Dear Sir or Madam:
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) finalized a new rule on 13 January 2017 to consider eight diseases as presumptive for service connection. This presumptive service connection provides VA disability benefits to veterans who have one of eight diseases and served for no less than 30 days (consecutive or nonconsecutive) on permanent or temporary duty at Camp Lejeune between 1 August 1953 and 31 December 1987. The eight diseases covered under the new rule are: adult leukemia; aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes; bladder cancer; kidney cancer; liver cancer; multiple myeloma; non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; and Parkinson's disease.
The rule will become effective after a 60-day Congressional review. Following the Congressional review period, the Marine Corps will mail registrants pertinent information and updates about the VA's new rule. The rule will be effective 14 March 2017.
Congress granted the VA the authority to prescribe all rules and regulations presumptively connecting a disease to service. We appreciate efforts by the VA and Congress to support our Marines and their families.
To contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to learn more about health care benefits, please visit http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/, or call (877) 222-8387 (Healthcare), or (800) 827-1000 (Benefits).
The health and welfare of our Marines, Sailors, their families and our civilian workers are top priorities for the Marine Corps. We continue to work diligently to identify and notify individuals who may have been exposed to the chemicals in drinking water at Camp Lejeune. For more information about these efforts, or to update your contact information, please see: http://www.marines.mil/clwater/ or contact the Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water Call Center at (877) 261-9782, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share this information with anyone that may have been at Camp Lejeune between the dates noted and encourage them to register with us.
The Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water Program
On Saturday, February 8, 2014 12:38 AM, "Joe Johnston, DAV National Commander" <email@example.com> wrote:
|Vital Advance Appropriations Amendment Needs Your Support
|Please Write to Your Senators Today!
A vitally important amendment will soon be offered in the Senate that would authorize advance appropriations for all VA programs, services and benefits – one of DAV’s highest legislative priorities – and to get this passed, your Senators need to hear directly from you.
Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Begich (D-AK) will offer the amendment to S. 1982, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Pay Restoration Act of 2014, veterans legislation that DAV strongly supports. Their amendment is similar to their bill, S. 932, the Putting Veterans Funding First Act, which the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs approved in a bipartisan vote of 13 to 1 last November. The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved similar legislation (H.R. 813) unanimously last August.
VA’s medical care programs already receive advance appropriations since Congress passed, and the President signed, Public Law 111-81, the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, in October 2009 to provide the budget a year in advance. As a result, during the recent government shutdown while many VA offices and services were closed, VA hospitals and clinics were able to provide uninterrupted health care. By contrast, the shutdown delayed, disrupted and suspended other critical services for veterans.
However, the advance appropriations process is not just a tactic for government shutdowns; it has made VA health care funding more timely and predictable every year and can do the same for the rest of VA’s programs, benefits and services. Advance appropriations can mitigate the disruptions caused by late-arriving budgets and continuing resolutions that occurred in 22 of the past 25 years. Furthermore, by passing advance appropriations, we can protect veterans from being used as political pawns during unrelated budget fights in the future. However, without adoption of the bipartisan Boozman-Begich amendment, veterans claims processing, burials, research and other vital functions of the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to suffer from a broken budget process.
Because of the complexities of Senate rules, we need to send a clear and strong message to Senators that the adoption of this amendment to S. 1982 is essential to fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. By helping to ensure timely and predictable funding for all veterans benefits and services, the Boozman-Begich amendment is a crucial step to keeping those promises.
Please use the prepared electronic text to urge your Senators to vote for this important amendment, to support any procedures necessary to allow a vote on this amendment, and then to vote for final passage of S. 1982.
As always, we greatly appreciate your support of DAV and your grassroots activism in participating in DAV CAN, our Commander’s Action Network. Without the efforts of you and thousands like you, DAV would not be as influential and effective in our advocacy for veterans, particularly for those wounded, injured and ill from their military service.
Recent VA News Releases
To view and download VA news release, please visit the following Internet address:
Veterans to Receive 1.5 Percent Cost-of-Living Increase
New Rates for Compensation and Pension Benefits in 2014
WASHINGTON (Dec. 4, 2013) – Veterans, their families and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in their monthly payments beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
“We’re pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for Veterans, their families and their survivors,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The increase expresses in a tangible way our Nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service-disabled and wartime Veterans.”
For the first time, payments will not be rounded down to the nearest dollar. Until this year, that was required by law. Veterans and survivors will see additional cents included in their monthly compensation benefit payment.
For Veterans without dependents, the new compensation rates will range from $130.94 monthly for a disability rated at 10 percent to $2,858.24 monthly for 100 percent. The full rates are available on the Internet at www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/rates-index.asp.
The COLA increase also applies to disability and death pension recipients, survivors receiving dependency and indemnity compensation, disabled Veterans receiving automobile and clothing allowances, and other benefits.
Under federal law, cost-of-living adjustments for VA’s compensation and pension must match those for Social Security benefits. The last adjustment was in January 2013 when the Social Security benefits rate increased 1.7 percent.
In fiscal year 2013, VA provided over $59 billion in compensation benefits to nearly 4 million Veterans and survivors, and over $5 billion in pension benefits to more than 515,000 Veterans and survivors.
For Veterans and separating Servicemembers who plan to file an electronic disability claim, VA urges them to use the joint DoD/VA online portal, eBenefits. Registered eBenefits users with a premium account can file a claim online, track the status, and access a variety of other benefits, including pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.
For more information about VA benefits, visit www.benefits.va.gov, or call 1-800-827-10001-800-827-1000 FREE.
A NOTE FROM THE COMMANDER: To all DAV Bergen county chapter 15 members: If you know of any members or their immediate family in distress, please call Chaplin Ignazio Valente Jr. at 201-641-0863201-641-0863 and let him know.
If you served on active duty at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987, you may have been exposed to contaminated drinking water.
Under a new law (pdf) just signed by President Obama, you can receive VA medical care if you are suffering from any of the medical conditions described in the law and resided or served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for not fewer than 30 days between January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1987.
VA will provide care immediately for those conditions while your eligibility under the new law is confirmed. VA’s Public Health web site contains important information about the law along with links to other useful web sites. Or call 1-877-222-83871-877-222-8387 for assistance.
VA is committed to providing the best quality care for eligible Veterans and their families who lived or worked at Camp Lej eune and were exposed to contaminated water.
Those not already enrolled should call 1-877-222-83871-877-222-8387 FREE for assistance.
Care for family members will be available after Congress appropriates funds and VA publishes regulations. The new law applies to health care, not disability compensation.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is committed to providing the best quality care for eligible Veterans and their families who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune and were exposed to contaminated water.
The law signed by President Obama on August 6, 2012, is titled Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.
The new law applies to health care, not disability compensation. At this time, there is insufficient scientific and clinical evidence to establish a presumptive association between service at Camp Lejeune during the period of water contamination and the development of certain diseases.
Veterans may file a claim for disability compensation for health problems they believe are related to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. VA decides these clai ms on a case-by-case basis. File a claim online.
Marine Corps notifications
Posted on Mon, Aug. 06, 2012
Obama signs law giving health care to Lejeune tainted water victims
By Franco Ordonez and Barbara Barrett | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: August 07, 2012 11:41:10 AM
WASHINGTON -- ]
President Barack Obama signed into law on Monday legislation to provide health care to thousands of sick Marine veterans and their families who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Retired Marine Jerry Ensminger and cancer survivor Mike Partain stood looking over the president's shoulder as he, with the swipe of his pen, vindicated all their late nights poring over undisclosed documents, cross-country trips to seek out other victims, and countless battles with Marine Corps officials who, they say, continue to ignore their pleas.
"Sadly, this act alone will not bring back those we've lost, including Jane Ensminger," Obama said before signing the bill, named partly after Ensminger's daughter, "but it will honor their memory by making a real difference for those who are still suffering."
Janey Ensminger was just 9 years old when she died in 1985 of a rare form of leukemia. Her father spent years trying to make sense of her painful death.
But in 1997, he saw a news report about contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Janey Ensminger was conceived at the base in the 1970s and diagnosed with leukemia in 1983.
Her father's life then turned into a David and Goliath story, as he and Partain took on the 236-year-old Marine Corps, culminating with the signing of the law in the Oval Office.
"I'm still in shock," said Partain. "We've been fighting for justice for so long. Fighting the juggernaut of the Marine Corps. They should have quashed us a long time ago. And they almost did."
Despite its previous contention that there was insufficient evidence to prove the illnesses were related to service at Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps said in a statement Monday that it was pleased and supported the new law.
Partain, who was born on the base, already had been diagnosed with male breast cancer when he learned of Ensminger's efforts. A claims adjustor for State Farm Insurance, Partain figured his investigative skills would be helpful to their mutual cause.
Their combined efforts eventually led to the passage of a bill, introduced by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., that would provide health care for people who lived or worked at the base from Jan. 1, 1957, through Dec. 31, 1987. They also must have a condition listed within the bill linked to exposure to dangerous chemicals.
The law is expected to help thousands of veterans and their families who were exposed to drinking water that was poisoned with trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, benzene and vinyl chloride.
McClatchy obtained documents in 2010 showing that potentially as much as 1.1 million gallons of fuel, containing benzene, leaked from underground storage tanks on the base. Benzene is a fuel solvent known to cause cancer in humans.
Burr, along with Sen. Kay Hagan and Rep. Brad Miller, both North Carolina Democrats, has advocated strongly for the government to help the sick Marines and their families.
The law provides health care for 15 diseases and illnesses, including several cancers, female infertility and scleroderma, a group of diseases that causes skin and sometimes internal organs to become hard and tight. Miller, the original sponsor of the Janey Ensminger Act, which was included in a modified version of Burr's bill, said studies are under way to learn whether there are connections between the poisoned water and other illnesses, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease.
Meanwhile, the federal scientists who have been studying the contamination have several reports yet to come: on the extent and type of contamination, on death rates among Lejeune Marines, on male breast cancer and on miscarriages and birth defects.
The Department of Veterans Affairs will determine the process for how veterans and family members can obtain health benefits under the new law.
Partain and Ensminger say their fight for justice is far from over. They want a meeting with Gen. James Amos, the Marine commandant, and for members of the corps to be held accountable.
"This is just like Penn State," said Partain, referring to the child sexual abuse scandal that school officials allegedly attempted to keep under wraps. "These people recognize what they did. They recognize what it could possibly do to the Marine Corps as far as the damage to its reputation. And they chose to cover it up rather than do the honorable thing and stand up and say, 'We made a mistake and we hurt some people. Let's take care of it.'"
Ensminger dedicated 25 years of his life to the Marine Corps. What hurts most, he says, is that the Marines continue to not take responsibility for their sick members.
"If a family has a problem, don't they usually sit down and talk things out?" Ensminger said. "They do unless they're dysfunctional. So guess what? The Marine Corps family is dysfunctional."
The Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011
New Benefits for Unemployed Veterans
V E T E R A N S M A Y Q U A L I F Y F O R A D D I T I O N A L E D U C A T I O N B E N E F I T S .
The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) offers 12 months of retraining assistance to Veterans who are:
§ At least 35 but no more than 60 years old
§ Have an other than dishonorable discharge
§ Not eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g., the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment)
§ Not in receipt of VA compensation due to Individual Unemployability (IU)
§ Not enrolled in a federal or state job training program
§ Enrolled in a VA approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school
The program is limited to 45,000 participants from July 1, 2012 through September 30, 2012, and to 54,000 participants from October 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014. Participants may receive up to 12 months of assistance at the full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program (currently $1,473 per month). The program must lead to an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certification, and train the Veteran for a high demand occupation.
V E T E R A N S W I T H A S E R V I C E - C O N N E C T E D D I S A B I L I T Y M A Y Q U A L I F Y F O R A D D I T I O N A L V O C A T I O N A L R E H A B I L I T A T I O N A N D E M P L O Y M E N T B E N E F I TS
Veterans who previously completed a VA vocational rehabilitation program and have used the initial 26 weeks of unemployment benefits may qualify for an additional 12 months of VA vocational rehabilitation benefits.
§ You must have previously completed a VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program and been
considered “rehabilitated” by VA.
§ You must apply within six months of using up your initial 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. You may still qualify for extended or emergency unemployment benefits.
§ You can apply now, but cannot start any education or training until June 1, 2012 and you must apply to VA by
March 31, 2014.
VA may offer incentive payments to encourage employers to hire and train program participants.
§ VA may be able to reimburse an employer up to one-half your annual salary for 6 months or longer
§ This can provide you with a competitive advantage with employers
§ You must apply and qualify for VA vocational rehabilitation benefits prior to being hired
To apply or learn more information about VRAP or Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits, including on how to apply please call 1-800-827-1000 or visit www.benefits.va.gov/VOW and fill out an online application (VONAPP), or Complete VA Form 28-1900, Disabled Veterans Application for Vocational Rehabilitation, and submit it to the nearest VA Regional Office.
For anyone looking for a hard copy of their DD 214, follow the link below:
TO ALL NEW MEMBERS: DAV STATE WILL MAKE THE FIRST $20 PAYMENT FOR YOUR LIFE MEMBERSHIP.
CHAPTER 15 WILL PAY $20 TORWARD PURCHASE OF DAV HAT, PLEASE SEE BOB HALLOGAN.
Subject: DD 214 Increased Social Security Benefits For Vets -- EXTRA SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT for those with active duty between January 1957 to December 31, 2001 Please share this with anyone who had active duty service between January 1957 to December 31, 2001, and planning for retirement. In a nutshell it boils down to this:
DD 214 Increased Social Security Benefits For Vets
DD FORM 214
See the web site & notes below to possibly increase your Social Security Benefits.
DD FORM 214 -- SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT
You qualify for a higher social security payment because of your Military service, for active duty any time from 1957 through 2001 (the program was done away with 1 January 2002). Up to $1200 per year of earnings credit credited at time of application - which can make a substantial difference in social security monthly payments upon your retirement. You must bring your DD-214 to the Social Security Office and you must ask for this benefit to receive it!
Soc Sec website: http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/military.htm
This is something to put in your files for when you apply for Social Security down the road.. It is NOT just for retirees, BUT anyone who has served on active duty between January 1957 to December 31, 2001.
FYI - this benefit is not automatic, you must ask for it! We've all been on active duty between 1957 and 2001 or know someone who has.
Passing on good information for all you military folks when you apply for social security. I know this may be too early for some of you to think about social security but, keep living and you will get there.
Regional Resource Coordinator Maryland's Commitment to Veterans Project State of Maryland- Southern Region Human Services Partnership Building La Plata, Maryland 2064
Military Report is the most comprehensive military benefits and quality-of-life newsletter for military personnel and retirees. Make sure that you and your colleagues subscribe for this free update publication.
-------------------------------- 19 DECEMBER 2011-------------------------------------------
· Headline Military News
Defense Bill: Pay and TRICARE Fees Go Up
Troops should get their 2012 across the board military pay increase on time. More
Deal of the Week: Disney Discount
Guests presenting a valid military ID when checking in at select Walt Disney World Resorts are eligible for special room only discounts. More
Many to See BAH Increase in 2012
Due to an overall increase in the cost of housing, military Basic Allowance for Housing rates across the country increased an average of 2 percent. More
New 2012 GI Bill Housing Rates
New BAH Rates mean changes for the Post-9/11 GI Bill stipends in 2012. More
$200k Protection for $14.52 a Month
Give your family $200k worth of financial security for as little as $14.52 a month by purchasing affordable life insurance through ASMBA. More
Army's First Cyber Brigade
The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command created the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade to support U.S. and Army Cyber Commands. More
GI Bill 2.0: New Housing Allowance
The Post-9/11 GI Bill now offers a housing allowance for students enrolled in online classes. More
5 Reasons To Get Your Tech Certification
Whether you are studying for a career in the IT networking industry, researching opportunities, or already in this field, certification can help you build a career in one of the hottest industries available today. More
All-DoD Football Team: Nominate Your Kid
The 24 best high school players (11 offensive players, 11 defensive players, a kicker and a punter) will be selected. More
Get Help Prepping for Transition
Fidelis offers a free program that can help veterans navigate through transition by providing a rigorous end-to-end education solution. More
Navy Jumpers Backordered
Naval Supply Systems Command has announced a backorder of common sizes of the Navy Blue Jumper, commonly referred to as the "crackerjack," because they are in short supply. More
Have What it Takes to be a Thunderbird?
America's premier air demonstration team, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, is accepting applications for several positions. More
Top 35 Veteran Employers
We've posted a list of the "35 Top Employers for Military," which took a look at a variety of companies, both large and small, over different industries. More
Navy Retention Board Results
Sailors considered by Phase II of the Enlisted Retention Board may now view their retention status on BUPERS Online. More
Servicemembers Get Free Phone Cards
The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) has announced military members underway or forward-deployed during the holiday season will be given a free $10 phone card to call loved ones back home. More
Navy Civilian Career Opportunities
The Civilian Careers Campaign recruits non-military personnel and veterans to the civilian component of the Navy. More
GI Bill Calculator: Measure Your Benefits
Visit the Military.com GI Bill Calculator to find out how much your GI Bill may be worth in 2012. More
NASA Seeking Astronaut Candidates
NASA is accepting applications for astronaut candidates, via the USAJobs website at www.usajobs.gov/, through Jan. 12, 2012. More
AAFES, AFRC Resorts Sweepstakes
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service and Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) Resorts is offering a vacation for a one Lucky family of four that wins the "AFRC Resorts Sweepstakes." More
AAFES Offers Check Cashing Service
The Exchange is offering shoppers inexpensive access to their money with free check cashing and cash back on debit transactions. More
Navy Reserve Advancement News
The Navy recently announced the February, 2012 Navywide examinations for advancement for E4-E7 Selected Reserve (SELRES) personnel and FY-13 SELRES Selection Boards. More
Navy E-7 - E-9 Continuation Board News
A performance-based board for continuation of senior enlisted Sailors recently convened at Navy Personnel Command (NPC). More
Service Dogs for Veterans
Trained service dogs are helping veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). More
Holiday Concert Features Air Force Band
The Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air Force Strings has joined Grammy-winning vocalist Lee Ann Womack and the Grammy-nominated band Little Big Town in the annual "Holiday Notes from Home" concert. More
AF to Play in Military Bowl
The U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons will play the University of Toledo Rockets Dec. 28 in the 2011 Military Bowl in Washington D.C. More
AF Voluntary Separation Update
The Air Force has announced the expansion of voluntary officer separation measures for fiscal 2012 as part of the service's ongoing force-management initiatives. More
Army Offers MBA Fellowship
The U.S. Army is searching for a few good logisticians. More
AAFES Pulls Body Building Supplements
Weight-loss and bodybuilding supplements containing a popular new stimulant were recently pulled off the shelves at Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores. More
AF Airmen December Promotion List
More than 290 Airmen have been selected for promotion to the next higher rank as part of the December enlisted supplemental promotion process. More
Forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues in the military community.
Military Report Published by Military.com Editors: Terry Howell
Important Legislation Regarding SBP/DIC Offset
Please Contact Your Elected Officials Today
On January 5, 2011, Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina introduced H.R. 178, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act. It was followed on February 2, 2011, by companion legislation in the Senate, S. 260, introduced by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.
These bills would repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan to offset the receipt of survivors dependency and indemnity compensation. These bills are in accordance with a longstanding DAV resolution, passed each year by the delegates to our National Convention. H.R. 178 has 157 cosponsors in the House and S. 260 has 49 cosponsors in the Senate. H.R. 178 was referred to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel on February 4, 2011. S. 260 was referred to the Committee on Armed Services on the day it was introduced, February 2, 2011.
Please use the prepared e-mail to contact your Representative and Senators to request that these important bills be brought to the floor for a vote and passed as soon as possible.
Thank you for all you do for veterans and their families.
Stand Up for Veterans Update
November 4, 2011
COLA for Disabled Veterans and Survivors Gets Final Congressional Approval
As a result of the House's unanimous approval of S. 894, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011, disabled veterans will get a 3.6% COLA increase in their disability compensation, the first increase since December 2008. The bill's sponsor, Senator Patty Murray (WA), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, said that, "...in this difficult economy, our veterans deserve a boost in their benefits to help make ends meet." House Chairman Jeff Miller (FL) said that, "Due to low inflation the past two years, our veterans have not received an increase. This additional income will help them make ends meet in the coming year."
Although the COLA bill was approved unanimously in both the House and the Senate, and President Obama is expected to sign the legislation before Veterans Day, there is still concern that the Super Committee might consider a proposal to take the COLA back from disabled veterans and their survivors, a move that could generate significant outrage amongst disabled veterans.
Bills to Boost Veterans Employment Stalled in Senate
Despite bipartisan and bicameral support for legislation to boost employment prospects for veterans, it now seems unlikely that any bill will make it to the President's desk before Veterans Day. According to an article today by Military Times, "...Senate Democrats are considering adding two White House-sponsored tax provisions that could delay a final vote." The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 (S. 951) sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (WA) was approved by the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on July 18, and H.R. 2433, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011, introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (FL), was approved by the House on October 12, but both bills are waiting for floor time in the Senate.
According to the Military Times article, "If the Senate adds tax credits to the bill — not yet a certainty — the measure would have to return for another vote in the House...", which has not shown interest in the Administration's jobs provisions and is also out of session next week. DAV and other major veterans organizations have made passage of comprehensive veterans jobs legislation a top priority for this year.
Veterans' Cost-of-Living Adjustment
Please Ask Your Elected Officials to Stand Up for Veterans
On October 18, 2011, it was announced that there would be a 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security recipients next year. The Senate immediately and unanimously passed legislation, S. 894, to apply this same COLA increase to veterans disability compensation payments. Earlier this year, the House approved companion legislation, H.R. 1407. Once the COLA legislation is sent to the President and signed into law, it will provide a much-needed increase for the 3.2 million disabled veterans who receive monthly disability compensation payments as a result of injuries or illnesses suffered in service to the nation. For many veterans, particularly those with severe and catastrophic disabilities, these payments may be their primary or even their only source of income.
For the past two years, disabled veterans have seen no COLA increases, and for many it has become increasingly harder to make ends meet. While the official COLA may have been zero, it is important to understand that the Consumer Price Index upon which the COLA is calculated does not take into account increases in the cost of food or gasoline. In addition, as disabled veterans grow older, their needs may also increase due to declining health and increased morbidity.
While we recognize the difficult work facing Congress to make reductions in federal spending, we believe it would be irresponsible to target cuts at those who have already sacrificed so much for their country.
Please urge your elected officials to reject any proposals that would reduce disability compensation, or prevent, reduce or delay the application of a full COLA for disability compensation.
DAV News Release
June 9, 2011
DAV Calls for Mandatory Reporting of all Sexual Assaults in VA Facilities
WASHINGTON — The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) finds very disturbing a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which cites 284 cases of alleged, attempted or confirmed sex assaults on patients and employees at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers between January 2007 and last July.
"It is fundamental that our VA hospitals offer a safe environment as well as top-flight medical care," said DAV National Commander Wallace E. Tyson. "This is very disturbing news, and we urge the VA to put into place the report's recommendations at all medical centers, clinics and other facilities."
The GAO report examined sexual assaults at VA medical centers and found that many times the victims' reports are mishandled or inappropriately acted upon based on decisions by local physicians and administrators.
The DAV strongly recommends the creation of a task force to ensure the VA adopts a culture of safety and promptly develops a uniform policy for the reporting of all sexual assaults.
"We look to the VA and the administration to make safety a priority in our VA medical centers," Tyson said.
"Mandatory reporting is absolutely necessary. There must be a strict requirement set immediately that all allegations of sexual assaults be reported to an independent body of oversight," Commander Tyson said. "These reports can no longer be allowed to be dealt with solely at the local level."
"This is not a gender-specific issue – this is an issue for every veteran, family member and caregiver. Every person who enters a VA facility must know the government is doing everything possible to keep them safe. VA needs to be a place of care not of fear."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 18, 2011
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) App Helps Thousands
WASHINGTON – The PTSD Coach smartphone application (app), launched in
April by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense
(DoD), has already helped more than 5,000 users connect with important mental
health information and resources.
“This new tool is about helping Veterans and Servicemembers when and
where they need it,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We
are encouraged so many have already downloaded this resource and hope many more
will utilize this convenient tool to access VA services.”
Since its launch, the PTSD Coach app has been downloaded by thousands of
individuals. While 96 percent of the users so far are located in the United
States, the app has also been downloaded in 25 other countries. The app lets
users track their PTSD symptoms, links them with public and personalized sources
of support, provides accurate information about PTSD, and teaches helpful
strategies for managing PTSD symptoms on the go.
Currently, the PTSD Coach app has received perfect customer review
scores on the iTunes App Store. Comments from Veterans and family members are
overwhelmingly positive and one user describes the app as “a must for every
spouse who has a family member with PTSD.” Professionals have sent positive
reviews, suggestions and offers to collaborate on research evaluating the PTSD
The app has also already proven to be a useful tool for the staff at the
Veterans Crisis Line. Within the first two hours of the app’s official launch,
the Crisis Line staff were contacted by a distressed Veteran who reported being
instructed by the app to call the crisis line and was subsequently given an
appointment at the local VA medical center. Crisis Line staff have begun to
regularly recommend this resource to callers.
The app is one of the first in a series of jointly-designed resources by
the VA National Center for PTSD and DoD's National Center for Telehealth and
Technology to help Servicemembers and Veterans manage their readjustment
challenges and get anonymous assistance. Given the popularity of mobile devices,
VA and DoD hope to reach tens of thousands of Veterans, Servicemembers, and
their family members with the new suite of apps.
Information on the PTSD Coach app is on the VA’s National Center for PTSD
Website: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/PTSDCoach.asp. More apps from DoD's
National Center for Telehealth and Technologycan be found at:
Dave Howerton | Veterans Representative
Canyon County Local Office
Idaho Department of Labor
4514 Thomas Jefferson Street | Caldwell, ID 83605-5100
208-364-7781208-364-7781 ext. 3147
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Stand Up For Veterans Update
April 11, 2011
Two New Studies Show VA Health Care For Seniors Better Than Medicare
More evidence that veterans receive high quality care through the VA health care system comes from the journal Medical Care, which recently published the results of two studies performed by Brown University researchers
. According to the studies, VA “…has made substantial improvements in quality, in some cases providing substantially better care than is available in private insurance plans.”
Advance Appropriations Protects VA Health Care System in Event of Shutdown
Thanks to approval of advance appropriations for VA medical care funding in the last Congress, veterans will “…see no change in their health benefits – including those involving hospital visits and other doctors’ appointments – in the event that Congress fails to pass a budget,” reports the Christian Science Monitor. While some VA operations may be limited or suspended during a government shutdown, the VA health care system has already been fully funded for the year
WARNING TO VETERANS
Forwarded by Kevin Secor, VSO Liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
An organization called Veterans Affairs Services (VAS) is providing benefit and general information on VA and gathering personal information on veterans. This organization is not affiliated with VA in any way
[Websites with the name "vaservices" immediately after the "www" ARE NOT part of the Depatment of Veterans Affairs, the US Government agency. Do not go to them or if approached or called, do not offer them any information concerning yourself or data on other veterans. Keep in mind that the real VA website ends in .gov. Also, be aware that the Department of Veterans Affairs does not randomly call veterans, nor does it ask veterans for information which it does not already have--like Social Security Numbers. In particular, if you have not dealt with the VA previously--and in person--and all of a sudden, you receive a call from someone saying they are with the VA or something similar sounding, hang up the phone. Also, do not respond to emails which suggest that they are from the VA. The VA never conducts official business nor asks for personal information by email. Mike]
VAS may be gaining access to military personnel through their close resemblance to the VA name and seal. Our Legal Counsel has requested that we coordinate with DoD to inform military installations, particularly mobilization sites, of this group and their lack of affiliation or endorsement by VA to provide any services.
In addition, GC requests that if you have any examples of VAS acts that violate chapter 59 of Title 38 United States Code, such as VAS employees assisting veterans in the preparation and presentation of claims for benefits, please pass any additional information to Mr.Daugherty at the address below.
Michael G. Daugherty
Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of General Counsel (022G2)
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW YOUR CELL PHONE COULD DO.
There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:
The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.
Subject: Have you locked your keys in the car?
Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk). Editor's Note: It works fine! We tried it out and it unlocked our car over a cell phone!"
Subject: Hidden Battery Power
Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370# your cell will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell next time.
How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?
To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 # A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone gets stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.
Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don't have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial: (800) FREE 411, or (800) 373-3411(800) 373-3411 FREE without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your cell phone now. This is the kind of information people don't mind receiving, so pass it on to your family and friends.
*112 Cell Phone Feature,
I CHECKED WITH SNOPES AND THIS INFORMATION IS TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOPE YOU NEVER NEED IT BUT HERE IT IS IF NEEDED!
Tell your wife, mother, girl friend or co-worker.....
Iknew about the red light on cars, but not the *112.
It was about 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon, and Lauren was driving to visit a friend. An UNMARKED police car pulled up behind her and put his lights on. Lauren's parents have always told her never to pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road, but rather to wait until they get to a gas station, etc.
Lauren had actually listened to her parents advice, and promptly called *112 on her cell phone to tell the police dispatcher that she would not pull over right away. She proceeded to tell the dispatcher that there was an unmarked police car with a flashing red light on his rooftop behind her. The dispatcher checked to see if there were police cars where she was and there weren't, and he told her to keep driving, remain calm and that he had back up already on the way.
Ten minutes later 4 cop cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her. One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind. They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground. The man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes.
I never knew about the *112 Cell Phone Feature, but especially for a woman alone in a car, you should not pull over for an unmarked car. Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going to a safe place.
*Speaking to a service representative at ** Bell ** Mobility confirmedthat *112 was a direct link to State trooper info.So, now it’s your turn to let your friends know about *112.
You may want toSend this to every woman (and man) you know; it may save a life.
This applies to ALL 50 states
DAV Applauds Service Connection for New Illnesses Linked to Agent Orange
WASHINGTON—The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) commends Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki for his leadership in pursuing a final regulation granting presumptive service connection for three new diseases resulting from exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
The rule, published Aug. 31, adds Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease to the list of presumptive service-connected illnesses and expands the presumption for leukemia to include chronic B cell leukemia, such as hairy cell leukemia.
“Secretary Shinseki has portrayed determination and leadership in pursuing the final regulation based on the latest evidence from a 2008 independent study by the Institute of Medicine concerning health problems associated with exposure to herbicides, like Agent Orange,” said DAV Washington Headquarters Executive Director David W. Gorman. “We anticipate the VA will begin making decisions on claims for these conditions when the rule takes effect in 60 days.”
The DAV is urging Vietnam veterans with these three diseases to submit their claims for compensation as soon as possible. “In anticipation of the regulatory change, DAV’s highly trained professional National Service Officers began filing claims for veterans with these disabilities since last October,” Gorman said. “We encourage those who feel they may have a claim to contact their nearest DAV National Service Office to begin the claims process.”
Veterans who served in Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, are presumed by VA to have been exposed to harmful herbicides. If they suffer from any of the three diseases, it is presumed that the illnesses are service connected, and they will be eligible for compensation and VA health care. The VA estimates that more than 150,000 veterans will submit claims in the next 12 to 18 months and 90,000 previously denied claims, including death claims, will be reviewed for possible entitlement to service connection.
“Vietnam veterans with these illnesses will have an easier time obtaining their earned compensation and health care thanks to the new presumptive service connection rule,” said Gorman. “Our nation’s Vietnam veterans served with honor and distinction, and have suffered significantly from their exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. The DAV thanks Secretary Shinseki for his dedication to ensuring that their sacrifice is remembered.”
DAV Applauds Clarification of Affordable Care Act
WASHINGTON-The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is pleased that President Barack Obama's administration has vowed that veterans and servicemembers would continue to receive prosthetic devices from the Department of Veterans Affairs or TRICARE at no cost.
The White House announcement last week dispelled unfounded rumors that disabled veterans and servicemembers would face a new tax on prosthetic limbs and other vital medical services under the Affordable Care Act. While the health care law does impose a new tax on big medical device manufactures, the tax will not be passed on to veterans and servicemembers.
"The President's statement should help put to rest unfounded rumors that have been spread among our nation's disabled veterans and servicemembers," said DAV National Commander Roberto "Bobby" Barrera. "Our veterans and servicemembers were suddenly struck by these rumors, and many feared that our government was abandoning them to pay for their own disability."
Prices and reimbursements for medical devices will continue to be negotiated between manufacturers and insurance companies, retail establishments and, in the case of the federal government, for veterans and servicemembers. The full cost of prosthetic devices for veterans will continue to be borne by the government.
"The DAV is committed to ensuring the highest quality health care for disabled veterans and that service-connected disabilities remain the responsibility of the federal government," said Commander Barrera. "The disabilities veterans and servicemembers have suffered as a result of their military service will affect them the rest of their lives. They have earned their government health care and benefits through sacrificing for our nation."
VA Secretary Announces New Hotline for Homeless Veterans
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2010
VA Secretary Announces New Hotline for Homeless Veterans
Responders at 1-877-4AID VET Help Veterans Find Food, Shelter and Assistance
CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced
today the establishment of a new telephone hotline to provide emergency support
and resources to homeless Veterans. He made the announcement as he toured the
facility at the VA medical center in Canandaigua.
“It is unacceptable for a single Veteran to spend the night on the streets of
America,” said Shinseki. “The hotline of the new National Call Center for
Homeless Veterans will provide homeless Veterans with caring, timely assistance
and coordinated access to VA and community services.”
Family members, workers at community agencies and non-VA providers also may call
the hotline at 1-877-4AID VETto find out about the many programs and services
available to assist homeless Veterans.
Well-trained expert responders will staff the hotline 24 hours a day, seven days
a week. They will join other responders who staff VA’s Suicide Prevention
Hotline at Canandaigua.
Responders are cross trained to handle calls at either call center. While a
responder will know which type of call is incoming, all Veteran callers will be
receive a brief suicide screening.
VA officials recognize that homeless Veterans are in need of food and shelter,
clothing, financial assistance, and treatment for medical conditions.
Additionally, many require access to permanent housing, Veterans benefits and
VA assistance is available for homeless Veterans who may have mental health
issues, substance abuse, depression, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic
stress disorder. The responders operating the new hotline will ensure Veterans
receive the help they need and deserve.
Homeless Hotline 2/2/2/2
The hotline, which began service on March 1, has received 1,846 calls. Call
volume is expected to grow as awareness of the service increases.
The National Call Center for Homeless Veterans is the latest in a series of
initiatives to help homeless Veterans. Last year, Shinseki launched a campaign
to eliminate homelessness among Veterans within five years. Since then, the
number of Veterans homeless on a typical night has dropped 18
“This reduction was achieved through VA’s commitment to end homelessness
among Veterans through enhanced collaboration with other federal, state,
faith-based, Veteran service organizations and community partners,” Shinseki
VA has approximately 4,000 agreements with community partners to help homeless
Veterans. Last year, more than 92,000 homeless Veterans were served by VA’s
specialized homeless programs. This is an increase of 15 percent from the
STARTING THE MONTH OF JUNE 2010, OUR CHAPTER WILL BE HOLDING OUR MONTHLY MEETINGS (EXCEPT JULY AND AUGUST) AT:
V. F. W. POST 809, 100 MAIN STREET, LITTLE FERRY, NJ 07643
ANY QUESTIONS PLEASE CALL ME ON CHAPTER PHONE 201-421-5922201-421-5922
YOUR COMMANDER: IGNAZIO VALENTE
Caregiver Legislation Signed Into Law
President Obama signed Public Law 111-163, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act on May 5, 2010. The public signing ceremony was attended by representatives of veterans service, military and family organizations. Among those present was Deputy National Legislative Director Ilem, who represented DAV.
Several years ago, we began to see an increasing number of severely injured veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As advances in medicine allowed more of the severely injured to be medically rescued on the battlefield, VA had to confront the issue of how to provide a lifetime of care for these young heroes returning home with polytrauma, severe traumatic brain injury, multiple amputations and a host of post-deployment health issues that VA had not confronted before.
After acute hospitalization, most family members want to care for their loved ones in the home, even if they are severely injured. Caregivers shouldering this burden are often unable to maintain full-time employment, limiting their income and ability to obtain health insurance. Caregivers who do remain employed often give up opportunities for career advancement to care for their injured family members, while their employers sustain millions of dollars in losses related to employee absence and decreased productivity.
Because of these challenges, the DAV worked with other veterans and military and family service organizations to bring about the introduction and passage of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. This precedent-setting legislation established a number of critical new programs to address DAV's highest priority legislative goals over the past several years identified through our Stand Up for Veterans campaign.
To help meet the hardships associated with lengthy recovery and rehabilitation periods, this legislation authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create an array of supportive services for family caregivers of disabled veterans from all eras of military service, including providing education on how to be a better caregiver in the home, counseling and mental health services, and providing more flexible periods of respite care so that these veterans can avoid long-term institutionalization. The law also provides a monthly financial stipend, CHAMPVA health care and additional benefits to financially burdened family members providing care at home to the most severely wounded and disabled Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
This comprehensive legislation also expands and improves health care access and services for the nation's 1.8 million women veterans. We want to recognize DAV's grassroots efforts that helped ensure that women veterans, who have played an increasingly essential role in all of our military service branches including the National Guard, Air National Guard, and Reserve forces, receive quality, timely and gender-appropriate health care services. While it is our responsibility to ensure that all veterans receive the benefits they deserve, we believe it is important to recognize the extraordinary contributions and unique challenges women veterans face in today's military and when they return home. This important legislation will for the first time allow VA to cover the costs for up to seven days of post-natal care for newborn infants of women veterans receiving maternity services at VA's expense and-to eliminate barriers for veterans accessing intensive health and mental health services-it authorizes VA to establish a child care pilot program.
The bill also includes provisions that:
- Expand the VA's authority to provide recruitment and retention incentives so that VA can recruit high-quality health care providers.
- Increase the oversight of care purchased in the community by mandating financial incentives for providers who maintain high-quality standards.
- Expand the VA's telemedicine program, and its ability to collaborate with the Indian Health Service and community organizations to provide medical services, including mental health care, in rural communities.
- Remove barriers to emergency care and care for the catastrophically disabled by:
- Eliminating copayments for veterans who are catastrophically disabled.
- Enhancing the VA's ability to reimburse veterans for emergency care received at non-VA facilities in certain circumstances.
The House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 419 to 0 on April 21, 2010. On April 22, 2010, the Senate gave final approval to S. 1963, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. The legislation, some sections of which were first proposed over two years ago, has been strongly backed by DAV and other veterans organizations.
The legislation forges a new paradigm of long-term care for severely wounded service personnel and veterans-one that acknowledges and fully supports the vital role of the family caregiver in any successful rehabilitation plan and marks another significant legislative victory for sick and disabled veterans and their families, and for DAV.
Status of Fiscal Year 2011 VA Budget
As of June 2010, the budget and appropriations process is basically stalled in Congress. No action whatsoever has been taken by Congress on the budget and there has been no movement by the Appropriations Committee. See the April 2010 bulletin for full budget details.
DAV will continue to follow these developments to ensure that the needs of sick and disabled veterans are fully met across all VA's appropriations accounts, and we will submit future reports to reflect the progress of the FY 2011 funding of the VA.
DAV Legislative Staff Active at Hearings
On May 6, 2010, Assistant National Legislative Director John L. Wilson testified before the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on the Veterans Benefits Administration's work credit and work management systems.
On May 19, 2010, Mr. Wilson submitted testimony for the record at the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing concerning 19 pending measures.
On May 20, 2010, Deputy National Legislative Director Joy J. Ilem testified before a joint hearing of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittees on Health and Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs concerning collaboration between the VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to address health care services and disability compensation issues related to military sexual trauma.
On June 15, 2010, I testified before the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on the state of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). My testimony focused on the VBA's largest and most significant program: veterans disability compensation.
Claims Process Reform
For disabled veterans, receiving a timely and proper disability rating is the gateway to all of the VBA benefits to which they are entitled. As such, the problems that have plagued and continue to plague VBA in efficiently administering this program have correctly received the most attention from Congress and VSOs in recent years. The June 15 hearing was the sixth Subcommittee hearing this year examining VBA's claims processing system.
A core mission of VBA is the provision of benefits to relieve the economic effects of injury, disease, or disability upon veterans and their families. For those benefits to effectively fulfill their intended purpose, VBA must promptly deliver them to veterans. The ability of disabled veterans to provide for themselves and their families often depends on these benefits. While awaiting action by VBA, they and their families often suffer hardships and protracted delays can lead to deprivation, bankruptcies, and homelessness. Disability benefits are critical, and providing for disabled veterans should always be a top priority of the government.
The VA Secretary has vowed to reduce the backlog of claims pending. While that goal is admirable, DAV testified that to truly reform and transform the system, VBA must remain focused on the underlying problems causing the backlog: specifically, a lack of quality, accuracy and consistency in how VBA develops and adjudicates claims for benefits.
For these reasons, DAV has been working with a growing coalition of veterans and military organizations to build consensus on how best to reform the claims processing system, not just reduce the backlog. One of our first goals is redefining success from "Reducing the Backlog" to "Getting It Done Right the First Time." We are confident that a system focused on quality, accuracy and consistency first, if properly built upon a modern IT infrastructure with optimized business processes, will lead to faster processing times and a lasting reduction and elimination of the backlog as a result.
DAV will remain vigilant to see reform proposals for the VBA enacted.
To ensure the successful enactment of veterans' legislation, our DAV and Auxiliary members must be active members of DAV's grassroots - DAV Commander's Action Network (CAN) - and we all must do our part to let our elected officials know about our support for legislation that helps to build better lives for our nation's service-disabled veterans, their families, and survivors. Thank you for your continued support.
Stand Up for Veterans Update
April 22, 2010
Historic Veteran Caregiver Legislation Passes House
The House of Representatives gave final approval to S. 1963, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, which provides an array of supportive services to family caregivers of disabled veterans, including up to $1.7 billion in caregiver benefits to financially strapped family members caring for the most severely wounded and disabled Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The legislation, which was first proposed more than two years ago, and has been strongly backed by DAV and other veterans organizations, now goes to the Senate for their approval.
New Services for Women Veterans, Rural Veterans and Homeless Veterans
S. 1963 also expands and improves health care access and services for the nation's 1.8 million women veterans, veterans living in rural areas, and homeless veterans. Once enacted into law, the legislation will help ensure that women veterans, who have played an increasingly essential role in our military, receive quality, timely and gender-appropriate health care services, and will for the first time allow VA to provide seven days of care to newborn infants of women veterans.
About the Stand Up for Veterans Initiative
Stand Up for Veterans is an initiative of the Disabled American Veterans, an organization of 1.4 million disabled veterans who are focused on building better lives for disabled veterans and their families. The initiative seeks to find public policy solutions for all veterans, particularly those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, who have incurred devastating injuries and disabilities, including traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological wounds of war. Please visit www.standup4vets.org to learn more about this effort.
Stand up for veterans. They stood up for us.
Clarification of Effects of Health Insurance Reform Legislation on Veterans
March 30, 2010
A number of DAV members and others have asked how the new health insurance reform law (Public Law 111-148, approved on March 23, 2010) would affect our nation's veterans. As many of you know, in general the new law requires most U.S. citizens and legal residents to obtain private health insurance coverage by 2014 or they (or their employers) will face financial penalties through the US Tax Code.
Under this new law, we interpret that all veterans enrolled in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and their dependents and survivors under CHAMPVA, and all military families, military retirees and dependents enrolled in military health care, TRICARE, and TRICARE for Life, are deemed to have the minimum essential coverage that satisfies the individual requirement for health insurance coverage. As such, we believe these veterans and military families are not required to buy private coverage in addition to their government-provided health services, as the DAV had insisted to Congress and the Administration.
Furthermore, under the new law but outside VA and the Department of Defense (DOD), veterans and their family dependents, the same as all other Americans, may gain the option to buy a private plan through state-run insurance exchanges, beginning in 2014. Based on income limits, they may also be eligible for financial assistance in purchasing insurance coverage.
With all the misinformation that has appeared in the media and on the Internet, we can understand why some veterans and their families have become concerned about what they think might happen to them under the new law. One specific and unintended problem surfaced that concerns a few hundred severely disabled children of Vietnam and Korean War veterans with spina bifida, but that problem is being addressed now by the Veterans Committees in Congress with a technical correction. S. 3162, as passed by the Senate, would amend the reform law to guarantee that VA's spina bifida program for these children would be considered minimum essential coverage. Otherwise, we believe veterans who rely on VA health care and their family members who rely on CHAMPVA will be unaffected by the new health reform law.
Nonetheless, in an overabundance of caution due to ambiguous language, legislation has been introduced to clarify the intent of the law, as follows:
- H.R. 4887, already passed by the House and pending in the Senate (S. 3148), would provide that coverage under TRICARE and DOD's Non-appropriated Fund Health Benefits Program (for DOD employees of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and others) constitutes minimal essential health care coverage as required by the health reform law.
- H.R. 4894 would amend the health reform law to ensure nothing in that law could be construed to diminish the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs or the Secretary of Defense over the VA and DOD health care programs, respectively. This bill would also directly amend the reform law to ensure that enrollment in DOD or VA health care is considered minimum essential coverage.
DAV will remain vigilant to protect the VA health care system upon which so many service-connected disabled veterans rely. We will also continue to monitor the implementation of the health insurance reform law to ensure that it will not adversely impact our nation's wartime disabled veterans, their families or dependents.
||Volume 6, Issue 1, 2009
| The 2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar
On February 25, The Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation and TriWest Healthcare Alliance hosted a reception for the launch of the first commemorative coin issued by the United States Mint in 2010: The 2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar. Approximately 150 guests attended the reception, including Director of the United States Mint Ed Moy, Senator Tim Johnson (D: South Dakota), U.S. Representatives Mark Kirk (R: Illinois) and Dennis Moore (D: Kansas), Sheila Jackson Lee (D: Texas), National Commander of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Bobby Barrera, former Acting Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Director of the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation (DVLMF) Gordon Mansfield, Chief of Staff for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki John Gingrich, former Secretary of the VA and DVLMF spokesperson Anthony Principi. Representatives from 12 Veterans Services Organizations were present.
Arthur Wilson, DAV national adjutant and co-founder of DVLMF, was also in attendance. “The coin is forever a reminder of the brave servicemen and women who risked, and continue to risk, their lives in defense of our country’s liberty,” Wilson stated. “Each coin sold brings us one step closer to building a permanent, national memorial to disabled veterans.”
Since the coin’s release, the United States Mint reports more than 175,000 have been sold! Ten dollars from each coin sold goes directly to DVLMF for the construction of the Memorial. The collector proof and uncirculated silver coins have a maximum mintage of 350,000. For more details about the coin, please visit our website. To purchase a commemorative coin, please visit www.usmint.gov.
Visit our Virtual Memorial to get a detailed look at the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial! This virtual rendering allows you to view the Memorial in its entirety and see who has donated to help build the Memorial. Simply hold your mouse over a spot within the Memorial and a text box featuring the name of the donor will appear. If the donor for a particular sponsorship says “Available,” consider sharing this information with someone you know who may want to donate in order to help make the Memorial a reality. For items with an open contribution level, please contact Rick Fenstermacher for donation information at 561-637-1525561-637-1525 extension 3502.
We are amazed by the generosity of our donors. We are proud to recognize TriWest Healthcare Alliance, QTC Management, Inc., The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and AMVETS for their recent donations to DVLMF.
TriWest Healthcare Alliance, a Phoenix-based company that partners with the Department of Defense to support the health care needs of 2.9 million members of America’s military family, generously donated $250,000 toward the Memorial. TriWest also co-hosted the official launch reception for the 2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar.
QTC Management, Inc., the nation’s leading provider of examination services to the medical and disabled community, generously donated $50,000 toward the project.
Leaders in Furthering Education (LIFE), a Palm Beach, Florida-based foundation started by philanthropist Lois Pope that provides financial backing for young people who have led the way in helping the disadvantaged but now need help themselves, raised $200,000 for the Memorial at the annual Lady in Red Gala. LIFE’s total contributions to AVDLM now exceed $1.7 million.
AMVETS, one of America’s foremost veterans service organizations in assisting veterans and sponsoring numerous programs that serve our country and its citizens, generously pledged $100,000 toward building the Memorial.
We extend our deepest gratitude to these organizations for their support.
DVLMF and Social Media
As always, we’re updating our Facebook and Twitter accounts daily. Come join our more than 400 followers on Twitter and our 5,000 Facebook friends and be in the know about the latest happenings with the Memorial and current news regarding America’s disabled veterans. You can find us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AVDLM, and on Facebook at http://profile.to/veteransmemorial/.
In the photos (from the top):
1. Gene A. Murphy, Treasurer of DVLMF, Gordon H. Mansfield, Director of DVLMF, Diane Musselmann, Director of DVLMF, Arthur H. Wilson, Co-Founder and President of DVLMF and National Adjutant of the DAV, Dennis A. Joyner, Director and Secretary of DVLMF
2. Roberto “Bobby” Barrera, National Commander of the DAV
3. Anthony Principi, Former Secretary of the VA and DVLMF spokesperson, Dennis Moore, U.S. Representative (D: Kansas), Mark Kirk, U.S. Representative (R: Illinois)
Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial Foundation
6290 Linton Blvd. Suite 104
Delray Beach, FL 33484
Contact Name: Wendy Gueldner
Telephone Number: (561) 637-1525(561) 637-1525
On behalf of the entire staff at Veteran help Analysts, we would like to thank the veteran and their family
for his/her dedicated service to our country.
Veterans Ilelp Analysts, L.L.C. is a financial means testing company, whose associates have been trained to
seek out Veterans and their Widows who mav be entitled to Veterans Administration benefits. Particularlv.
a little known improved pension benefit.
There is no cost associated with our service. We will work with any Veteran or the Widow of a Veteran, to
obtain his or her allowable benefits through the VA system. After we receive all the veteran and/or widows
information, we analyze their eligibility and make recommendations on how they can receive their
pension. Please complete the attached forms and fax back to our office at (913) 685-9946(913) 685-9946.The VA improved
pension benefit mentioned above is substantial - up to $1900 a month for a married veterano $1600 for a
single veteran and $1050 for a widoilwidower of a veteran.
The military qualifications for the Veteran are:
1. Only 90 days of continuous military service, one day of which was during wartime.
2. Anything other than a dishonorable discharge
3. Disabled OR over age 65
Generally, most Veterans or their Widows are over age 65. Yet only a small percentage, of the Veterans or
their Widows is receiving this benefit. They are simply unaware of their possible eligibility. (Perhaps you
saw the MSNBC news clip 2123107re ferring to this benefit)
The second area of qualifications involves aid and attendance. The applicant must need regular aid and
attendance from another person on a regular basis. Do not hesitate to call at your convenience to discuss
this qualification toll free 888-633-6039888-633-6039 FREE.
I have attached a pre-qualification form for you to complete. You can fax it to our office rt913-685-9946.
After we review the information, we will contact you with the procedure you will need to take in order to
get this Tax FREE pension. Along with this form you will also need to collect a copy of your marriage
certificate and a certified copy of his/her discharge papers that was received from the military(DD-214).
You will have time to gather that information as we will not need it until we are ready to submit the VA
Frank Moreno/ Chris Cullum
Veteran Help Analysts LLC
VBrnnqN HELI ANALysrs, LLC - 115 E PARK SUITE 100 OLATHE KS 66061
CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT TO YIELD BETTER BENEFITS FOR THOUSANDS OF
VETERANS SUFFERING FROM PTSD AND THEIR FAMILIES
Veterans must opt-in by July 24 for disability rating upgrade and expedited review of benefits, NVLSP and Morgan Lewis available to counsel veterans on their rights as class members
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 25, 2010
WASHINGTON—Following an order issued by the judge overseeing Sabo v. United States, legal notices are being mailed this week to more than 4,300 veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom and were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The court’s notice invites them to join a class action lawsuit filed in December 2008 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims by signing and submitting an “opt-in” form no later than July 24, 2010. Submitting this form will allow these veterans to take advantage of a negotiated resolution that guarantees an upgrade in the veteran’s disability rating and an expedited review by a military correction board to determine the full extent of the rating improvement.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of seven veterans by the non-profit National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) and pro bono counsel Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, alleges that between December 17, 2002 and October 14, 2008, the military illegally denied benefits to an entire class of service members who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD and were discharged from service.
As a result of the suit, the military has agreed to expedite a review of records to increase the disability ratings previously issued to all class members. To help affected veterans navigate the process of seeking the benefits to which they are entitled, NVLSP and Morgan Lewis are bringing together approximately 100 volunteer lawyers to offer free counseling to all class members.
The disability ratings which are the subject of the lawsuit are critically important to veterans with PTSD. A permanent disability rating of 30% or more entitles a veteran to monthly disability benefits for the rest of the veteran’s life, to free health care for the veteran and his or her spouse for life, and to free health care for their minor children.
“For years, the law has required the military to assign a disability rating of at least 50% to all veterans discharged for PTSD. This rating (above 30%) would give them the medical benefits they need. And, in October 2008, the Department of Defense in fact ordered the military to assign a 50% rating for PTSD going forward,” said Bart Stichman, co-executive director of NVLSP. “Yet, each of the seven named plaintiffs in our lawsuit received a rating of 10% or less. We believe there are thousands more who were likewise shortchanged.”
Eligible veterans who join the suit will be entitled to expedited review of their disability rating, a correction of military records to show their rating for PTSD was at least 50% for the six-month period following the date of release from military service, as well as a determination of whether the new rating should be permanently increased, decreased, or remain the same.
After their rating is increased, class members may receive back pay of disability benefits, reimbursement for health care expenses the military should have covered, as well as future benefits to which they and their families are entitled—potentially millions of dollars in benefits over time.
“Even if the military board does not end up permanently raising a veteran’s PTSD disability rating, the veteran retains the right to ask the court to do so,” added Stichman. “In short, they cannot end up worse off by virtue of joining the lawsuit and agreeing to a board review.”
WHO CAN BE A CLASS MEMBER IN THIS CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT?
All individuals who (a) served on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force, (b) were found by a Physical Evaluation Board to be unfit for continued service due, at least in part, to the individual’s PTSD, (c) were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%, and, as a result, (d) were released, separated, retired, or discharged from active duty after December 17, 2002, and prior to October 14, 2008 (regardless whether such release, separation, retirement, or discharge resulted in the individual’s placement on the Temporary Disability Retirement List).
Veterans who do not receive the legal notice, but who believe they may qualify as a class member in Sabo vs. United States, should go to www.ptsdlawsuit.com to obtain information about their rights in the lawsuit.
Go to Web site: http://www.ptsdlawsuit.com/index.html
It only involves veterans who
(a) served on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force, (b) were found by a Physical Evaluation Board to be unfit for continued service due, at least in part, to the individual's PTSD, (c) were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%, and, as a result, (d) were released, separated, retired, or discharged from active duty after December 17, 2002, and prior to October 14, 2008 (regardless whether such release, separation, retirement, or discharge resulted in the individual's placement on the Temporary Disability Retirement List).
Key Facts Regarding Sabo, et al., v. United States
On December 18, 2009, the United States Court of Federal Claims ordered that a legal notice be sent to you and all other veterans of the U.S. Armed Services who may be eligible to join the lawsuit known as Sabo, et al. v. United States.
The Sabo lawsuit was brought by seven veterans from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The seven veterans were discharged from military service as a result of a finding by a Physical Evaluation Board ("PEB") that they were unfit for continued active duty service due, at least in part, to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD"), and were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%. You received the Court-approved legal notice because government records indicate that you -- like the seven veterans who filed the Sabo lawsuit --were discharged from the Armed Services between December 17, 2002 and October 14, 2008, were found unfit for continued active service due, at least in part, to PTSD, but were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%.
- The seven veterans in the Sabo lawsuit claim that the PEBs violated their legal rights, as well as yours, by assigning a disability rating for PTSD below 50%. The seven veterans have asked the Court to order the military services to give them - and to give you if you join the lawsuit - all of the military retirement benefits to which a veteran with at least a 50% PTSD rating would be entitled.
- The military services deny that they have done anything wrong, and the Court has not yet decided that issue. For those who "opt-in" to the class, the military services agreed to prioritize applications to the records corrections boards requesting an increase of their PTSD ratings.
- The Court approved the legal notice that was sent to you and other eligible veterans to inform you of your rights to either join or not join this lawsuit, and what you would need to do to join this lawsuit, if that is what you decide to do.
- Under the Rules of United States Court of Federal Claims, the Court has allowed the lawsuit to be a class action on behalf of the following individuals:
All individuals who (a) served on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force, (b) were found by a Physical Evaluation Board to be unfit for continued service due, at least in part, to the individual's PTSD, (c) were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%, and, as a result, (d) were released, separated, retired, or discharged from active duty after December 17, 2002, and prior to October 14, 2008 (regardless whether such release, separation, retirement, or discharge resulted in the individual's placement on the Temporary Disability Retirement List).
If you fit this definition, you may choose to join (or "opt-in" to) this lawsuit as a Class Member.
Even though you may have a right to join this lawsuit, there is no obligation to join and you do not lose any legal rights by declining to join.
The lawyers who represent the veterans in the Sabo lawsuit are not charging the veterans a fee for their services. These lawyers have agreed not to charge you or other class members a fee if you choose to join the lawsuit.
If you join this lawsuit, neither the Court nor a military records correction board can reduce the PTSD rating(s) that the PEB assigned to you absent fraud or unusual circumstances.
The FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and Summary of Rights and Options provide more detailed information regarding this lawsuit.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Kawika Riley (Veterans’ Affairs)
February 2, 2010 (202) 224-9126(202) 224-9126
PRESIDENT SIGNS VETERANS’ EMERGENCY CARE FAIRNESS ACT
Chairman Akaka introduced Senate bill to cover gaps in emergency care for veterans with limited insurance
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) today praised President Barack Obama’s signing of the Veterans’ Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2009.
“For veterans with limited insurance, a trip to the emergency room should not result in financial ruin,” said Chairman Akaka, who introduced the bill in the Senate last year. “With this new law, VA will be positioned to help veterans who are enrolled in VA care whose insurance does not cover the full cost of emergency treatment.”
The Veterans’ Emergency Care Fairness Act, signed into law by President Obama last night, will enable the Department of Veterans Affairs to reimburse veterans enrolled in VA health care for the remaining cost of emergency treatment if the veteran has outside insurance that only covers part of the cost. Previously, VA could reimburse veterans or pay outside hospitals directly only if a veteran has no outside health insurance.
In addition to reimbursing veterans for emergency care in the future, the bill allows the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide retroactive reimbursements for care received prior to the passage of this bill. Akaka has received correspondence from veterans who were unable to receive financial assistance under the previous rules, and plans to share their information with Secretary Shinseki.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this legislation will cover approximately 700 future claims per year and as many as 2,000 veterans retroactively.
Yesterday the Senate passed S. 1963, the "Caregiver and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009", which would provide comprehensive new support to caregivers of severely disabled veterans and improve health care services for women veterans and all veterans who rely on the VA.
I wanted you to know that this important victory would not have been possible without the grassroots efforts of thousands of DAV members and supporters throughout the country.
With your help, DAV was able to play an important role in getting S. 1963 through the Senate and we will continue working with Congress until this legislation is enacted into law.
For your perusal, I have included DAV's press release below. Thanks for all you have done.
Senate Passes Major Veterans Legislation to Aid Caregivers, Women Veterans
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 - The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) applauds the U.S. Senate for unanimously approving S. 1963, "The Caregiver and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009."
As passed, S. 1963 creates a comprehensive new program to support family caregivers of severely disabled veterans, and strengthens VA health care programs for women veterans, homeless veterans, veterans with mental health needs, and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury.
"The Senate's overwhelming statement of support for this bill sends an unmistakable message that our government has an obligation to provide comprehensive support to family caregivers of severely wounded and disabled veterans," DAV National Commander Roberto Barrera said. "S. 1963 also contains landmark provisions that will help ensure that women veterans, who have played an increasingly essential role in our military, receive quality, timely and gender-appropriate health care services from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), equal in every respect to that afforded male veterans," Barrera said.
S. 1963 combines the content of two measures previously approved by the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, S. 252 and S. 801, into a single VA health care omnibus bill. Since the House of Representatives has already passed similar, but separate veterans health bills, the two bodies must now reach an agreement on identical legislation before it can be sent to the President for his approval.
"DAV looks forward to working together with the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees and other interested veterans service organizations to develop the strongest veterans health care legislation we can to aid all veterans," Commander Barrera said. "In particular, we believe that disabled veterans from all eras could benefit from family caregiver support services and will work to see that the final legislation moves in that direction," he said.
Commander Barrera expressed DAV's gratitude to several Senators who played leading roles in developing and moving the legislation successfully through the Senate.
"Senator Daniel Akaka, Chairman of the Senate's Committee on Veterans' Affairs, has been a tireless champion for veterans health care programs throughout his tenure, and his skillful work on S. 1963 was central to the Senate's approval," Barrera said. "A veteran himself, Chairman Akaka has proven to be a reliable and effective leader, always ready to stand up for our nation's veterans."
"Senator Richard Burr (N.C.), the Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, worked in a truly bipartisan manner with the Chairman to help craft this legislation and then provide crucial leadership to help it overcome barriers that may otherwise have derailed it," Barrera said. "DAV applauds Senator Burr for putting the interests of veterans first."
"DAV also applauds the relentless efforts of Senator Patty Murray to enact legislation that will improve the lives of all veterans, especially women veterans. Senator Murray's landmark women veterans health care legislation was included within S. 1963, and her passionate advocacy for women veterans has been crucial throughout this process," Barrera said.
The 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, represents this nation's disabled veterans. It is dedicated to a single purpose: building better lives for our nation's disabled veterans and their families. More information is available at
DoD Announces Transferability Options For “Post 9/11 Gi Bill”
“This is as it should be in a volunteer force where families also serve,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy Bill Carr. “Transferability of GI Bill benefits is the most requested initiative we receive from our service members, and we believe it will assist us in retaining highly qualified military personnel.”
Career service members on active duty or in the selected reserve on Aug. 1, 2009, and who are eligible for the “Post 9/11 GI Bill,” maybe entitled to transfer all or a portion of their education entitlement to one or more family members. To be eligible, service members must have served in the Armed Forces for at least six years, and agree to serve four additional years, from the date of election to transfer.
Service members with at least 10 years of service, who by DoD or service policy are prevented from committing to four additional years, may transfer their benefits provided they commit for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.
Additionally, to maintain proper force structure and promotion opportunities, temporary rules have been developed for service members eligible to retire between Aug. 1, 2009 and Aug. 1, 2012. Depending on their retirement eligibility date, these service members will commit to one to three additional years, from the date of election to transfer.
The services will provide further implementation guidance. Beginning June 29, 2009, eligible service members may make transfer designations by visiting this Web site: https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/TEB. The full transferability policy is available here.
Service members may be eligible for the “Post 9/11 GI Bill” if they served at least 90 aggregate days on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged. Based on the length of active duty service, members are entitled to a percentage of the cost of tuition and fees, not to exceed the most expensive in-state undergraduate tuition at a public institution of higher learning. Members not on active duty may also receive a monthly living stipend equal to the basic allowance for housing payable to a military E-5 with dependents, and to an annual $1,000 stipend for books and supplies.
The Department of Veterans Affairs administers the “Post 9/11 GI Bill,” and determines eligibility for education benefits. Further information on eligibility, benefit levels, and application procedures can be found at their Web site, http://www.gibill.va.gov .
DAV Bergen County Chapter 15 made a very generous donation of $250.00 to the New Jersey Mission of Honor for Cremains.
For more information about mission please click the following link: WWW.NJMISSIONOFHONOR.ORG
NJ Mission of Honor Committee Representatives:
Ignazio Valente-Committee Representative
Bill Webber & Joe Wisnesky
. The following is important to the 'Vet To Vet' program.
Everyone should take the time to send a letter of thanks and appreciation to our recovering Vets.
They would like to know we care and want to thank them.
We all remember while serving how important it was to receive mail and how disappointing it was when we didn't.
SEND LETTERS TO:
A Recovering American Soldier
C/O Walter Reed Army Hospital
6900 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001
Combat veterans who served after Nov. 11, 1998, now have more time to apply for VA health care benefits. For more information go to: www.va.gov/healtheligibility/