Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story.
VA expedites decisions for long-standing claims
The Veterans Affairs Department is expediting compensation claims decisions for veterans who have waited one year or longer, VA officials announced today.
Effective today, VA claims raters will make provisional decisions on the oldest claims on hand, officials said, which will allow veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible.
Veterans will be able to submit additional evidence for consideration a full year after the provisional rating, before VA issues a final decision.
“Too many veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said. “That is why we are implementing an aggressive plan to eliminate the backlog in 2015. This initiative is the right thing to do now for veterans who have waited the longest.”
Provisional decisions will be based on all evidence provided to date by the veteran or obtained on their behalf by VA. If a VA medical examination is needed to decide the claim, it will be ordered and expedited.
“Issuing provisional decisions not only provides veterans with applicable benefits much more quickly, but also gives them an additional one-year safety net to submit further evidence should it become available,” said Allison Hickey, VA’s undersecretary for benefits.
AFPC implements live chat capability on myPers
The Air Force Personnel Center now provides live chat capability through the myPers website, AFPC officials announced recently.
Since April 5, live chat capability has provided users interested in retiring with the option of real time communication with personnel specialists. Additional topics will be rolled out in phases throughout 2013.
“We always strive to provide the best customer service,” said 2nd Lt. Benjamin Fornea, a Total Force Service Center transition support officer. “Before this capability, members were only able to call the Total Force Service Center or email them questions. Live chat will provide an additional avenue for the AFPC to communicate with the greater Air Force workforce. This functionality will provide a faster response than email, and more convenience than a phone call.”
Currently, members receive chat invitations on specific knowledge articles on myPers. The live chat provides immediate access to subject matter experts who are trained to provide members the correct information to their questions.
Following the session, a transcript of the chat is emailed to the member for their records. Records of a member’s previous chats are also available on the myPers website.
AF leaders highlight space program successes
Space today is in as good a position as it’s been in a very long time, said Richard McKinney, the deputy under secretary of the Air Force for space.
McKinney, along with Dr. Jamie Morin, the acting under secretary of the Air Force, and Brig. Gen. Robert McMurry, the director of space programs for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, briefed members of the media on the Air Force’s fiscal 2014 Space Budget April 15 in the Pentagon.
“We’re in production,” McKinney said. “We’ve got missile warning in production, we’ve got Advanced Extremely High Frequency, or AEHF, (satellites) in production, and Wideband Global SATCOM is in production. On launch — we have 10 years of 100 percent successful flights. We have more capability today than we have ever had.”
The Air Force has requested approximately $6.5 billion for its space investment portfolio in fiscal 2014. The top five programs include: the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, Space Based Infrared System early warning satellites, Global Positioning System III navigation satellites, AEHF military communications satellites, and space situational awareness systems.
New Air Force pregnancy website offers support
The Air Force Medical Service’s Center of Excellence for Medical Multimedia, or CEMM, recently unveiled an educational and state-of-the-art website on pregnancy for Airmen and their families.
The Pregnancy A to Z website, www.pregnancyatoz.org, is the CEMM’s 12th educational website. The site features videos, 3-D animations, downloadable fact sheets, a section for future fathers, and information on conception, delivery, and genetic counseling training.
“The fundamental purpose of the CEMM websites is to empower patients through self-efficacy,” said Lt. Col. Constance Smith, the director of the CEMM. “The CEMM does this by providing a robust inventory of tools to assist patients with developing self-management skills and behaviors to successfully manage their conditions and diseases.”
Other sites available deal with low-back pain, men and women’s health, asthma, and skin cancer. A full list of sites can be found at www.cemmlibrary.org.