Author Topic: VAC in the News  (Read 22546 times)

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Offline Tcm621

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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #100 on: October 10, 2018, 15:45:38 »
One possible option is to keep the 16 week deadline for deciding whether or not a claim is covered. This would allow people who need timely care to start getting it in a reasonable amount of time. Then set a second deadline, of say 30 weeks, for the decision on the disability award. I would prefer for them to sort their crap out but that may never happen.

Offline Rifleman62

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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #101 on: November 06, 2018, 07:44:04 »
Several times n the article the theme
Quote
" If money is left over at the end of the year, these unspent dollars should be transferred to the next year’s budget and targeted specifically to improve services and reduce wait times for veterans and their families".
appears, expressed in different ways. IMHO it sounds like an excuse to hire more Public Service pers to do the same foot dragging in an antiquated system of procedures without ramifications for failing to achieve results. Sleepy Hollow comes to mind.


https://globalnews.ca/news/4631459/ndp-veterans-benefits-motion/

Liberals and Conservatives confirm support for NDP plan to ‘end the theft’ of money meant to help veterans - 5 Nov 18

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says it’s time for the government to stop stealing from Canadian veterans. And both the Liberals and Conservatives agree — money meant to help veterans and their families should no longer go unspent.

In a motion put before the House of Commons Monday, Singh and fellow New Democrats proposed that all money allocated to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) in a specific year should be spent. If money is left over at the end of the year, these unspent dollars should be transferred to the next year’s budget and targeted specifically to improve services and reduce wait times for veterans and their families.

It’s a motion that both Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government say they will support.
“Over the past number of years money is promised to Veterans Affairs, that money has lapsed or not been spent,” Singh said. “That means veterans have been robbed of finances and resources for the services they need. This has to end.” The NDP proposal comes days before Canadians will mark Remembrance Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

It also comes just six weeks after Global News revealed Trudeau’s Liberal government allowed more than $372 million meant to help veterans and their families to go unspent at VAC since taking office in 2015, something then-Liberal leader Trudeau called “wrong” when campaigning to become prime minister. ”The Liberal government promised to address this,” Singh said. “They were standing up with us as New Democrats in opposition saying we cannot accept this treatment of veterans, but now they’re doing the exact same thing.” The $372 million Liberals left unspent at VAC is in addition to the more than $1.1 billion Stephen Harper’s Conservative government left unspent while in office.

If passed, the practice of allowing money to lapse at VAC would effectively end. The NDP plan would also mean about $124 million a year more for veterans and their families, NDP figures show. The money would be targeted toward improving services and reducing wait times and backlogs many veterans face when trying to access benefits. “Veterans have had our back, at a minimum Canada needs to take care of them,” Singh said.

“This [motion] would end the theft of financing and resources for Veterans Affairs and ensure that we actually see the adequate levels of care and response times for veterans who have given so much,” he said. Under the proposed plan, VAC funds left unspent at the end of the year will automatically be carried forward to the next year until the department meets its own prescribed service standards in 12 areas in which it is currently lagging behind. These areas include wait times for decisions on disability benefits, long-term care, career transition and other programs, review and appeal timelines, and what some veterans have described as inadequate response times for VAC’s telephone service.

According to NDP veteran affairs critic, Gord Johns, these improved services will come with no added costs. He says the NDP’s proposal is “non-partisan” and calls the decision to support the plan a “no-brainer.” “Thanking veterans and their families is not enough. Words must be backed by action,” Johns said. “This motion will dramatically improve the lives of veterans and their families at no additional costs to taxpayers,” he said. And while Conservatives had previously left more than a billion unspent at VAC, they announced their support for the plan Monday, with MP Cathay Wagantall saying all members of the Conservative party will vote in favour of the motion.

Meanwhile, Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan indicated the government would also support the motion, saying “we will always have the resources available for veterans.” “When it comes to any motions supporting our veterans, our government will be supporting that motion,” Sajjan said Monday. The government’s support of the plan was confirmed to Global News by VAC spokesperson, John Embury.

Benefits are ‘demand-driven’

When Global News first revealed Liberals had allowed $372 million to go unspent at VAC, a department official said lapsed funding is “simply an administrative process” and doesn’t result in anyone receiving less than they should. The department added that VAC funding is “demand-driven,” meaning that money left over at the end of the year is a result of overestimated demand. This was reiterated by Sajjan.

However, Trudeau previously slammed the Harper government for leaving veterans’ support funds unspent. To a room filled with veterans on the campaign trail in 2015, Trudeau said, “Canadians know that this is wrong. A government led by me would make it right.”

Since taking office, the Liberals have reopened nine Veterans Affairs offices and rehired roughly 470 front-line staff who work closely with veterans. This includes roughly 260 case managers, who serve as the first point of contact for many veterans as they work to access the benefits they need and deserve. The government also says it will invest an additional $10 billion more for veterans than the previous Conservative government had planned to spend. Much of this money will go toward enhancing services and creating new benefits, such as reinstating pensions for life and providing new educational opportunities, according to the government.

Still, with money left unspent each year at VAC, the NDP says it’s time the parties come together to support a plan that will see veterans receive the benefits they “need and deserve.” “And if the service levels were adequate, efficient and they were meeting their own standards then maybe the money wouldn’t need to be spent,” Singh said. “[But it] is not acceptable that veterans are promised funding and that’s effectively robbed from them, year after year.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


 
 


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Offline Rifleman62

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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #102 on: November 07, 2018, 10:20:40 »
Follow-up to previous post.

At the end of the article,
Quote
The NDP says with unspent money at VAC now being carried forward, the number of front-line staff at VAC can increase dramatically, meaning shorter wait times and better outcomes for veterans.
[/b] means, IMO, hiring more unionized staff again, which didn't solve the problem with the previous hires. The funds will be squandered away by VAC administration (VAC administration masturbation, i.e. beating themselves and us to death with paperwork).

In the Act, the benefit of the doubt is to the Veteran. VAC should blitz all the backlogged files. If the claim looks reasonable, expeditiously approve. It may set precedent, but the backlog from January 18 to present will be cleared.

https://globalnews.ca/news/4635188/parliament-veterans-funding/

Parliament unanimously approves plan to stop leaving money unspent at Veterans Affairs Canada - 6 Nov 18

An NDP plan to end the practice of leaving money unspent at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) was unanimously approved by the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon, just five days before Remembrance Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Proposed Monday and voted on Tuesday, the NDP motion says the government should “automatically carry forward all annual lapsed spending at the Department of Veterans Affairs to the next fiscal year, for the sole purpose of improving services for Canadian veterans.” The motion states that any money carried forward should be targeted toward VAC meeting its own standards in the 12 service areas where it is currently failing, including improving wait times for disability benefits, telephone services, vocational training and rehabilitation programs.

As Global News first reported in September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has allowed more than $372 million meant to help veterans and their families go unspent since taking office in November 2015. This is despite promises from then-Liberal leader Trudeau, who in August 2015 said that leaving money meant for veterans unspent was “wrong,” that a government led by him would fix it.

Tuesday, Trudeau made good on that promise. “Our government is and continues to be committed to supporting and honouring Canada’s veterans and their families,” he said. “And of course we will be supporting the NDP motion.” This also follows more than $1.1 billion of unspent funding at VAC during the time Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were in power. According to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, this proposal will “end the theft” at VAC and stop veterans from being “robbed” of the resources they so badly need and deserve. “Over the past number of years money is promised to Veterans Affairs, that money has lapsed or not been spent,” Singh said Monday. “That means veterans have been robbed of finances and resources for the services they need. This has to end.”

While motions passed in the House of Commons are not binding — meaning the government has no legal obligation to stick to the plan — they carry significant meaning. Singh says this plan could mean as much as $124 million a year more for veterans. He also says it’s an important first step in ensuring veterans who’ve sacrificed so much have access to the benefits they need in a timely manner.

Since taking office, Trudeau’s Liberals have reopened nine veteran service offices closed by the Harper Conservatives. The government has also rehired roughly 470 front-line staff — including case managers — who work closely with veterans. The NDP says with unspent money at VAC now being carried forward, the number of front-line staff at VAC can increase dramatically, meaning shorter wait times and better outcomes for veterans.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2018, 18:14:24 by Rifleman62 »
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Offline Teager

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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #103 on: November 07, 2018, 15:27:50 »
Should note that this is non binding for the government. So they can easily walk away from doing this at any time.

Offline dunlop303

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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #104 on: November 07, 2018, 15:50:50 »
That's right, parliament need's to mandate that unspent funds be used - ideally to veteran's benefits / apply a annual excess funds top up ect. and not simply beef up their overhead.
All they have here is approval to hire should they have cash on hand to do so.

Offline Brihard

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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #105 on: November 07, 2018, 21:30:59 »
At the end of the article, means, IMO, hiring more unionized staff again, which didn't solve the problem with the previous hires. The funds will be squandered away by VAC administration (VAC administration masturbation, i.e. beating themselves and us to death with paperwork).

Nothing wrong with hiring more staff, nor is it the staff's fault that they're bound by imposed (and often redundant) process.

They tout their hiring, but they don't mention their attrition. VAC has lost a lot of front line workers and continues to. Part of the problem is that they hire public servants on term, which means no guaranteed job security once their term is up. Quite rightly when March comes and they haven't a guaranteed job for April, they go looking at other departments, reservists working full time for VAC take Class Bs, basically people take the considerable set of skills they build working in that environemnt, and they go elsewhere where they can count on their paycheck. It's a classic public service hiring problem.

As for the lapsing of funds- this is a manufactured issue. VAC lapses a couple percent a year, which is well within the 5% per annum that they are allowed to carry over. With that said, all federal spending comes under the FAA, and is subject to treasury board approval. VAC's budget includes estimates and expectations of statutory program spending. That's spending like disability claims, voc rehab, etc where every case *must* be fiunded and money will be available for it. They overestimate the number of cases / disability %s, they end up below their estimates, and some money is returned. At least they're budgeting more than enough for existing known demands- do we want that to change? Do we want them to budget tighter to avoid the bad but manufactured politics of funding lapses? I personally don't think so.

The backlog (VAClog? (tm)) needs to be tackled. They need more predictable hiring on an indeterminate basis. They need to reduce redundancy such as duplicate medical assessments. They need to knock down barriers to sharing medical files, etc. But approaches to that need to be realistic and nee to be based on how the government legally spends money.
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Offline upandatom

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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #106 on: November 19, 2018, 17:14:57 »
Follow-up to previous post.

At the end of the article, means, IMO, hiring more unionized staff again, which didn't solve the problem with the previous hires. The funds will be squandered away by VAC administration (VAC administration masturbation, i.e. beating themselves and us to death with paperwork).

In the Act, the benefit of the doubt is to the Veteran. VAC should blitz all the backlogged files. If the claim looks reasonable, expeditiously approve. It may set precedent, but the backlog from January 18 to present will be cleared.

https://globalnews.ca/news/4635188/parliament-veterans-funding/

Parliament unanimously approves plan to stop leaving money unspent at Veterans Affairs Canada - 6 Nov 18

An NDP plan to end the practice of leaving money unspent at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) was unanimously approved by the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon, just five days before Remembrance Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Proposed Monday and voted on Tuesday, the NDP motion says the government should “automatically carry forward all annual lapsed spending at the Department of Veterans Affairs to the next fiscal year, for the sole purpose of improving services for Canadian veterans.” The motion states that any money carried forward should be targeted toward VAC meeting its own standards in the 12 service areas where it is currently failing, including improving wait times for disability benefits, telephone services, vocational training and rehabilitation programs.

As Global News first reported in September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has allowed more than $372 million meant to help veterans and their families go unspent since taking office in November 2015. This is despite promises from then-Liberal leader Trudeau, who in August 2015 said that leaving money meant for veterans unspent was “wrong,” that a government led by him would fix it.

Tuesday, Trudeau made good on that promise. “Our government is and continues to be committed to supporting and honouring Canada’s veterans and their families,” he said. “And of course we will be supporting the NDP motion.” This also follows more than $1.1 billion of unspent funding at VAC during the time Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were in power. According to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, this proposal will “end the theft” at VAC and stop veterans from being “robbed” of the resources they so badly need and deserve. “Over the past number of years money is promised to Veterans Affairs, that money has lapsed or not been spent,” Singh said Monday. “That means veterans have been robbed of finances and resources for the services they need. This has to end.”

While motions passed in the House of Commons are not binding — meaning the government has no legal obligation to stick to the plan — they carry significant meaning. Singh says this plan could mean as much as $124 million a year more for veterans. He also says it’s an important first step in ensuring veterans who’ve sacrificed so much have access to the benefits they need in a timely manner.

Since taking office, Trudeau’s Liberals have reopened nine veteran service offices closed by the Harper Conservatives. The government has also rehired roughly 470 front-line staff — including case managers — who work closely with veterans. The NDP says with unspent money at VAC now being carried forward, the number of front-line staff at VAC can increase dramatically, meaning shorter wait times and better outcomes for veterans.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

That backlog, from Jan 18 to now, ALSO includes Departmental Reviews....that you should have a response within two weeks, Because they have all the information already.
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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #107 on: November 19, 2018, 18:14:20 »
Front line staff isn't the problem, its the backlog of the adjudicators and folks who go through your file to approve the benefits. We could have 1 to 1 ratio of "Front line staff" to veterans, and still wait 16 months to hear back on benefits that are supposed to take a max of 16 weeks.

Offline Rifleman62

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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #108 on: December 11, 2018, 07:25:05 »
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/oregan-veterans-affairs-transition-1.4939878

Seamus O'Regan draws scorn for comparing his career arc to veterans' struggles
- 10 Dec 18  (Video at Link)
  'Good Lord, what a insensitive and inaccurate thing to say,' says veteran

When Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O'Regan left journalism, it was, he said, "a shock to his system" — a painful time in his life. And that — he told a roomful of soldiers and civil servants Monday — has given him insight into how members of the Canadian military feel as they take off their uniforms for the last time. O'Regan's personal recollection featured prominently Monday as his department and National Defence publicly announced another overhaul of the system that is supposed to guide retiring soldiers, sailors and aircrew back into the civilian world.

But his efforts to compare his own career arc to the problems facing many ex-military members struck a sour note with his intended audience. "Good Lord, what a insensitive and inaccurate thing to say," said Barry Westholm, a former master warrant officer and sergeant-major for the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) in Eastern Ontario. He resigned from the military to protest the deterioration of the unit that was supposed to help guide injured soldiers back to their jobs or out of the military. "It shows me he has no concept of what he is dealing with." The federal government — under both the Liberals and Conservatives — has struggled to find a way to make that transition smoother, less painful and confusing.

Details scarce

There have been multiple studies and recommendations on how to make it better, notably from the former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne. What O'Regan, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance announced Monday was a new transition system. They rolled out a series of online and training initiatives, but set aside the details of the new, more integrated and personalized system to further tinkering through a pilot program.

O'Regan told an audience of troops and civil servants assembled for the announcement that he can relate to the pain and confusion soldiers sometimes feel upon leaving the military because of his own emotions as he left an "extremely structured" job in TV journalism. "As many of you know, I had very difficult transition leaving journalism, but more importantly, leaving what I had for 15 years in a broadcast medium that was extremely structured," he told an assembled audience of troops and civil servants. It was a world where he "didn't have to worry about a thing, except maybe waking up for my shift, which was very early. I didn't have to worry about a whole heck of a lot."

O'Regan spent over 10 years as host of CTV's Canada AM and went on to do special correspondent assignments for the network before moving into radio and independent production in 2012. "And when I left, it was a shock to my system," O'Regan said, citing his battles with alcoholism. "I suffered with addiction. I suffered with depression. I did not transition well, and I felt I'd lost purpose in my life." He entered rehab in January 2016 and said the experience has taught him a lot. "I know enough about the military that I would never, ever say that I have, you know, an idea of what it's like to go through a transition [from] serving to becoming a veteran," O'Regan said. "But I got a peek into that window,"  Ever since Canada's Afghan war mission ended, more and more experts have linked rough transitions to civilian life with a spike in homelessness and even suicide among former soldiers. Westholm said that, even with the minister's qualification, he never thought he'd hear such a comparison.  Conservative MP and former veterans minister Erin O'Toole called O'Regan's comments "very inappropriate" and added that it's not the first time he's heard them from the minister.

"I'm upset by it," said O'Toole, a former air force officer, who said he heard a variation of the minister's story at a mental health breakfast last spring. "It makes veterans cringe because it shows him out of connection with veterans ... In his case he wasn't in uniform, and I don't believe he should compare leaving a television with the trauma of leaving the military with an injury."

O'Regan said his brother, a serving naval officer, has repeatedly underlined the necessity of fixing a system beset by delays in delivering benefits and services, as well as duplication. The Liberals made fixing that system a key commitment in both their election pitch to veterans and their defence policy, released 18 months ago. "We promised that you and your families would be better supported as you navigate the intricacies of military careers and to improve support to those of you who have served as you end your military career and transition to a life after service," said Sajjan. "And today we are delivering on those promises."

A Partial Fix

What the Liberals delivered on Monday, however, was a partial fix that includes a number of initiatives that put the burden on departing members to educate themselves and get ready for their new lives. One of the biggest changes involves allowing members to take their last month on the job to prepare themselves for civilian life, rather than doing their day-to-day military work. That prep time is crucial, given the dizzying array of paperwork and expectations. Failing to get that paperwork in on time contributes to backlogs in pension payments and benefits.

The federal government's planned major restructuring, which could include more personalized services for departing military members and personal assistance in navigating the system, will await the results of a pilot program that will take place at Camp Borden, north of Toronto. National Defence and Veterans Affairs are working together "to ensure there are no gaps in services offered to you as you transition out of uniform into your new status as a veteran," said Sajjan. Westholm pointed to a series of studies going back to the early 2000s, some done by the defence department itself, about the lack of transition services. "If they have to take five more years to institute a fully integrated approach, then they're really not serious," he said, indicating that by the time the trial is done, "we'll have had 15 years of trial and error."


See https://army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,84368.msg1556017.html#msg1556017  kratz's post, Resource: Military Career Transition Guide, at link re "A Partial Fix" in the last two paras of the above article.

« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 08:32:24 by Rifleman62 »
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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #109 on: December 11, 2018, 07:45:11 »
Man, O'Regan has to be the most tone deaf VAC Minister we've ever had. Which is saying something because Fantino was bad, but at least got fired.

Offline Rifleman62

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Re: VAC in the News
« Reply #110 on: December 20, 2018, 09:30:37 »
https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/canada/health-care-delivery-part-of-new-veterans-ombudsman-future-focus-269568/

Health-care delivery part of new Veterans Ombudsman future focus - 19 Dec 18

Canada’s new veterans ombudsman says the office plans to steer its focus from benefits to other areas, like health-care delivery, in the coming months. Ombudsman Craig Dalton, a veteran himself, served alongside Canadian Armed Forces members both home and abroad for 25 years. Following his release in 2014, he served in a deputy minister capacity with the provincial governments of both New Brunswick and P.E.I. Dalton took over the veterans ombudsman position in November from Guy Parent, who has been in the office for the last five years.

During a one-on-one interview at Dalton’s office last week, he told The Chronicle Herald that since taking over the ombudsman position, he has been consulting with veterans, caregivers and advocacy groups as well as getting up to speed on the work of the previous ombudsman to see where the office’s focus is most needed.

“There was a general sense that a lot has been done on the financial compensation and benefits side over the last 10 years or so, and that conversation will likely continue over time, but there’s a sense that maybe there were some other issues that we might want to turn our attention to,” Dalton said. In fact, Parent’s final report as ombudsman, released in September, looked extensively at Veterans Affairs Canada’s handling of benefit claims. The scathing review slammed the government for forcing veterans to wait unreasonable amounts of time to find out if they qualified for disability claims and other supports.

One of the areas that Dalton said has repeatedly come up in conversations with veterans as needing attention has been health-care delivery, especially when it comes to mental health and PTSD, and ensuring different levels of government and government departments are working together to get veterans the care they need. “Mental health is a large component of health care and you see that conversation across not just ... the veterans population, but across Canada. It’s an ongoing conversation around a growing realization of the prevalence of mental health issues and how important it is to address them,” Dalton said. Beyond individual cases, Dalton said, the ombudsman’s office has yet to look in depth at mental health care delivery among Canada’s veterans. “It’s one of those issues that we’ve identified that we haven’t turned their attention that we need to consider looking at a little more closely going forward.”

As the new ombudsman and his team examine where to turn their focus next for the office’s next major report, Dalton said the wheels are already in motion on other files that they will continue to study in the coming months. “A good part of our focus is going to be on the transition to Pension for Life and making sure that we understand what those changes are going to mean for clients so that we’re in a position to add to the conversation about that,” Dalton said. A financial analysis of the return to a lifetime pension option for veterans, which was replaced by a lump sum award in 2006 with the controversial New Veterans Charter, is also in the works.

With a federal election on the horizon, no doubt many will be looking at past recommendations of the ombudsman’s office to gauge whether Trudeau’s Liberals (and the Conservatives before them) have done right by veterans and their families during their time in office. The annual report card issued by the Ombudsman’s office tracks the progress of the recommendations made by the ombudsman — Dalton said he plans to continue that tradition, and Canadians can expect a new one in the early summer. “I think that the report card approach is a good approach because there are 10 years of recommendations in there and it’s a way for us to continue to keep those issues in the public domain on the minds of policymakers makers,” he said.

Over the past 10 years, Dalton said, there have been 71 recommendations issued by the Veterans Ombudsman’s office across five main areas: financial security, transition planning, social integration (including employment and education), health care and service delivery. Of those, he said 74 per cent have been acted upon. “They’ve come a long way to making things better for veterans and their families. Will there be work to do going forward? Absolutely. But I think that speaks to progress,” he said.

Over the next few months, Dalton said his office will be continuing to engage with veterans in order make sure he has a personal understanding of the range of issues faced by veterans. This will include travelling around Canada to meet with veterans in person, and Dalton said he hopes to visit the Atlantic provinces in the near future. “One of the things I think that’s really good about this office and it’s critical is that we remain evidence-based and we do solid research and analysis,” he said. “Which is why we want to talk to as many people out there (as possible) to really get a sense for where we think we can make the biggest difference for veterans.”
« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 09:35:41 by Rifleman62 »
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