Veterans News Blog

Vets Issues

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:

   *

     Request for DVA recognition of VMW as a 501(c)19 National Wartime VSO
   *

     VMW Veteran Service Officer Program Policies & Procedures
   *

     Notices concerning limits on VMW’s representation before the Board of Veterans Appeals
   *

     Notices concerning the limits on VMW’s representation
   *

     Developing notifications to provide to future Veteran claimants
   *

     Obtaining the support of other VSO’s for VMW’s recognition as a Nationally accredited VSO
   *

     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:

   *

     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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