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A Veterans Day Message From VA Secretary Dr. James B. Peake
Date:11/7/2008

them about the benefits and services VA offers. Federal Recovery Coordinators are on board, actively engaged in helping severely injured veterans and their families navigate our system for health care and financial benefits. Our Vet Centers now provide bereavement counseling to families of those who have given their lives in the war against terror, and we've provided health care to nearly 350,000 new veterans -- about 40 percent of all separated war veterans.

Our program to screen all veterans coming to us who served in Iraq and Afghanistan for possible traumatic brain injury is giving us great insight into how best to serve these men and women. Those who screen positive are referred for a comprehensive medical evaluation to confirm the diagnosis, and are quickly and appropriately treated. For those with very severe injuries like brain injury, amputations, visual impairment and burns, we've established Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers in Richmond, Va., Tampa, Fla., Minneapolis, and Palo Alto, Calif., to provide the very finest, state-of-the-art care. They are examples of great cooperation across the continuum of care with the Department of Defense.

While caring for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has been among VA's most important priorities, we continue to provide the full spectrum of care and benefits to our veterans of other eras. Since 2001, we've reduced our average number of days required to completely process a claim from a high of 233 days in 2002 to 162 days today and have reduced the number of disability claims pending from 432,000 in 2002 to 384,500 through a combination of process improvements, increased staffing and improved training. We've placed particular emphasis on adjudicating claims for veterans aged 70 or older. Our home loan guaranty limit has increased from $203,000 to as much as $729,750, providing a better opportunity for veterans who want to own a home. The programs to deal with the issue of veteran homelessness have measurably
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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