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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Navy Makes Bill Cosby an Honorary Chief

WASHINGTON —  Bill Cosby went from a boy to a man during his four years in the Navy. For Cosby, getting up at 4:30 a.m. for boot camp was a “wakeup call,” both literally and figuratively.

 
“At that time, you have to be up, you have to be awake with this call, and that’s the beginning of the obedience, and I think that’s the thing that also pushed me to realize the mistakes I had made guiding my life and what I could do with myself,” said Cosby.
 
It has been more than 50 years since Cosby left the Navy and went on to a distinguished career. He has won a litany of accolades, the latest of which came Thursday when the Navy made Cosby an honorary chief petty officer at age 73.
 
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West pinned on Cosby’s golden anchors at a ceremony in the Naval Heritage Center before a room packed full of chief petty officers.
 
Mabus joked that he knows it’s getting harder for Sailors to make chief because retention rates are so high.
 
“Fifty-five years it took this guy,” he said, getting laughs from the chiefs.
 
Cosby recalled that one of the proudest moments of his mother’s life was seeing him graduate from boot camp. Several weeks earlier, he had written her that he didn’t like the yelling and threats of boot camp and asked what she could do about it.
 
In short order, Cosby was called before his company commander, who had received a letter from Cosby’s mother.
 
“My mother had written and told him what I said and my mother asked the company commander to continue to do these things,” he said.
 

VA Links Brain Cancer to Agent Orange Exposure in Recent Court Decision

Salem-News.com Story

According to Court documents, Mrs. Sheree Evans had fought for service connection for the cause of her husband’s death for almost eight years, based on a promise that she had made to him before his death.

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Mrs. Sheree Evans with her late husband

(OZARK, Mo.) – Mrs. Sheree Evans is the surviving spouse of Vietnam Veteran, Edward T. Evans, who passed away from Glioblastoma Multiforme (GM), or more commonly known as brain cancer, in March of 2003. Since this time, Sheree has fought for widow’s benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for her husband’s cause of death as a result of Agent Orange exposure (Board of Veterans' Appeals, Docket No. 05-00 201 / U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Vet. App. No. 06-2190).

While Mr. Evans was presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange during his service in the Vietnam War, one of the most challenging obstacles for Sheree was showing that his exposure to Agent Orange caused the development of brain cancer. VA had consistently maintained that brain cancer is not on their list of Agent Orange-related disabilities, and, as a result, that there is no medical link for the development of this specific cancer to Agent Orange Exposure.

"Sheree had fought for service connection for the cause of her husband’s death for almost eight years, based on a promise that she had made to him before his death."

Sheree’s long struggle against VA took her to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the highest level of the Veterans Administration’s appeals process. Once she had been denied there, Sheree appealed her case to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. There she was successful in getting the final decision by VA vacated because VA had used an independent medical opinion as evidence, which was merely grounded in the lack of GM being on the Agent Orange Presumptive list as the basis for denying a relationship. VA then ordered another medical opinion which determined that there was no research into the relationship between GM and Agent Orange.

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Edward Evans in uniform

Sheree countered with a medical assessment which argued that there was an abundance of research into the relationship between GM and Agent Orange. In a recent decision, the Board of Veterans' Appeals decided that the evidence in favor and against were in equal weight and applied the benefit of the doubt rule and on January 26th, 2011 granted Sheree’s claim. While this is not a precedential decision, VA did admit a link between the two. Time will tell what the outcome of this will amount to, but GM may very well come to be added to the Agent Orange presumptive list.

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Young Edward Evans with Purple Heart

According to Court documents, Sheree had fought for service connection for the cause of her husband’s death for almost eight years, based on a promise that she had made to him before his death. Sheree plans to write a book in honor of Edward that commemorates his life, his struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of his combat experience in Vietnam that left him physically scarred from a shell fragment, and her fight to give him the recognition that he deserves. She is very active with the Order of the Silver Rose, an advocacy group for Veterans and families who have been affected by Agent Orange.

GM is a highly aggressive form of brain cancer which, when left untreated, usually results in death in less than three months. GM has been widely researched and recent studies indicate that there is an increasing prevalence of brain cancers as a result of exposure to toxins (IOM, 2008).

Though not specifically studied in Veterans of the Vietnam War, current research shows a causal relationship between herbicide exposure and GM. The fact is that there is an unusually high number of Vietnam Veterans who suffer from GM and, due to GM’s aggressive nature, a sizable percentage of them have passed on. Studies of the dioxin TCDD, the main dioxin in Agent Orange, in laboratory animals have shown to cause cancers at a variety of sites, including GM (IOM, 2008). These studies have concluded that it is plausible that human exposure to TCDD would cause the same variety of cancers as in laboratory animals. However, there has been a lack of studies on the relationship between Vietnam Veterans and exposure to TCDD. Therefore, the Institute of Medicine, which VA recognizes as the authority of recognizing a relationship between disabilities and Agent Orange, has not issued any reports linking Agent Orange and GM.

New Legislation Honoring Cold War Veterans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Susan
Collins (R-Maine), Jim Webb (D-Virginia) and John Kerry
(D-Massachusetts) today introduced the Cold War Service Medal Act of
2011, legislation to authorize the design and award of a service medal
to honor America's Cold War veterans.  Such a medal does not currently
exist.

"The commitment, motivation and fortitude of our Cold War Veterans was
second to none," said Senator Snowe.  "The brave service members who
served honorably during the Cold War should be recognized for their
service, and this legislation is a long overdue step towards creating
the service medal that they deserve."

"This legislation will express our sincere gratitude to all Cold War
veterans, including the thousands of those who served in Maine, for
putting the comforts of civilian life aside to advance the cause of
freedom," said Senator Collins.

"The millions of Americans who served in uniform in the armed forces
during the Cold War, spanning more than four decades, were the living
embodiment of our nation's strategy of deterrence," said Senator Webb.
"In their efforts to preserve peace, hundreds died during isolated
armed confrontations when the Cold War flashed hot at remote locations
around the world. This legislation will appropriately honor those who
served in an effort that resulted in the largest single expansion in
the number of democratically elected governments in world history."

"For almost a half century, more than 20 million soldiers stood on the
front lines of our nation's Cold War defenses," Senator Kerry said.
"At a time when humanity itself hung in the balance, they were ready
to spring into action if the Cold War became a shooting war, and they
too were separated from their families and loved ones for long,
difficult periods. They deserve full recognition for their service and
sacrifice, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to enact
this important legislation."

CONTACT: Katie Bruns (Snowe)
202-224-1304

Liz Johnson (Collins)
202-224-2523

Allison Jaslow (Webb)
202-224-4024

Jodi Seth (Kerry)
202-224-4159

Senators Snowe, Collins, Webb and Kerry Introduce Legislation Honoring Cold War Veterans


                               

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jim Webb (D-Virginia) and John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) today introduced the Cold War Service Medal Act of 2011, legislation to authorize the design and award of a service medal to honor America’s Cold War veterans.  Such a medal does not currently exist.

 

“The commitment, motivation and fortitude of our Cold War Veterans was second to none,” said Senator Snowe.  “The brave service members who served honorably during the Cold War should be recognized for their service, and this legislation is a long overdue step towards creating the service medal that they deserve.”

“This legislation will express our sincere gratitude to all Cold War veterans, including the thousands of those who served in Maine, for putting the comforts of civilian life aside to advance the cause of freedom,” said Senator Collins.

“The millions of Americans who served in uniform in the armed forces during the Cold War, spanning more than four decades, were the living embodiment of our nation’s strategy of deterrence,” said Senator Webb. “In their efforts to preserve peace, hundreds died during isolated armed confrontations when the Cold War flashed hot at remote locations around the world. This legislation will appropriately honor those who served in an effort that resulted in the largest single expansion in the number of democratically elected governments in world history.”

 

“For almost a half century, more than 20 million soldiers stood on the front lines of our nation’s Cold War defenses,” Senator Kerry said.  “At a time when humanity itself hung in the balance, they were ready to spring into action if the Cold War became a shooting war, and they too were separated from their families and loved ones for long, difficult periods. They deserve full recognition for their service and sacrifice, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to enact this important legislation.”

 

Teams to Search Cambodia for Vietnam War MIAs

From a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command News Release

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2011 – Two archeological teams from the U.S. Joint
Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command are scheduled to
arrive in Cambodia soon to search for Americans unaccounted-for from
the Vietnam War, and physicians and nurses from military commands in
Hawaii will accompany them to participate in a health engagement
mission.

As part of the recovery portion of this dual-purpose deployment, more
than 40 recovery team members will excavate a burial site and an
underwater aircraft crash site in search of four missing Americans in
Cambodia's Kampong Cham and Kracheh provinces.

The deployment, expected to last about 40 days, marks the command's
44th joint field activity in Cambodia, officials said.

Recovery teams search for human remains, life-support items and other
material evidence that may further the identification of Americans
missing from past conflicts.

In addition to recovery efforts, U.S. and Cambodian personnel will
participate in a medical engagement outreach event, treating 4,000 to
8,000 people in rural and highly underserved communities, officials
said. The specialized 12-member team of experts in various medical
specialties will provide basic health assistance, laboratory services
and optometry examinations.

The U.S. medical team members are from Tripler Army Medical Center,
the 18th Medical Command and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.
U.S. and Cambodian physicians will reinforce medical capabilities by
participating in an information exchange, benefitting both countries
educationally and socio-culturally, officials added.

"[Tripler] is sending physician residents from OB/GYN and family
medicine to conduct expert exchanges with local physicians, and will
be invited to work alongside the Khmer physicians and treat their
patients," said Army Capt. Drew Webb, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command physician assistant.

This will be the first time a Tripler resident program has deployed to
a foreign country on a humanitarian outreach mission, Webb added.

"The big takeaway for all of this is that the [Tripler] residents will
get training and experience in such a unique environment," he said.

Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command is a jointly manned U.S. Pacific
Command organization of more than 400 military and civilian
specialists that has investigated and recovered missing Americans
since the 1970s, officials said, noting that 1,702 Americans still are
listed as missing in action from the Vietnam War.

.

CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Release: Tuesday the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced action they are taking to begin the process of locating a National Veteran Cemetery in Western New York.

“The men and women who have served this nation fall within a unique rank deserving of the recognition and reverence bestowed by a veterans’ cemetery,” said Congressman Higgins. “I commend the Administration for moving forward on the process that will give Western New York veteran’s families the option for a veteran burial close to home.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration maintains 131 national cemeteries, including 7 in New York State. However the closest to Western New York is located in Bath, NY, approximately 80 miles away.

The potential for a national cemetery in Western New York was one of the issues discussed between Congressman Higgins and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, when the Secretary met with the Congressman during his visit to Buffalo last April.

For more specific information about burial in a VA National Cemetery visit http://www.cem.va.gov/ .

http://www.wivb.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=7875

VA plans for Veteran Cemetery in WNY: wivb.com

VA Announces Budget Request for 2012

Shinseki Pledges to Continue to be "Good Steward" of Resources

WASHINGTON (Feb. 14, 2011) – In announcing the proposed budget for the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) during the next fiscal year,
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki emphasized "making every
dollar" count in the $132 billion budget proposal for VA.

"We will continue to wisely use the funds that Congress appropriates for
us to further improve the quality of life for Veterans and their
families through the efficiency of our operations," said Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki

"In the current constrained fiscal environment, every dollar counts,"
Shinseki added. "We have put into place management systems and
initiatives to maximize efficiency and effectiveness, and to eliminate
waste."

The budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 must be
approved by Congress before taking effect.

 

Health Care

The budget request seeks nearly $51 billion for medical care.  It would
provide care to more than 6.2 million patients, including nearly 540,000
Veterans of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The budget request also includes almost $1 billion for a contingency
fund and $1.2 billion of operational improvements to manage the
appropriated funds in a fiscally responsible manner.

Major health care provisions include:

*            $6.2 billion for mental health programs, including $68
million directly for suicide prevention;

*            $344 million to activate newly constructed medical
facilities;

*            $208 million to implement new benefits for Veterans'
caregivers;

*            Nearly $509 million for research; and

Shinseki noted the department has created "a portfolio of initiatives"
to improve the quality of VA care while making it easier for patients to
access services.  Primary care providers will put more emphasis upon
disease prevention and healthy living.  New technology – securing
e-mails, social networking and telehealth – will be harnessed to meet
the evolving needs of patients.

For example, in 2010, a daily average of more than 31,000 patients took
advantage of VA's telehome health care.  The budget proposal will allow
more than 50,000 people daily to use this innovative, at-home care.

Among the department's operational improvements is a provision that
calls for VA to implement Medicare's standard payment rates, a measure
that will free $315 million for other health care needs.

 

Benefits

The proposed budget for the new fiscal year includes more than $70
billion in "mandatory" benefits programs, a category consisting mostly
of VA disability compensation and pension payments.

Shinseki reaffirmed his commitment to "break the back of the backlog" of
claims from Veterans for disability compensation and pensions.  VA's
goal is to provide Veterans with decisions on their claims within 125
days at a 98 percent accuracy rate by 2015.

Various initiatives support continued redesign of VA's business
processes and development of a paperless claims system to improve the
efficiency of VA's handling of applications for compensation and
pensions.  Among the major projects is one to provide Veterans with
streamlined forms to present to non-VA physicians who are evaluating
Veterans for disability benefits, while another new program allows
online application for claims related to exposure to Agent Orange.

 

Homelessness Prevention

The funding request includes nearly $940 million for specific programs
to prevent and reduce homelessness among Veterans and their families.
This funding is a 17 percent increase over the current budget of nearly
$800 million.

"Homelessness is both a housing and a health care issue," Shinseki said.
"Our 2012 budget plan supports a comprehensive approach to eliminating
Veterans' homelessness by making key investments in homeless and mental
health programs."

 

Education and Training

The requested budget for "mandatory" benefits programs includes nearly
$11.5 billion for VA education, training, vocational rehabilitation and
employment programs, including educational benefit programs VA
administers for the Department of Defense.  Approximately 925,000 people
will receive benefits under these programs.  Nearly three-quarters of
the funds will go to recipients of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The budget proposal continues development of an automated Post-9/11 GI
Bill claims processing system that will speed tuition and housing
payments to eligible Veterans.

 

Information Technology

VA will seek nearly $3.2 billion for the new fiscal year to operate and
maintain its information technology (IT).

"IT is the key to bringing VA into the 21st century," Shinseki said. "It
allows for the efficient delivery of health care and benefits."

A recent independent study found that VA invested $4 billion in medical
IT from 1997 to 2007, which generated $7 billion in savings, mostly from
the elimination of duplicate medical tests and the reduction of medical
errors.

VA has a major role in the development of the "virtual lifetime
electronic record" as part of an inter-agency federal initiative to
provide complete and portable electronic health records for service
members, Veterans, other family members and, eventually, all Americans.

Through a disciplined approach to IT projects, VA transformed its
software development processes, meeting product delivery schedules over
80 percent of the time.

VA is consolidating its IT requirements into 15 major contracts, which
will lower costs and increase oversight and accountability.  Seven of
the 15 contracts are set-aside for Veteran-owned businesses, and four of
those seven are reserved for small businesses owned by service-disabled
Veterans.

 

Construction

Nearly $590 million in major construction is included within next year's
budget request.

"This reflects the department's continued commitment to provide quality
health care and benefits through improving its facilities to be modern,
safe and secure for Veterans," Shinseki said.

The funding proposal provides for the continuation of seven ongoing
construction projects at health care facilities – New Orleans; Denver;
San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Louis; Palo Alto, Calif.; Bay Pines, Fla.,
and Seattle – plus new projects in Reno, Nev.; Los Angeles and San
Francisco.

Also in the budget request is $550 million for minor construction for
such purposes as seismic corrections, improvements for patient safety,
and enhancements for access and patient privacy.

Additionally, the spending proposal includes funds for a gravesite
expansion project at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in
Hawaii.

 

National Cemeteries

VA is seeking more than $250 million next year for the operation and
maintenance of its 131 national cemeteries.

The department expects to inter about 115,000 people next year at its
national cemeteries.  Nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population is within
75 miles of a VA-run national cemetery or a state-run Veterans cemetery.

For the fourth consecutive time in 10 years, VA's system of national
cemeteries has bested the nation's top corporations and other federal
agencies in a prestigious, independent survey of customer satisfaction.

The fiscal year 2012 budget plan includes $46 million to fund creation
and improvement of state Veterans cemeteries and tribal government
Veterans cemeteries.

Further information about VA's budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 is
available on the Internet at www.va.gov/budget/products.asp.

DAV Newslettter

Dear Sean,

February is the perfect time to share your deepest affection with all disabled American veterans—whether they fought in the cold mountains of Korea or braved the desert heat of Iraq.

Embrace our heroes this Valentine's Day when you send your thanks through the DAV!

Reaching Out to Change the Lives of the Wounded!
DAV-AWilson (SIGNATURE)
Arthur H. Wilson,
Disabled American Veterans

Local Chapter Honors Purple Heart Recipient

Local Chapter Honors Purple Heart Recipient   Like many heroes who receive the Purple Heart, Branden Stackenwalt doesn't remember the award ceremony after he was wounded in Afghanistan. But Branden's local DAV chapter put things right by honoring his sacrifices in front of friends and family.

Needed Information for the Newly Wounded!

Patriotic Gift    A recent benefits seminar at Walter Reed Army Medical Center illustrates how the DAV is reaching out to the sick and injured veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — and how the GE Foundaton plays an essential role in this nationwide effort. 

 
Congress Expands Post 9/11 G.I. Bill Benefits

  Thanks to the hard work of the DAV and its supporters, Congress made vital improvements to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill at the end of the last session. The new legislation provides more opportunities for vocational training, expands eligibility for National Guard members, and provides severely injured veterans with more time to use their benefits.

DAV Focuses on Care for Women Veterans

DAV Focuses on Care for Women Veterans   Committed to reversing longstanding inequality among service members, the DAV joined other groups to host a forum on VA healthcare for women veterans. DAV National Adjutant Art Wilson declared that "the DAV is determined to work with the VA to provide these women with the excellent care they earned through their sacrifice."

Celebrate Black Heroes & Their Love of Liberty

  From the Revolutionary War to the present day, African-Americans have proudly served our nation. During Black History Month, learn more about the story of these troops.

 
Show Your Appreciation for Heroes This Valentine's Day!

Show Your Affection for Heroes This Valentine's Day!   As troops bravely continue a dangerous fight in Afghanistan, they need our appreciation and gratitude more than ever! Honor the men and women fighting for freedom as you care for those who have come home wounded from war. Make your Valentine's Day gift of $25 … $50 … $100 or more now!

VMW’s very first newsletter!

New Year – New Challenges by Joe Morgan

Happy New Year and welcome to our first newsletter!  As we look back at 2010 we can be proud of the strides VMW has made. The hard work at the national level has us now as one of the most recognized VSO's in America.  At the state level we are forming new chapters every month and the work being done in your local communities by you is far greater than any VSO in the past forty years.

On the political level, the year 2010 brought many changes. Once again the face of America politics has changed. The 111th Congress finishing up at years end can be proud of its many accomplishments. No matter if you're "Red" or "Blue" this Congress was friendly to Veterans. We can only hope the 112th Congress carries on that tradition.

Unfortunately, the winds of politics are changing. After ten years at war, America's support of the mission, if not the Warrior is waning.  Having lived long enough to see this happen before, it's only a matter of time before a target is placed on Veterans as a place to cut benefits and support. We at the national level will remain ever vigilant for the warning signs. At the State and Local level, you too must be vigilant. You only have to look at the media, both National and Local, to see the difference.  The faces and names of our fallen comrades use to be on front page news as well as the leading story in the media. Now you never see them on TV and have to search through the newspaper to find our stories.  The Department of Veterans Affairs has in the past, is currently, and will be in the future our greatest challenge.  As we have said in the past, as much as we respect the Secretary, the VA continues to be a bureaucracy of “No”. I still feel that every head of every department, at both the National and State levels, should be a Veteran. Another idea would be to form Volunteer Veterans Panels in specialties to oversee DVA. I personally would be glad to volunteer to oversee the VA healthcare system.  Knowing the budget they have, we could do a far better job than they are.

As we go forward, this newsletter will become an ever increasing tool for our organization. Your support and feedback is essential.  In closing, I want to thank you for making VMW such a success in 2010. Together we can make VMW the leading VSO in American history.

It’s About the Warrior – Joe Morgan

The Impetus for a 21st Century Veterans Trust Fund – Restoring the Trust by Don Overton

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) have proven yet again America’s willingness to commit troops and treasure to achieve a measure of global stability and to achieve a measure of safety for American citizens in a dangerous world. Our men and women in uniform have proven time and again their undaunted courage and sacrifice in meeting the call to duty, despite three and four and five deployments to combat zones. Media reports have enabled all of us to witness the overt consequences of war: the shattered bodies and damaged psyches of thousands of our servicemen and -women. Yet it is the unforeseen costs of the human toll of war that now poises our nation on the brink of a social and economic crisis the consequences of which we can only guess at.

Recently, Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) convened a hearing of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to examine the potential implications of non-action in regard to what is a very real crisis, a crisis that can neither be denied nor underplayed. Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, co-authors of The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, presented their revised analysis of the cost of the current campaigns to our nation. The desired outcome is to introduce legislation that would establish what Mr. Filner and military and Veteran stakeholders are calling a “21st Century Veterans Trust Fund.” This fund, if enacted, would mandate Congress to live up to its national obligation, to acknowledge that caring for Veterans is, and must be, a continuing cost of the national defense.

American business owners are required by law to use "accrual" accounting, a system that shows future costs as they are incurred, not when they are actually spent. Unfortunately, when it comes to funding the residuals of combat operations, we do so now via promissory notes, which have both moral and fiscal significance. They include providing high-quality care for the wounded, assuaging the traumatized, and comforting the bereaved. These are not inexpensive undertakings. Consider the first Gulf War. It cost relatively little to prosecute. But of its nearly 700,000 Veterans, 45 percent have filed disability compensation claims, 88 percent of which were favorably adjudicated. Disability compensation for these Veterans now runs $4.3 billion annually, in addition to the tens of thousands who now receive their health care at VA facilities. And there are some 250,000 more Veterans who continue to await the results of their undiagnosed illness claims for the environmental wounds of modern warfare.

There are several reasons why Americans are not yet feeling the fiscal pinch. Measuring costs in the billions of dollars is, for most of us, an abstraction. And by putting off paying for the initial costs of war, as well as for the ongoing costs of caring for Veterans and compensating them for disabilities suffered as a result of their military service are paying on the never-never principle: Rather than raise taxes, our elected leaders in essence hide the true costs of war by paying by off-budget supplemental appropriations and by running up the deficit. Rather than set aside money to cover the costs of Veterans' benefits, or significantly invest in the entities of government that will administer them, our elected leaders are passing off the debt to our grandchildren. American citizens should be entitled to a conscientious estimate of how much a war or foreign intervention will likely cost, and as a particular conflict continues, a true account of how much it will likely burden future generations. They simply must restore the trust!

Research shows that it usually takes years from the time a Veteran starts experiencing health problems to when s/he actually seeks a cure. In between the onset and the treatment, the Veteran's maladies often grow much worse. Mental health professionals say crime, alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness and other issues will only escalate. They say the victims won't only be combat Veterans: their families and communities will suffer as well.

Consider now the still smoldering conflict in Iraq and the escalating fighting in Afghanistan. How heavily will they burden the American treasury — the American taxpayer — over the next decade? Are we as a nation prepared and equipped to meet the oncoming deluge? Do we have enough resources, enough clinicians and mental health professionals to treat those who have been harmed in these conflicts? How does the equation multiply if we are forced to fight an enemy on another front?

In an attempt to meet what will undoubtedly be significant and mounting financial obligations, the 21st Century Veterans Trust Fund would mandate the Secretary of the Treasury to deposit 15 percent of the total amount appropriated to the Department of Defense, which shall be made available to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs without fiscal year limitation. Initially, the Fund will create a surplus which will continue to grow over subsequent fiscal year appropriations. Eventually, our nation should be poised to react to any of the mounting unforeseen costs of modern warfare. This should ensure that the entity of government with prime responsibility for caring for our nation's Veterans will have adequate resources to care for them years after the fighting has, hopefully, ended.

Please sign the Declaration to Support the 21st Century Veterans Trust Fund today…Congress must fund the Warrior as well as the war!!!

Warrior Communications by Brandon Freitas

Since I began working with VMW as their Director of Communications, I’ve seen its “web presence” evolve from an archaic infancy to an almost household name.  For us modern Warriors, we have a different worldview than our pre-Gulf War era heroes.  We see things in terms of gigabytes, pixels, and RAM, while they see those terms as something from the original Star Trek!  I’ve spoken to some of the Greatest Generation and they all tell me the same thing: “You young guys are so different…war was different back when we were in.”  Then, I usually get a hug or a handshake from them.  Either way you look at it, we are in a different era or “revolution” – the Cyber Revolution.  VMW strives to harness today’s technology. There are so many things we’d like to do with our web platforms, there just isn’t enough time or capital to get them all done.  We are a team of Veterans that want to do so much, all of us wish we could quit our full-time jobs to take on VMW on a full-time basis.  I’m personally not that fortunate just yet, but I will do all I can to give VMW the edge that our generation of Warriors expect!

As many of you know, we are on Facebook: VMWUSA – It’s About the Warrior and on Twitter: VMWUSA.  These two platforms alone have helped get us on the map of the cyber-world and we’re gaining “friends” and “followers” daily.  Please continue to spread the word about these two and continue to communicate with us.

Another area we’d like to develop more fully is our Chapter and / or Member Spotlights.  We are gaining new Chapters and Members on a regular basis and I want to share that with all of our Membership.  If you would like to share your chapter story,  share how VMW has impacted you as a Member, or why you joined VMW, please drop a shot out to info@vmwusa.org, sharing within 500-1000 words your perspective, please do so – don’t forget to give a good quality photo of yourself (or your chapter) too!  Also, if you have an article you think we should share, please send it to us so we can review.  Remember, this web presence is as good as we make it.  We sit in the driver’s seat, but you as our membership, definitely navigate!

So please continue to point people to our pages and remember, your membership dues will help build VMW into the premiere Veteran Service Organization for our generation.  We’re already on our way as our very own President, Joe Morgan, along with two other Board Members had the honor this year to present a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the Veterans Day ceremony in Washington, DC.  Joe even had breakfast at the White House! VMW has made itself a name on Capitol Hill and we are spreading like wildfire!!  Keep those fires burning and let’s change the future of our Veterans…past, present, and future!

Faith vs. Being “PC” by Rick Rogers

We will soon see a no-issue become a Congressional matter.  The issue of “Prayer in the Name of Jesus” will get a big push from certain quarters.  Let’s review the legal issue: Amendment 1 – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As you can see, the amendment merely limits Congress.  If Congress has uttered laws that affect the Executive Branch, then
Congress should change these laws to accord with the Amendment.  Simple enough so far.

Somewhere along the line there arose a consideration called a “Church and State” entanglement.  This arose from Article 6 of the Constitution: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all Executive and Judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Case law has broadened this somewhat, but the matter of the argument for the wording of prayer is nowhere mentioned. But, where there is smoke there is fire.  On certain occasions unit commanders have limited there chaplains from praying in the name of Jesus.  I received one such instruction in writing from the SOUTHCOM Commander through his Deputy.  My immediate recourse was to cease public prayer.

What I learned from this and other events like it, is that Supervisory Chaplains are the true source of the problem, along with the various denominations.  Certain denominations require their chaplains to end public prayer in the name of Jesus (how one does this with the Lord’s Prayer eludes me.)  Other denominations prohibit their chaplains from doing so.  In any case, the problem is within the realm of the Clergy, and not the Law, nor the Congress, nor the Commander.  For when the Clergy stand fast on prayer, there is no question.

Yes, yes. Always we must remember the lawyers, for where there is a lawyer to demand a certain thing another can be quickly found who demands the opposite.  Of this process there is no end and for this process there is no solution.

The argument is not complete without a brief theological discussion.  To “pray in the name of” has nothing to do with a formulary.  I can cry out “Stop in the name of the law” all day and I will do so in vain, for I do not represent the law.  But I speak in
the name of the Most High right often, and simultaneously in the name of Jesus.  I have that authority from time to time.  Whether I express it or not is a matter of form.  A Reformed Rabbi might speak in the name of the Most High equally as often.  It is not for me to say. To utter a formulary makes nothing true, but, if I use a formulary I had better know that I have authority or I have violated the instruction of Moses.

I am a little more concerned about saying what the Most High wants me to say than I am about whether Congress approves of it or not.  Which brings us to the final issue:  You can be Clergy, or you can be politically correct.

Transition Tips & Tales by Tom Wolfe, Career Coach

Telephone Interviews
Initial interviews are frequently conducted in neutral settings and few settings are as neutral as a telephone conversation. Companies use telephone interviews for several reasons. Any geographic separation between the parties is neutralized and the cost in time and money is minimized. It is also an easy way to add personality to the resume. For those reasons you should expect that many of your initial interviews will likely be conducted on the telephone. Telephone interviews can be tricky and deserve special attention.

Telephone interviews are scheduled events. Expect an advance call to arrange a mutually convenient day and time. Make sure that any time zone differences are addressed. Ask the person scheduling the interview for an approximate amount of time to be allotted and determine who is to initiate the call. Verify that both parties have each other’s phone numbers. Confirm that the potential employer has everything needed from you to conduct the interview. As in every interview, attention to detail is critical.

Preparing in advance is important. Make sure you have researched the company. Be knowledgeable about the specific position for which you are being considered. Most importantly, make sure your self-knowledge is sufficient to allow you to emphasize those attributes most relevant to the position.

Compose a set of questions. Select them with two things in mind. One, it is an excellent way for you to learn about the company, the job, and the opportunity. Two, asking appropriate questions sends a very strong signal regarding your level of interest. Do your best to avoid questions that are selfish in nature (salary, benefits or relocation costs, for example) – save those for later in the process.

Decide in advance where you want to be when the phone call takes place. Pick a quiet, comfortable spot where you are unlikely to be interrupted. The use of a desk or table is important because you will be taking notes. Make sure you have access to a glass of water, your resume, your list of questions, writing materials and information about the company.

Being late for an interview is often the kiss of death and this also applies to phone interviews. Be ready to make or receive the call at the scheduled time. End any other incoming calls as quickly as possible. Keep the line free – the interviewer will not be happy with a busy signal. If you have call-waiting on your phone, temporarily deactivate it.

Be patient. If the interview time arrives but the call does not, stay near the phone and wait. If the phone fails to ring during the time you have set aside, call the person and offer to reschedule. Likewise, offer to reschedule if you are initiating the call and the interviewer is unavailable. Resist the temptation to be accusatory or defensive. Allow for the possibility that the error is yours, even if that is not the case. Suck it up. Perhaps you are being tested. Once you and the interviewer are on the phone, introduce yourself. He or she should return the introduction. If this is a multi-person conference call, it is appropriate to ask for introductions to the other individuals who are participating.

In a telephone interview, you do not have body language at your disposal, nor do you have access to the cues of the body language of the interviewer. Your words, both their meaning and their delivery, are important tools, so choose them wisely. Having a strong handshake and maintaining eye contact are irrelevant now, but you should still conduct the interview as if you were face-to-face. The fact that you are leaning forward in your chair, nodding and smiling will come through in your voice.

Consider wearing your interview suit during the telephone interview. Although unseen by the interviewer, the fact that you have it on will reinforce the importance of the event and impart a positive influence on both your performance and the outcome.

Establishing rapport is critical. Whether or not the interviewer likes you has a major effect on the outcome. Hopefully your natural enthusiasm, sense of humor, and inquisitiveness will serve you well. To be safe, try to get the interviewer to talk a little bit about his or her background. Do not go overboard – remember who is interviewing whom.

To succeed in any interview, you must state your level of interest and ask for the next step. Since the preferred outcome of a phone interview is often a personal visit to the company  (sometimes called a site visit or second level interview), you should come right out and ask for this. Conversely, if you are not interested in the opportunity, let the interviewer know why. Perhaps you are misreading something or there is a different position available.

Finally, a telephone interview requires the same follow-up as any other interview. Send a timely, well-worded letter that expresses both your level of interest and also gratitude for the interviewer’s time and consideration.
© 2010, Tom Wolfe.  All Rights Reserved.  Used by permission.

Memories – 20 Years Later by Joe Morgan

The 16th of January marked the 20th anniversary of the first Gulf War, I spent it in College Station Texas at the George Bush Presidential library.  In attendance were our leaders form the first Gulf War. George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Dan Quayle, the Emir of Kuwait, and other dignitaries.  It was a nice meeting, and as I sat there hearing them talk about all things important, my mind drifted back.

Most of you not from that conflict will not remember. But, those of us that were in the war that night do…………Jan 16th or 17th depending on which time zone you were in……It was a cold night. 29 degrees. This was the desert?? The word had come down that the air war was going to begin in a few hours. We were 7 miles from the Iraq border. The only thing between a battalion of Republic Guard (Saddam Hussein’s elite fighting force) and us was one Special Forces Group (9 Warriors). The bad thing was….we were a HOSPITAL!!!!  I was a member of a Rapid Deployment Surgical Team, attached to the 12th EVAC Hospital. I know, you're thinking "a bunch of medics" don't have a snowball’s chance in hell. You know that, and I know that now. But that night as the bombs started to fall and we could feel the earth shake….everyone was "locked and loaded" and ready to die for our Country.  We were told they would cross into Saudi as soon as the bombing began.

You can look back and say "it was a 100-hour war" and you're right!  But that night in the cold winds of Iraq, American Warriors stood up and said "we will not run, we will not surrender, we will not quit". People of America, they did you proud. They didn't know it would be 100 hours. They just knew, they were never, never, never, never going to quit!!!

Now as I sit here 20 years later, I wish I could say I was as proud of America as she was of us for bringing back the pride that Viet Nam deserved, but never got. We marched in parades, we wore "chocolate chips" home, so the country would know who their heroes were. EVERYONE was SO proud!!

Now, AMERICA, YOU should be ashamed!! Almost a third of us you sent there are SICK!!!  We went as young men and women. We ran five miles a day, we did hundreds of pushups, we were young, strong, and ready.  We came back sick. Within two years, one third of us couldn't walk across a room. At the age of 25-30, 20% of us had Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The average age a person gets MS is 45.  You 1 in 30,000 – Us 1 in 200. 5% of us got Lou Gehrigs disease. I lost a friend from this, he was only 42. Most don't get it until they are 55-60, and then only 1 in 100,000.  Us 1 in 3,000.

I could go on and on. America, you should hold your head in shame!!  You say, "I didn't turn my back on you".  You lie!! I know, you put stickers on your cars, put yellow ribbons on your trees, and went to parades. Then you stopped caring. “American Idol” was and is more important to you.  Just like Viet Nam…We are losing more to the consequences of War, than the War itself.

Didn't you LEARN?!!  So quick YOU forget. Or did you ever care? America's new motto should be "Fight for us, Bleed for us, DIE for us. Just don't expect us to sacrifice FOR you!!”  You want to say we "support our Military" as long as you don't have to give up anything. We (VETERANS) have to fight now, more than we did in the War to survive. And you know what?, you're doing the same thing to this generation as you did to us.

VMW Healthcare Services by Mike Walsh

On this our first newsletter we want to acquaint you with both the topics and features that the Healthcare Services Committee works on.  Over the next year we will not only pick topics for the newsletter that are of importance to our members, we will be posting new articles on our website on a regular basis. Because of limited space on the website menu, there will be articles archived on a different page. Some of topics we will address this year are:

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     PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
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     TBI (traumatic brain injury)
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     Environmental Hazards (burn pits, pesticides, chemical agents, and other contaminations)
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     Anthrax
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     Malaria

and also, others that come to our attention during the year.  Each newsletter will feature a particular topic.  The topic we've chosen for our first newsletter is one that everyone is talking about – PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has gone by a number of names over the years.  Whether known as "Battle Fatigue", "Shell Shock" or PTSD the condition and symptoms are the same.  This generation of Veterans is no different from all those for the past 100 years. One of the best articles can be found at www.PTSD.VA.gov. Unlike other forms of injuries, PTSD has to be treated individually.  Each person reacts to every situation differently. You can have a Squad of nine men experience an IED explosion.  Of the seven that may have survived, two may go on with their lives unaffected. Two may be completely incapacitated and the others will be somewhere between those two extremes. Each person will require a separate treatment process. Unfortunately, medical professionals other than those in Psychiatry are untrained to treat these injuries. Even those in Psychiatry often treat these people with just antidepressants.

One of the treatment methods that seems to be working (because, drug treatment isn't) is peer to peer counseling.  Having a group of Veterans get together and keep telling their stories over and over is having great results. If we look back with hindsight, we see that Veterans have done this in the past with "meeting hall" organizations. Often the "treatment" at these facilities included self-medication with alcohol as well as peer to peer counseling. We now know that alcohol and other depressants only worsen the situation. Counseling is imperative. However, many Warriors are reluctant to seek help because of the stigma attached to those seeking Psychiatric intervention. I often tell people when making an appointment to tell them you need marriage counseling. Even if you're not married you may get married. Once in the office with the counselor, tell them the real reason you're there. They can never divulge that information unless you're at risk to harm yourself or others. I'm not a Psychiatric professional, Anesthesia is my specialty.  But I've had many "Marriage counseling sessions" over the years. They do work.

We hope you enjoy this first newsletter. Your feedback is greatly appreciated and we look forward hearing from you.

VMW Government Affairs by Don Overton

VMW has been working diligently over the past several years to advocate on behalf of our Nation’s Veterans in Washington DC. The following is a brief synopsis of those efforts.

Landmark Budgets Worthy of Our Veterans
Since 2007, Congress has provided a 60% increase in VA discretionary funding, adding nearly $23 billion for Veterans’ healthcare and services.  Although the country was involved in two major conflicts from 2003 to 2006, VA healthcare funding did not increase, co-pay increases were proposed, and investment in much needed research to provide the best care for Veterans suffering from unknown injuries languished.  Responding to a VA strained to its breaking point, VMW went to work to ensure that the cost of the war included the cost of the warrior and fought for budgets that honor the sacrifices of our service members and Veterans.

Advance Appropriations for Veterans Healthcare (P.L. 111-81)
Veteran Service Organization’s (VSO’s) joined forces and successfully secured advance appropriations for the VA, for the first time providing a stable and uninterrupted source of funding for medical care for Veterans one year in advance.  Typically, the Veterans’ healthcare budget is subject to political delays – but not this year!  This landmark law guarantees that the VA can better prepare for the healthcare needs of America’s Veterans.

Addressed Needs of Returning Veterans (P.L. 110-181)

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     VA Healthcare Access for Returning Combat Veterans: In early 2007, the Walter Reed scandal broke and America saw first-hand the grim reality of seriously wounded service members as they struggled to get necessary care and support during their recovery.  Weaknesses were identified in the VA’s ability to ensure a seamless continuum of care, so VMW fought to secure an additional three years of VA healthcare eligibility for returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans (bringing eligibility up to a total of five years).
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     Improved Treatment for Signature War Injuries: VMW fought for and secured laws to improve and expand the VA’s ability to care for returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI), while also addressing the rising instances of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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     Information Sharing Saves Lives: In 2009, President Obama ordered the Department of Defense and the VA to work together to define and build a Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic record that will ultimately contain administrative and medical information from the day an individual enters military service throughout their military career, and into the Veteran phase of life.  We hope over time this record will evolve into capturing the full military history of those who serve, enhancing access to care, research and benefit delivery.

Increased Access to Care (P.L. 111-163 & P.L. 111-117)

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     Low Income Veterans: Additional funding allowed VA to open up the healthcare system to new non-service connected, Priority Group 8 Veterans, a group of Veterans shut out of the VA healthcare system since 2003.  VA has raised the income threshold by 10 percent to enroll 193,000 new Veterans and plans to raise the income threshold by 15 percent to enroll an additional 99,000 Veterans in 2011.
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     Women Veterans: The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 expands and improves VA services for the 1.8 million women Veterans, anticipates the expected increase of women warriors over the next five years, provides for a much-needed study on barriers to healthcare access for women, provides training for mental healthcare professionals caring for Veterans with sexual trauma, and authorizes VA to provide healthcare for newborn infants of women Veterans.
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     Rural Veterans: Congress provided an additional $30 million in funding to increase the number of Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC’s) for the more than 3.2 million Veterans living in rural areas who do not have ready access to VA Medical Centers (VAMCs).  Congress dramatically increased the Veteran’s mileage reimbursement from 11 cents to 41.5 cents – the same as a government employee.  The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 establishes a grant program for VSO’s to provide transportation options to Veterans in highly rural areas and increases the healthcare options provided to our rural Veterans by authorizing stronger partnerships with community providers and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Increased Support for Veteran Caregivers (P.L. 111-163)

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     All Veterans: The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 provides immediate support for Veteran caregivers by creating a program to offer caregiver training, access to mental health counseling, and 24-hour respite care in the Veteran’s home.  This allows caregivers temporary relief without having to leave the Veteran at a medical facility.
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     Returning Veterans: Certain Veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom are eligible to select a caregiver to receive a financial stipend along with travel and lodging expenses associated with the Veteran’s care.

Addressed Urgent Mental Health Needs of Veterans (P.L. 111-163, P.L. 110-387 and P.L. 110-110)

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     Suicide Prevention: The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 addresses the troubling reality of PTSD and troubling incidents of suicide among our Veteran population by requiring a much-needed and long-awaited study on Veterans’ suicide and requiring the VA to provide counseling referrals for members of the Armed Forces who are not otherwise eligible for readjustment counseling.  The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act addresses the troubling increase of suicide in our Veteran community.  It offers comprehensive services to Veterans and established a 24-hour toll-free suicide hotline which has served more than 300,000 Veterans, family members, and friends.
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     Service Connection for PTSD: After pressure to address the difficulties Veterans encounter when proving stressors in order to receive service-connected compensation for PTSD incurred as a result of their military service, VA simplified the process to immediately help combat Veterans get the help they need.  Now, proof of service in uniform in a war zone, combined with a later diagnosis of PTSD, will be all that is required.
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     Counseling for Families: The Veterans' Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act of 2008 expands mental health services, increases research through the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and provides much needed counseling for families of Veterans.
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     Substance Use Counseling: The Veterans Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act of 2008 offers enhanced screening, counseling, outpatient and inpatient care, and other key improvements to the substance use treatment services available through VA.

Expanded Veteran Homelessness Prevention and Care (P.L. 111-163 and P.L. 111-275)

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     Expanded Housing Options: Congress provided funding to renovate surplus buildings on VA medical campuses to use as housing for homeless Veterans.  The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 expands the number of places where homeless Veterans may receive supportive services.  For Veterans struggling without a roof over their heads, this small change in the law will make a big difference in their lives.
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     Expanded Support Services: The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 reauthorizes the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program through fiscal year 2011 and authorizes an additional $1 million to provide dedicated services for homeless women Veterans and homeless Veterans with children.  Grants would be made available to provide job training, counseling, placement services, and child care services to expedite the reintegration of Veterans into the labor force.

Invested in Research for Veterans’ Healthcare (P.L. 111-163 and P.L. 111-275)

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     Increased Budgets: Congress invested in healing and helping injured Veterans by adding $144 million for medical and prosthetic research, an increase of more than 25% over three years.
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     Gulf War Illness Research: VMW provided testimony during Congressional hearings which affirmed that Veterans are suffering from acute and chronic symptoms attributed to their military service in the Gulf War Region and continue to experience barriers to care and services from the VA.  The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 extends the evaluation of chronic multi-symptom illness by the National Academy of Sciences of Veterans of the Persian Gulf War and Post-9/11 Global Operations and allows the Institute of Medicine to carry out a comprehensive review of best treatment practices.
     for chronic multi-symptom illness in Gulf War Veterans, along with a plan for dissemination of best practices through VA.
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     Expanded Research Partners: The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 authorizes the establishment of multi-medical center research corporations by merging single facility nonprofit research corporations and improves accountability of the corporations.

BENEFITS UPDATE

A G.I. Bill for the 21st Century (P.L. 110-252) The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is the greatest overhaul of the G.I. Bill in over 20 years, covering the cost of a college education at a public university.  This fall, nearly 300,000 Veterans are enrolled in college as a result of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and more than $2.9 billion in education benefits have been paid to Veteran students.

Enhanced Employment Opportunities (P.L. 111-275) The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 reauthorizes the VA work-study program and provides on-the-job training for Veterans in the energy sector, by awarding competitive grants to three states that boast a diverse energy industry and have the ability to carry out such a training program.

A Modernized VA Home Loan Program (P.L. 110-245, P.L. 110-298, P.L. 110-389) Sweeping legislation provided Veterans with the necessary time to readjust from the battlefield back into their communities without fear of losing their home.  New laws prohibit foreclosure for nine months after military service, provide a much needed increase to the VA loan limit to better match current home prices, and revamp the VA home loan program by enabling more Veterans to refinance with VA loans.  Congress also expanded homeownership opportunities by making thousands of Veterans eligible for low-interest loans.

Reforms to Benefits Claims System (P.L. 110-389) The Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 provides essential reforms to bring the claims processing system up-to-date for more accurate and timely delivery of benefits to Veterans, families, and survivors.  VMW continues to monitor the on-going implementation and continues to focus added attention on the disgraceful claims backlog calling for additional staff to reduce the time to process new claims.  To date, the VA has hired 8,300 additional claims processors.

Better Insurance Options for Service Members and Veterans (P.L. 111-275) The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 ensures the welfare of Veterans and their families by providing increases to outdated insurance policy limits for service members and Veterans, many who are severely disabled or have suffered traumatic injury.  The new law provides an increase to the maximum loan guarantee amount under the Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance program and allows totally disabled Veterans to receive free Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI)  coverage for two years following separation from active or reserve duty.

Honor for Fallen Service Members & Their Families (P.L. 111-275) The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 increases burial and funeral benefits and plot allowances for Veterans who are eligible for a burial at a national cemetery or who died in a VA facility from $300 to $700.   Further, parents whose child gave their life in service to our country would be allowed to be buried in a national cemetery with that child when their Veteran child has no living spouse or children.

Protection for Service Members Called to Combat (P.L. 111-275) The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 prohibits early termination fees for certain contracts like cell phone service and residential leases after service members receive notice of military orders to relocate to a site that does not support the contract.

Better Benefits (P.L. 111-275) The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 increases the number of Veterans able to receive independent assisted living services, provides greater automobile and adaptive equipment to Veterans with severe burn injuries, and increases the automobile allowance for disabled Veterans from $11,000 to $18,900.  Please visit our Government Affairs page on our website at: http://www.vmwusa.org/index.php/govtaffairs VMW is currently drafting its legislative agenda for the 112th Congress and welcomes your feedback.

VMW Veteran Services by Robert Saunderson IV

Have you ever wondered what goes into creating a Veteran Service Officer Program?  I’ll run down some of the basics and generalizations of what we are doing as we create the VMW Veteran Services Program.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has a 5-year probationary period for Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) before you can pursue an accreditation to represent claimants before the DVA (this policy also requires at least 2,000 members in your VSO).  Veterans of Modern Warfare, established in 2006, has met all of the VA’s requirements and is in the final stages of developing the Veteran Service Officer Program.   We’ve been working diligently on completing all of the following:

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     Request for DVA recognition of VMW as a 501(c)19 National Wartime VSO
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     VMW Veteran Service Officer Program Policies & Procedures
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     Notices concerning limits on VMW’s representation before the Board of Veterans Appeals
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     Notices concerning the limits on VMW’s representation
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     Developing notifications to provide to future Veteran claimants
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     Obtaining the support of other VSO’s for VMW’s recognition as a Nationally accredited VSO
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     Working on developing an agreement for the training of our member Veteran Service Officers

In addition to the service officer program, we are attending national meetings, conducting outreach in our communities, and helping to educate Veterans and those who care so much for them on their earned benefits and programs of interest.

We are taking measures to ensure that what we do on behalf of our Nation’s Veterans is first and foremost, done for the right reasons, as well as the right way (we’re not a fly by night flash and dash organization like some), but rather a group of dedicated Veteran advocates striving to assist our Nation’s Veterans and their families throughout the transition from military to civilian life.  We have specialized committees looking out for the interests of both active duty military personnel and Veterans.

We are always looking for those who truly want to learn, help and assist their fellow Brothers and Sisters in arms.  We encourage you to join our team.  With the 1st year membership offered free of charge, what do you have to lose?  Join us in our goal of helping those who have sacrificed so much get “all the way back home”.

VetJobs Does it Again! by Brandon Freitas

VMW friend and partner, VetJobs has been chosen for the eighth straight year for the User’s Choice Award by WEDDLE’s.  This award marks VetJobs as one of the top 30 job boards out of over 200,000 career sites on the Internet and one of only five job boards that have received this prestigious award eight years in a row!

Each year, WEDDLE's, the leading authority on internet job boards and career sites, conducts a year-long poll to identify the thirty job boards and social media sites with the most support among job seekers, employers and recruiters. These sites are then recognized with the WEDDLE's User's Choice Award, the only accolade in the internet job board and career market in which actual site users get to pick those winners they think are the best of the best. WEDDLE's User's Choice Awards are a valid measure of the intensity of support that individual sites have among their users. For that reason, WEDDLE's thinks it is accurate to say that the sites with the most votes are clearly among the elite in the online employment services industry. WEDDLE's 2011 User's Choice Award winners are: Absolutely Health Care; AfterCollege.com; AHACareerCenter.org (American Hospital Association); AllHealthcareJobs.com; AllRetailJobs.com; CareerBuilder.com, Climber.com; CollegeRecruiter.com; CoolWorks.com; Dice.com; EHSCareers.com; ExecuNet; FlexJobs.com; Hcareers.com; HEALTHeCAREERS Network; HigherEdJobs.com; HospitalDreamJobs.com; Indeed.com; Job.com; JobCircle.com; JobFox.com; Jobing; Monster.com; National Healthcare Career Network; SimplyHired.com; 6FigureJobs.com; SnagAJob.com; TopUSAJobs.com; VetJobs.com; and WSJ.com/Careers (The Wall Street Journal).

The five elite sites that have received the award for all eight years are: CareerBuilder.com, DICE.com, Execunet.com, Monster.com and VetJobs.com. The five elite sites that have received the award for all eight years are: CareerBuilder.com, DICE.com, Execunet.com, Monster.com and VetJobs.com.  “I congratulate the four sites that have been selected along with VetJobs as they are the cream of the employment web sites on the Internet,” said President of VetJobs, Ted Daywalt.

If you are seeking employment, visit VetJobs today!  Contact them at info@vetjobs.com.

A Message from the VMW Membership Team – VMW is now accepting membership dues.

The VMW Membership Team has been hard at work to get everyone transitioned into our new web-based membership system. We are pleased to announce that as of this date all VMW members have been successfully transferred and welcome letters and membership cards mailed accordingly.

VMW offers free membership for the 1st year and has finally developed the systems necessary to begin collecting membership dues. Your dues will go a long way in ensuring our Nation’s military and Veterans receive the support and benefits they have so rightfully earned. You will also be a part of the most modern Veterans Service Organization in the world!!

Your dues will allow us to fully develop and implement state of the art services tailored to our individual member’s needs. Dues are also shared between the National Organization and Local Chapters, ensuring that service delivery is available where you need it most.

You will receive an email during the month of your free membership expiration requesting your dues payment ($25.00 annually, or $250.00 lifetime). *Please note there is still time to take advantage of the $150.00 lifetime membership discount, but time is running out!

Have you received your membership card? Has your mailing address or other contact information changed? Please contact our Membership Team with any questions or concerns at: membership@vmwusa.org

Every member record from the system has now been registered at our website as well. If you never registered on the website, your login information is:

Username: First Name – Last Name
Password: First Initial – Last Name

Example:
Name: Joe Navy
Username: Joe Navy
Password: jnavy

We will be utilizing this information to communicate with you on a regular basis. Please visit the website and activate your account today. You may change your Username and Password after login.  Many areas of our website are transitioning to member only areas. This means that important items will be invisible to the casual web browser just visiting our website. You have the added advantage of logging in and lighting these features up as a VMW member!  So, why not visit the website today and get started enjoying all your membership in VMW has to offer.

**If you are receiving this Newsletter more than one time then you have multiple VMWUSA user accounts. Please contact us at: info@vmwusa.org for assistance with identifying your preferred account.  You may also adjust the level of communications you receive from VMW by choosing which items to subscribe to on the homepage. Thank you for your support of VMW, your service to Country, and WELCOME HOME BROTHERS AND SISTERS!

VMW Women Veteran Services by Kathy Marschman

VMW 2011 Women Veterans Agenda
EDUCATION. The general public, and even Veterans advocates, do not fully recognize the service of women in the military.  (e.g., in a husband/wife team, often the default assumption of others is that the husband is the service member/Veteran.)  This is a basic premise that should be incorporated in VMW’s policies, activities, etc.  There are organizations dedicated to the issues of women Veterans.  At this point in VMW’s development, it may be prudent to develop relationships and assist some of those organizations.

How:

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     Develop relationships/partner with women Veteran networks

MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA (MST). Percentages of MST are higher than in the general public.  Current processes serve to further victimize and blame victims, lack punishment, preclude adequate legal representation for victims, preclude victims from having control over the process, etc.

Boston Globe article on MST

Although this issue is gaining attention, it remains an issue largely in the shadows of male-dominated military and Veteran communities.

How:

   *

     Support legislation that strengthens the position of victims
   *

     Assess VA’s response to victims of MST

VA HEALTHCARE. Issues such as gender-specific services, ratings, recognition of battlefield service in ratings determinations, collateral issues (child care during medical services, etc..).

HOMELESSNESS. (Family Support Services for Female Veterans and their Children) At one point in the past few years, women Veterans accounted for the fastest growing segment of the homeless.  There is likely nothing new that has seriously diminished that trajectory.  Women are more likely than men to have children with them in their homelessness.

AVMWLogoHIGHRES.jpg

Coming Soon! by VMW Board of Directors

Veterans of Modern Warfare is pleased to announce the launch of our sister organization, Advocates of Veterans of Modern Warfare (AVMW). They recently received their IRS determination establishing them as a 501(c)4 membership organization. We are excited to finally be able to stand side by side with all family members and supporters not otherwise eligible to join VMW.

The AVMW Board of Directors is working hard to get the organization fully operational. For those individuals who submitted advance membership application you can expect to receive your welcome letter and membership cards over the next several weeks. AVMW membership is open to any family Veteran, family member, or supporter of our Nation’s modern Warriors. Together we will make a difference!

Be on the lookout for a formal announcement from VMW’s National President Joseph Morgan announcing the AVMW National Officers and welcoming them to our team. Please encourage your friends and loved ones to join today. For any questions or concerns please contact AVMW at: avmw@vmwusa.org

Veterans Stand Together by Don Overton

Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minnesota) proposed ten days ago that $4.5 Billion be saved in the Federal budget by "freezing" any increase whatsoever in health care funding for veterans, and by cutting benefits for veterans. Her offices in Minnesota and in Washington were overwhelmed by calls and e-mails and faxes from outraged veterans and others who care about veterans of every generation. While this deluge (including a swamping of Ms. Bachman's FACEBOOK page) came from all over Minnesota and the Nation, much also came from her District.

The House of Representatives will listen, but we (ALL of us, especially at the Chapter and State levels) have to send them a loud and clear message regarding earned benefits and health care for veterans.

After all of this firestorm, the Congresswoman quietly capitulated and changed course on Friday. She posted the message below on her official web page and in a press release:

"I am pleased that this discussion is generating valuable conversation. Many of my constituents have called to weigh in on the possible cuts.

"One point on my discussion list was a $4.5 billion proposal that would affect payments made to our veterans. That discussion point has received a lot of attention and I have decided to remove it from consideration. The problem of government spending must be solved, but not on the backs of our nation’s war heroes. I have always been a proud supporter of the United States military and I continue to stand with our veterans.  In the months ahead I look forward to working with our Veterans Service Organizations to ensure that we fulfill our commitments to those who sacrificed so much in their brave service for our country.”

Become a member today!

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VA & HUD Issue First-Ever Report on Homeless Veterans

Assessment Key to Preventing and Ending Homelessness

WASHINGTON – For the first time, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development today published the most authoritative analysis of the extent and nature of homelessness among Veterans.  According to HUD and VA's assessment, nearly 76,000 Veterans were homeless on a given night in 2009 while roughly 136,000 Veterans spent at least one night in a shelter during that year.

This unprecedented assessment is based on an annual report HUD provides to Congress and explores in greater depth the demographics of Veterans who are homeless, how the number of Veterans compare to others who are homeless, and how Veterans access and use the nation's homeless response system.  HUD's report, Veteran Homelessness: A Supplement to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress <http://www.hudhre.info/documents/2009AHARVeteransReport.pdf> , examines the data in the department's annual report to Congress in-depth.

"With our federal, state and community partners working together, more Veterans are moving into safe housing," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  "But we're not done yet.  Providing assistance in mental health, substance abuse treatment, education and employment goes hand-in-hand with preventive steps and permanent supportive housing.  We continue to work towards our goal of finding every Veteran safe housing and access to needed services."

Last June, President Obama announced the nation's first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness, including a focus on homeless Veterans.   The report, Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, puts the country on a path to end Veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children, family, and youth by 2020. Read more about the Administration's strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness in America <http://www.usich.gov/PDF/OpeningDoorsOverview.pdf> .

Key Findings of

Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness

Ø More than 3,000 cities and counties reported 75,609 homeless Veterans on a single night in January of 2009; 57 percent were staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program while the remaining 43 percent were unsheltered.  Veterans represent approximately 12 percent of all homeless persons counted nationwide during the 2009 'point-in-time snapshot.'

Ø During a 12-month period in 2009, an estimated 136,000 Veterans-or about 1 in every 168 Veterans-spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.  The vast majority of sheltered homeless Veterans (96 percent) experienced homelessness alone while a much smaller share (four percent) was part of a family.  Sheltered homeless Veterans are most often individual white men between the ages of 31 and 50 and living with a disability.

Ø Low-income Veterans are twice as likely to become homeless compared to all low-income adults.  HUD and VA also examined the likelihood of becoming homeless among American Veterans with particular demographic characteristics.  In 2009, twice as many poor Hispanic Veterans used a shelter at some point during the year compared with poor non-Hispanic Veterans.  African American Veterans in poverty had similar rates of homelessness.

Ø Most Veterans who used emergency shelter stayed for only brief periods.  One-third stayed in shelter for less than one week; 61 percent used a shelter for less than one month; and 84% stayed for less than three months. The report also concluded that Veterans remained in shelters longer than did non-Veterans.  In 2009, the median length of stay for Veterans who were alone was 21 days in an emergency shelter and 117 days in transitional housing.  By contrast, non-veteran individuals stayed in an emergency shelter for 17 days and 106 days in transitional housing.

Ø Nearly half of homeless Veterans were located in California, Texas, New York and Florida while only 28 percent of all Veterans were located in those same four States.

Ø The report studied the path homeless Veterans take into the shelter system and found most Veterans come from another homeless location and few entered the shelter system from their own housing or from housing provided by family or friends.

Ø Sheltered homeless Veterans are far more likely to be alone rather than part of a family household; 96 percent of Veterans are individuals compared to 63 percent in the overall homeless population.

For more information on VA's efforts to end homelessness among Veterans, visit VA's Web page at www.va.gov/homelessness.

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