The international news agency Reuters is reporting that a whistleblower within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has alleged that about 34,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars lost their benefits eligibility because officials intentionally sat on applications for up to five years, in some cases until they expired.
Scott Davis, a program specialist at the department's enrollment center in Atlanta, has accused the VA of purposely delaying action on 34,000 veteran benefit applications because they did not include verified income information, data that is not required for veterans to receive benefits.
Davis reportedly told U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., that 18,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan were waiting to hear about their pending applications, while 16,000 others lost eligibility after the VA ignored their applications for five years.
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A provision in the House’s three-month highway bill would temporarily relieve a $3 billion shortfall at the Department of Veterans Affairs, preventing VA hospitals from closing in August, according to The Hill.
The House is expected to vote on the bill, which extends highway funding until the end of October and provides a short-term fix to the VA until Oct. 1.
Republicans attached provisions to the measure that allows the VA to shift nearly $3.4 billion to the department’s Care in the Community Program, which outsources medical care for veterans. The measure also includes a maximum of $500 million for pharmaceutical expenses relating to treatment of Hepatitis C.
Just before the climactic final scene of the classic shark movie Jaws (1975), Quint, the grizzled shark hunter, delivers a chilling monologue about the events of one of the most disastrous events in U.S. Navy history.
It happened 70 years ago today, on July 30, 1945. That’s when Quint and his crewmates aboard the SS Indianapolis plunged into the Pacific Ocean after two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine sank the heavy cruiser.
“The vessel went down in 12 minutes,” Quint says as eery music swells in the background. “Didn’t see the first shark for about half-an-hour. A tiger. A 13-footer.”
The S.S. Indianapolis was outbound from the island of Tinian after delivering parts to the air base for the first atomic bomb. Such was the level of secrecy surrounding the mission, the doomed ship didn’t send a distress signal when it began sinking.
Of the 1,196 crewmen aboard, about 300 went down with the ship. And of the nearly 900 men who survived the initial sinking, two-thirds died from exposure, dehydration and, most ominously, shark attacks.
“At first light, chief, the sharks coming cruising,” recalls Quint, played by the superb actor Robert Shaw. “Sometimes that shark looks right into you, right into your eyes....And then you hear that horrible high-pitch screaming and the ocean turns red. In spite of all the pounding and hollering, they all come in to rip you to pieces. ... Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”
Only 317 men were still alive when the crew of a Navy patrol plane spotted them four days later. The deaths of the 879 sailors who served aboard the Indianapolis represented the greatest loss of life in Navy history.
Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at email@example.com or 618-239-2533.