. “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are resulting in injuries that are disabling many service members, and are potentially disabling for still more. These injuries ... keep reading »
The Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University is expanding its Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities to a fifth college. The Krannert School of Management at Purdue University will Syracuse and three other schools: The University of California Los Angeles. Florida State University, and Texas A&M University. The program, the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, began in 2008. Program participants work on homework, reading assignments, and online learning activities before arriving on campus for a residency that lasts about a week. “With the addition of Purdue University, we will again increase the opportunities for small business ownership for the men and women who gave so much for our country.” Melvin Stith, dean of the Whitman School. said in a news release. Companies that hire MBAs have shown particular interest in the programs for disabled vets. Ernst & Young, the global consulting firm, is recruiting well-known entrepreneurs ... keep reading »
Retired U.S. General Eric K. Shinseki, the new Veterans Affairs secretary, said he will work reduce the six-month delays in paying veterans’ disability claims, and he wants to move quickly toward an all-electronic claims system that could accelerate the process. In a recent testimony to Congress, Shinseki said the VA is looking at a major switch that would phase out paper processing, possibly by 2012. In the meantime, the VA will hire 1,100 more staff this year to deal with the backlog of cases. “This is a brute-force solution,” Shinseki told the House Veterans Affairs Committee, adding that a technological format is needed “to ensure timely, accurate consistent decision-making on behalf of our veterans. Shinseki also said he was launching a topdown review of his embattled department and reiterated his promise to submit a “credible and adequate 2010 budget request” that will be cost-effective while fully sensitive to veterans in need. keep reading »
Before I start blogging about the gadgets and devices that I discovered at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in Orlando, I wanted to write about something I have been chewing on for the last 24 hours, which has ultimately altered the way I am going to approach my upcoming book, The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology (due out in late 2009). While there were lots of cool, new technologies exhibited at ATIA, I also had the chance to attend a half-dozen seminars that, when tied all together, painted a fantastic yet mostly under-reported picture of the future of assistive technology and the driving forces that will allow people with disabilities — whether they are born with one, have been injured during a war, or are experiencing the effects of aging — to live longer and more fruitful lives. Here are five trends that today are shaping the assistive ... keep reading »
President-elect Barack Obama formally announced Sunday that retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki is his pick to be secretary of Veterans Affairs. Obama chose Shinseki, 66, over front-runner Tammy Duckworth, who many believed would be chosen as Obama’s secretary. A decorated veteran, Gen. Shinseki served two combat tours in Vietnam and lost part of his foot. Shinseki has been cited as an example by Pentagon critics who say the former Army chief’s advice was ignored in 2003, resulting in too few U.S. troops being sent to Iraq after the invasion.” The Washington Post obtained a private letter that Gen. Shinseki wrote to Donald Rumsfeld in June 2003 just before stepping down as chief of staff, in which he wrote that “Without people in the equation, readiness and transformation are little more than academic exercises.” The letter was never publicly released. On Meet the Press on Sunday, Mr. Obama said there is ... keep reading »

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