Metro-East News

Roger That: New program allows veterans to work directly with VA to resolve debt collection problems

Mike Fitzgerald
Mike Fitzgerald

Veterans can now work directly with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to resolve debt collection issues resulting from inappropriate or delayed Choice Program billing, the VA has announced.

In step with MyVA’s efforts to modernize VA’s customer-focused, Veteran-centered services capabilities, a Community Care Call Center has been set up for veterans experiencing adverse credit reporting or debt collection resulting from inappropriately billed Choice Program claims. Veterans experiencing these problems can call 1-877-881-7618 for assistance.

The new call center will help resolve instances of improper veteran billing and assist community care medical providers with delayed payments. VA staff are also trained and ready to work with the medical providers to expunge adverse credit reporting on veterans resulting from delayed payments to providers. The VA urges veterans to keep working with their VA primary care team to obtain necessary health care services regardless of adverse credit reporting or debt collection activity.

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Military commanders in Iraq are drafting plans for U.S. troops to accompany Iraqi brigades as they move to retake Mosul from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to two U.S. defense officials, according to The Hill.

If the plans are approved, it would be a significant change for U.S. troops, who would be able to get much closer to the front lines of what is expected to be a fierce battle for Iraq’s second largest city.

U.S. forces are working with Iraqi security forces at the division-level or above with a few exceptions. President Obama has said U.S. forces will be kept out of combat. The new plan would see small U.S. teams of about 15 troops embedded with Iraqi brigades as they move closer to Mosul and establish headquarters in preparation for the pending battle.

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Yahoo.com is reporting that Al-Qaida militants swept through a rebel-held town in northern Syria in a display of dominance Sunday, arresting U.S.-backed fighters and looting weapons stores belonging to the Free Syrian Army.

The militants belonging to the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front along with allied jihadists have been moving to exert their authority over rebel-held areas in Idlib province since a partial ceasefire to the country’s five-year conflict took effect two weeks ago, extinguishing patriotic demonstrations and sidelining nationalist militias.

The FSA’s 13th Division said on Twitter Sunday that Nusra fighters were going door to door in the town of Maarat Numan and arresting its cadres after Nusra, alongside fighters from the Jund al-Aqsa faction, seized Division 13 posts the night before.

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Department of Labor officials are moving to cut off unemployment checks for veterans attending college on the GI Bill after lawmakers quietly approved the cost-cutting move last December, according to Military Times.

But exactly when and how the change will take place remains a frustrating mystery to federal and state officials and to veterans advocates who unsuccessfully argued against the idea.

Language inserted in the final draft of last year’s National Defense Authorization Act specifies that veterans receiving Post-9/11 GI Bill education payouts should not also be eligible for unemployment insurance. An exception was carved out for veterans involuntarily separated from the military under honorable conditions.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays not only tuition for student veterans but also a living stipend, equal to the Basic Allowance for Housing regional payouts for an E-5 with dependents. That ranges from around $1,100 in areas around Ohio State University to more than $4,000 a month for individuals living near San Francisco State University.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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