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Friday, 18 October, 2013

Shutdown Update: The (Occasional) Veterans Report

VA Resuming Normal Operations as Government Shutdown Ends

WASHINGTON - Employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs are working to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) regional offices are re-opening their doors and resuming public contact services for Veterans today.

"With the shutdown over, we are all very grateful that the Nov. 1 benefit checks will go out to approximately 5 million Veterans and other beneficiaries as scheduled," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "We at VA are working quickly to resume normal operations in order to fulfill our solemn obligation - to ensure that Veterans receive the benefits and services they have earned through their service. I want to thank all of our VA employees for their dedication and resolve during this difficult period."

During the government shutdown, VA medical centers, clinics, and other health services remained open...

Life Member ~ DAV


BadtotheboneBob's Veteran's Reports Archive


Thursday, 3 October, 2013

SPECIAL EDITION: The (Occasional) Veterans Report

Veterans Field Guide to Government Shutdown

Includes services both non-impacted and impacted - The VHA (Veterans Health Administration) is already funded well into 2014...

All VA medical facilities and clinics will remain fully operational, including:

     1. Inpatient Care
     2. Outpatient Care
     3. Prescriptions
     4. Surgeries
     5. Dental Treatment
     6. Extended Care
     7. Mental Health Care
     8. Nursing Home Care
     9. Special Health Care Services for Women Veterans
     10. Vet Centers

They are continuing as before at all levels unlike the '95-'96 shutdowns when only essential services were available. Thank the administration for that as they foresaw this issue and made the full appropriations some time ago...
All major call centers are still operational including the Veterans Crisis Hotline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

VBA (Veterans Benefits Administration) Claims processing and payments are continuing through late October, however in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs would be suspended when available funding is exhausted...
Veterans: That (when available funding is exhausted) means that we may not receive compensation and/or pension and educational payments come November 1st. Be prepared! Hunker down!
BTW, veterans enrolled in the VA health care system fully comply with the requirements of the ACA. I received an official letter 2 weeks ago affirming that. If you are not enrolled, you still can even if you intend to use the VHA services, or not. Remember, though, that if you do enroll and choose not to utilize VHA services, they will not pay for your private doctors etc. The VHA does do what they term "Fee-based Services" outside the system, but that is at their discretion and is very restricted.
Finally, this is entirely on the GOP. Don't yell the POTUS. The GOP has ensured that active duty personnel will continue to be paid, and that is a good thing. But, they are more than willing to throw veterans under the bus... Fact!

Life Member ~ DAV


BadtotheboneBob's Veteran's Reports Archive


Tuesday, 11 June, 2013

The (Occasional) Veterans Report

Navy Benefits for Domestic Partners

According to a recent Navy News report, the Navy will begin training leadership and support elements to be ready to provide military benefits to same-sex domestic partners of service members and their children. Domestic partners will be eligible for benefits August 31...

(I don't know how they are doing an 'end around' DOMA, but It's only right...
Hopefully, the other services will follow soon. )

Stolen Valor Act Becomes Law

Accessing military and veteran benefits requires filling out the correct military forms. See an index of official military forms from the DoD, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Department of Veterans Affairs will help you access your earned benefits... On June 3, President Barack Obama signed into law The American Legion-backed Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which now makes it a "federal crime for an individual to fraudulently hold oneself out to be a recipient of any of several specified military decorations or medals with the intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit." Violators could face up to a year in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court had overturned the original Stolen Valor Act of 2005, deeming it unconstitutional because it was, in the justices' opinion, too broad in scope and violated the right of free speech...

VA Improving Mental Health Care Access

President Barack Obama recently announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs is improving access for veterans to mental health services. In response to a presidential executive order, VA has hired 1,600 mental health providers and more than 300 peer-to-peer veteran specialists. The department also has enhanced the capacity of its crisis line by 50 percent and established 24 pilot projects in nine states where VA is partnering with community mental-health providers to help veterans more quickly access mental health services. VA is also directing 151 of its health care centers nationwide to conduct mental health summits with community partners. The administration also recently launched the new website at that provides users with the basics of mental health and the signs of mental illness, and show them how to talk about mental health and how to get help.

(Just 2 weeks ago I was speaking to the 'Patient Advocate' i.e. ombudsman at my primary care facility and she told me that the vast majority of new hires and a great deal of the new funding was going to the hospital's mental health providers and staff. See Veterans Report - VA Hires Professionals )

Veteran eMentor Program

The Veteran eMentor Leadership Program provides an information sharing, learning and support community for Veterans including career guidance, advice, support and inspiration from more experienced Veterans, career mentors and Veteran-friendly employers. For more information, visit the Veteran eMentor Leadership Program website at .

State Veteran's Benefits (redux)

The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs recently held an oversight hearing entitled, "Wading through Warehouses of Paper: The Challenges of Transitioning Veterans Records to Paperless Technology." ... Many states offer veterans benefits. These benefits may include educational grants and scholarships, special exemptions or discounts on fees and taxes, home loans, veteran's homes, free hunting and fishing privileges, and more.

Each state manages its own benefit programs. Visit to see a list of links to the web sites for each of the individual states that offer veterans benefits.

Life Member ~ DAV
Coxswain - USCG 44' Motor Lifeboat (among other types)

BadtotheboneBob's Veteran's Reports Archive


Tuesday, 11 December, 2012

The (Occasional) Veterans Report

Google Launches VetNet Website

Google recently launched what may be the largest online hub to help American men and women exiting the military. Called VetNet, the site offers veterans three distinct "tracks" to plot and organize their next life moves...

(This is out-frickin'-standing... The military will downsize soon, mark my words, and there's gonna be a whole bunch of new vets out there and havin' a hand with returning to 'The World' surely helps the transition)

Index of Military Forms

Accessing military and veteran benefits requires filling out the correct military forms. See an index of official military forms from the DoD, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Department of Veterans Affairs will help you access your earned benefits...

(No whining... Ya outta be use to them by now, Vets. Ya hate 'em, but ya gotta have 'em... Remember, it's all about 'Documentation'. They will NOT take yer word fer it... Trust me on that one... Here they are if'n ya need 'em...)

But, then again there's this...

The Challenges of Paperless Vet Records

The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs recently held an oversight hearing entitled, "Wading through Warehouses of Paper: The Challenges of Transitioning Veterans Records to Paperless Technology." ...

(I can attest to how great the VA's electronic medical records system is for us active patients. Any facility can access any of my records from my primary to specialty clinics. Plus, test results, labs, radiological exams. In addition, it's a snap to get paper copies of your own records... Now, the challenge is to incorporate older paper records from before the new system came on line... Vast)

American Indian, Alaska Native Agreement

American Indian and Alaska native veterans will soon have increased access to health care services closer to home following a recent Department of Veterans Affairs and Indian Health Service (IHS) joint national agreement. As a result of this agreement, VA is now able to reimburse the IHS for direct care services provided to eligible American Indian and Alaska native veterans...

(This is as it should be and should have been done long before now. I have an extra added measure of respect for the indigenous peoples that have been willing serve in the armed forces of the US...)

Life Member ~ DAV
Coxswain - USCG 44' Motor Lifeboat (among other types)

BadtotheboneBob's Veteran's Reports Archive


Tuesday, 25 September, 2012

The (Occasional) Veterans Report

VA Aims to End Vet Homelessness by 2015

The Department of Veterans Affairs has committed to ending veteran homelessness by 2015. If you are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless, there are resources to help. For more information, visit VA's Homeless Veterans website at or contact 1-877-4AID-VET.

(A very admirable goal, of course... However, veterans seeking assistance with that issue must also be willing to address any other issues they have that could possibly contribute to the subject homelessness issue. You vets know what I'm talking about. So, deal with them. I did and it's not that hard if you get honest with yourself and listen to the suggestions from the 'Pros from Dover'. Frankly, The VA will help you but they don't play games and won't let itself get jerked around very much. There's too many vets out there that need help to do otherwise. That's how it is...)

Answers to Your Sequestration Questions

The Military Advantage blog recently featured a live Q&A blog session with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller. Check out the replay to see how our guests answered our readers questions about the impact sequestration may have on... VA benefits...

(The word that I've heard and seen in print is that 'Sequestration' will not affect the Department of Veteran's Affairs as the upcoming funding for it has already been allocated and deposited in the appropriate bureaucratic 'in-box'... Kudos to the politicians and bureaucrats involved... The DoD is another matter. Stand by for potential heavy rolls, if you are enrolled in TRICARE... )

After the Military: Checklists and Tips

What is next after the Military? Explore your options. Start early and get ahead with the Transition Center. has launched the new Military Transition Center, which features revolutionary personalized checklists to guide servicemembers and retirees through transition even before you begin the separation process... Visit the Military Transition Center Now.

(Hi, new Vets... Yeah, been there... done that. ETS. Twice, actually... So, a bit of advice from one who has preceded you. I recommend that #1 on your list should be to immediately address and seek vigorous treatment for any medical issues you may have acquired while wearing your uniform. The operative words there are "any", "immediately" and "address". Seriously. It just might save you down the road the grief and hassles that many, many veterans have experienced. I see and talk to them frequently. Oh! If you have separated already and don't have a copy of your medical records, get them! Those of you whom are almost ready to walk out the gate, make sure you have those records with you when you do. Again... Seriously...)

Many Get Sequestration Cut False Warning

Stars and Stripes has reported that some caregivers of wounded veterans mistakenly received letters recently warning that automatic spending cuts set for January could stop their monthly stipends, creating more concern about the problems that sequestration might bring. According VA spokesman Josh Taylor, officials have contacted all of the caregivers who received the notifications, clarifying that their stipends are not in danger and apologizing for the confusion.

(See? The funds are there thanks to President Obama. Some VA 'acting bean counter' bureaucrat evidently didn't get the word and sent out the letters. Won't look good on his next evaluation, I'm thinkin'...)



Life Member ~ DAV

BadtotheboneBob's Veteran's Reports Archive


Tuesday, 4 September, 2012

The (Occasional) Veterans Report

VA Gender Disparity Report

The Department of Veterans Affairs has released a report that shows improvement in gender disparities in 12 out of 14 Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures in VA since 2008. VA has implemented a national initiative to improve care for women Veterans. A report on that initiative, Gender Differences in Performance Measures, VHA 2008-2011, identifies best practices for eliminating gender gaps based on success in VA networks. Both reports can be downloaded at VA's Women Veterans Health Care web site at

Women Veterans and Health Care

The American Legion reports that Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) women's health initiative has already produced marked improvements in health-care quality for women veterans. Survey results from FY 2010-2011 show the initiative has improved the quality of screening for cervical and breast cancer. Other improvements include correcting bathroom and privacy deficiencies at VA facilities, improving emergency room care for women and educating providers with "mini-residencies" on women's health care. New policies are being developed for maternity care coordination, infertility issues and emergency contraception...

(I've been enrolled in the VA Health Care System for over 20 years and have been an regular patient/participant since '98. I have noticed a marked increase in the amount of women veterans utilizing VAHC over the past two years. The VA is indeed working hard to accommodate women's health care needs and each VAMC has a Women's Health Coordinator.)

Retraining for Unemployed Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs has approved more than 36,000 applications for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), a new training and education program for unemployed Veterans to upgrade their skills for in-demand jobs. VA expects to fill all 45,000 available slots for the fiscal year 2012 phase of the program before the Sept. 30 deadline and will continue processing new applications for fiscal year 2013. Potential applicants can learn more about VRAP and apply online at , or call VA toll-free at 1-800-827-1000. Information about the Department of Labor's programs for Veterans is available at

(Note: These programs are for ALL veterans!)

Veteran Disability Compensation

If you are a military veteran with a service-related disability you may qualify for over $3,100 in monthly benefits. These benefits are paid to veterans who have injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, or were made worse by active military service. It is also paid to certain veterans disabled from VA health care. These benefits are tax-free. View a summary of VA Disability Compensation -- Eligibility, Pay, Application Process, Reimbursement, Compensation Tables and Server Disability Compensation.

Life Member ~ DAV


BadtotheboneBob's Veteran's Reports Archive


Tuesday, 3 July, 2012

The (Occasional) Veterans Report

Vet Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses Sought

According to an AP report, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) plans to introduce legislation to grant benefits for same-sex spouses of veterans and service members. Smith says spouses of service members should not be barred from receiving benefits because they are in same-sex marriages. Read the Military Advantage Blog to learn more.

(I hate to say this, but I think that the DOMA will stand in the way of this. Repealing DADT was one thing, but realistically speaking, the DoD will fight this one for no more reason than budgetary concerns. The VA, too, I'm afraid. We'll see, but I'm not hopeful for this any time soon as long as the GOP controls the House.)

VA Completing Agent Orange Claims

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that nearly all of the 230,000 disability claims related to Agent Orange presumptions have been completed. Over $3.6 billion has been paid to Vietnam veterans and their survivors as a result of Agent Orange exposure. For more information, read VA's VAntage Point Blog. VA has established its Agent Orange Fast Track Claims Processing System web site at to assist veterans in filing claims for the three new conditions related to the effects of Agent Orange exposure. It guides Veterans through automated, program-assisted menus to capture the information and medical evidence needed for faster claims decision.

(It's not too late! If you or a loved one was exposed during 'The Great Southeast Asia Debacle' or along the Korean DMZ. File a claim! ASAP!

The 'fastrack' link above details all the presumptive conditions associated with AO exposure. The VA is trying very hard to make this right.)

Grants to Aid Homeless Veterans

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced the award of 64 grants totaling more than $15 million that are aimed at providing approximately 8,600 homeless veterans nationwide with job training to help them succeed in civilian careers. The grants are being awarded under the U.S. Department of Labor's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. A list of grantees is available on the U.S. Department of Labor website. For more information on the Department of Labor's unemployment and re-employment programs, Visit the U.S. Department of Labor VETS website.

VA Continues PTSD Outreach

In observance of June as PTSD Awareness Month, the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has begun a new online initiative, AboutFace, which focuses on helping Veterans recognize PTSD symptoms and motivating them to seek treatment. For more information, visit the National Center for PTSD's AboutFace website. For more information on PTSD, visit the National Center for PTSD website

(This is another area that the VA is working very hard on. They are hampered somewhat by a shortage of trained mental health professionals, but they are actively recruiting for them.)

Technology Identifies Gulf War Illness

A discovery by a Minneapolis medical researcher may lead to a new test to help identify Gulf War Illness (GWI). Using sophisticated brain mapping equipment and techniques called magnetoencephalography (MEG), Dr. Aposotolos Georgopolous of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center has found a unique visual signature of a "core" brain abnormality in Gulf War Illness. Dr. Georgopolous's MEG findings provide further evidence that GWI is a distinctly separate disease entity rooted in damage to and dysfunction of the brain...

(and a great many troops are affected by it...)

VA Offers Telehealth Consultations

In a continuing effort to increase veterans' access to mental health care, the Department of Veterans Affairs has set a goal to conduct more than 200,000 clinic-based, telemental health consultations for all mental health specialties in fiscal year 2012. The clinic-based telehealth program involves the more than 800 VA community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) where many veterans receive primary care. If the CBOCs do not have a mental health care provider available, secure video teleconferencing technology is used to connect the Veteran to a provider within VA's nationwide system of care...

(The VA's Telehealth system is remarkable. Recently, I took a 6 week dietary class, once a week, at my primary care hospital in Saginaw and the class was connected to the 8 CBOC's in the rural areas of northern Michigan. They could see and hear the lecturers and vice versa. In addition, the VA provides transport from the CBOC's to Saginaw for treatment and then on to the larger VA hospitals in Ann Arbor and Detroit, if needed.)

Coaching Into Care

The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) "Coaching Into Care" is a telephone service that provides assistance to family members and friends trying to encourage their Veteran to seek health care for possible readjustment and mental health issues. The service offers free coaching to callers with the goal of connecting a Veteran with VA care in his or her community with the help and encouragement of family members or friends. The service is available toll-free at 1-888-823-7458, 8 a.m. -- 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, and online. If a veteran is experiencing an acute crisis, callers should contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 for immediate help.

(Sometimes the family has to get involved... friends, too. This helps.)

Life Member ~ DAV

(Somewhere out on Lake Huron - Nov '80 - aboard the USCGC Bramble)

BadtotheboneBob's Veteran's Reports Archive


Saturday, 30 June, 2012

The (Occasional) Veterans Report ~ Special Edition

Veterans and the Affordable Care Act

Attention Veterans! This is 'the skinny' on how 'The Affordable Care Act' impacts you if you are enrolled in the VA health care (or TRICARE) System:

Preserving VA Health Care

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will not impact VA health care. Veterans eligible for VA health care will remain eligible under health reform; nothing in the proposed legislation will affect veterans' access to the care that they currently are receiving. The legislation makes clear that the Department of Veterans Affairs will retain full authority over the VA health care system.

Preserving TRICARE and TRICARE for Life Benefits

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will not affect TRICARE or TRICARE for Life. There is no provision in the proposed legislation that would lead to increases in co-pays, changes in eligibility requirements, or in any way modify how TRICARE is administered. The Department of Defense would maintain sole authority to operate TRICARE.

Meeting the shared responsibility requirement

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act clarifies that those covered by VA health care, TRICARE, or TRICARE for Life meet the individual responsibility requirement, and therefore exempts veterans and service members and their dependents from any penalty.

Expanded Options for Affordable and Improved Care

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes provisions to ensure that veterans are provided additional choices for high-quality and affordable care. The legislation would allow veterans receiving VA health care to also enroll in an insurance plan through the bill's health insurance Exchanges.

If you are not enrolled in either the VA or TRICARE systems the link below details other information of interest and options to veterans and their families...

Life Member ~ DAV

(Coast Guard 44' Motor Lifeboat - Been there, Done that...)


Tuesday, 26 June, 2012

The (Occasional) Veterans Report

Homeless Veterans Guide Available

The American Legion has compiled the wealth of resources offered to homeless veterans by care providers and veterans organizations. The Handbook For Homeless Veterans and Service Providers is a comprehensive guide for aid available to homeless veterans...

Rural VA Health Care Info Online

The American Legion's Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division, working with the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Rural Health, has created a Rural Veterans Health Care webpage on the American Legion web site at Users can download the System Worth Saving rural health report's findings and recommendations, rural veteran statistics, and information on VA's rural health programs and initiatives. For more information on rural health care for veterans, visit the Veterans Health Administration Office of Rural Health web site at

VA Seeks Older Vet's Input

Anica Pless Kaiser, coordinator of Boston VA's SHARP, is asking older combat veterans and former WACS, WAVES, WASPS, SPARS and women Marines to participate in a 20-minute telephone interview and fill out written questionnaires by mail. She and her colleagues are seeking information about older veterans' military and civilian life experiences, retirement concerns, health and well-being, support received from friends and loved ones, and everyday happenings. The written portion of the survey should take between an hour and 90 minutes to complete. Participants will be paid $20. To volunteer for the SHARP survey of older combat and women veterans, call Anica Pless Kaiser at (800) 865-3384, ext. 45309.

VA Hiring Mental Health Professionals

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is adding approximately 1,600 mental health clinicians as well as nearly 300 support staff to its existing workforce to help meet the increased demand for mental health services. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) anticipates the majority of hires will be selected within approximately six months. Interested mental health care providers can find additional information about VA careers and apply for jobs online at the Department of Veterans Affairs web site at To locate the nearest VA facility or Vet Center for enrollment and to get scheduled for care, Veterans can visit VA's web site at Immediate help is available at the Veterans Crisis Line web site at or by calling the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (push 1) or texting 838255.

Benefit Calculator: All Benefits in One Place

The 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

Life Member ~ DAV



Tuesday, 12 June, 2012

The (Occasional) Veterans Report

Strong Response for New VA Benefit

Within two weeks of being announced, the Veteran Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) has received over 12,000 online applications. The program allows qualifying Veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 to receive up to 12 months of education assistance. Maximum payments are equal to the full-time rate for the Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty, currently $1,473 monthly. For more information, read the VRAP GI Bill Factsheet or call VA National Call Center toll free at 1-800-827-1000.

(This is a great opportunity for older veterans who may need some new vocational training due to lay-offs or lost jobs. Don't let this pass you by!)

VA's Fight Against Vet Homelessness

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it will collaborate with the "100,000 Homes" Campaign and its 117 participating communities to help find permanent housing for 10,000 vulnerable and chronically homeless Veterans this year. The campaign's national support staff will also work with VA to provide technical assistance to help communities reduce the amount of time necessary to house a single homeless Veteran... For more information on VA's services for homeless veterans, visit VA's Homeless Veterans webpage...

(Sigh... I'm afraid that there'll always be some homeless vets. Severe addiction issues keep many of them on the street, or in the woods. The reason being is that in order to participate in these housing programs, vets identified with those problems; and it's not hard to figure it out, have to maintain a 'clean and sober' life-style... and, frankly, many don't want to. Sadly, I've known and do now know vets like that. It's frustrating.)

Researchers to Meet on Gulf War Illness

During an upcoming meeting of the Congressionally-chartered Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) in Boston, medical researchers will present new research findings related to Gulf War Illness (GWI). The committee is scheduled to meet June 18-19 at the Boston University Medical Center... An agenda of the meeting is available in a downloadable file on VA's Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses webpage...

(I know numerous vets with 'unexplained' illnesses who served in the Gulf War and have been denied compensation claims. Hopefully, they can nail down the toxins that have caused the conditions and those vets will be properly compensated.)

GAO Finds Vet Pension Fraud

A recent Government Accounting Office report states that more than 200 companies offer financial services that can help well-off veterans qualify for benefits by transferring or hiding assets so they can qualify for the VA veteran pension program. The VA veteran pension program is designed to help low-income veterans. To qualify, veterans must meet certain low-income criteria as outlined by federal law. Sen. Blumenthal has introduced a bill to protect the program from fraud.

(This really makes me angry. This link describes the VA Pension Program: Veterans Pension, Those who are scamming the system are thieves and scoundrels. This program is entirely separate and different from service-connected compensation.)

Life Member - DAV


Tuesday, 10 April, 2012

The (Occasional) Veterans Report

Labor Department Vet Job Grants

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of $15 million in grants through the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program to provide job training services to help homeless veterans succeed in civilian careers. The department anticipates awarding at least 50 grants toserve approximately 9,000 veterans.

(It's a start. Still too many homeless vets, though)

Post 9/11 GI Bill Changes Now in Effect  (National Guardsmen, take note!)

Most of the GI Bill 2.0 changes went into effect August 1, 2011. Many veterans, service members, and eligible family saw significant changes. A New Online Housing Allowance is payable to students enrolled 100% in online classes. The housing allowance is half the national average BAH for an E-5 with dependents. National Guard Eligibility has been expanded -- certain

National Guard members mobilized on Title 32 orders on-or-after Sept. 11th are now eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Women's Health Care Roundtable

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently sponsored a roundtable discussion on VA research that attempts to improve the health and health care of women veterans. VA women Veteran's health research focuses on: (1) returning combat women Veterans; (2) understanding barriers and improving access to VA health care for women Veterans; (3) long-term health outcomes of women who served during the Vietnam era; (4) expanding mental health research; and (5) basic research (biomedical) on breast cancer including hormones, regulation, genetic factors, as well as autoimmune diseases. For more information about this and other roundtables, visit the Media Roundtable web page at

Beware of Scam Letter!

A letter is making the circuit purporting to be from the Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) asking military member's fiances to register in the system entitling them to benefits in the event of the member's death. All for only a $350 fee. This is not a genuine DFAS letter -- it is a scam. The letter is a typical scam phishers use to try and obtain your personal information and,in this case, money. DFAS will never send unsolicited e-mail messages with attachments.

VA Study Looks at Diabetes

African American Veterans with hard-to-control diabetes made significant gains in keeping their blood sugar under control after working with "mentors" with similar health problems, according to a recent study by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). About one in five Veterans who receives care from VA has diabetes. The study by the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Center included 118 African American Veterans, all of whom were having trouble controlling their diabetes.

(I've had many Black vets friends who have contracted type 2 diabetes and it's very hard on them for some reason unknown to me. Most were Vietnam vets and diabetes is one of the 'presumptive conditions' covered under the 'Agent Orange' program and is cause for service-connected compensation. Here is a complete list of those conditions covered: Veterans' Diseases Associated with Agent Orange - Public Health This also covers children of veterans exposed who were born with birth defects. Benefits for Veterans' Children with Birth Defects - Public Health In addition, vets with ALS are 'presumed' just by their service (at least 90 days) whether they were exposed, or not. These are official VA web pages.)

GI Benefit Watchdog Bill Introduced

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Angel), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, recently joined with Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK) to introduce in the U.S. Senate the GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act of 2012. The bill will give service members and veterans using the GI Bill and other VA education benefits access to information that would help them make informed decisions about the schools they attend so they get the most out of the benefit.

(This is all about 'For Profit' educational institutions that have been suspected of taking advantage of vets. Note this article I saved from a few days ago...) Student vets group suspends chapters at for-profits, concerned they were recruiting tools - The Washington Post

Top 10 Technology Jobs  (Helpful for all, not just vets!)

The Chicago Tribune, based on industry growth projections from ComputerWorld, has assembled a top-10 list of fast-growing tech jobs which include: network architect, application developer, software engineer, web developer, information security specialist, database administrator, information systems manager, computer support specialist, and computer programmer. Get full job descriptions with average salaries for each of these professions...

Military Sexual Trauma and the VA

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Military sexual trauma (MST) is defined as a sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that occurred during military service. MST can affect veterans' physical and mental health for many years afterwards. VA offers a variety of services designed to assist veterans who have experienced MST. Treatment for physical and mental health conditions related to MST is available at every VA facility and is provided to veterans free of charge, regardless of service-connection status. For more information, contact your VA facility's MST Coordinator or visit the VA's MST Resource homepage.

(The VA unabashedly has posters and pamphlets openly posted and available concerning MST at the VAMC's where I receive treatment... As well they should... I knew many, many competent and capable women during my 16 years in the military and I married one and she was the mother of my two daughters while she was still in uniform. MST sickens me, but it must be brought into the open and dealt with. Attn: DoD - Perpetrators on active duty (or even after discharge) must be brought to justice - and victims must receive treatment... and I feel that the VA is trying very hard to do that.)

Life Member - DAV


Tuesday, 3 April, 2012

The (Occasional) Veterans Report

VA Expands Claims Program

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the release of 68 new forms that will help speed the processing of Veterans' disability compensation and pension claims. These disability benefits questionnaires (DBQs) guide physicians' reports of medical findings to be used by the VA. DBQ's can be found at VA's Disability Benefits Questionnaires webpage. Veterans may file a claim online through the eBenefits website.

(Yeah, yeah, I know... Forms, forms, forms... But, yer dealing with the government here, so whadda ya expect? Anyway, as I always tell vets applying for compensation, it's all about documentation. The VA will not take yer word for it. The do want to help you, hence the announcement and I know from personal experience, but ya gotta jump through some hoops. Just gotta suck it up and deal with it... Note: If you are denied, Appeal!)

VA to Offer Clergy Workshops  (This not what you might think)

Members of the clergy in rural areas can sign up for free, one-day workshops offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to educate these community leaders about the concerns of veterans and how to contact local VA facilities to request information or assistance for Veterans. Workshops will run through June in rural parts of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Seating for the workshops is limited and pre-registration is required. For more information about dates and locations, visit VA's Rural Clergy Training webpage or contact Jim Goalder at 1-800-872-9975.

(I know that a lot of rural vets, particularly in those areas noted, have close relationships with their churches (or their families do) and it's good that the clergy know how to contact the VA for vets that need help or are struggling... Intervention by proxy, as it were, if needed and certainly a valuable resource to help vets that may not be able to help themselves. I'm thinking aged vets as well as the younger ones recently deployed and now left to fend for themselves...)

Internships for Wounded Warriors

Are you a wounded, ill or injured service member looking to increase your career readiness and use your time productively while you recover? Consider participating in an Operation Warfighter internship! To get an idea of how an internship could help you during your recovery and rehabilitation, read the story of one of the interns on the DoD Warrior Care Blog. For more information about Federal internship opportunities, send an e-mail to

(Note that this program includes ill or injured vets, not just the wounded...)

A Benefit for Separating Sailors

Eligible Sailors separating due to the Enlisted Retention Board (ERB) who have ten years of qualifying service before their separation date will be allowed to transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to qualified dependents. ERB Sailors without ten years of qualifying service must affiliate with the Reserves and commit to serving four years as a drilling Reservist to transfer their benefits. For information on transferability, visit the Post 9/11 GI Bill website...

(This could be very helpful for those being separated that have teens soon to be college-bound.)

California Woman Veteran Honored

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. recently met with 102 year-old WWII veteran Bea Cohen at the State Capitol in Sacramento, as part of celebrations honoring Women's Military History Week. Ms. Cohen is believed to be the oldest living female WWII veteran in California and one of the oldest in the country. Watch Ms. Cohen on YouTube, follow her on Facebook , and read Governor Brown's press release.

(I've had the pleasure of talking to several WWII women veterans who were residents at the very fine VA nursing home facility at the Battle Creek VAMC. I was a volunteer with the title of 'Friendly Visitor' and I stopped in twice a week. I played cards with them or just sat and talked. Most were WWII or Korean War vets with some Vietnam Era. I was particularly interested in the WWII vets and there were a number of WAC's and WAVE's. Those ladies were a hoot!... as were many of the stories they told...)


In closing, I wanted to comment on yesterday's 'Rock Beyond Belief' picture. It said, "Being a soldier requires dedication, not faith". I believe that being an active duty person does require faith, not in any religion mind you now, but in your fellow comrade's abilities and fortitude. You have to have faith that they will have your 'back' when the going gets tough... IMHO

Life Member - DAV




Page 2 | January - March, 2012


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