In a special town hall event on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the Washington D.C. VA Medical Center, VA Secretary Denis McDonough addressed the top requested concerns from Veterans and their families, caregivers and survivors.

The one-hour town hall was streamed live on YouTube. A recording can be viewed online in case you missed it.

You can also read the town hall Q&A with answers to some of the most asked questions.

Before an audience of Veterans and caregivers, Secretary McDonough answered questions on such topics as:

  • What VA is doing for personnel at Fort McClellan in Alabama about the dioxins that were stored in drums in unlined pits that leaked into the ground water?
  • What is being done or will be done to allow Veterans to receive covered care at non-VA facilities?
  • Why Vietnam-era Veterans are not receiving consideration for asbestos exposure?
  • What a Veteran must do to obtain a new Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC).
  • VA’s coverage of Camp Lejeune water contamination in North Carolina, compared to coverage of deployment-related infectious diseases.
  • VA’s COVID-19 health protection requirements and guidelines for everyone entering a VA facility.

By Mike Richman

Communications specialist with the Veterans Experience Office

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Published on Nov. 9, 2022

Estimated reading time is 1 min.

Views to date: 9,550

45 Comments

  1. thehome November 28, 2022 at 4:18 am - Reply

    Adult children who are survivors of MIA/KIA’s should get veterans’ preference in jobs, VA mortgages, and other benefits that living veterans get. But dead men can’t vote. Losing my father at age six, in Laos, affected me my whole life. Veterans who return home alive can usually parent and raise their families. KIA’s cannot not. In job applications, I refuse to answer if I’m a veteran. The country wants me to hide my father’s sacrifice. “Gold Star Family” is a worthless title.

  2. Walter DeWalt November 18, 2022 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    Yes this is former Captain Walter Dewalt US Air Force station at Clark Air Force Philippines from 1973-1974 .The VA diagnosed me with leukemia .
    REFERENCE STARS AND STRIP CLARK AIR FORCE BASE PHILIPPINES CONTAMINATED WATER..ALSO TOXIC SPOT.COM DETAILS ABOUT TOXIC WATER..AT ISSUE WHY hasnt CLARK AIR FORCE BASE PHILIPPINES RECEIVED THE PUBLICITY ON TOXINS IN THE DRINKING WATER .I AND OTHER SOLDIERS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TOO PURSUE COMPENSATION IN COURT..THE VA APPARENTLY ISNT RECOGNIZING OTHER BASES LIKE CLARK ..WHAT CAN BE DONE TOO RETIFY THIS ISSUE?

  3. ROGELIO GARCIA November 17, 2022 at 9:00 am - Reply

    what advantage , if any is there in filing a new pact act claim if a disabled veteran is already va rated 100%?

  4. Stephen Feldman November 16, 2022 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    The new insurance product which starts in January goes from $10-40,000 in $10,000 increments. It cuts off eligibility at age 80. When the policy starts in January, I will be 79 years 6 months old and the premium will be $485 a month for a $40,000 policy. There is a 2-year exclusionary period where only the premiums will be returned if I should die during that period. This means I have no insurance during the first 2 years or $11,640 in premiums that I pay.

    In case you don’t know how insurance works, please let me explain so you do understand how insurance actually works. Everyone knows a policy pays the face amount when a person dies. The actual amount of insurance, however, is the difference between the face amount and the number of premiums paid. In the case of this new policy from the VA, if I die in January 2025 my wife will get the $40,000 face amount of the policy, it will cost me $12,125 in premiums paid. In other words, she would get $27,875 from the insurance and a return of the $12,125 of the premiums I paid. Each month I live starting in January 2025, the amount of insurance will decline by $485 and the amount of returned premium will increase by the same amount. If I should die in October 2029, I will be 86 years and 3 months old, there will be $485 of insurance that my wife gets and $39,770 in premiums paid which will be returned. In other words, the only time there will be any insurance if I die will be from January 2025 through October 2029, a period of 4 years and 10 months. Once again, in order to get back the $40,000 face amount of the policy, the premium has to continue being paid even though the premiums paid from that time on after 6 years and 11 months exceed the face amount of the insurance. If I live until I’m 90, I will have paid $61,595 in premiums in order for my wife to get $40,000 back if I die. However, since I plan on living forever, when I reach 100 I will have paid $119,795 in premiums and the VA will cancel my policy and pay me $40,000, the face amount of my policy.

    I understand the argument made against term insurance that only 1% of term policies pay off. The argument is made by insurance companies and those selling insurance to sell whole life as opposed to term life insurance because there is more money to be made with whole life than term insurance. Ask yourself, how much insurance does a whole-life policy actually pay out when someone dies? In fact, is what your family is getting paid from your whole life insurance policy if you die: insurance? a return of your premiums? Or is it only part of your premiums because you have paid more than the face amount of your insurance?

    If the VA wanted to help provide insurance for older disabled veterans, they would have a term policy that we could qualify for. The premiums would be much lower. Like my auto insurance, if I don’t have an accident it is an expense, if I have an accident it pays off. Life insurance should be the same way!

  5. John Hien November 16, 2022 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    I think the Veterans Administration should provide dental care services to all veterans, especially those who can’t afford dental care. Also, it seems all politician say they support veterans but few of them actually do anything for veterans.

  6. Vivian Barnes November 11, 2022 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    I am a widow of Vietnam soldier. Was denied benefits because I can’t produce a divorce degree. It’s impossible to get a divorce degree because we were legally married when he died. Not living together because of abuse.

  7. sharetty November 11, 2022 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Is it possible to help someone who went for a mission in somalia to get back home?

  8. Peter Lopez November 11, 2022 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Why have the VA clinics in the Seattle area gone to hell? First when I try to place a call I get put on terminal hold, at times with over 50 callers ahead of me. When I do leave a call back number, I almost always never get a call back. Can’t you do something since you’re the big gun at the VA???

  9. Dahlia B. November 11, 2022 at 7:43 am - Reply

    Mr Secretary, yesterday I had cause to go to urgent care at Harbourside VA Campus in NYC. I had an allergic reaction, going into anaphylaxis. I had the displeasure of interacting with Alla Lavrenova. She did not think it necessary to read the patient’s file before interacting with the patient, particularly in deadly situations such as anaphylaxis shock. Instead, she informed me she had never experienced working with anyone with a similar condition, did not want to hear anything I had to say regarding the current situation, and instead wrote a script for hydrocortisone and wished me goodbye. Luckily I stopped in at Cornell Medical Centre and was informed of the seriousness of the situation, where I was required to stay overnight. I do not know why I’m wasting my time writing this because the VA NEVER addresses the concerns of the veteran: you seem to have forgotten that without the vets, there’s no VA, and it’s the VA that needs us for survival, not the other way around. As for the VA, who cares if there is another dead veteran? DO BETTER; NOW!

  10. James November 10, 2022 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    You politically correct morons at the VA wont post anything that is negative towards you!!!! Nothing but Government ROBOTS run the VA! They removed my teeth for radiation treatments but REFUSE to REPLACE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. James Kennedy Fraser November 10, 2022 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    The VA had all of my teeth removed for radiation treatment and they REFUSE to provide me with TEETH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT THE FCK IS WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE??????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Christopher R Walsh November 10, 2022 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Adult children who are survivors of MIA/KIA’s should get veterans’ preference in jobs, VA mortgages, and other benefits that living veterans get. But dead men can’t vote. Losing my father at age six, in Laos, affected me my whole life. Veterans who return home alive can usually parent and raise their families. KIA’s cannot not. In job applications, I refuse to answer if I’m a veteran. The country wants me to hide my father’s sacrifice. “Gold Star Family” is a worthless title.

    • Gene McManus November 10, 2022 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Very good points Chris. These things would take federal legislation, may I suggested contacting your Congressman to get the ball rolling?

  13. Joseph Hood November 10, 2022 at 9:29 am - Reply

    I am a veteran who is retired (74) years old and can not even afford Medicare part B or C. I need dental care but I am denied
    dental care at the VA Hospital in Detroit because I am not disabled. I would like to know why I can use every clinic at the
    VA Detroit hospital except the dental clinic? I do not work I have very little money why can’t the dental clinic be means
    tested? I would appreciate a answer.

  14. Cruz Roque-Vicens November 10, 2022 at 7:04 am - Reply

    What about Korean Conflict veteransa who work with asbestos as memmbers of combat Engineers companies?

  15. deborah fleming November 10, 2022 at 6:40 am - Reply

    Dear Sir:

    I am a Veteran who gets care from the Bay Pines VA hospital/C.W. Young VA Medical Center, Florida. I have beed receiving care for my left shoulder and was advised that my only option is a total shoulder replacement. I did my research and asked the orthopedic doctor about synvics/hyaluronic acid joint injections. The doctor said the FDA has not approved it for shoulders even though I can go on the outside to get the injection ($710-$1000). I asked about PRP platelet rich plasma injections. He said the Bay Pines VA hospital does not give the PRP but James A Haley VA hospital in Tampa, Fl. does but won’t take a patient from Bay Pines.

    So my question is; why would the VA pay for such a big surgery, rehabilitation and appliances but not PRP? A shoulder replacement is major surgery for me with 3 lung diseases. I am a high risk for anesthesia. I am going to go on the outside to see about getting the PRP, but have been told Medicare might not pay for it ($700-$1000 per injection).

    I realize the PRP would require special equipment and the cost could be high, but if one VA hospital offers it, they all should.

    I sincerely hope you will look into this so every veteran could receive the best care.

  16. Gilbert Anthony Davis November 10, 2022 at 5:46 am - Reply

    Why is it that a veteran can receive medical coverage for everything except his teeth
    a person should be able to recognize a veteran by his excellent dental work
    you have to be 100% disabled to receive dental coverage as though your teeth didn’t
    get affected by your military experience
    Please cover a veteran’s teeth for overall good health and better life

  17. deondrea becker November 10, 2022 at 5:33 am - Reply

    why don’t you address the mistakes made by the V.A. in the claims for benefits. I have been held up for three years now over unbelievable mistakes and I am struggling to survive for no reason, and I was told so are thousands of others even having to go back and redo all those claims while I was also told there were several million cases waiting to be heard. Maybe spend some money being spent in aid to other countries on our veterans by hiring and training people to handle the needs of our own

  18. Bruce N Gilbert November 10, 2022 at 5:16 am - Reply

    You won’t post my comment!

  19. Bruce N Gilbert November 10, 2022 at 5:14 am - Reply

    What a joke/scam….you won’t post my comment!!

    [Editor: Human moderation occurs during business hours.]

  20. Bruce N Gilbert November 10, 2022 at 5:12 am - Reply

    I’ve tried twice to post a comment, but you wouldn’t allow it to be posted; instead of my posting, the message that was left
    for me was as follows:
    “No Comments
    Bruce N Gilbert November 10, 2022 at 5:09 am – Reply
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

    [Editor: Please only post once. Our automated spam filter moved your comments to the trash thinking your multiple comments were spamming the system.]

  21. Bruce N Gilbert November 10, 2022 at 5:05 am - Reply

    The PACT Act was signed by the President on 8/10/22. I filed my Hypertension claim 8/4/22, completed the required medical evaluation on 8/26/22 and all required submissions were completed prior to 8/30/22; my claim status has not changed on the VA website since 8/30/22. An apologetic Dept of VA Affairs letter dated 10/3/22 stated “We are still processing your application for compensation. We apologize for the delay. You will be notified upon completion of processing.”
    The VVA Weekly Newsletter dated /10/28/22 contained the article titled “VA Received Nearly 113,000 Claims Under PACT Act, Veterans are Urged to Submit Claims Quickly.”
    On 10/31/22, I received an email from Veteran Benefits regarding any questions I may have concerning the VA claim exam (as stated earlier, my exam was completed on 8/26/22).
    The 10/31/22 email put me on notice; Why am I getting a letter on 10/31// on an action that was complted on 8/26/22). Maybe I should call the VA PACT Hotline and ask some questions.
    I called the hotline late this afternoon and was shocked at what I was told:
    * No action will happen prior to 1/1/23
    * Yes, the law was passed on 8/10/22, but the VA is awaiting authorization from Congress which will not be provide prior to 1/1/23. The PACT Act was signed by the President on 8/10/22. I filed my Hypertension claim 8/4/22, completed the required medical evaluation on 8/26/22 and all required submissions were completed prior to 8/30/22; my claim status has not changed on the VA website since 8/30/22. An apologetic Dept of VA Affairs letter dated 10/3/22 stated “We are still processing your application for compensation. We apologize for the delay. You will be notified upon completion of processing.”
    The VVA Weekly Newsletter dated /10/28/22 contained the article titled “VA Received Nearly 113,000 Claims Under PACT Act, Veterans are Urged to Submit Claims Quickly.”
    On 10/31/22, I received an email from Veteran Benefits regarding any questions I may have concerning the VA claim exam (as stated earlier, my exam was completed
    on 8/26/22).
    The 10/31/22 email put me on notice; Why am I getting a letter on 10/31// on an action that was complted on 8/26/22). Maybe I should call the VA PACT Hotline
    and ask some questions.
    I called the hotline late this afternoon and was shocked at what I was told:
    * No action will happen prior to 1/1/23
    * Yes, the law was passed on 8/10/22, but the VA is awaiting authorization from Congress which will not be provide prior to 1/1/23.
    I feel like I and all other veterans that have filed claims have been “Mushroomed.”

  22. robert m hart November 10, 2022 at 3:27 am - Reply

    why can my wicked ex wife still steal my retirement even after she is remarried. i get it the laws vary state to state, however dfas said, she gets her percentage until i die or she dies. please help.

    • Carla Peck Jasinski November 13, 2022 at 3:14 pm - Reply

      Dear Robert,
      Sounds like the current law allows that for your ex-wife. The law, whether it’s state or federal, maybe needs to be changed. I would contact my Senator or Congressman, state or federal, to get that done, if possible.

  23. CHAD SHIPLEY November 9, 2022 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    This man is a complete and total lying a–hole. 70% of all care givers on both home care givers/housebound aid and attendance are being kicked off the programs. VA TOTALLY VIOLATES LAW ON ASSUMED CONDITIONS OF VIETNAM VETERANS. DONT BELIEVE A WORD THIS —- SAYS…..

  24. Gary Kidd November 9, 2022 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Very disappointed that he did it mention Vietnam Veterans presumptive additions. He only talked about the oil pits toxic from the Iraq area. Once again, because Vietnam was not a winable war…excluded.

    • Christopher R Walsh November 10, 2022 at 10:21 am - Reply

      I agree. Widows and adult children of Viet Nam/Laos Secret War MIA/KIA’s are second class citizens. No VA nursing home for my mom. She never remarried and struggled to raise five kids. Families of living vets get more benefits. Dead men can’t vote.

    • Christopher R Walsh November 10, 2022 at 10:30 am - Reply

      In Hennepin County, Minneapolis, Minnesota, there was a huge property tax benefit, but only for survivors of wars after 2001. Once again Viet Nam vets and widows (like my mom) were excluded. A denial of equal protection under our constitution and denial of due process of law.

      • Carla Peck Jasinski November 13, 2022 at 3:10 pm - Reply

        Hi Chris,
        Sounds discriminatory to me that property tax relief would only be for survivors of wars after 2001. Makes no sense.

  25. Rufus Payne November 9, 2022 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    Need more staff for the Vets. Need more staff to present more compassion when dealing with Vets. Staff displays professionalism, need to listen more to Vets concerns. I am not a doctor, but witnessing too much meds.

  26. Donald Flickinger November 9, 2022 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    I would like to leave this comment. When the PACT ACT was passed earlier, I applied for compensation, submitted my proof I was exposed and was deployed during the first gulf war. I was denied the day after I submiited my claim. What gives? Who makes that decision in one day? No calls, no exams, nothing.

  27. Michael Brewer November 9, 2022 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    I have severe lead poisoning that was found 14 years after retirement. Misdiagnosed after a stroke on active duty. Not known to medical”Walter reed” that I was severely contaminated with lead poisoning after operating an indoor range. Now finding out several years later a major M had the range tested for lead contamination while I was managing the range. His commander LTC D apologized that major M concealed the fact the range was contaminated. Major M now a retired Col, was protecting his recruitment numbers by keeping the range open.
    This is all confirmed by an investigation by the ARBA BOARD. Who ruled that I got contaminated from the range. Thinking the Army would compasate me or the Va.
    nothing but a commercial about camp ? Marine poisoning. After they are all dead. While I’m dying of lead poisoning. I got nothing to lose anymore. I want to go public and expose all of them.

  28. David Hawk November 9, 2022 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Fair? You be the judge. 1975-1990+ If you were diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, your flying career was over. So it was NEVER mentioned or discussed with my Flight Surgeon. I tried everything, including a procedure to remove bone from nasal passages to allow better breathing while sleeping. I retired in 1997. After retirement I was formally diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. I never filed a claim, knowing establishing a service connection was impossible. Leaving active duty with Tinnitus and 10% compensation. later, in 2011, the VA established a medical nexus between the two. I already had established the 10% compensation for Tinnitus. Sleep Apnea being added should have generated some kind of notice to veterans. With the amount of veterans with Tinnitus, notifications should have gone out. I recently filed for compensation with the VA. Effectively missing out on compensation and paying higher taxes, for 11 years. Fair or unfair?

  29. James R. Fillerup November 9, 2022 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Why won’t the VA do something about Vietnam Veterans who have numerous lipomas as a result of agent orange? The American Legion did a comprehensive study on this back in the 1970’s, but nothing happened! Australia has compensated their veterans from Vietnam who developed lipomas due to agent orange. Why doesn’t the U.S. VA do something? Just look at the number of VA claims for this condition that have been initiated over the years and almost all have been denied! Why? VA Do Something!! Hundreds of us Vietnam veterans have lipomas, but the VA just ignore this condition.

  30. Danny Aschebrook November 9, 2022 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Can you please tell us why the VA decided to change the way we get our travel pay? It was very simple to do it at the VA after the appointment. Now I have to do it when I get home on a computer and the process is not very simple. I am in my 50s and have good computer skills and I find it difficult. I feel bad that it is probably 10 times harder for others that don’t have the computer skills. The old system worked well. Just saying that now it can take me an hour to complete the task that was done in 2 minutes before.

  31. Ed J Moeglein November 9, 2022 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    The VA has totaly lost focus of their mission! We have Pride month, black history month, Native American month, Women Veterans Month.
    But Veterans Day, one day, and the VA is closed! Armed forces Day, Memorial Day, one day! one day! Vietnam Veterans Day, one Day! The VA as become so focued on minorities, gender equity, Sensitivty training, Sexual harrasement, Alternative lifestyle and the reteric that further divides us veterans and Our country!
    The military is also gone this way instead of combat training when we may be facing 2 new conflicts i Ukraine and China.
    Get back to serving the veterans, focus on that because you aren’t doing very well at It. Processing the Pact Act claims, emergency services, speciality care is limited and care in the community is picking up the slack, but they are overwelled in getting consults processed. delays in community care doctors in processing pharmacy prescripyions, request for labs, in responce to immediate treatment of serious conditions to orthopedics, neurology, spinal emergencies, pain management, and passing up emergencies to the community care specialists for immediate care! Get back to making all the VA better instead of caring to all the minorities! They will be taken care of in taking care of Veterans!

  32. Celso November 9, 2022 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    I will love the VA when contacting us the client, paticient, veterans I really don’t know how they call us to try to contact us more than once and leave a clear message. Customer assistance call us once if they can’t get in touch is really hard to return the phone call when the message is really hard to understand. Texting and email is a lot better.

  33. Michael W. Moses, Sr. November 9, 2022 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Why doesn’t the PACT Act cover burn pits, etc. for Vietnam Veterans? I was exposed to trash burn pits at my base camp, human waste burning, Napalm smoke and fumes when in the jungle. I was also exposed to major exhaust fumes in my Armored unit. I developed pulmonary fibrosis that was finally diagnosed in 2018. I filed claims with the VA, and even submitted pictures, and my claim was denied. Why are Middle East Veterans covered for this exposure and pulmonary fibrosis, but Vietnam Veterans are not? My local VA office does not have an answer on this issue. Should I be asking this question to my State’s Senator and Congressmen? I would like an answer from the VA on this.

  34. David November 9, 2022 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Is there anything being done about Ft Carson?? Is there people having cancer from being stationed there.

    • Veronica November 10, 2022 at 1:46 pm - Reply

      Geez…never heard of this. What years are they talking about?

  35. Scott F. Slater November 9, 2022 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    I had heard prior to the townhall that a surviving spouse of a veteran with a 100% rating can continue to receive the veteran’s benefit of they have been married for at least 10 years. True or not true?

  36. William H Howe November 9, 2022 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    When are we going to get compensation for burn pit problems? i.e. lung, respiratory, and nasal problems. I was in Gulf War, did burn pit monitoring and have issues. Finally VA acknowledged I have problems and at present time treating my nasal problems I was given 0 percent disability. This is absurd as I have suffered for 30 years with nasal issues. I thought the Pact Act was supposed to rectify this ? What gives?

  37. Christopher N Norman November 9, 2022 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    VA needs to build an online portal for “out in town” primary care providers so they can interface with myhealthevet.

  38. beverly swift November 9, 2022 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    I had to hire an attorney to try and get my discharge overturned.

  39. Catherine Lois Shoemaker November 9, 2022 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    But the VA would rather keep a veteran in a lot of pain while sitting on a C&P claim. The VA also takes forever getting a veteran scheduled for a procedure prescribed by my provider, have been waiting 3 weeks for the call to get it scheduled. Oh yeah still nothing. It’s about time I get a lawyer.

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