VA, HUD and Jon Bon Jovi Announce “Project REACH” Grand Prize Winner
Washington – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the winner of a mobile application competition designed to make local assistance resources accessible to people helping homeless Veterans and others in need. The winner of the $25,000 prize was Reston, Va.-based Qbase, which developed “Homeless REACH.” VA’s Center for Innovation (VACI) sponsored the competition, called Project REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and Homeless), in collaboration with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services.
“This contest tapped into a community of software developers who rose to the challenge to use mobile and information technology in support of our mission – to better serve Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The result is a robust and scalable tool for caregivers, social workers, and anyone who wants to help homeless Veterans access the support and physical care they need.”
The Obama Administration has made ending Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 a top priority, undertaking an unprecedented campaign partnering with HUD and hundreds of community organizations to dramatically increase awareness of VA services available for homeless Veterans and Veterans at risk of becoming homeless. This cooperation has helped reduce the estimated number of homeless Veterans living on our streets by nearly 17 percent, since 2009.
Volunteers of America
Week of November 04, 2013
Volunteers of America has affiliates across the country and many of them provide housing and services for veterans. You can find affiliates in your area at the Volunteers of America website at www.VolunteersofAmerica.org. Volunteers of America also helps homeless veterans.
SENATE BILL WOULD EXPAND VA ELIGIBILITY
In its written testimony submitted Oct. 30 to the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, The American Legion expressed support for draft legislation sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would "expand and enhance eligibility for health care and services through the Department of Veterans Affairs."
Sanders' bill would take into account the varying income levels among counties in any given state, and also establish new statewide income thresholds, in determining veterans' eligibility for VA health care.
The bill further stipulates that all required modifications for implementation of the new income criteria must be completed within five years of enactment.
Currently, VA applies a nationwide Geographic Means Test (GMT) to a veteran's personal income, regardless of where he or she lives. If the income level is at or below the GMT, veterans are eligible for Priority Group 7 status; if the income is higher, they are assigned to the Priority 8 Group.
If they agree to pay the applicable co-payments, Group 7 veterans may enroll in VA health care. Group 8 veterans with non-service connected conditions whose incomes are higher than the GMT are not eligible for VA enrollment.
The American Legion supports the aim of Sanders' bill, and is also urging Congress to enact legislation that would direct VA to automatically enroll eligible veterans into its health-care system as soon as they leave active duty in the military – supported by Resolution 75, passed at the Legion's 95th annual convention in Houston last August.
Other Legion-backed bills pending in the Senate include:
• Rural Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Acts (S.1155 and S.1411)
• A bill that would "prohibit the use of the phrases GI Bill and Post-9/11 GI Bill to give a false impression of approval and endorsement by the Department of Veterans Affairs" (S.1211)
• Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act (S.1216)
• SCRA Enhancement and Improvement Act (bill number TBD)
• A bill that would require VA to inform veterans who file benefits claims electronically that "relevant services may be available from veterans service organizations" (S.1295)
• Servicemembers Electronic Health Records Act (S.1295)
• Mental Health Support for Veterans Families and Caregivers Act (bill number TBD)
PTSD Treatment Strategy Changed
The experience of war is extremely difficult, and for many, these difficulties continue long after a service member returns from combat. In a culture whose members pride themselves on strength and a “can do” attitude, there is a stigma behind asking for help in the military community. The Defense Department seeks to create a more welcoming environment for those seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. In the latest behavioral health guidelines, the Pentagon issued several new changes to the treatment approach, including lessening the reliance on drugs to treat PTSD and increasing traditional therapy techniques. The new guidelines de-emphasize one of the two main criteria doctors use to diagnose PTSD – that patients feel a sense of overwhelming “fear, helplessness or horror” during a traumatic event. Research has found that service members are not likely to admit to some of these specific emotions, and as such, many walk away with a misdiagnosis. Read more about the new behavioral health guidelines here.
GI Bill Stipend to Increase
Veterans and eligible family members using the Post-9/11 GI Bill will see an average increase in their housing stipend. The stipend is based on the BAH rate for an E-5 with dependents. However, unlike the active duty BAH payment, which will go into effect at the first of the year, the GI Bill housing stipend will not go into effect until the start of the 2013-2014 academic year on August 1, 2013. Read more about the 2013-2014 GI Bill Stipend Rates.
Report Reveals Further Reduction in Veterans Homelessness
The Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that a new national report showed that homelessness among Veterans has been reduced by approximately 7 percent between January 2011 and January 2012. VA has made ending Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 a top priority and While the number of homeless people in the U.S. dropped by less than 1 percent, according to the 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), Veteran homelessness has shown a more robust decline. VA also announced the availability of $300 million in grants for community organizations to aid in the homelessness situation. The deadline for applying to the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, a homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing program, is 1 February 2013. SSVF grants promote housing stability among homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. To register or learn more, see: www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp
Report: 6 in 10 VA Claim Denials are in Error
A new report on an old problem contains some sad statistics about veterans’ benefits claims such as: thirty-one percent of claims filed with the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) are likely to be denied, and 60 percent of those denials will be erroneous; sixty percent of claims will take longer than 125 days to be processed, more than 7 percent of claims will be misplaced, and 4 percent will be completely lost; and a veteran calling VA’s benefits hotline has just a 49 percent chance of being connected to someone and receiving a correct answer. According to the report, basically the federal government, in general, does a poor job of administering disability benefits and services. Read the full article at: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/12/military-veterans-disability-claims-121312w/
Stronger Rules Urged for Veteran Fiduciaries
Efforts are underway to strengthen oversight of the fiduciaries appointed to handle the affairs of mentally incapable veterans. After some fiduciaries were found to be stealing benefits, failing to pay essential bills and even have criminal backgrounds, veterans advocates, Congress and the Veterans Affairs Department made it a goal to improve the program, which covers 125,000 veterans that VA has determined are unable to handle their own finances. The chief proposal in Congress for strengthening rules is the Veterans Fiduciary Reform Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s oversight and investigations panel. HR 5948, would require background checks for fiduciaries managing veterans’ funds, limit how much a fiduciary can be paid, allow veterans to pre-designate who they would prefer to handle their financial affairs, require veterans to be notified of the criminal background of their fiduciary, and set up a streamlined process to fire a fiduciary if a veteran believes he is being cheated. To read details about this subject, please go to: http://bit.ly/NYhdXx
The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends. Save the Veterans Crisis Line number on your phone: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 for Veterans). You can also chat online or text professional responders at 838255. http://veteranscrisisline.net/
Where can I get copies of my personnel records?
Former/retired Army Civilian employees:...
Contact the National Personnel Records Center at:
Civilian Records Facility
111 Winnebago Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63118-4199
Active duty retirees should contact:
Military Records Facility
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5100
Phone: (800) 318-5298
At minimum, please include the service member's complete name, Social Security number and/or serial number, and the requester's return address. Website is: https://www.hrc.army.mil/tagd/Human
Resource Service Center
How do I correct errors in my military records?
In order to get your military service records upgraded/changes, you must contact your respective service Board for Correction of Military Records. Contact information for each board is listed below:
Army Board of Correction
Crystal Mall 4, Room 220
Arlington, VA 22202-4508
Is the National Archives and Records Administration destroying military personnel files?
They are not being destroyed. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) preserves and protects the files because they are permanently valuable records that document the essential evidence of military service for veterans. However, there is a rumor circulating on the Internet that advises veterans to apply for their Official Military Personnel Files to save them from destruction. There is no truth to this "urban legend" being perpetuated on the Web.
Consumer Protection on Social Media
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) Office of Servicemember Affairs (OSA) opened two valuable new communications channels to the military community with the launch of an OSA Facebook page and Twitter feed. These accounts give OSA and the CFPB the opportunity to digitally engage directly with Servicemembers, military families and veterans on the consumer financial issues that matter most to them. These accounts also give OSA the ability to offer military members tips, tools and other resources to help them keep financially fit. You may find the OSA Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/home : and the Twitter feed at: https://twitter.com/CFPBMilitary
The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. http://veteranscrisisline.net/
Coming Home: Justice for our Veterans
House Approves COLA Bill For Veterans
The House of Representatives tried to eliminate one bit of financial uncertainty by passing a bill guaranteeing a 1 December cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in veterans disability and survivor benefits that will match whatever increase is provided to Social Security beneficiaries. The bill, HR 4114, is necessary because Congress has kept the practice of passing an annual COLA bill for veterans, while Social Security, military and federal civilian retired pay and federal annuities automatically increase each year by a formula set in law. The bill passed by 369-0 vote. It now moves to the Senate for action. However, there is still a small chance that the COLA for all federal beneficiaries could be reduced or eliminated as part of a deficit reduction agreement. To learn more about this bill, go to: http://bit.ly/RRJwoI
Labor Department Announces Grants to Train Homeless Vets
The Labor Department awarded 90 grants totaling more than $20 million on 2 July to fund job training and support services that officials said will help more than 11,000 veterans succeed in civilian careers. The grants are being awarded through the department’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program grants provide occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance, including follow-up services. Grantees are expected to maximize available assistance and find good jobs for veterans by coordinating efforts and resources with the Health and Human Service, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development department (HUDD), as well as other national, state and local agencies, in accordance with VA’s five-year plan to end homelessness for veterans and their families. To learn more, please go to: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=116996
Please check the resources at the VA on-line for family members, community members and professionals who are dealing with loved ones, friends and others with PTSD.
VA Fills Vet Retraining Slots
The Department of Veterans Affairs has approved applications for all 45,000 slots available in fiscal year (FY) 2012 under the successful Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) and is in the process of approving applications for a total of 54,000 slots available in FY 2013. VRAP is a new training and education program for unemployed Veterans who want to upgrade their skills for high-demand jobs. To learn more about VRAP and apply online, visit VA's VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 webpage at www.benefits.va.gov/VOW or call VA toll-free at 1-800-827-1000. Information about the Department of Labor's programs for Veterans is available at the Department of Labor VETS website at www.dol.gov/vets. Veterans can also visit the nearly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers across the nation, listed at America's Service Locator at www.servicelocator.org, for in-person employment assistance.
VA Approves Homeless Vet Grants
Week of October 01, 2012
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has approved $28.4 million in grants to fund 38 projects in 25 states and the District of Columbia that will provide transitional housing to homeless Veterans. Among these 38 projects, 31 will provide temporary housing to homeless Veterans with the goal that they will retain the residence as their own. A list of the grant recipients can be found on VA's Homeless Program Grant and Per Diem Program webpage. To help a homeless veteran or veteran at risk of homelessness, refer them to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, 1-877-4AID-VET, or direct them to www.va.gov/homeless. The hotline connects homeless veterans, veterans at risk of becoming homeless and their families with the VA services and benefits they have earned.
Senator Comments on Dead Vet Jobs Bill
Week of October 01, 2012
U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, recently released a following statement after Senate Republicans killed her Veterans Jobs Corps Act which would have provided a $1 billion investment to help veterans find work as police officers, firefighters, and in other jobs serving their communities. Despite the fact that Veterans Jobs Corps Act was fully paid for, Senate Republicans raised a procedural point of order in order to kill the bill which would have required 60 votes to waive. The final vote on the point of order was 58-40. Senator Murray's statement is available on the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs website.
Search Accredited Attorneys, Claims Agents, or Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) Representatives http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp
Vet Benefit Calculator: Quickly Connect to Your Benefits
Week of October 01, 2012
The Military.com Benefit Calculator is designed to quickly and easily connect you with your benefits information based on service and status. Find Federal Benefits, State Benefits, National Guard State Benefits, Special Military Discounts and More. Find Your Benefits Now.
VOW To Hire Heroes Act of 2011 click the link in red to see
Comprehensive Legislation to End Veteran Unemployment
VA Health Care Eligibility
Eligibility for VA health care is dependent upon a number of variables, which may influence the final determination of the services for which you qualify. These factors include the nature of a veteran's discharge from military service (e.g., honorable, other than honorable, dishonorable), length of service, VA adjudicated disabilities (commonly referred to as service-connected disabilities), income level, and available VA resources among others.
Regulations now allow VA to enroll certain Priority Group 8 veterans who applied for enrollment and who may have been previously denied enrollment in the VA health care system because their income exceeded VA's income thresholds. These Veterans would qualify if their household income does not exceed the current VA income thresholds by more than 10%. To see if you are eligible and to access a calculator to see how you stand against the income thresholds, visit www.va.gov/healthbenefits/cost/income_thresholds.asp. If you have any enrollment or eligibility questions, you may call 1-877-222-VETS (8387).
Generally, you must be enrolled in VA health care system to receive benefits offered in the Medical Benefits Package. To apply for VA health care benefits, including enrollment you must fill out an application. We use the application to determine:
- Whether you have qualifying service as a veteran
- What your veteran status is so that you can be placed into one of the priority groups
The following is a summary of veterans priority for VA Health Care:
VA places a priority on improved veteran satisfaction and maintains that their goal is to ensure the quality of care and service that veterans receive is consistently excellent, in every location, in every program. Under the Medical Benefits Package, VA offers the veteran a comprehensive health care plan that provides the care you need.
What are the Priority Groups?
Once you apply for enrollment, your eligibility will be verified. Based on your specific eligibility status, you will be assigned a priority group.
The priority groups are as follows, ranging from 1-8 with 1 being the highest priority for enrollment. Under the Medical Benefits Package, the same services are generally available to all enrolled veterans.
As of January 2008, Combat Veteran Health Care eligibility has been extended.
To see if you are eligible and to access a calculator to see how you stand against the income thresholds, visit www.va.gov/healtheligibility. If you have any enrollment or eligibility questions, you may call 1-877-222-VETS (8387).
Be sure to visit the VA Health Care Eligibility website to get the most current information.
Priority Group 1
- Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 50% or more disabling, or
- Veterans determined by VA to be unemployable due to service-connected conditions
Priority Group 2
- Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 30% or 40% disabling
Priority Group 3
- Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 10% or 20% disabling
- Veterans who are former POWs
- Veterans awarded the Purple Heart
- Veterans whose discharge was for a disability that began in the line of duty
- Veterans who are disabled because of VA treatment or participation in VA vocational rehabilitation program
Priority Group 4
- Veterans who are receiving aid and attendance or housebound benefits
- Veterans who have been determined by VA to be catastrophically disabled
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Priority Group 5
- Veterans receiving VA pension benefits
- Veterans who are eligible for Medicaid programs
- Veterans with income and assets below VA Means Test Thresholds
Priority Group 6
- Veterans with 0% service-connected conditions, but receiving VA compensation
- Veterans seeking care only for disorders relating to Ionizing Radiation and Project 112/SHAD
- Veterans seeking care for Agent Orange Exposure during service in Vietnam
- Veterans seeking care for Gulf War Illness or for conditions related to exposure to during service in the Persian Gulf
- Veterans of World War I or the Mexican Border War
- Veterans who served in combat in a war after the Gulf War or during a period of hostility after November 11, 1998 for 2 years following discharge or release from the military.
Click here for more information about combat veteran eligibility
Priority Group 7
- Veterans who agree to pay specified copay with income and/or net worth above VA Income Threshold and income below the Geographic Means Test Threshold
- Subpriority a: Noncompensable 0% service-connected veterans who were enrolled in VA Health Care System on a specified date and who have remained enrolled since that date
- Subpriority c: Nonservice-connected veterans who were enrolled in VA Health Care System on a specified date and who have remained enrolled since that date
- Subpriority e: Noncompensable 0% service-connected veterans not included in Subpriority a above. VA is not currently using Subpriority e.
- Subpriority g: Nonservice-connected veterans not included in Subpriority c above. VA is not currently using Subpriority g.
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Priority Group 8
New regulations now allow VA to enroll certain Priority Group 8 Veterans who have been previously denied enrollment in the VA health care system because their income exceeded VA's income thresholds. These Veterans may now qualify if their household income does not exceed the current VA income thresholds by more than 10 percent.
Veterans with income and/or net worth above the VA national income thresholds and the Geographic Means Test Threshold who agree to pay copays may be eligible to enroll under the following conditions:
Veterans eligible for enrollment: Noncompensable 0% service-connected and:
- Subpriority a: Enrolled as of January 16, 2003, and who have remained enrolled since that date and or placed in this subpriority due to changed eligibility status
- Subpriority b: Enrolled on or after June 15, 2009 whose income exceeds the current means test or geographic means test by 10% or less
Veterans eligible for enrollment: Nonservice-connected and:
- Subpriority c: Enrolled as of January 16, 2003, and who have remained enrolled since that date and/or placed in this subpriority due to changed eligibility status
- Subpriority d: Enrolled on or after June 15, 2009 whose income exceeds the current means test or geographic means test by 10% or less
Veterans not eligible for enrollment: Veterans not meeting the criteria above
- Subpriority e: Noncompensable 0% service-connected
- Subpriority g: Nonservice-connected
To see if you are eligible and to access a calculator to see how you stand against the income thresholds, visit http://www4.va.gov/healtheligibility/eligibility/enrollment.asp. If you have any enrollment or eligibility questions, you may call 1-877-222-VETS (8387).
VA Travel Reimbursement
Reimbursement for mileage or public transportation may be paid to the following:
- Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated at 30% or more;
- Veterans traveling for treatment of a service-connected condition;
- Veterans receiving a VA pension;
- Veterans traveling for scheduled compensation or pension examinations;
- Veterans whose income does not exceed the maximum VA pension rate;
Mileage reimbursement is made at the current rate of 41.5 cents per mile. The new deductibles are $3 for a one way trip, $6 for a round trip, with a maximum of $18 per calendar month. However, these deductibles can be waived if they cause a financial hardship to the veteran.
The deductible is also waived for veterans traveling for scheduled compensation or pension examinations.
Disabled Vets can expect Additional Benefits from their VA Loans
Federally-backed mortgage benefits help eligible military members finance their homes. Additionally, many disabled vets may qualify for grants from the VA to adapt their homes to their specific disabilities. Most vets with disabilities caused by injuries sustained in service will likely be eligible for a VA loan. Unfortunately, disabled vets often do not need to meet the minimum required service days for war or peacetime on active duty, but still need to qualify with credit and income to receive a VA loan. Disabled veterans receive all the benefits VA home loans have to offer with a few advantages. To learn more about these advantages, click: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17888832&m=1843980&u=AUSA&j=9301498&s=http://mnstr.me/x9N44w
Bill: Put All Vets Employment Programs Under VA
A key lawmaker, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman, is concerned about jobs for veterans and proposes to strip all veterans’ employment and rehabilitation programs from the Labor Department (DoL) and instead place them in the Veterans Affairs Department (VA), where they might get more attention. He states that this bill, HR 4072, aims to get more of our veterans back to work by placing under one roof all of the services that the federal government offers to unemployed veterans, which will increase coordination between the various education, rehabilitation and employment programs whose goals are to enable veterans to compete in the workforce. Additionally, it could also possibly increase outreach efforts to veterans who are currently unemployed. To learn more about this bill, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17888833&m=1843980&u=AUSA&j=9301498&s=http://bit.ly/yKXBLH
VA Offers Marriage Retreats for Returning Vets
The VA currently has marriage retreat programs for all Veterans up and running at two locations: the VA San Diego Healthcare System and the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, GA. These retreats are conducted by VA chaplains, social workers, psychologists, and counselors who have been certified as instructors for teaching better communication skills, relationship skills, and emotional literacy skills to couples. When VA’s marriage retreats first began, only Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts were being accepted into the program. Since then, VA has opened the program to anyone who’s ever worn the uniform. For more information on VA’s marriage retreat program, call 706-733-0188, ext. 6118, 6114, or 6172. To read more about these retreats, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17888834&m=1843980&u=AUSA&j=9301498&s=http://1.usa.gov/zCGXpi
The National Resource Directory - Bridging the Gap
Success in business usually entails bridging the gap between supply and demand. And it’s the same in service delivery programs. In fact, many of the most popular military programs do exactly that. In 2008, with the number of Wounded Warriors rising, and a new generation of combat Veterans returning home, the National Resource Directory (NRD) was launched to connect Servicemembers, Veterans, their families and caregivers with helpful resources to support them. Operating under the supervision of the Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs, the NRD bridges this information gap through a quality assurance process that ensures resources listed on the site come from legitimate organizations which provide programs and services for our Veteran and military communities. Whether you’re a transitioning Servicemember looking for information on the GI Bill, the spouse of an active duty Soldier searching for a job, or a caregiver trying to find a local support group, the NRD is here 365 days a year, 24/7 with helpful resources to support you along the way. To learn more about the NRD, please go to: https://www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/
You are all invited to the next San Francisco Veterans Town Hall/Collaborative to learn about some of the issues facing our Veterans and to hear about the resources, programs, benefits available for our veterans and families.
When: Wednesday: Jan 25th , Feb 22nd, Mar 28th, Apr 25th, May 23rd, Jun 27th, Jul 25th, Aug 22, Sep 26th, Oct 24th, Nov 28th, Dec 19th, 2012
Time: 9-11 am and again at 5-7 pm
Location: War Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness, Rm 207, San Francisco, CA 94102
This event is a “one stop” for federal, state, and local governments, and community partners to talk about any services or programs available to active duty, reserve, guard, veterans, or family members.
This is also an opportunity for you to express interest in supporting our local military community and a great outreach event. This event is open to all, I hope you can attend. For more information please call me at the number below or contact Mary Ellen Salzano at firstname.lastname@example.org
EDUARDO A. RAMIREZ, MPA, USAF (Ret)
Administrative Officer for Mental Health Service
Minority Veteran Program Coordinator
Department of Veterans Affairs
San Francisco VA Medical Center
Bldg 8, Rm 306 (116A)
4150 Clement Street
San Francisco, Ca 94121
Office: (415) 221-4810 x2189
Cell: (415) 740-4399
Fax: (415) 750-6921
VA Deploying Mobile Centers
The Department of Veterans Affairs has deployed 20 additional Mobile Vet Centers. These customized vehicles travel to communities to extend VA's reach to veterans, servicemembers and their families, especially those living in rural or remote communities. VA has 300 Vet Centers across the country offering individual and group counseling for veterans and their families, family counseling for military related issues, bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death, employment assessment and referral, VA benefits explanation and referral, screening and referral for medical issues and other services. To find out more about Vet Center services or find a Vet Center in your area, visit VA's Vet Center webpage at http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289642&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://bit.ly/9n95as.
College Credit for Military Experience
The American Council on Education (ACE) was created in 1942 to recognize the educational value of military training and experience. Through ACE, you can take academic credit for most of the training you have received, including Basic Training. The first step to claiming the credits you have earned is to request a transcript from your military service. Each service will provide unofficial personal copies and send schools an official copy of your transcript at no charge. In most cases, ACE recommended credits will be used to fulfill your free-elective requirements, but each college determines the number of credits they will accept, and how they will be applied toward your degree. In fact, some schools may even choose not to grant any credit for military experience. That is why it is critical to shop around for a school that meets your specific requirements. For more information, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289643&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://mnstr.me/wWGmAs
New Law Change Increases Insurance Coverage for Veterans
Some Veterans covered under the Veterans Group Life Insurance program (VGLI) now have the current maximum coverage under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program. Under the Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010, enacted on October 13, 2010, Veterans can increase their coverage by $25,000 at each five-year anniversary date of their policy to the current legislated maximum SGLI coverage, presently, $400,000. The VGLI program allows newly discharged Veterans to convert their SGLI coverage they had while in the service to a civilian program. Before enactment of this law, Veterans could not have more VGLI than the amount of SGLI they had at the time of separation from service. Now on their first five-year anniversary, these Veterans can elect to increase their coverage to $275,000. On their next five-year anniversary, they can increase the coverage to $300,000, and so forth. To learn more, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289636&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://1.usa.gov/yYMhyn
Early Retirement Could Be Bad Deal for Troops
Servicemembers who accept a 15-year retirement incentive approved by Congress this month stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of their retirement payments, according to early estimates. This realization, combined with poor national economic factors that are expected to compel many Servicemembers to stay in uniform, could make it even tougher for service officials to entice troops to leave on their own to meet the services' goals of reduced end strength. The services have not yet announced if they will offer early retirements, but defense analysts expect the services to try to use the incentive to pare down their forces, especially in the Army and Marine Corps, the two branches likely to suffer the deepest reductions. To learn more about the early retirement incentive, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=17289634&m=1737443&u=AUSA&j=8724393&s=http://mnstr.me/xv2j2c
Tuition Assistance Program Overview
Week of September 19, 2011
The Armed Forces offers Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Guardsman, and Airmen several programs to support their education goals including up to 100% Tuition Assistance for college courses taken during off-duty hours. Each service has its own criteria for eligibility, obligated service, application process' and restrictions. This money is usually paid directly to the institution by the individual services. See what your military service offers.
Gulf War Claims Deadline
Week of September 19, 2011
For Gulf War Veterans with certain ailments like: Chronic fatigue syndrome; Firbromyalgia; Functional gastrointestinal disorders; and other undiagnosed illnesses the current deadline for when the condition must have "appeared" is on or before December 31, 2011. If you have any conditions that are "undiagnosed" and you did a tour in the Middle East, this could apply to you. The VA is working to extend the deadline to December 31, 2018. If this occurs, it will be great news for veterans and military members who develop symptoms after the 2011 cut-off. However, since there is no guarantee that the deadline will be extended, veterans suffering from undiagnosed conditions are encouraged to talk with their Veteran Service Officer about filing a disability claim for these conditions.
Flight Program Aids Paralyzed Veterans
An existing Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program entitled the Military Severely Injured Joint Services Operations Center Program has been expanded to permit all paralyzed veterans to proceed through airport security safely and with dignity. The veteran or Servicemember should contact the Operations Center 24-72 hours before a confirmed flight at the toll-free number (888) 262-2396 with flight information. The passenger may also email the call center at mailto:MSIJSOC@DHS.GOV with the itinerary. Callers will be connected to a TSA liaison officer who will notify security officials. However, the hotline will not be able to assist if the call is placed earlier than 72 hours or less than 24 hours prior to a flight’s scheduled departure time. To learn more about the program, please go to:
Injury Insurance Expanded
The VA recently announced expansion of the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection Program (TSGLI) to include injuries Servicemembers and veterans received outside of Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF). Originally, Congress made it retroactive to October 7, 2001, for qualifying members who received injuries incurred in the combat zones of OEF or OIF however, in 2010; Public Law 111-275 removed the OEF/OIF requirement. As a result, TSGLI coverage will be provided retroactively for members who incurred qualifying severe injuries or illnesses between October 7, 2001 and November 30, 2005, regardless of where the injury occurred, and regardless of whether they had SGLI coverage at the time. TSGLI covers a wide range of injuries and losses, including amputations and certain traumatic brain or other traumatic injuries among many others. Qualifying Servicemembers and veterans will be able to submit claims starting October 1, 2011. For more information on TSGLI and a complete list of qualifying conditions, visit the VA TSGLI website at http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=14114625&m=1404633&u=AUSA&j=5790765&s=http://www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/TSGLI/TSGLI.htm.
DoD Objects To Provisions Of Veterans Job Bill
The Defense Department (DoD) is raising objections, largely due to cost issues, to key parts of a bipartisan veterans’ employment bill. Efforts to pass this comprehensive overhaul of transition assistance and training programs for veterans, called the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, has been influenced by the high unemployment rates of the Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans. DoD did not testify before the panel at a committee meeting on 8 June, but provided a statement that raised objections to many parts of the bill, including a mandatory attendance for all separating and retiring personnel at the 2½-day Transition Assistance Program workshops, designed to help troops find post-service jobs, and a provision in the bill that is intended to boost federal job opportunities for separating Servicemembers. To read this article in its entirety, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=14114622&m=1404633&u=AUSA&j=5790765&s=http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/06/military-dod-objects-to-provisions-of-veterans-jobs-bill-060811w/
VA Adopts New Construction Plan
The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) current five-year construction planning process will become a 10-year plan beginning in October. The new timeline and plan was the major topic for the House Veterans' Affairs Committee at a recent hearing. Testifying before the committee, VA Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould noted the average age of a VA building is more than 60 years old, and decisions about replacing, repairing or upgrading the VA's aging infrastructure will be assisted by the agency's recently introduced Strategic Capital Investment Planning (SCIP) process. SCIP is replacing the VA's previous system for managing its infrastructure and construction funding, CARES (Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services). http://www.military.com/veterans-report/va-adopts-new-construction-plan?ESRC=vr.nl
New VA Prescription Billing Process
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is implementing a new billing process for charging third party insurers for outpatient prescription medications provided to veterans for conditions unrelated to their military service. This change will not affect veterans' co-payments for prescriptions, but since 18 March, the VA began charging third party insurers of Veterans for the full costs of prescription medications plus an administrative fee of $11.40, rather than the flat fee of $51 that was previously billed. Veterans with questions about their health care benefits can call the VHA Health Resource Center at1-877-222-VETS (8387) or visit the VA's Health Care Overview webpage at: http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/
Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) via military homefront website
AFRH is a one-of-a-kind independent federal agency established to care for Veterans in three settings – independent living, assisted living, and long term care. Services include physical activities, health care, arts and crafts, dining, travel, and social and cultural activities with campuses in Washington DC and Gulfport, MS. Eligible veterans must be at least 50% active duty service as enlisted; free of drug, alcohol, and significant psychiatric problems; either retired with 20 years of active duty service and at least 60 years old; unable to earn a living due to a service-related disability, or unable to earn a living due to a non-service related disability yet served in a war theater. Additionally, women serving before June 12, 1948 are eligible. For more information visit the AFRH website.
Vets Can Submit Resumes for the Congressional Record
An Illinois congressman is promising out-of-work veterans the opportunity to have their resumes published in the Congressional Record, the official record of debate and proceedings for the House and Senate. He is promising attention, but not jobs. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. claimed that sending him your resume will not get you a job, but it can help force Washington to address the unemployment problem once and for all. Jackson’s spokesman Andrew Wilson confirmed that the congressman’s intent is to put the resumes into the Congressional Record “in addition to using the stories in floor remarks, speeches, etc.” Veterans who want their resumes published in the Congressional Record should e-mail them to http://us.mc594.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=mailto:email@example.com. To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=12495795&m=1249906&u=AUSA&s=http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/02/military-veterans-resumes-congressional-record-021411w/
Military Veterans More Likely to be Homeless
Military veterans are much more likely to be homeless than other Americans, according to the government’s first in-depth study of homelessness among former Servicemembers. More than 75,000 needed shelter in a single-night survey and were living on the streets or in a temporary shelter. The urgency of the problem is growing as more people return from service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The study found that 11,300 younger veterans aged 18 to 30, virtually all having served in Iraq or Afghanistan, were in shelters at some point during 2009. To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=12428574&m=1244520&u=AUSA&s=http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/02/ap-homeless
Booz Allen Taps Army For Employees
The consulting firm, based in McLean, VA, Booz Allen, has signed a partnership agreement with the U.S. Army Partnership for Youth Services (Army PaYS) program which attempts to match employers with soldiers leaving military service. The Army developed this program in 2000 and currently has more than 375 companies as a part of this network. Booz Allen states the program will enable them to attract the best staff who have been held to the highest standards due to their military backgrounds. To learn more about this program, go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=12428573&m=1244520&u=AUSA&s=http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2011/02/14/booz-allen-taps-army-for-employees.html?surround=etf&ana=e_article
Website Links Unemployed Vets, Spouses to Jobs
Unemployed veterans, wounded warriors, reserve-component service members and their spouses searching for jobs can find one-stop shopping at a Web portal designed just for them. Operated by the Army Reserve, the Employee Partnership of the Armed Forces provides assistance to those seeking employment and to those public and private employers who support our troops and are ready to hire former Servicemembers. Employers favor veterans because they are often highly skilled leaders from the military atmosphere. To find more information on this website, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=12428571&m=1244520&u=AUSA&s=http://www.employerpartnership.org/ . To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=12428572&m=1244520&u=AUSA&s=http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=62751
VA Outlines Plan to Help Caregivers of Wounded
A long-awaited plan to give caregivers of severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans some extra help was unveiled February 9 by the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department with few specifics about when it would be fully implemented and how many families would benefit. While the enhanced benefits are for the caregivers of the severely disabled veterans from the recent conflicts, the VA said it is also improving other existing programs for caregivers of veterans from all eras. A caregiver coordinator has been named at each of its medical centers and last week a caregiver support hotline was established, which has already received more than 700 calls. To learn more, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=12428569&m=1244520&u=AUSA&s=http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/02/ap-veterans-caregivers-020911/
National Caregiver Support Hotline
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is pleased to announce the launch of a toll-free National Caregiver Support Line. The Caregiver Support Line was created to recognize the significant contributions made by caregivers allowing Veterans to remain at home surrounded by family and friends. This hotline is open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time and includes licensed, clinical social workers available to answer any questions, listen to concerns and directly link the caller to the Caregiver Support Coordinator at a local VA Medical Center. Each VA Medical Center has a Caregiver Support Coordinator who can locate assistance tailored to each unique situation. Caregivers are encouraged to call the National Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274.
Murray Slams VA for Limiting Caregiver Benefits
Many caregivers of severely disabled veterans will be unnecessarily excluded from a new benefits and support programs because of limitations proposed by the Obama administration. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., appointed chairwoman just two weeks ago, is launching a high-profile fight with the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) over eligibility rules for benefits for the caregivers of severely injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. When Congress passed the benefits law last year, lawmakers believed about 3,500 families would be helped. But Murray said VA’s criteria for determining who is eligible would “severely limit” who is covered. To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=12428570&m=1244520&u=AUSA&s=http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/02/military-caregivers-help-limited-murray-021011w/
Army Publishes First National Guard Retirement Guide
The Army has published a 56 page retirement guide for National Guard Soldiers and their Families, which covers subjects ranging from retirement point credits to how to apply for retirement pay. The Army National Guard Information Guide on Non-Regular Retirement was a collaborated effort between the Army G-1 Retirement Services division and the National Guard. To view the guide please visit: http://armyg1.army.mil/retire
VA Treats Combat Stress Remotely
Exposure therapy, gradually reliving those events in a nonthreatening setting with a therapist, can help the trauma of combat, but it requires easy access to a clinician, something not readily available to many veterans living in rural areas. For the past three years Peter Tuerk, a psychologist and Associate Director of the PTSD Clinical Team at the Charleston, S.C., VA Medical Center has used videoconferencing systems to conduct prolonged exposure therapy sessions with veterans who cannot make it to the hospital for face-to-face counseling. This week he received a VA national award for his pioneering work in recognition of his contributions in an area critical to the rehabilitation and improvement in the quality of life of war-injured veterans. To read more on this topic, go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=11405596&m=1165408&u=AUSA&s=http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20101103_3061.php?oref=rss?zone=NGtoday
Fighting for Your Heart: Education on Women and Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in American women. Dr. Haskell, Acting Director, Comprehensive Women’s Health for VA’s Women Veteran’s Health Strategic Health Care Group, and physician at the VA New England Health Care System says women often underestimate the threat and there’s still the misconception that heart disease is more of a man’s disease. In women are dealing with such problems as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity, the risk is equal, or possibly greater in specific cases. Only recently has women’s heart health come to the forefront of health conversations. A study by Dr. Hani Jneid, assistant director of Interventional Cardiology at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, found that women were less likely than men to receive the early medical treatments and invasive procedures critical to combating heart disease. To learn more, please go to: http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/20110209a.asp
Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors
Military Servicemembers can receive expedited processing of disability claims from Social Security. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and require a separate application. The expedited process is used for military Servicemembers who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs. To learn more about these benefits, go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=10447742&m=1088309&u=AUSA&s=http://www.ssa.gov/woundedwarriors/
Linking Head Trauma and A.L.S in Military
Researchers at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Mass., and the Boston University School of Medicine said the link between head trauma and symptoms that resemble amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (A.L.S) may explain why it has been diagnosed in military veterans at high rates. The doctors said that the link between head trauma and an A.L.S.-like disease suggests that the heightened risk would apply not just to collision-sport athletes, but Soldiers who sustain concussions and blast injuries. Several studies have identified members of the United States military, particularly combat Soldiers, at heightened risk for A.L.S., which is considered related to service in the determination of veterans’ benefits. To read this article in its entirety, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=10447743&m=1088309&u=AUSA&s=http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/sports/baseball/18soldiers.html?_r=2
Vets Suspect Agent Orange Dangers May Be Passed Down to Kids
A growing number of parents who have served and were exposed to Agent Orange are connecting their exposure with the ailments affecting their children. The Air Force sprayed nearly 19 million gallons of herbicides in Vietnam between 1962 and 1971, including 11 million gallons of Agent Orange. Soldiers often reused the barrels to store water, or fashioned barbecue grills out of them for cooking. Dioxin exposure was a key topic at a national leadership conference of Vietnam Veterans of America in Orlando, Fla., August 10 through 14. The organization, which includes more than 50,000 members, hosted town hall meetings on Agent Orange. For more information on this topic, click here: http://www.mmsend57.com/link.cfm?r=180191835&sid=10447745&m=1088309&u=AUSA&s=http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_694180.html
VA Piloting Home Respite Program
The Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) and the Office of Care Coordination (OCC) has joined together to form the Caregiver Support Network. The volunteer Respite Program prepares volunteers to effectively assist primary caregivers of Veterans. As part of this network, the Volunteer Respite Program is one way VAVS is supporting the needs of Veterans and their families in an ever changing health care environment. Respite Volunteers visit homebound veterans once or twice a week for a few hours; providing socialization and friendly companionship. To look at a list of assignments or to learn how to become a respite volunteer, please visit: http://www.tucson.va.gov/giving/respite.asp
The face of the VA is changing with male veterans making room for an increasing number of women seeking care at its centers. The changes being made to accommodate women are assisting female veterans in receiving assistance. An estimated 30 percent more female veterans are expected to seek help from VA over the next 5 years. To hear the story in its entirety, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=10018471&m=1052445&u=AUSA&s=http://www.pentagonchannel.mil?fr_story=a8f790e42ef8b7700428308c66abaa8a9ca68bfe&rf=rss
Military Benefits Pay for Professional Training
Vocational/Technical or Trade Schools can provide specific job skills and job training that allow individuals to jump right in to the specific career field of their choice, giving them control over what they learn and when they learn it. The GI Bill and Tuition Assistance may help assist students in covering the costs of getting a certification. Military.com connects prospective students to schools who work with the military. For more information, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9850283&m=1038381&u=AUSA&s=http://www.military.com/veterans-report/military-benefits-pay-for-professional-training-060710?ESRC=vr.nl
Summary of State Benefits for Veterans Available
Military.com has developed an online general summary of educational benefits for veterans and their dependents. From veterans pursuing their educational goals to educational benefits for veterans and their dependents, particularly the children of deceased and disabled veterans, benefits can be found in most states. View the full summary by state here: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9850282&m=1038381&u=AUSA&s=http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/state-veterans-benefits-directory
New VA Family-to-Family Resources
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a new, comprehensive Veterans Resource Center on its website for veterans and active duty personnel, as well as their families, friends, and advocates. NAMI also has a relationship with the Veterans Health Administration to include the Family-to-Family program at VHA facilities. To find out about a Family-to-Family opportunity at a VA near you, visit the NAMI website at: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9850281&m=1038381&u=AUSA&s=http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Family-to-Family&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=4&ContentID=32973
California Building Veterans' Homes
The state of California will soon open three new veterans' homes in Redding, Fresno, and West Los Angeles. The new homes will offer residential care for the elderly along with skilled nursing, memory care, and Alzheimer's units. For more information, visit the Veterans Homes of California webpage at: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9850279&m=1038381&u=AUSA&s=http://www.cdva.ca.gov/newhome.aspx and the California Department of Veterans' Affairs website at: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9850280&m=1038381&u=AUSA&s=http://www.cdva.ca.gov/homes/
New VA Benefits Claim Form
After years of filling out a 26-page-long benefits claims form for the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department, veterans can fill out the VA’s new six-page form. Approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the EZ form is a result of a pilot program mandated by the Veterans’ Benefit Improvement Act of 2008. The program now includes everyone, according to VA’s May Compensation & Pension Service Bulletin. To learn more, click here: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9850277&m=1038381&u=AUSA&s=http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/06/military_benefits_shortform_060910w/
VA Strives to Prevent Veteran Suicides
With more than 6,000 veterans committing suicide every year, and 98 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan taking their own lives during fiscal 2009 alone, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is redoubling its outreach to veterans and promoting its toll-free suicide-prevention hotline. To get the word out about their initiatives, VA launched an advertising campaign in 124 U.S. cities, with public service announcements. Callers may dial 1-800-273-TALK and then select option “1” to speak directly with a VA professional trained to deal with an immediate crisis. To learn more, or to read this article in full, please go to: http://www.defense.gov/News/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=58879 Bill: Bring Chiropractors to More Vet Centers
Chiropractic care would have to be available at a minimum of 75 veterans’ medical centers by the end of 2011 and at all 153 medical centers by the end of 2013, under a new bill. Passed by voice vote by the health subcommittee of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the bill, HR 1017, marks a major step in a 10-year fight in Congress to make chiropractic care and services available to veterans. Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., the veterans’ committee chairman, is the chief sponsor. Expansion of care to all VA facilities has been one of the top priorities of the International Chiropractic Association. Expansion of military and veterans’ treatment programs is part of what they are calling the “Adjust the Vote” campaign, in a bit of chiropractic humor. For more information, please click on the link: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/04/military_chiropracticveterans_medicalcenters_042910w/
Better Prosthetics Coming for Wounded
From developing a new microprocessor-controlled prosthetic leg to a non-chafing socket device, the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center is making big strides in advancing prosthetic science to improve Wounded Warriors’ quality of life. One of the center’s biggest triumphs to date is the X2 microprocessor leg, developed by Otto Bock HealthCare with TATRC funding. The new “C-leg,” being tested by above-the-knee amputees at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., uses a microprocessor to control the knee’s hydraulic functions. This, in turn, gives the wearer more flexibility to change speeds or directions without sacrificing stability. To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.military.com/news/article/army-news/better-prosthetics-coming-for-wounded.html
Female Veterans Still Lack Privacy at VA
A March 31, 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found women using VA hospitals and clinics continue to face: Examination rooms set up so that passersby can see patients disrobed when the door is opened, restrooms that lack feminine sanitary item dispensers and a lack of privacy at appointment and reception desks, allowing others to overhear discussion of medical problems.
Investigators reviewed nine medical centers and 10 outpatient clinics; none fully complied with VA policy on privacy, the report says. The new report to Congress suggests that medical facilities need additional pressure to address problems that can discourage female veterans from seeking care. In a written response to the report, VA officials agree that more must be done and say they are prepared to have regional inspection teams visit hospitals and clinics to independently assess compliance, because the current self-reporting may not be sufficient. To read this article in its entirety, please click here: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/03/military_women_privacy_VA_033110w/
Vets Missing Out on Better Benefits
Only a fraction of wounded veterans who could get better benefits have applied in the two years since Congress, acting on concerns the military was cutting costs by downplaying injuries, ordered the Pentagon to review disputed claims. Out of 77,000 eligible vets, only 921 have applied. More than 230 cases have been decided and about 60 percent were in favor of improving the veteran’s benefits, while an additional 119 cases were dismissed as ineligible. To read this article in full, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9212261&m=982224&u=AUSA&s=http://www.military.com/news/article/vets-missing-out-on-better-benefits.html?wh=news
One in Three Young Vets Now Unemployed
Disturbing new statistics from the Labor Department show that one in three veterans under age 24 is unemployed and that the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has jumped to 14.7 percent, half as high again as the national employment rate of 9.7 percent. The unemployment rate for veterans of all ages was 9.8 percent in March, nearly identical to the national rate. Justin Brown, a labor expert for Veterans of Foreign Wars, said that marks a deployment decline for veterans, who for the last two years were more likely to be employed than nonveterans. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ unemployment rate was 14.7 percent in March, compared with 10.7 percent a year ago. Veterans groups are pushing the federal government, which recently launched a program to boost hiring of veterans for federal jobs, to do more to help veterans find work in the private sector. For more information, follow the link: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9212262&m=982224&u=AUSA&s=http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/04/military_veterans_unemployment_040210w/
New Agent Orange
About 86,000 Vietnam War veterans, their surviving spouses or estates will be eligible for retroactive disability compensation from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department under a draft VA rule to expand the number of diseases by three which are presumed to have been caused by herbicide exposure in the war. The 86,000 are beneficiaries who can reopen previously denied claims for these conditions: ischemic heart disease, Parkinson's disease and chronic B-cell blood cancers including hairy cell leukemia. Another 29,000 claims are expected to be approved this year for Vietnam veterans suffering from these diseases and applying for benefits for the first time. The projected cost of this dramatic expansion of claims linked to Agent Orange and other defoliants deployed four decades ago is $13.6 billion this fiscal year and $42.2 billion over 10 years. VA plans to hire 1772 new claims processors, starting October 2010. To read more of Tom Philpott’s article, please go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9212264&m=982224&u=AUSA&s=http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,213007,00.html?wh=news
American Legion offers financial aid. The American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance program provides cash assistance to help meet the basic needs of veterans' children when it is established that no other resources are available to provide the required assistance. Veterans need not be members of The American Legion, but they must have served on active duty during one of the Legion's eligibility periods. Their children, stepchildren or children in their legal custody must be 17 or younger and not married. For more information visit the American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance Program webpage at: http://www.legion.org/financialassistance.
American Corporate Partners
American Corporate Partners is a nationwide mentoring program which is matching employees from some of the largest corporations and universities in the country with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for the purpose of mentoring, networking and career counseling. ACP is dedicated to helping veterans transition from the Armed Services to private enterprise. To learn more about this organization, visit the website at: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9074914&m=970017&u=AUSA&s=http://www.acp-usa.org/
Tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans with ischemic heart disease, Parkinson's disease or B cell leukemia should file claims now with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for disability compensation and not wait until VA publishes a regulation officially linking these diseases to wartime service. Veteran advocacy groups are urging the swift filing of claims because veterans eventually found eligible for disability pay for these diseases will be able to receive compensation back to the date their claims were filed. http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9074910&m=970017&u=AUSA&s=http://www.military.com/veterans-report/vets-urged-to-file-ao-claims
In addition, a Department of Defense (DoD) Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) resulted in 61 percent of applicants having their status changed from a medical separation to retirement on the permanent disability list. This review is open to eligible veterans of the DoD, Guard and Reserve and Coast Guard. Eligible veterans can request a PDBR by submitting a Department of Defense Form 294, which is available at: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9074911&m=970017&u=AUSA&s=http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/eforms/dd0294.pdf. For more information, go to: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9074912&m=970017&u=AUSA&s=http://www.military.com/military-report/dod-assessing-disability-ratings
VA Change Eases Process for Iraq, Afghan Vets
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) took steps March 18, 2010 to make it easier for veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars to get disability benefits. To qualify for the new streamlined status, they must have malaria, West Nile Virus or one of seven other diseases. The VA has proposed a regulation change that lets veterans qualify for benefits by showing only that they served in the recent conflicts, or in the Gulf War, and have a diagnosis of any of nine diseases. Called “presumptive status,” it’s easier to prove an illness stems from war service. Shinseki made the decision after a recommendation by the agency’s Gulf War Veterans Illnesses Task Force. The seven other diseases are brucellosis, campylobacter jejuni, coxiella burnetii, mycobacterium tuberculosis, nontyphoid salmonella, shigella and visceral leishmaniasis. To find out more information, go to: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/03/ap_military_va_benefits_change_031810/
SSI Excludes Combat-Related Pay
The Social Security Administration (SSI) is no longer considering combat-related military pay in determining whether spouses and children of Servicemembers are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Social Security Administration also will not consider retroactive payments of certain military pay as resources for nine months following receipt. This change in the rules protects spouses and children of Servicemembers serving in a combat zone from a reduction in or loss of benefits due to combat related military pay. For more information, visit the Social Security Administration website at: http://www.mmsend57.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=9074898&m=970017&u=AUSA&s=http://www.ssa.gov/
DoD Research on Hypertension
DoD medical researchers found that Servicemembers who suffered multiple combat exposures during a deployment, and especially those who witnessed death as a result of war, were much more likely to report hypertension (chronic high blood pressure) compared to those who had not seen combat. The report was published in the September issue of Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association, and helped shed more light on the correlation between high-stress situations and high blood pressure. To read the more on this study, go to: http://hyper.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/54/5/966
Costly Agent Orange-Heart Disease Link
The cost of war on veterans' health has become a little more taxing. Department of Veterans Affairs issues a final rule to claim adjudicators to presume three more diseases of Vietnam veterans, including heart disease, were caused by exposure to Agent Orange. To read the full article by Tom Philpott, please go to: http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,208380,00.html
The Official U.S. Government Site for People with Medicare now has a site specifically for Caregivers.
This website offers caregivers support resources, such as Help with Billing, Navigating Medicare and Care Options. It has a Spotlight on Caring and Caregiver Topic highlighted. To visit this site, follow the link: http://www.medicare.gov/Caregivers/
FREE LIFE COACHING FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS
The Purple Heart Project provides free "life coaching" to Wounded Warriors-those Service members who have been injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Life coaching helps individuals determine and achieve their personal goals, which is valuable in helping individuals in their transitioning process. Life coaching provides a dynamic opportunity for Wounded Warriors by helping them establish a strategic plan of action, and lay out definitive goals that are achievable, and help them with a successful transition to civilian life. The Purple Heart Project is now accepting applications from Wounded Warriors who are interested in beginning in 2010. Most coaching will occur over the telephone with some communication via email. This program is available to all eligible individuals nationwide. For more about the project, visit their website at http://thepurpleheartproject.org/
FREEDOM SERVICE DOGS FOR VETERANS
A new Veterans Administration (VA) program adopts dogs from animal shelters and trains them to be matched with wounded warriors who are home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The program was formed after Freedom Service Dogs recently partnered with the VA. VA hospitals nationwide are integrating service dogs into treatment plans for disabled veterans. For further information about Freedom Service Dogs, please go to the following link: http://www.magnet101.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=7060993&m=784567&u=AUSA&s=http://freedomservicedogs.org/
President Obama recently signed the Veteran's Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 into law. Check it out here: http://frwegate/.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbn.
How Mesothelioma Affects Veterans
Asbestos related diseases will increase drastically within the next twenty years. Fortunately, there is still research being conducted to determine more information about mesothelioma treatment, it's causes, and it's symptoms, and where exactly people have been exposed. There is not, however, enough being done to determine how veterans will be compensated for the damages done to their health and quality of life.
For More information please contact:
Douglas Karr, United States Navy Veteran
Veteran Advocate & Outreach Coordinator
Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center
Transferring Your GI Bill: Quirks and Process
Users of the Post-9/11 GI Bill will find a quirk in how Congress designed one of its most popular features: the option to transfer benefits to family members. For example, spouses of active duty members who hope to use transferred benefits to attend private colleges will be delighted at the value of the benefit for them. It will cover full tuition and fees, with no ceiling, and therefore will be worth far more than benefits transferable to college-bound children or even benefits available to veterans using the full plan themselves. On the other hand, active duty spouses who use transferred benefits to attend public colleges or universities will have a more modest education package than other GI Bill users including eligible children because active duty spouses will not qualify the GI Bill's monthly living allowance or the annual stipend for books and supplies. To read the full article by Tom Philpot go to: http://www.magnet101.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=6929564&m=771430&u=AUSA&s=http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,193477,00.html?wh=news All applications to transfer benefits will be made through the Transferability of Educational Benefit (TEB) website. For more information on eligibility and application procedures,
see the Department of Veterans’ Affairs web site at http://www.magnet101.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=6929565&m=771430&u=AUSA&s=http://www.gibill.va.gov/
Partnership Opens Door for Army Reserve, Guard Construction Jobs
Helmets to Hardhats, a national program that connects National Guard, Reserve and transitioning active duty members with career training and employment within 15 building and construction trades unions and nine leading construction and contractor associations, officially joined the Army Reserves’s Employer Partnership Initiaive during a Pentagon signing ceremony on July 2, 2009. The arrangement will open the door for the Army Guard and Reserve to share the same talent pool with about 80,000 civilian employers in the construction industry. To read this article in full, please go to the following link: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=55001
VA Relaxes Eligibility Rules for Veterans
The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs has relaxed eligibility rules for enrollment in VA health care. As of June 15, 2009 veterans who have applied for VA health care but were rejected due to income, will have their applications reconsidered under the new legislation. This change in eligibility will now allow approximately 266,000 more veterans to enroll in VA health care. For more information, and to see the new rules for qualifying for VA health care visit: http://www.magnet101.com/ls.cfm?r=180191835&sid=6929577&m=771430&u=AUSA&s=http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility or call
(877) 222-VETS (8387). To read the article, visit the following link:
Homes for Our Troops
Homes for Our Troops is a non-profit, non-partisan, 501 (c)(3) organization founded in 2004. This organization is strongly committed to helping those who have selflessly given to their country and have returned home with serious disabilities and injuries. We assist severely injured Servicemen and Women and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and then coordinating the process of building a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility. The finished home is then given to the veteran. http://www.homesforourtroops.org/
*All services provided by Homes for Our Troops are at no cost to the veterans we serve.
VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars)
the Military Assistance Program (MAP),
The VFW provides numerous services to military servicemembers and their families.
The three main efforts of the VFW Military Services department are:
Operation Uplink, and
Each program has a focus of support: MAP has helped fund Farewell and Welcome Home gatherings for military units worldwide. Operation Uplink provides free, pre-paid phone cards to servicemembers. Unmet Needs can give a one-time grant up to $2,500 for qualifying service members and their families experiencing financial hardship. http://www.vfw.org
Joint Electronic Health, Benefits Record Pursued for Vets, Families
The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) have created a group dedicated to forming a joint lifetime electronic health record for military members and their families. The record will cover everything, past and present, from the accession of the Servicemember to an application to Veterans Cemetery Authority. To learn more click here http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/joint-electronic-health-benefits-record-pursued-veterans-families/2009-03-30
VA Offers Help for Veterans with ALS
Veterans suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, may qualify for compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). ALS causes degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness, muscle atrophy and spontaneous muscle activity. ALS will become a “presumptively compensable illness” for veterans with 90 or more days of continuous active service. Read the full article at http://globegazette.com/articles/2009/04/01/news/local/doc49d2e315655aa404506406.txt
Army Reserve Employer Partnership Initiative
The Employer Partnership Initiative (EPI) is designed to provide employment opportunities for Soldiers by formalizing relationships with employers in the private sector. Partner employers collaborate workforce development issues, to include training, professional development and credentialing. Visit the Army Reserve’s EPI website at http://www.usar.army.mil/arweb/pages/default.aspx