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VOW to Hire Heroes Update:
The House VA Committee this week discussed progress being made by VA and Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training in meeting the goals of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act. A critical provision of the law, the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, or VRAP, is set to launch on July 1. VRAP allows qualifying veterans to receive up to 12 months of assistance equal to the full-time Montgomery GI Bill active duty rate. Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) asked senior officials from VA and DOL/VETS to testify on VRAP and how they intend to reach eligible veterans and promote the program for maximum enrollment. The VOW Act authorized 99,000 training positions for veterans under the program. VFW played a critical role in getting this employment legislation passed into law and will continue monitoring its progress. To learn more about the hearing and to learn more about VRAP, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/06/va-and-labor-officials-update-congress.html 
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House Passes VA Funding: 
By a vote of 407-12, the House Thursday night overwhelming passed the Military Construction/VA funding bill despite threats of a veto by the Administration. To see how your representative voted, click on http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2012/
. The bill, H.R. 5854, provides $146.4 billion dollars for FY 2013, which is a 10-percent increase above last year's levels. VA funding includes $54.5 in Advanced Appropriations for medical care, a boost for medical services and increases for jobs and disability programs for veterans. House members voted to withhold funding on the DOD-VA integrated medical record project until both departments implement recommendations made by GAO earlier this year. It also provides:
* $6.2 billion for mental health services
* $5.8 billion for homeless veterans programs 
* $35 million for continued research on the effects of PTSD and TBI
* $174 million for expansion of Arlington National Cemetery
* $1.1 billion for major and minor construction projects
* $1.7 billion for family and military personnel housing 
For the committee press release and a list of amendments, go to 

PTSD Update:
There are two basic steps to receive a disability from the Veterans Administration for PTSD. The first step is filing a claim with the VA for PTSD. The second, and most Important, is submitting a stressor letter. Most combat veterans do not trust the government or the VA. This is understandable considering the treatment most veterans received during and after the Vietnam War. But the VA has improved in most places, and the benefits are there for the combat veterans. The VA does not go looking for the combat veteran with PTSD. You mush push aside any bad feelings and make the effort to receive the earned benefits. The Order of the Silver Rose organization provides guidance on completing these two steps which can be found at
/agento/ptsd.html or in the attachment to this Bulletin titled, ?Obtaining VA Benefits for PTSD? Also, at http://www.vietnamresearch.com/
agento/vvaptsd.html can be found additional information that could be useful in planning your approach to obtain benefits.

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VA Medical Marijuana Policy Update 04:     
More veterans are backing the fight that would 
include PTSD as a qualifying condition for legal
medical marijuana programs in 17 states, according to a USA 
Today article
While some doctors and veterans disagree on the effectiveness of cannabis as PTSD 
treatment, the approval remains a complicated issue because it involves the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and 
potential federal oversight. The USA TODAY article quotes veterans who have gone through the tricky VA process 
of receiving and using medical marijuana for PTSD. In 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) formally 
allowed the use of medical
marijuana by patients being treated in medical facilities located in states where the use of 
marijuana for medical purposes has been legalized. However, since the use of marijuana for any purpose – medical 
or otherwise – still remains illegal under federal law, VA doctors cannot recommend it for treatment. Despite this 
directive, however, there are still VA patients who choose to buy and ingest marijuana illegally, as opposed to 
signing up with state medical marijuana programs. Paula Pedene, a spokeswoman with the Arizona VA hospital, 
shared: “They live in a place that has passed this law, and it’s their choice to use it… The question is: How can we 
co-manage their care?”
   Pedene shared further that the VA does not keep track of patients who reveal their participation in the medical 
marijuana program. They also do not report them to such federal agencies as the U.S. Department of Justice or the 
Drug Enforcement Administration, both of which do not support medical marijuana.   In Arizona veterans are 
pushing for the inclusion of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for theit state’s medical 
marijuana program. At this time, Arizona’s medical marijuana law only allows the use of pot for such debilitating 
conditions as chronic pain and cancer, among others.  Dr. Sue Sisley, an internist in private practice and assistant 
professor of psychiatry and internal medicine at the University of Arizona, shared that medical pot is effective. 

The new GI Bill, passed in
2008,  is now in effect.
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