 Suicide risk and risk of death among recent veterans:

Among deployed and non-deployed active duty Veterans who served during the Iraq or Afghanistan wars between 2001 and 2007, the rate of suicide was greatest the first three years after leaving service, according to a recent study.
Compared to the U.S. population, both deployed and non-deployed Veterans had a higher risk of suicide, but a lower risk of death from other causes combined. Deployed Veterans also had a lower risk of suicide compared to non-deployed Veterans.
These findings are from a study that looked at the vital status of 1.3 million Veterans from their time of discharge through the end of 2009

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 Volunteers constructed an entire community to house homeless veterans:

Many veterans sacrifice comfortable, lucrative lives to protect the liberties of their home country—only to find nothing left of those former lives when they return. In the face of rising veteran homelessness rates, due in part to inadequate medical and psychological resources, Missouri volunteers pooled their creativity, time, and money to create a community of tiny homes that welcomes veterans, completely free of charge.,
There is an organization in Oklahoma that has started creating homeless villages for homeless veterans and building tiny homes for homeless veterans

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 Former soldier creates app for Oklahoma veterans:

A new Android app being made available at no cost for Muskogee, Okla.-area veterans will plug them into practically every resource they could need or want. The Barracks is the brainchild of Army veteran Victor Lezama. The app includes direct access to a crisis hotline, assistance with medical claims, job-assistance programs, housing information, recreation and veteran discounts.
“Our main concern is for veterans in crisis — let’s get them help as soon as possible, even if to talk,” Lezama said, noting the first thing a veteran will see when the app opens is a telephone number to a crisis hotline. “My favorite thing is that veterans can click on Crisis Hotline and have the option to text, call or chat with somebody for help.”
The Barracks is available for download now on Google Play. An iPhone version of the app is expected to be available in two weeks.

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 Legislation of the 115th Senate:

Introduced –
S.410 – A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the transfer of unused Post-9/11 Educational Assistance benefits to additional dependents upon the death of the originally designated dependent..
S.423 – A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to increase the maximum age for children eligible for medical care under the CHAMPVA program, and for other purposes.
S.422 – A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.
S.324 – State Veterans Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act of 2017
S.112 – Creating a Reliable Environment for Veterans’ Dependents Act –
A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize per diem payments under comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans to furnish care to dependents of homeless veterans, and for other purposes.
S.24 – A bill to expand eligibility for hospital care and medical services under section 101 of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to include veterans who are age 75 or older, and for other purposes. –
This bill amends the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to extend hospital and medical services under the Veterans Choice Program to veterans who are age 75 years or older

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 Legislation of the 115th House of Representatives:

Introduced –
H.R. 369, Eliminating the Sunset Date of the Choice Act –
Eliminating the Sunset Date of the Choice Act, would eliminate the statutory sunset date for the Choice Program and instead allow the program to continue until the original funding has been expended. The Choice Act included language to state that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is authorized to continue services until August 7, 2017, or until the funds provided under the Choice Act ran out, whichever occurred first. While the authorization is set to expire on August 7, 2017, the VA has informed Congress there will still be funds remaining in the Veterans Choice Program after August 7, meaning veterans could still access health care services under the Choice Act if Congress eliminates the sunset date. Should Congress eliminate the sunset date of the Veterans Choice Program, veterans utilizing the program can continue seeking care outside the VA under this authority, paid for with funds that have already been appropriated, while Congress continues to pursue VA reform.
H.R. 1181: Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act –
The Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act would prohibit VA from considering any beneficiary who is assisted by a fiduciary as “mentally defective” without a magistrate or judicial authority ruling that the beneficiary is a danger to themselves or others.
Passed House –
H.R. 512: WINGMAN Act –
The WINGMAN Act allows designated permanent, full time Congressional staffers to look up the status of a veteran’s claim on VA’s database—but only if the veteran has given the staffer permission
H.R. 974: Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment (BRAVE) Act –
The BRAVE Act is designed to boost veteran employment by allowing VA to give preference when awarding procurement contracts to government contractors who employ veterans on a fulltime basis
H.R. 28: The Biological Implant Tracking and Veterans Safety Act –
The Biological Implant Tracking and Veterans Safety Act directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to adopt the FDA’s unique device identification system (UDI) for labeling of all biological implants and to implement an automated inventory system to ensure veterans do not receive expired or otherwise contaminated tissue

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Please Support the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act

On February 3, 2017 Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina introduced H.R. 846, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, a bill to repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) for military surviving spouses to offset the receipt of veterans Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).

Purchased SBP annuities are unfairly offset by the amount of any benefit payable under the VA DIC program. SBP is not a government gratuity; rather, it is a type of insurance benefit purchased out-of-pocket by military retirees for their survivors. Thousands of survivors of military retirees are adversely affected by this mandated offset between SBP and DIC benefits.

H.R. 846 is in accordance with DAV Resolution No. 009, which supports legislation to repeal the offset between SBP annuity payments and DIC payments.

Please use the prepared email or draft your own to request that your Representative support this important bill and ask that it be brought to the floor for a vote and passed as soon as possible.

Thank you for all you do for veterans and their families.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:

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 Military family tax burden ► H.R.282 | Spouse State Residency

Military spouses would be able to simplify their state residency status — and their tax bills — under new legislation introduced by a pair of Republican lawmakers this week. The Military Residency Choice Act H.R.282 is designed to untangle the sometimes complicated residency rules surrounding military families, whose frequent duty assignment changes and cross-country moves can leave a confusing trail of paperwork. Bill sponsors Rob Wittman, (R-VA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) said simplifying those rules could lead to fewer financial problems for those
families and even help military spouses continue their careers as they jump from state to state. “The last thing our military families need is additional stress during tax season,” Wittman said in a statement. “Allowing military families to establish a consistent state of residency will give spouses the confidence to rejoin the workforce when they move and help them better provide for their families.”
The new measure allows military spouses to adopt their servicemembers’ state of residency as their own, even if they never lived there before. For all future moves, the couple will have the same state for tax and voting purposes.

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 Military Spouse Job Continuity Act

NGAUS strongly supports S.143, the Military Spouse Job Continuity Act, introduced on January 12th by Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania. This legislation would offer a tax credit up to $500 to any military spouse who requires a renewal or transfer of a professional license due to a government-ordered move across state lines (PCS order). The tax credit would only apply to administrative fees paid to licensing boards or certificate-granting institutions. Additionally, eligible spouses are those who are married to a member of the Armed Forces at the time the member moves to another State under a PCS order and the spouse moves with the member

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 VA Blue Water claims update:

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 is a bill to restore the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange by veterans who served in the harbors, bays and territorial seas of Vietnam. The bill was introduced on 5 JAN by Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) Joseph Courtney (D-CT) Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Joe Lobiono (R-NJ). The bill picked up an additional 100 co-sponsors in less than a week. HR 299 would correct a policy by the Veteran’s Affairs implemented in 2002 that striped veterans of the presumption of exposure as stipulated in the Agent Orange Act of 1991. The action was based on the interpretation of the phrase that service in the Republic of Vietnam applies only to those who served in the landmass of Vietnam. The opinion ignored that national sovereignty extended to the territorial seas.

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Call to Action Please click on the link at the bottom of CMDR Riley’s Letter

On January 19, 2017, Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL) introduced H.R. 303, the Retired Pay Restoration Act.  This bill would end the unfair policy of forcing many military longevity retirees to forfeit some of their retired pay in order to receive equal amounts of disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The effect of this policy means military retirees are paying for their own disability with their military retired pay.  This unfair policy has adversely impacted disabled veterans and their families for more than a century, but was partially repealed by Congress in 2004.  Under current law disabled veterans with 20-plus years of active military service who are also in receipt of a VA disability determination of 50 percent or higher may retain both military retirement pay and their VA compensation.

In line with DAV resolution 110, adopted at our most recent National Convention assembled in Atlanta, Georgia, July 31-August 3, 2016, we support the Retired Pay Restoration Act.  H.R. 303 would end the longstanding and unfair practice of the government’s withholding of military longevity retired pay in exchange for VA disability compensation, regardless of disability rating.  DAV believes what is unfair for a veteran rated 50 percent disabled or higher by the VA is equally unfair for a disabled veteran rated 40 percent disabled or lower.  Disabled military longevity retirees should not be unfairly penalized by the government for any reason.

This legislation was referred to the House Committee on Armed Services in addition to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Please use the prepared email, or draft your own message, to request that your Representative support this important bill and ask that it be brought to the floor for a vote and passed as soon as possible.

Thank you for all that you do for veterans and their families.  We need your grassroots action to gain Congressional enactment of this important legislation.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:

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