Summary: Created by Congress, the Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation reports directly to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The Committee has
not been a major player in policy decisions to date, but they have been quite active lately, and they could become an even more potent force for change–if they hear from you!
The next meeting of the Committee is June 20-21, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The meeting takes place at 1800 G Street NW, 8th Floor, Conference Room 870.
The Committee sessions begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. EDT each day. The meeting is open to the public.
===> But you do not have to attend the meeting in person to voice your opinion!
You can submit your (polite, thoughtful) recommendations to the Committee in advance of any scheduled meeting.1
The Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation (ACDC) is authorized by statute, 38 U.S.C. § 546, and operates under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. As outlined in ACDC Charter, “the Committee’s objective is to advise the Secretary of Veterans Affairs with respect to the maintenance and periodic readjustment of the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities.”
That is an important, but rather narrow scope. However, if you browse recent meeting minutes, and review the Duties of the Committee as detailed in the Charter, the members of this advisory committee actually have the authority to advise the Secretary on any disability compensation matter. (emphasis added)
Here is a direct quote from the ACDC Charter:
DUTIES OF THE COMMITTEE: In providing advice to the Secretary, the Committee shall assemble and review relevant information relating to the needs of Veterans with disabilities; provide information relating to the nature and character of the disabilities arising from service in the Armed Forces; provide an ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of the VA’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities; and provide ongoing advice on the most appropriate means of responding to the needs of Veterans relating to disability compensation in the future. In carrying out its duties, the Committee shall take into special account the needs of Veterans who have served in a theater of combat operations.
Not later than October 31, 2010, and not less frequently than every two years thereafter, the Committee shall submit to the Secretary a report on the programs and activities of the Department that relate to the payment of disability compensation. Each such report shall include an assessment of the needs of Veterans with respect to disability compensation; and such recommendations (including recommendations for administrative, regulatory or legislative action), as the Committee considers appropriate. The Committee may submit to the Secretary such other reports and recommendations as the Committee considers appropriate. (emphasis added)
Given this far-reaching mandate, I wonder if the Advisory Committee could wake up that sleeping giant at 810 Vermont Avenue (VA Central Office), and spark substantial reform to improve the VA disability compensation program?
I bet they could, but only if they hear from you. And by ‘you’, I mean veterans, VBA staff, C&P psychologists and psychiatrists, researchers, veterans law attorneys, and any American citizen who cares about our country’s intrepid heroes.
United States military veterans deserve a high quality, efficient, fair, and compassionate disability benefits program. If you agree, I encourage you to share your ideas, suggestions, concerns, and praise (for what’s working well) with the Committee. Per the announcement in the Federal Register,2 here’s how to do it:
The public may submit written statements for the Committee’s review to Dr. Ioulia Vvedenskaya, Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration, Compensation Service, Policy Staff (211C), 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20420 or email at Ioulia[dot]Vvedenskaya[at]va[dot]gov 3
You might want to send your letter via email and postal mail. If you do, be sure as a courtesy to tell Dr. Vvedenskaya that she will receive your correspondence via both methods. If you send your letter via postal mail, I recommend using U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Certified Mail,4 Return Receipt5 with the USPS properly formatted address:
DR IOULIA VVEDENSKAYA
DEPT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
810 VERMONT AVE NW
COMPENSATION SVC, POLICY STAFF (211C)
WASHINGTON DC 20420-0002
1) If are you reading this post after June 2017, you can find the date for the next ACDC meeting via a search on the Federal Register website. Use the Advanced Search function and:
- Search for “Disability Compensation, Notice of Meeting” (including the quote marks);
- Click “In Year” for Publication Date, and then select the current year from the drop-down menu;
- Type “Veterans Affairs” (quote marks not needed) for Agency (it will display ‘Veterans Affairs Department’ – click on it); and
- Check ‘Notice’ for Document Category.
- Click the search button (the magnifying glass).
Here is an image of how it should look:
2) Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation, Notice of Meeting, 82 Fed. Reg. 17332, 17333 (Apr. 10, 2017).
3) You will need to replace [dot] with a period (.) and [at] with the @ symbol. I write an email address this way to thwart email address harvesting.
4) From the USPS website: “Certified Mail® – Prove you sent it. See when it was delivered or that a delivery attempt was made, and get the signature of the person who accepts the mailing when combined with Return Receipt. Notes: a) Purchase at your Post Office. b) Present for mailing to a Postal employee if a postmarked sender’s receipt is requested. c) Combine with Return Receipt to get electronic or physical delivery record showing the recipient’s signature. d) Cost is $3.35”
5) From the USPS website: “Return Receipt – Get an electronic or hardcopy delivery record showing the recipient’s signature. Notes: a) Purchase at a Post Office depending on the mail class chosen. b) Available with Priority Mail Express (PS Form 3811 only). c) Electronic Return Receipts are not available to APO/FPO/DPO addresses or to certain U.S. territories or possessions, or Freely Associated States. d) Cost is $2.75 for mail receipt or $1.45 for email receipt”