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VLER graduated in May 2013 and is no longer a VA Major Initiative.  News items below continue to be available on this page, but no new items will be added.

VA Processes Nearly All Disability Claims Pending Over 2 Years, Moves to Complete Those Older Than 1 Year
June 20, 2013
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that as a result of the initiative launched in April to expedite disability compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have a waited a year or longer, more than 65,000-claims – or 97 percent of all claims over two years old in the inventory – have been eliminated from the backlog.

New Technology in Place for Electronic Submission of Veterans’ Disability Claims
June 18, 2013
A new online application from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) enables disability compensation claims to be processed faster in a more end-to-end electronic environment, and VA is urging Veterans and their Veterans Service Organization  (VSO) representatives to make full use of its capabilities to receive speedier decisions and reduce the backlog of claims.

Care and Benefits for Veterans Strengthened by $153 Billion VA Budget
April 10, 2013
Continuing the transformation of the Department of Veterans Affairs into a 21st century organization, the President has proposed a $152.7 billion budget, a 10.2 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2013, that will support VA’s goals to expand access to health care and other benefits, eliminate the disability claims backlog, and end homelessness among Veterans.  The budget includes $66.5 billion in discretionary spending, largely for healthcare, and $86.1 billion for mandatory programs – mostly disability compensation and pensions for Veterans.

2014 Budget Request: Veterans Affairs
April 10, 2013
Under President Obama's fiscal 2014 budget request, information technology systems at the Veterans Affairs Department would receive a total discretionary budget authority of $3.683 billion. That means the budget for IT systems would be 15.16 percent more than the current year amount under the continuing resolution when accounting for inflation. The IT systems portion of VA's budget funds system development and performance, operations and maintenance, information protection and customer support, according to the budget document.

Veterans Disability Claims Backlog, Setting the Record Straight
April 2, 2013
There's a lot of confusion and misinformation regarding the disability claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Setting the record straight requires some honest brokering with many years experience in both customer service and writing computer software for moving from paper-based customer service to workflow systems.

New VA Blue Button Features for 2013: VA Notes, VA CCD and More
March 2013
Already in 2013 the VA Blue Button has expanded significantly in January and March. This expansion includes additional types of information for Veterans’ Personal Health Records. Several new types of information from the VA Electronic Health Record are now available for authenticated VA patients.

Disability Claims Initiative Reduces Processing Time, Adds Convenience
January 31, 2013
The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a new initiative that could eliminate the requirement for an in-person medical examination for some Veterans and shorten the time it takes to process Veterans’ disability compensation claims.

VA Introduces New and Enhanced Features for VA Blue Button
January 29, 2013
On Jan. 20, VA released an enhanced VA Blue Button, adding several new categories of information from the VA Electronic Health Record. Blue Button is the personal health record inside the My HealtheVet self-service platform and through My HealtheVet, VA Blue Button enables Veterans to download an electronic file that contains their personal health information.

VA/DoD Continue to Improve Online Access to Benefits Information
January 28, 2013
The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense (DoD) just released improvements to the functionality of eBenefits, a joint self-service web portal that provides registered users with secure online information and access to a variety of military and Veterans benefits resources.

Department of Veterans Affairs Gets Real Stuff Done
January 15, 2013
The VA is getting a lot of good work done, using IT to much better serve Veterans by helping address the disability claims backlog, may be their biggest challenge. Sure, the tech is a work in progress, but the greater issue involves skepticism and low expectations. Toward this end, they had to change the way they built IT systems, getting together a partnership between the IT people and end users and including stakeholders, like employees and Veterans service organizations. That's not easy in any organization, and a rarity in government.

National Deployment of Paperless Claims Processing System Underway
January 14, 2013
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today the nationwide transition to paperless processing of Veterans’ disability claims at its regional benefits processing offices is underway.

Agency collaboration founded in personal relationships
December 13, 2012
The departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs are working together to reduce homelessness
among veterans. The two agencies also are collaborating with state and local governments and private sector organizations.

Secretaries Seek Integrated Military, Veteran Support System
December 6, 2012
The secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs are partnering to build an integrated military and Veteran support system, Defense Secretary
Leon E. Panetta said at a joint DOD-VA press conference at the Veterans Affairs Department

IDES: Have you heard of it? Do you know what it means and why it’s important?
November 21, 2012
The Integrated Disability Evaluation System is a process to streamline injured Soldiers’ benefits. The result is enhanced case management, a single
comprehensive disability examination, single-sourced disability rating, increased transparency and faster disability processing.

DoD, VA to Add Sites for Health Data Exchange Pilot; Tim Cromwell Comments
October 31, 2012
The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs plan to expand a pilot program for testing the feasibility of health data exchange between the agencies’ clinicians, Information Week reports.

Tom Philpott: ‘eBenefits’ boom helps vets, current forces, families
October 29, 2012
Conceived in the wake of the Walter Reed scandal as a way for wounded warriors and their families to understand and access benefits, the “eBenefits” web portal has become an online gateway of enormous value and convenience to 2 million registered users.

VA to add VLER exchange communities in 2013
October 19, 2012
The Veterans Affairs Department will add over the next year to the 13 regions of the country where VA and Defense Department medical facilities share information with providers in the private sector as part of the virtual lifetime electronic record program (VLER).

Vet health progress propelled by partnership, vision and IT
August 28, 2012
Establishing an electronic record program that serves as a single entity for managing troop health has been a long and difficult process. But according to those closest to the effort, hard-earned lessons and close collaboration are yielding some of the best progress yet.

Health IT helps fight the war at home
August 3, 2012
Under Shinseki's leadership, the VA has made big strides to modernize and expand its operations to better serve this massive influx of patients with such a wide array of medical and mental health needs.

WNY to help pioneer VA electronic medical records system
August 1, 2012
The Buffalo area is about to become one of the pioneers in a project to integrate Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense electronic medical systems, a key part of the Obama administration's plan to give veterans and active military personnel access to health and benefits information. Officials announced Tuesday that Western New York is one of 13 areas selected by the Department of Veterans Affairs to participate in the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health Communities Program, which is scheduled for national rollout over the next few years.

VA Exceeds 2012 Goal to Improve Online Access to Benefits Information
July 18, 2012
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that 1.67 million Veterans and Service members have registered for the secure, joint VA-Department of Defense (DoD), self-service web portal, eBenefits, which provides online information and access to a wide variety of military and Veteran benefits resources.

VA Exceeds 2012 Goal to Improve Online Access to Benefits Information
July 18, 2012
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that 1.67 million Veterans and Service members have registered for the secure, joint VA-Department of Defense (DoD), self-service web portal, eBenefits, which provides online information and access to a wide variety of military and Veteran benefits resources.

VA Provides Veterans Instant Access to Records with eBenefits during Detroit VA for Vets Hiring Fair
June 18, 2012
Veterans needing important military documents for job applications will be able to instantly obtain them while at the Detroit VA for Vets Hiring Fair through the joint Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) online portal, eBenefits. VA will have personnel available at the hiring fair to help Veterans and Service members register for a free premium eBenefits account and print documents that often accompany a federal job application, such as military discharge records and VA-generated letters, like civil service preference letters.

DoD, VA agree on joint EHR platform
May 16, 2012
The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have agreed on the platform for a joint project to create an integrated EHR product both departments are calling iEHR.

VA's 7 steps to protect VLER data
May 11, 2012
The Veterans Affairs Department has described how it will protect the information of veterans and military service members that it shares as part of the virtual lifetime electronic record (VLER) program.

VA for Vets Video Honored with Four Advertising Awards
May 9, 2012                                       
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ high-tech platform to help Veterans find jobs, VA for Vets, earned top accolades from the advertising industry for a recruitment video that paid tribute to the nation’s military.

VA’s Main Facebook Page Surpasses 200,000 “Fans”
May 8, 2012                                     
The primary Facebook page for the Department of Veterans Affairs has amassed more than 200,000 “fans,” increasing the department’s ability to communicate directly with Veterans across the nation.

VA to Provide 1,000 iPads to Family Caregivers
May 2, 2012
The Veterans Affairs Department plans to provide 1,000 family caregivers with Apple iPad tablets equipped with health care applications and tools to help them care for veterans at home as part of a pilot project to field mobile applications to all veterans through a VA app store that will open in early 2013.

VA tests iPhone EHR app for summer rollout
April 26, 2012
Clinicians at the Washington, D.C., veterans’ medical center have developed an electronic health record application for the Apple iPhone that the Veterans Affairs Department hopes to begin rolling out this summer.

Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record Reaches 3rd Anniversary
April 6, 2012
It has been three years since President Obama announced the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) on April 9, 2009. VLER is a multi-faceted business and technology initiative that includes a portfolio of health, benefits, personnel, and administrative information sharing capabilities. It provides Veterans, Service members, their families, care-givers, and service providers with a single source of information for health and benefits in a way that is secure and is authorized by the Veteran or Service member.

Veterans Affairs CIO Eyes Budget Increase
February 21, 2012
While IT spending across most of the federal government would be flat next year under President Obama's budget released last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would see a 6.9% increase, with much of the uptick going to improved electronic health records (EHRs). The coming year will see "major investments" in an ongoing project to integrate Department of Veterans Affairs health records with Department of Defense health records, VA CIO Roger Baker said in an interview last week. Currently, more than 100 VA employees are staffed to the effort. More than 20 projects are in planning mode, including single sign-on, an effort to unify VA and DOD pharmaceutical systems, and more.

VA shifts VLER work to $12B contract
February 9, 2012
The Veterans Affairs Department is turning to companies on its $12 billion information technology contract to help develop the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Health Record, an initiative to provide veterans and service members with instant electronic access to their health and benefits information and other services.

7 HIT lessons from the VA's Blue Button initiative
January 11, 2012
Traditionally, health IT interoperability specifications have been structured, consensus-driven, focused on system-to-system communication first, and haven’t really focused on going that extra mile, said Shahid Shah, software analyst and author of the blog, The Healthcare IT Guy. But, the Blue Button Initiative, created by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010, is changing all that, he said. Shah spotlights seven lessons learned from the Blue Button.

Access Made Easy by eBenefits
January 2011
VA and the Department of Defense have made it convenient to secure your benefits.  The Pentagon and VA now allow troops, veterans, their families and survivors ready access to information about benefits. Now you can go to a single and secure website to obtain that information, apply for benefits and perform numerous self-service features.

New Online Tools for Veteran Job-Seekers - Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
December 7, 2011
Veterans now have on-demand access and can download official data about their military training and experience, which can be used to help them find jobs and continue their careers. Their service data can be uploaded to job search and networking sites to help identify employment opportunities.

Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki - Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
November 7, 2011
Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki at the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

VA Announces Winner of “Blue Button for All Americans” Contest - Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
October 25, 2011
RelayHealth, McKesson’s connectivity business, has been named the winner of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) “Blue Button for All Americans” contest. RelayHealth won the $50,000 contest prize by making a Blue Button personal health record (PHR) system available to all patients, including Veterans, of more than 25,000 physicians across America.

Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki - Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
September 12, 2011
Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki at the VBA Leadership Workshop in St. Louis, MO.

VA Announces Expansion of Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record - Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
September 8, 2011
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today it will expand its pilot for the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER), which enables sharing of Veterans’ health records.

Interview With Roger Baker, U.S. Veterans Affairs CIO: Modernizing Government
August 20, 2011
All things considered, Roger Baker is a straightforward businessman; his interview with WashingtonExec is no exception. Baker described running his $3 billion enterprise as well as how his former position as CEO of Dataline prepared him for his current role as CIO of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Baker also gave some advice to the new federal CIO, Steven VanRoekel, and explained where he sees the future of cloud computing in the federal government.

VA Announces Blue Button Prize Competition - Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
July 19, 2011
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today it is offering a $50,000 prize to the first team that builds a personal health record (PHR) using the Blue Button? download format, and arranges to install the PHR on the websites of 25,000 physicians across America. Sponsored by the VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2), the Blue Button Prize Competition is open to all U.S. organizations and individuals.

New Medical Forms Will Streamline Veterans Claims Process - Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
October 26, 2010
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has released three new disability benefits questionnaires for physicians of Veterans applying for VA disability compensation benefits. This initiative marks the beginning of a major reform of the physicians’ guides and automated routines that will streamline the claims process for injured or ill Veterans.

VA Launches Development of New Online Claims System - Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
July 2, 2010
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced today plans to develop a fully automated, online system for handling Veterans’ disability compensation claims. More than a simple digitization of existing paper-based claims, the new system is part of VA’s modernization of the end-to-end processing workflow. Automation will substantially reduce processing time and increase accuracy while simplifying the way that Veterans interact with the claims process.

Updated 7/19/13