 Surviving family members will get more money, but less time

Besides access to Yellow Ribbon, spouses and children of service members who died in the line of duty on or after 9/11 will also see their monthly education stipend from the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program increase by $200. There’s a downside, however. Though the same program has previously provided 45 months of education benefits, that will decrease to 36 months in August 2018 to bring it in line with the provisions of the GI Bill.

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 VA compensable disabilities ► top 10 overlooked by vets:

1. Erectile Dysfunction
2. Agoraphobia – The essential feature of Agoraphobia is anxiety about being in (or anticipating) situations from which escape might be difficult or in which help may not be available in the event of having a Panic Attack (or panic-like symptoms). Oftentimes, when in this situation, an individual may have the vague thought that something dreadful may happen. Such concerns must persist for at least 6 months and occur virtually every time an individual encounters the place or situation (especially those that remind a veteran of battle situations).
3. Keloids – A scar that rises quite abruptly above the rest of the skin. It is irregularly shaped, usually pink to red in color, tends to enlarge progressively, and may be harder than the surrounding skin. Keloids are a response to trauma, such as a cut to the skin. In creating a normal scar, connective tissue in the skin is repaired by the formation of collagen. Keloids arise when extra collagen forms.
4. Sexually Transmitted Diseases – There are certain diseases based on specific codes which may be compensable 5. Pseudofolliculitis Barbae – a common condition of the beard area occurring in men and other people with curly hair. The problem results when highly curved hairs grow back into the skin causing inflammation and a foreign body reaction. Over time, this can cause scarring which looks like hard bumps of the beard area and neck..
6. Plantar Fasciitis
7. Pleurisy
8. Tropical Phagedena (Jungle Rot) – Tropical phagedena, Aden ulcer, Malabar ulcer, and jungle rot (from Vietnam) , as well as various native terms. It occurs on exposed parts of the body, primarily the legs, arms, and feet. Frequently on pre-existing abrasions or sores, sometimes beginning from a scratch. As a rule, only one extremity is affected and usually there is a single lesion, although it is not uncommon to find multiple ulcers on two or more body parts.\
9. Hemorrhoids
10. Sleep Terror Disorder – Sleep terror disorder is also known as night terrors. Sleep terror is characterized by the following symptoms that a mental health professional looks for when making a diagnosis for this condition:
• Recurrent episodes of abrupt awakening from sleep, usually occurring during the first third of the major sleep episode and beginning with a panicky scream.
• Intense fear and signs of autonomic arousal, such as tachycardia, rapid breathing, and sweating, during each episode.
• Relative unresponsiveness to efforts of others to comfort the person during the episode.
No detailed dream is recalled and there is amnesia for the episode.
• The episodes cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
• The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

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 Agent Orange diseases update

VA Secretary David J. Shulkin will decide “on or before” Nov. 1 whether to add to the list of medical conditions the Department of Veteran Affairs presumes are associated to Agent Orange or other herbicides sprayed during the Vietnam War, a department spokesman said Tuesday in response to our enquiry. Any ailments Shulkin might add to VA’s current list of 14 “presumptive diseases” linked to herbicide exposure would make many more thousands of Vietnam War veterans eligible for VA disability compensation and health care. Ailments under review as possible adds to the presumptive diseases list include bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson-like symptoms without diagnosis of that particular disease. But hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke also might be embraced, or ignored, as part of the current review.

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 VA death verification system update:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has implemented a new policy change that affects all veterans. The VA is currently in the process of updating its procedure to request further confirmation of a veteran’s death before it terminates any and all payments to the veteran. Basically, the process will now involve more exhaustive confirmation of a veteran’s death before payments are stopped. For instance, when VA officials believe that a veteran has died, the VA will send a letter to his or her address on file and request confirmation of the death from a surviving family member. If the VA doesn’t receive a response from the family — or from a veteran erroneously believed to be dead — only then will the VA terminate payments permanently. [Source: U.S. Veteran Compensation Programs | August 23, 2017 ++]
You also need to be aware of the fact that you may be liable for any overpayments to the veteran’s account.

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 Vets with ‘Bad Paper’ discharges get good news In new DoD guidance:

As reported on August 29, by Adam Weinstein for Task and Purpose, new guidance from the Pentagon offers some veterans with “bad paper” discharges more direction on their eligibility for a record review and upgrade. The Defense Department announced late on Aug. 28 that it will direct each service’s review board to consider new “liberal” criteria to give vets “a reasonable opportunity to establish the extenuating circumstances of their discharge” — particularly if the vet received a less-than-honorable discharge while suffering from the effects of traumatic brain injury or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from military operations, sexual assault, or sexual harassment

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Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, H.R. 3218, passed by the House and Senate was signed by the President on August 16, 2017. Also known as the Forever G.I. Bill, the legislation improves provisions in the existing G.I. Bill and provides more flexibility for using educational benefits.  The measure contains a number of provisions that specifically impact disabled veterans and their families, including:

  • Increases monthly Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA) payments by about 40 percent effective October 1, 2018 (note: effective August 1, 2018, DEA decreases from 45 to 36 months to be consistent with other VA educational programs);
  • Eliminates the 15-year limit for using the G.I. Bill, allowing for the use of the educational benefits for life, for those who were discharged after January 1, 2013;
  • Grants full G.I. Bill benefits to Purple Heart Recipients, regardless of total time in service effective August 1, 2018;
  • Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists undergoing medical care for active duty injuries effective August 1, 2018;
  • Restores used G.I. bill benefits to enrolled students whose school permanently closes after January 1, 2015, effective November 14, 2017; and
  • Allows veterans who are National Guard members and Reservists who are receiving Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) benefits, to “pause” their eligibility so their time under the VR&E program is not negatively affected while called up for active duty orders. This provision takes effect immediately.

To see the complete text of the Forever G.I. Bill click here

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https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/ddZaIdymLeLmy8qYdCh14g 

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 The White House Veterans complaint line is open

855-948-2311 – The phone line is designed to “collect, process and respond to the complaints of individual veterans in a responsive, timely and accountable manner,” according to Department of Veterans Affairs officials Rather than complain to your neighbor or anyone else who may listen, you now have a venue to voice your concerns. Just make sure they are legitimate concerns and I suggest that you provide a resolution to the matter of your complaint (just a personal comment).

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 TRICARE mental health

TRICARE expanded mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services, adding intensive outpatient programs and expanding options for opioid treatment. In addition to other improvements, this expansion improves access to care and increases opportunities for mental health and SUD treatment. It also makes it easier for beneficiaries to access the right level of care for their health and wellness needs. These new services round out existing TRICARE covered treatments, including:
• Emergency and non-emergency inpatient hospitalization
• Psychiatric residential treatment center care for children
• Inpatient/residential SUD care
• Partial hospitalization
• Outpatient and office-based mental health and SUD treatment

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 Vet funeral benefits ► H.R.1212 | Brave Act:

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced that are introducing bipartisan legislation to improve burial services for our nation’s veterans by increasing funeral benefits for eligible veterans. The Burial Rights for America’s Veterans’ Efforts (BRAVE) Act would update the current funeral and burial benefit system to ensure that all non-service connected deaths are treated equally, regardless of where the veteran passes away. Veterans with no next of kin that pass away in a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility are currently afforded greater funds to cover the costs of their funerals and burials than veterans who pass away in a private home or other facility.

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 War on Terrorism Memorial:

Military veterans of the war on terrorism deserve a memorial. Let’s hope they don’t have to wait as long for it as World War II veterans did theirs. Pittsburgher Andrew Brennan, an Army veteran who flew helicopters in Afghanistan, has been promoting the idea of a national memorial in Washington, D.C., for about three years. Significant obstacles remain. Funding is one of them, but that’s a worry for another day. First, Congress would have to waive a law that permits memorials to be built only 10 years or more after a war is concluded. The war on terror, however, is more nebulous than most. It’s a fight against a concept, a tactic used by non-state actors, not a foreign power. It’s waged on many fronts, not two or three. Unlike other wars, such as World War II, it might never end. But that’s no reason to hold off giving veterans their due.

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