May 26, 2015

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear SGT Shaft,
My mother is a widow beneficiary of CHAMPVA. She called many times before to Puerto Rico Veterans Affairs Office with no luck telling her they don’t work with Champva there. They instructed her to call Champva in USA but she don’t speak English at all.

My question is if there is any advancements for Puerto Rico beneficiaries regarding the use of this program.

As far as I understand, it should work exactly as the Medicare and Tricare, but almost all providers don’t know either about the program.

Have a great day.
Manuel B
Via the internet

Dear Manual,
I now it can be frustrating trying to find doctors when many are not aware of the VA CHAMPVA program. The CHAMPVA program is closely aligned with the Tricare and Medicare programs. Finding a doctor may be possible by searching for doctors in your area that accept Tricare or Medicare. Start with the Medicare doctors. See this VA web site ( to help understand the process of finding a doctor. In the first paragraph are the links to the Medicare and Tricare doctor locator sites. Use the Medicare doctor locator to find a doctor in your area. I searched and found several. Also the Tricare help line for your area is (800) 444-5445. Print a copy of the VA web site above and take it with you when you go to a doctor to help explain the situation. Finally, here are the VA contacts in Puerto Rico ( to help locate a local specialist in VA programs. I hope this ideas help.

Shaft Notes
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald, with leaders from national and local Veterans service organizations, corporate employers and government agencies, announced the launch of the Veterans Economic Communities Initiative, an effort focused in a total of 50 U.S. cities to promote economic success for Veterans.

The initiative is part of MyVA, which is dedicated to making Veterans the center of all we do.

“The best way to get things done for Veterans is to involve partners from both the public and private sectors – national to local,” said McDonald.  “If history has shown us anything, it’s that all you have to do is give Veterans an opportunity and they will go beyond anything you could ever envision.  Community leaders understand the purpose of MyVA and will find innovative ways to support it.”

The goal of the VECI is to increase education and employment opportunities for America’s Veterans by bringing together local and national employers to coordinate services for Veterans, Servicemembers and military families.

With the sacred commitment of making customer service for Veterans the focal point, VA will look to communities around the country to help make the VA the best federal agency.

“MyVA will work State by state, community by community, person by person,” said McDonald.  “We want to expand our reach and collaboration in communities where Veterans live.”

The Veterans Economic Communities Initiative launch event was hosted in Dallas. Secretary McDonald and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings provided remarks, during the event. Campaign partners also participated in panel discussions on public-private partnerships.

Representatives from major corporations such as Hilton and TriWest joined Secretary McDonald in pledging their commitment to furthering Veteran economic opportunities.

The Veterans Economic Communities Initiative includes a VA Economic Liaison in each community who will expand and encourage collaboration among private and public organizations that offer resources related to education, training and employment. Through strategic partnerships, and by offering Veterans innovative forms of learning and employment opportunities, these communities will help Veterans gain competitive career skills and knowledge in locally in-demand fields.

Campaign partners include the departments of Defense and Labor, the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in addition to regional and national nonprofits, businesses and educators.

Representative Gus Bilirakis, Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today lauded passage of H.R. 2256, the Veterans Information Modernization Act, in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. This legislation included a provision based on legislation introduced by Congressman Bilirakis, titled the Creating Options for Veterans’ Expedited Recovery (COVER) Act. Bilirakis’ bipartisan provision will establish a commission to examine VA’s current therapy model and the potential benefits in incorporating complementary alternative therapies. This bill passed by unanimous consent.

“While it is vital that Veterans receive the care they need, it is equally important to recognize that one size does not fit all when discussing treatments for Veterans. The invisible wounds they sustain serving our country are just as serious as the physical ones. Many Veterans may thrive under traditional plans and medical care, but some may not be as responsive. We need to provide Veterans with choices, and easy access to alternative forms of therapies that work best for them,” said Bilirakis.

“My bill provides a pathway forward that will eventually allow Veterans to have a range of options for mental health treatments such as outdoor sports therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, accelerated resolution therapy, and service dog therapy.”

H.R. 475, GI Bill Processing Improvement Act, also included a provision based on Representative Bilirakis’ legislation, H.R. 643 Veterans Education Survey Act. The GI Bill Processing Improvement Act passed by unanimous consent.

“In order to positively change a program, it is crucial that legislators know which aspects educational benefits are working, and which are not,” Bilirakis said. “My bill will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of veterans’ GI benefits. Enhancing educational opportunities for our veterans is an integral aspect of their reintegration into civilian life. Learning new skills, combined with the tools these veterans have gained from their service, will further assist their transition to civilian life. These men and women have served bravely and deserve to be given every opportunity to succeed after they have dutifully served our nation,” continued Bilirakis.


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