Veteran’s News for Friday, February 17, 2012

by Ray Hyson on February 18, 2012

Note: I received both the 17th and 18th together.  I decided to split them up and send them out separately.  Since this first story has the potential to affect so many of us, I put it at the top.
Ray
 
Legislative_Update_02-17-12
 

WASHINGTON REPORT

DoD vs. Military Retirees: DoD Demands Toll for TRICARE
The DoD budget proposal was released Monday and it’s exactly what NAUS has warned about and worse than previously imagined for retiree health care. 

Not only does the DoD plan add new risks to our national security, it demands beneficiaries pay more than $3 billion next year to access their earned TRICARE, $13 billion over five years and $33 billion more over the next decade. 

The TRICARE fee and copay fee hikes hit every segment of the military population, including retirees of all ages, drilling Guard and Reserve members, and currently serving family members.  Survivors of servicemembers who die as a result of service related injury or illness would be required to pay the DoD toll for TRICARE, but survivors of members who die on active duty would not be charged more.  Chapter 61 medically retired personnel are exempted from higher fees. 

Hold on, here comes the really bad news. 

TRICARE Prime annual enrollment fees for retired families (currently $520) would increase to as much as $820 starting this year on Oct. 1, 2012, and to $2,048 within five years, with fees based on your military retired pay amount. 

TRICARE Standard beneficiaries get hit too and would start paying a $140 annual family enrollment fee and a slightly increased deductible ($320) starting 1 October, with the enrollment fee and deductible rising to $250 and $580, respectively within 5 years.  These would be flat fees for all Standard beneficiaries, whether you use the program for your health concerns or not. 

Retirees and family members 65 and older using TRICARE for Life (TFL) would see an enrollment fee of up to $115 per person starting this 1 October.  This fee also would be graduated based on retired pay, and would rise to as much as $475 per year within 5 years. 

Not satisfied with only TRICARE fee increases, DoD also proposes Pharmacy copays for retail and mail-order brand-name medications, which would more than double (from $12 to $26) starting 1 October.  Copays for non-formulary mail order medications that currently cost $25 would also more than double to $51.  There would be severely limited retail access for non-formulary with only immediate medical necessity a reason.  Mail order brand-name and non-formulary copays would rise to $34 and $66, respectively, within 5 years. 

Please use the NAUS CapWiz system here to send a message to your elected officials.  Ask your family, friends and neighbors to get involved too. We must defeat these proposals.

To see DoD TRICARE Health Care proposal click here.

NAUS Note:  To defeat the DoD package, NAUS needs your help.  Contact your elected representatives and let them know you’re outraged by the Pentagon plan to shift the cost of your promise back to your pocketbook. 

The proposed increases are unconscionable and must be defeated. 

And we can do it, because we’ve done it before. 

It’s time to send our elected members a message that shows a true sense of seriousness that’s equal to the task. 

Send your message now: click HERE. 

 

Veterans News for Friday, February, 17, 2012.  Thanks again to Kevin Secor, VA VSO Liaison 

1.      Legislation looks to limit funds for schools that target veterans for GI Bill benefits

2.      Family seeks answers about lone U.S. servicemember unaccounted for in Iraq

3.      Pentagon lays out significant cuts to U.S. forces in Europe

4.      National Guard engaging clergy to help prevent service member, veteran suicide

5.      Hire Me! Veterans: A local business owner reads the News’ series and calls in

6.      Bill aims to help veteran mental health facilities

7.      Snyder salutes veterans with visit to Ann Arbor’s VA Hospital.  

8.      Questions freeze veterans’ plans for St. Joe’s in Lorain

9.      Pilot program helps veterans into farming

10.  Richland County Coroner’s Office conducts burials

11.  Smithsonian To Honor Japanese-American Veterans From World War II, Mark Anniversary. 

12.  Miller Accuses Obama Administration Of Leaving Veterans “Twisting In The Wind.” 

13.  Legion Representative Says VA’s Proposed 2013 Budget Has Some Problems. 

14.  Getting A Handle On Veteran Homelessness. 

15.  Steven VanRoekel Breaks Down 2013 Federal IT Budget. 

16.  VA Funds To Surge As Troops Return. 

17.  VA Disability Claims Grow More Complex, Costly. 

18.  EHR Alerts Contribute To Information Overload For Doctors, Study Finds. 

19.  Proposals For Driver’s Licenses, TOPS Awards Aimed At Louisiana Veterans. 

20.  State, Veterans Salute Irvin. 

21.  At Minn. Capitol, Ideas Aplenty To Help Veterans. 

22.  Companies Are Recognized For Hiring Veterans. 

23.  Veterans In Crisis Can Now Text For Help. 

24.  Counseling Available To Cherokee Combat Vets. 

25.  Mobile Vet Center Making Stops In Texas Panhandle. 

26.  Man Suffers Severe Injuries After E-Cigarette Explodes In His Mouth. 

27.  New Destroyer Being Named For Charleston Native. 

28.  Gulf Coast Community Salutes Vietnam Veterans. 

29.  National Cemetery Volunteer Does Double Duty. 

30.  Lt. Gen. Helmick Calls For “Thorough Inspection” Of Fort Bragg’s Warrior Transition Battalion. 

31.  Area Veterans Receive More Than $76,000 From State In Unclaimed Assets. 

32.  Man Guilty Of Faking Injuries To Claim $900,000 In VA Aid. 

33.  Veterans Find New Life At UNM. 

34.  Seminar Sheds Light On Benefits Veterans May Not Know About. 

35.  Veterans Caring For Each Other Until The Grave. 

36.  VA / VSO-MSO Hearings as February 17, 2012:

37.  Today in History:

1.      Legislation looks to limit funds for schools that target veterans for GI Bill benefitsLawmakers concerned over schools targeting veterans for their GI Bill education benefits on Thursday introduced legislation to limit how much federal funding those institutions can receive. 

2.      Family seeks answers about lone U.S. servicemember unaccounted for in IraqIn almost nine years of war, more than 1.5 million U.S. troops served in Iraq, with 4,408 losing their lives. The last 40,000 crossed into Kuwait by Dec. 18. 

3.      Pentagon lays out significant cuts to U.S. forces in EuropeIt’s official: The Germany-based 170th Infantry Brigade will be inactivated later this year, followed by the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade next year as part of a broad restructuring of the military force structure in Europe that also calls for the inactivation of two U.S. Air Forces in Europe squadrons and the eventual elimination of the Army’s V Corps from Wiesbaden, Germany, according to Pentagon officials.

4.      National Guard engaging clergy to help prevent service member, veteran suicideCronkite News  Louise Wilson began worrying about a member of her church while volunteering with him at Phoenix Veterans Affairs Hospital.

5.      Hire Me! Veterans: A local business owner reads the News’ series and calls inNew York Daily News  Veterans lining up for a recent job fair in Manhattan organized by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s not just big companies who say they’re committed to hiring vets. After the Daily News launched the …

6.      Bill aims to help veteran mental health facilitiesMarshalltown Times Republican  During a conference call with the Iowa Veterans Home director of mental health services, Braley announced the bill which would add Veterans Administration facilities and state veterans homes to the National Health Service Corps scholarship, …

7.      Snyder salutes veterans with visit to Ann Arbor’s VA Hospital.   Dearborn Press and Guide  Jim Dunn, chief of staff for the state’s Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, said that Michigan is home to some 700000 veterans, and account for 7 percent of the state’s population. This makes Michigan home to the 11th largest veteran population …

8.      Questions freeze veterans’ plans for St. Joe’s in LorainChronicle-Telegram  … felt by local veterans working to purchase and renovate the fifth floor of the building to provide transitional housing and other services to needy veterans. Dan Gillotti, a veteran who moderated a meeting Wednesday on the future of the facility, …

9.      Pilot program helps veterans into farmingDaily Camera  The so-called Veteran Farmers Project — funded by the Agriculture Department’s Risk Management Agency and the Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska and supported by a coalition of farm groups across based mostly in the Midwest — will start with a …

10.  Richland County Coroner’s Office conducts burialsThe Herald | HeraldOnline.com  Recently, the coroner’s office arranged with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to have those who are military veterans buried at Fort Jackson National Cemetery, Watts said. When people with no known relatives dies, their bodies are stored at the … 

11.  Smithsonian To Honor Japanese-American Veterans From World War II, Mark Anniversary.  AP  ”The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is marking the 70th anniversary of the presidential order that led to the imprisonment of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.” On Saturday, the “museum will host a program and film screening…with US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Japanese-American veterans from World War II. The museum also will display artifacts relating to Japanese-American history.” 

12.  Miller Accuses Obama Administration Of Leaving Veterans “Twisting In The Wind.”  Washington Post  “Despite a proposed budget that would boost spending for veterans, the House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman accused the White House Wednesday of leaving veterans ‘twisting in the wind’ by refusing to declare the Department of Veterans Affairs exempt from automatic cuts to reduce the deficit. At a committee hearing on the budget,” US Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) “said the White House silence on the issue is meant to pressure Congress to accept a deficit reduction agreement that would avoid the cuts otherwise required under the Budget Control Act of 2011.” But Democrats on Miller’s committee and Secretary Shinseki, who testified at Wednesday’s hearing, touted Obama’s efforts to help vets, highlighting the budget for VA that Obama proposed earlier this week.

13.  Legion Representative Says VA’s Proposed 2013 Budget Has Some Problems.  American Legion  ”In testimony before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs (HCVA) on Feb. 15, The American Legion used the analogy of a house for sale to describe” VA’s budget request for fiscal 2013. Tim Tetz, the “Legion’s legislative director, told the committee that the ‘curb appeal’ of VA’s budget request was impressive, including the expansion of programs for homeless, rural, women, and student veterans.” But on “closer examination, Tetz said the budget request is ‘not the gem it’s made out to be,’” partly, he added, because it does not have enough money for VA construction. 

14.  Getting A Handle On Veteran Homelessness.  Huffington Post  55-year-old Lewis Russell “came to the 16th annual Winterhaven Homeless Veterans Stand Down on Jan. 21 to visit his brother, who stays at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and hopefully land a job.” The story adds, “As it looks to end veteran homelessness by 2015, the VA is shifting its focus from rescuing the homeless to preventing at-risk veterans like Russell,” who is unemployed, “from being on the streets in the first place.” 

15.  Steven VanRoekel Breaks Down 2013 Federal IT Budget.  Washington Technology “On the heels of the president’s 2013 budget proposal that revealed relatively flat federal IT spending, the Obama administration remains determined to push innovation in a fiscally responsible way, according to federal CIO Steven VanRoekel,” who made the comment in a “Feb. 13 conference call with reporters.” Washington Technology added, “The Treasury, Human and Health Services and Veterans Affairs departments will see the most IT spending under the president’s plan.” At VA, the “budget increases reflect investments in IT to support the Blue Button initiative, a joint venture between VA and DOD to provide veterans easy access to their medical information.” 

16.  VA Funds To Surge As Troops Return.  Dayton (OH) Daily News The “nation’s 22 million military veterans would receive more federal funding for health care, fighting homelessness and finding jobs under President Barack Obama’s proposed” VA budget for fiscal year 2013. But the budget will “face the scrutiny of the GOP-dominated House and Democratic-controlled Senate.” A “surge of 610,000 men and women from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the nation’s other 21 million veterans, are expected to seek VA services.” 

17.  VA Disability Claims Grow More Complex, Costly.  Army Times  “A combination of more veterans’ disability claims and higher disability rates that result in bigger benefits checks are part of the reason for a requested 20 percent increase in Veterans Affairs Department benefits funding in the 2013 budget. The compensation and pension budget, $51.2 billion for fiscal 2012, would increase to $61.7 billion under the VA budget unveiled on Monday.” Officials with VA are “pledging to make progress” on a disability claims backlog, “with a goal of processing up to 100,000 more claims than received in 2013.” 

18.  EHR Alerts Contribute To Information Overload For Doctors, Study Finds.  iHealthBeat “Electronic health record-based alerts can inadvertently lead to information overload for health care providers, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Medscape Medical News reports.” According to iHealthBeat, the study was conducted by Veterans Affairs’ Health Services Research & Development Center for Excellence in Houston. 

19.  Proposals For Driver’s Licenses, TOPS Awards Aimed At Louisiana Veterans.  Alexandria (LA) Town Talk  ”Two legislative initiatives aimed at helping Louisiana’s military veterans were introduced” in Leesville, Louisiana, on Wednesday, “during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Central Louisiana Veterans Cemetery. One will allow an official ‘Veteran’ designation on the driver’s licenses for Louisiana veterans, according” to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The other piece of legislation, says the Town Talk, “will ensure that students who delay their TOPS scholarship award to serve in the military do not lose their eligibility for voluntarily re-enlisting.” 

20.  State, Veterans Salute Irvin.  Aurora (IL) Beacon-News  ”Leaders of state veterans groups came to Aurora Tuesday night to honor Alderman Richard Irvin as Illinois’ Veteran of the Month.” The 41-year-old Irvin, who “served in the Army during Desert Storm and Desert Shield from 1988 to 1991,” is an “‘advocate and friend to Aurora’s veterans,’ said Rodrigo Garcia, assistant director of Illinois’ Department of Veterans Affairs. In a ceremony at Aurora City Hall, Garcia presented Irvin with the award and a United State flag that has been flown over the state Capitol.” 

21.  At Minn. Capitol, Ideas Aplenty To Help Veterans.  AP  “With the Minnesota National Guard bracing for the end of its largest troop deployment since the Sept. 11 attacks, state lawmakers are considering a bevy of proposals to boost job creation for veterans.” The AP adds, “Legislation would give employers tax credits for hiring or rehiring veterans, permit a hiring preference for veterans and set aside some contracts for veteran-owned businesses. But with a tight state budget, some fear legislation to benefit veterans may not pass.” 

22.  Companies Are Recognized For Hiring Veterans.  Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune “With thousands of troops on their way home as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, they will be hunting for jobs in a labor market that has few to spare. But 10 Mid-Missouri businesses that have hired veterans in the past year” were honored earlier this week by Missouri’s Department of Economic Development. Among those honored was the Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital. 

23.  Veterans In Crisis Can Now Text For Help.  Army Times “Veterans and service members contemplating suicide can now text for help through the Veterans Crisis Line, formerly the national Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline.” On Wednesday, VA “announced…that confidential text-messaging is available 24 hours a day by texting 83-8255.” The “new number is one of several initiatives rolled out this month by VA to address suicide in the veteran population.” 

24.  Counseling Available To Cherokee Combat Vets.  Cherokee (OK) Phoenix “Cherokee combat veterans who may need counseling services may benefit from an outreach program called Oklahoma Cherokee Veterans Outreach,” which is a VA initiative. Jack Musgrove, an “outreach specialist working for Caduceus Healthcare-Tulsa Vet Center, is seeking Cherokee veterans in rural communities who were in combat. He refers them to Tulsa Vet Center readjustment counselor Matthew Tiger if they wish to talk to a counselor about issues they are having as a result of being in combat.” 

25.  Mobile Vet Center Making Stops In Texas Panhandle. KVII-TV  ”America’s veterans and their families now have the opportunity to receive additional help thanks to the US Department of Veterans Affairs,” which sent one of its Mobile Vet Centers to Canyon, Texas, on Wednesday. This center “makes a lot of trips through the Texas Panhandle offering veterans and their families a chance to come in and talk about counseling services. Their hope is to help identify” post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) “in veterans, as well as offer bereavement services to family members.”

26.  Man Suffers Severe Injuries After E-Cigarette Explodes In His Mouth.  ABC News 57-year-old Vietnam vet Tom Holloway is recovering at a burn center in Florida, “after suffering severe injuries from an electric cigarette that exploded in his mouth.” Chief Butch Parker of the North Bay Fire District “said the explosion knocked out all Holloway’s teeth and part of his tongue.” 

27.  New Destroyer Being Named For Charleston Native.  AP  Navy Secretary Ray Mabus “said Wednesday a new Arleigh Baker class destroyer will be named in honor of Ralph Johnson. Johnson was a Marine private first class who was awarded the Medal of Honor after his death for throwing himself on a grenade after shouting a warning to his fellow Marines during a firefight in Vietnam.” The AP notes that the Veterans Affairs hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, also is named in honor of Johnson. 

28.  Gulf Coast Community Salutes Vietnam Veterans.  WKRG-TV  ”The VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, VA Vet Centers and many community partners from the Gulf Coast region will host a Vietnam Veterans Salute event on March 31.” The free event, which is “open to everyone in the Gulf Coast community,” will be “held at Battleship Memorial Park to honor Vietnam Veterans across the Gulf Coast region and provide Veterans the opportunity to connect with one another.” 

29.  National Cemetery Volunteer Does Double Duty.  Riverside (CA) Press Enterprise  

30.  Lt. Gen. Helmick Calls For “Thorough Inspection” Of Fort Bragg’s Warrior Transition Battalion.  Fayetteville (NC) Observer 

31.  Area Veterans Receive More Than $76,000 From State In Unclaimed Assets. Green Bay (WI) Press-Gazette 

32.  Man Guilty Of Faking Injuries To Claim $900,000 In VA Aid.  Robesonian 

33.  Veterans Find New Life At UNM.  New Mexico Daily Lobo

34.  Seminar Sheds Light On Benefits Veterans May Not Know About. WCIV-TV 

35.  Veterans Caring For Each Other Until The Grave. WLOX-TV 

36.  VA / VSO-MSO Hearings as February 17, 2012:

            February 28, 2012.  Joint Hearing:  House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a joint hearing to receive the Legislative Presentation of the Disabled American Veterans.  2:30 P.M.; 345 Cannon

            February 29, 2012 (Formerly February 8th).  The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing entitled “The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2013.”  10:00 A.M.; 418 Russell

            February 29, 2012. The House Appropriations Committee will hold a FY 2013 Budget hearing.   2:00 P.M.; H-140 Capitol

            March 7, 2012.  House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a series of joint hearings to receive the legislative presentations of Veterans’ Organizations.  10:00 A.M.; G-50 Dirksen

            March 14, 2012. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing entitled “Ending Homelessness Among Veterans:  VA’s Progress on its Five Year Plan.”10:00 A.M.; 418 Russell

            March 15, 2012.  The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies will hold a FY13 VA Budget hearing.  10 A.M.; 124 Dirksen

            March 21, 2012.  Joint Hearing:  House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a joint hearing to receive the Legislative Presentations of the Military Order of the Purple Heart; Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; Non Commissioned Officers Association; American Ex-Prisoners of War; Vietnam Veterans of America; Wounded Warrior Project; National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs and Retired Enlisted Association.  10:00 A.M.; G-50 Dirksen

            March 22, 2012.  House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a series of joint hearings to receive the legislative presentations of Veterans’ Organizations.  10:00 A.M.; 345 Cannon

March 28, 2012 (Formerly December 14th).  SVAC will hold a hearing on the nomination of Margaret Bartley, and Coral Wong Pietsch to be Judges of United States Court of Veterans Appeals for Veterans Claims.  10:00 A.M.; 418 Russell

37.  Today in History:

——————————————-

From: Kevin Secor, VA VSO Liaison
Sent:   Friday, February 17, 2012 3:56 AM

Subj:  HAVE YOU HEARD?

Home loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs continue to have the lowest serious delinquency and foreclosure rates in the mortgage industry.  Veterans have also taken advantage of their home loan benefit in record numbers, as VA loan originations reached their highest total in eight years. “The continued strong performance and high volume of VA loans are a testament to the importance of VA’s home loan program and a tribute to the skilled VA professionals who help homeowners in financial trouble keep their homes,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki.  Last year, VA helped 72,391 Veterans and Servicemembers who were in default on their mortgage loan retain their homes or avoid foreclosure, an increase from 66,030 from the prior year.  At the same time, foreclosures on VA guaranteed loans dropped by 28 percent. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association National Delinquency Survey, VA’s foreclosure rate for the last 14 quarters and serious delinquency rate for the last 11 quarters have been the lowest of all measured loan types, even prime loans.  Since 1944, when home loan guaranties were first offered under the original GI Bill, VA has guaranteed more than 19.4 million home loans worth over $1.1 trillion. More information is available at www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans.

——————————————

From:  LtCol Ann Curtis,  USAF,  JCS OCJCS WFS
Sent:   Friday, February 17, 2012 4:30 PM

Subj:   Warrior and Family Support News 17 Feb 12

If you are interested in donating to or sponsoring an event for wounded Warriors or their families at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) at Bethesda, please see the link for the Warrior Family Coordination Cell (WFCC) at: http://www.bethesda.med.navy.mil/Visitor/Fallen_Heroes/ContactUs.aspx

HEALTHCARE

The Therapist May See You Anytime, Anywhere (NY TIMES, 13 FEB 12) — Not for long, if some scientists have their way. In the past few years researchers have been testing simple video-game-like programs aimed at relieving common problems like anxiety and depression. These recent results have been encouraging enough that investigators are now delivering the programs on smartphones — therapy apps, in effect, that may soon make psychological help accessible anytime, anywhere, whether in the grocery store line, on the bus or just before a work presentation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/14/health/feeling-anxious-soon-there-will-be-an-app-for-that.html

Marine’s suicide is only start of family’s struggle (Washington Post) — For most of his 26 years in the military, Maj. Jeff Hackett was a standout Marine. Two tours in Iraq destroyed him.  Home from combat, he drank too much, suffered public breakdowns and was hospitalized for panic attacks. In June 2010, he killed himself.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/marines-suicide-is-only-start-of-familys-struggle/2012/01/31/gIQADLF46Q_story.html

Warrior Recovery Center at Kandahar Airfield opens (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System) — The Warrior Recovery Center is a residential and outpatient military medical facility that provides short-term, comprehensive care to wounded warriors in southern Afghanistan who suffer from combat related injuries and/or combat stress. The center focuses on four pillars of treatment: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussive Care, Combat Stress Control Restorative Care, Wounded Warrior (Musculoskeletal) Care, and Behavioral Health.

http://www.dvidshub.net/news/83992/warrior-recovery-center-kandahar-airfield-opens

EDUCATION

Princeton Trails Columbia in Welcoming Vets to Ivy League (Bloomberg, NY) — Unlike the World War II draft, which drew from every segment of society, many veterans who served in the volunteer military in Iraq and Afghanistan come from poor and working- class families. They may be intimidated by the idea of going to an elite college and have difficulty qualifying under criteria such as high-school grades and standardized-test scores.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-15/princeton-trails-columbia-in-attracting-iraq-vets-to-ivy-league.html

EMPLOYMENT

Olson:  Female veterans face steep climb back to employment when they return from war (Star-Telegram, TX) — Although most veterans are disciplined, loyal and hardworking, there is an alarming gap between the employment rates of veterans and civilians.  And the gap is even larger for our women veterans, 22 percent of whom are unemployed, compared with 7.8 of civilian women.

http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/02/15/3738227/olson-female-veterans-face-steep.html

Navy gives pink slips to nearly 600 senior NCOs (Stars and Stripes) — The Navy is forcing 593 senior enlisted members to retire or transfer to the fleet reserve after concluding its senior enlisted continuation board, according to a Navy press release Wednesday.

http://www.stripes.com/news/navy/navy-gives-pink-slips-to-nearly-600-senior-ncos-1.168645?localLinksEnabled=false&utm_source=Stars+and+Stripes+Emails&utm_campaign=Daily+Headlines&utm_medium=email

Military budget cuts put South Dakota under the gun (KTIV, SD) — But, lawmakers say federal funding cuts are putting a strain on their own military budget.  “We are going to see several hundred troop reduction in South Dakota,” a sober statement from Governor Dennis Daugaard.

http://www.ktiv.com/story/16936982/military-budget-cuts-put-south-dakota-under-the-gun

Comcast showcasing jobless vets (SouthCoastToday.com) — Comcast is currently airing short videos of military veterans looking for new jobs as part of a pilot program with the state’s Department of Veteran Services.  Each of the videos features an interview by a Comcast host with a Massachusetts veteran pitching his or her job skills and military background.

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120215/NEWS05/202150323/-1/NEWSMAP

COMMUNITIES IN ACTION

National Guard engaging clergy to help prevent service member, veteran suicide (AzCapitolTimes.com) — Military leaders in Arizona say faith–based communities often are in a better position to spot service members facing problems including stress, mental health problems and the potential for suicide.  “I see faith as a way that people can find healing in terms of maybe some of the situations and crises either as service members or as veterans from other generations,” said Col. Elmon Krupnik, state chaplain for the Arizona National Guard.

http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2012/02/16/national-guard-engaging-clergy-to-help-prevent-service-member-veteran-suicide/

ANN M. CURTIS, Lt Col, USAF

Action Officer, JCS, Warrior and Family Support

—————————————-

NAUS News for week ending Friday, February 17, 2012. 

 

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National Association
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®

Weekly Update

    February 17, 2012

Send this NAUS Weekly Update to a friend.

“As our newest veterans return home, we must give them the care, the benefits, the job opportunities and the respect they have earned, while honoring our commitments to veterans of previous eras.”

~ VA Secretary Shinseki at the roll-out of the 2013 VA Budget proposal ~


 “Doc Fix” UpdateAs we go to press, the House voted 293-132 to preserve the reimbursement rate for doctors who serve Medicare patients, extend the 2 percent payroll tax cut through the end of the year, and to provide jobless benefits. The Senate is also agreed 60-36 on the roughly $143 billion measure.  When the President signs the bill (HR 3630) the Doc Fix and payroll tax are extended 10 months, which allows time to work on a more permanent solution before the end of the year. Defense Takes Big HitThe President’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 makes DoD one of the big losers in a budget plan that pours hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending into community colleges, transportation projects and other stimulus programs.  It even adds $770 million to promote democracy in the Arab world. 

If you’re wondering why, here’s a possible answer: According to several analysts, cutting defense is popular – at least more so than other options.  With Congress resisting any reductions to entitlements or lower priority domestic spending, defense is the only budget line a majority in the divided Congress can seem to find agreement to cut. 

VA Budget

On Monday, NAUS attended a briefing at VA HQ to receive the 2013 VA Budget request sent to Congress by the President.  VA Secretary, Eric Shinseki, briefly addressed the audience and then other VA personnel discussed the budget in more detail. 

The request includes a 4½ percent increase in discretionary spending, expanding construction of new and enhanced healthcare facilities and improving access to related benefits and services.  The Request also sets its sights on eliminating the backlog of nearly one million disability claims.  VA anticipates more than 6 million veterans will use some form VA healthcare services in fiscal year 2013.  

Other highlights included $1.4 billion in funding to reduce the number of homeless veterans from 67,000 to 35,000 by the end of fiscal year 2013, $3.4 billion in funding for VA education, vocational rehabilitation and employment programs, and $1.7 billion for the National Cemetery Administration. 


 Welcome to the NAUS Weekly Update.  Please email us any feedback, corrections or tips.  You can join NAUS online here. 


NAUSSponsors Guard/Reserve Caucus Breakfast

On Thursday, NAUS co-sponsored the annual House Guard and Reserve Caucus Breakfast, along with several other military and veterans associations.  The breakfast is a way for the Guard and Reserve service chiefs to express their requirements for the coming year in a more relaxed and informal setting not in the formal budget hearing process. 

NAUS President to Meet With Sen. Webb

Today, NAUS President Jack Klimp and other leaders of The Military Coalition organizations will meet with Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) to discuss the legislative agenda for this session of Congress.  Sen. Webb is the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Personnel of the Armed Services Committee.  NAUS will press our legislative efforts, especially the fight against TRICARE fee increases. 

HEALTH CARE NEWS 

Information Available On TRICARE Smart Site

The TRICARE Smart site allows users to view, print and download copies of TRICARE brochures, fact sheets, handbook and other publications.  TRICARE Smart even provides information on how to obtain healthcare services while traveling overseas. 

TRICARE beneficiary handbooks provide comprehensive information about the various uniformed services healthcare programs available to beneficiaries.  While the fact sheets and brochures provide users with topic specific information.  To access these publications, visit the TRICARE Smart portal at this website.  Click on the “TRICARE Products Online” box and then select your region. 

TRICARE Overseas Program Prime Remote (TOPPR)

TOPPR provides TRICARE Prime benefits to active duty service members and their eligible family residing in remote locations overseas.  Prior authorization is not required for routine care, emergency care, routine preventive services, the first eight outpatient behavioral health sessions in a fiscal year, ancillary services (such as X-rays or laboratory test) or prescription drugs. 

However, prior authorization is required for specialty care.  Your primary care manager or specialist must contact the TOP Regional Call Center to obtain authorization from International SOS Assistance, Inc. for additional care.  To view designated overseas remote locations in each overseas area, country-specific toll-free numbers, register on-line or review more detailed information about TOPPR you can go to this website. 

ACTIVE DUTY NEWS 

USNS Comfort to Move Homeport

The Navy announced this week that the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) will berth at to Naval Station (NS) Norfolk when the contract in Baltimore ends in 2013. 

A number of factors contributed to the decision to shift the Military Sealift Command vessel to Norfolk, including an estimated annual savings of $1.7 million in the initial year and $2.1 million for following years; improved access to military facilities for the 59 permanent military members assigned to the ship; better use of the naval logistics hub and industrial base in Norfolk and a reduction in transit time to typical mission areas. 

The move of Comfort from a commercial berth in Baltimore to a government pier at NS Norfolk Pier 1 maximizes use of existing infrastructure and facilities, provides cost savings and operational advantages that enhance Comfort’s mission capability and does not negatively impact medical staffing flexibility. 

DoD Expands Drug Testing Program

DoD has announced that its drug-testing program is expanding to add screening for two additional prescription medications to list of legal and illegal drugs it currently detects.  The two drugs added, hydrocodone and benzodiazepines, are nationally among the most abused prescription drugs.  DoD announced the new screenings 90 days before they would take effect, which gives servicemembers a 90-day warning order.  Servicemembers with prescriptions for the two drugs will not be subject to disciplinary action for using them within the dosage and time prescribed. 

VETERANS NEWS 

Hiring Our Heroes Update

Hiring Our Heroes is a program run by the Chamber of Commerce, which is designed to give job interview, resume services and hiring opportunities to veterans and their spouses.  The next round of job fairs is coming up.  Click on the city to find out more information. 

Richmond, VA: February 21
Charleston, SC: February 22 Washington, DC: February 23
Lawton, OK: February 23 Tampa Bay, FL: February 23
Seattle, WA: February 24 Dallas, TX: March 1

PTSD Mobile or at a Vet Center

You have defended your Nation in time of war.  Some warriors experience wounds of war that are not always visible.  If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of post traumatic stress, remember that it is a sign of strength to seek help. 

For information about PTSD and treatments that work check out the website of the National Center for PTSD website and/or download the PTSD Coach mobile app free from the iTunes or Android Market.

Or, visit a Vet Center in your community. They are open after hours, take walk-in appointments and are staffed with Veterans like you.

VA Seeking Research Volunteers

The VA Million Veteran Program is seeking volunteers to build a blood sample bank in an effort to solve genetic mysteries.  The program may help in the development of better treatments and preventive measures.  Read more about the program on The Baltimore Sun website.  For more information, visit VA’s Million Veteran Program webpage.

Vet Jobs Corps

As announced in the State of the Union speech the VA budget unveiled some of the details of Vet Job Corps.  This essentially falls into a three-part program, which will focus on three areas:

  • ·        Hiring police and firefighters.
  • ·        Creating a Veteran Conservation Corps.
  • ·         Enhanced small business programs to help vets start their own businesses.

Several agencies including the Dept. of Labor, the Small Business Administration, the Dept. of the Interior and the VA will make significant contributions to the program.  The VA will be the overall program coordinator.

 NAUSNEWS

NAUS Board of Directors and Annual Meeting

This week, NAUS President Klimp made a decision to move the annual NAUS Board of Directors meeting and Annual Membership Meeting from our usual place to the Alexandria, (Old Town) Hilton Hotel.  The meetings will start Wednesday, 17 October 2012, and run thru Saturday, 20 October 2012.  We are also planning a “Storm the Hill” day for our Board members and RVPs to meet with their Congressional representatives.  The move to October is in response to a long-standing request to remove many conflicts the meetings have with other various events that occur in November such as Veterans Day. 

WED   – 17 Oct 2012  – Regional Vice Presidents Workshop at NAUS HQ

THU    – 18 Oct 2012  – Storm the Hill – Board of Directors and RVPs 

FRI      – 19 Oct 2012  - NAUS Board of Directors Annual Meeting at Hilton Alexandria

SAT     – 20 Oct 2012  - NAUS Annual Membership Meeting at Hilton Alexandria

The Hilton will be making a website with our meeting information and a link to make reservations.  When it is available we will pass it on to you.

For now, to make reservations, call 1-800-HILTONS.  Make sure you ask for the National Association for Uniformed Services or NAUS room block.  CUT-OFF for room reservations is Sept. 16. 

The hotel is located at:

Hilton Alexandria Old Town
1767 King Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Alexandria Hilton Website

Overnight Hotel parking passes for Board members and RVPs will be provided.  There will be a limited number of daily parking passes available to anyone at the registration desk on the Annual Meeting day.  Get there early to get one.  For members who live in the area a very good alternative to driving is to take a Metro Blue or Yellow Line train to the King Street station.  Use the North entrance/exit and you will be only about 100 yards from the Hilton entrance. 

As soon as we get more information on meal reservations and costs and any other items of interest we will pass them along.  Come and join us.  It is a great location and the hotel is only a couple years old and is really nice. 

Wiley Post Chapter Meeting

The NAUS Oklahoma City Wiley Post Chapter will be having its next quarterly luncheon on Monday, March 19th, at 1130 in the Gourmet Room of the Tinker Club.  Eat from the buffet line or order off the Club menu.  Dutch treat. 

The guest speaker will be Col Mike Chase who has just returned along with the Oklahoma 45th Division Members from Afghanistan who will update us on what is happening over there. 

Thanks to NAUS member Col Al Patrick for setting up this good program. 

Bring your wife, husband, friends, and other NAUS members and lets have a great turnout. 

Chapter members please RSVP as usual to Billy Bowden – Cell:  659-0614.

Back to top

Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen stand in harm’s way around the globe to defend our nation and our cherished liberties. NAUS asks you to please pray for their continued strength and protection—and pray as well for their families, who daily stand in support of their spouses, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters.

GODBLESSAMERICA

National Association for Uniformed Services®
5535 Hempstead Way
Springfield, VA 22151
1-800-842-3451
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———————————

From:  Kevin Secor, VA VSO Liaison
Sent:   Friday, February 17, 2012 3:56 AM

Subj:    HAVE YOU HEARD?  

Home loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs continue to have the lowest serious delinquency and foreclosure rates in the mortgage industry.  Veterans have also taken advantage of their home loan benefit in record numbers, as VA loan originations reached their highest total in eight years. “The continued strong performance and high volume of VA loans are a testament to the importance of VA’s home loan program and a tribute to the skilled VA professionals who help homeowners in financial trouble keep their homes,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki.  Last year, VA helped 72,391 Veterans and Servicemembers who were in default on their mortgage loan retain their homes or avoid foreclosure, an increase from 66,030 from the prior year.  At the same time, foreclosures on VA guaranteed loans dropped by 28 percent. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association National Delinquency Survey, VA’s foreclosure rate for the last 14 quarters and serious delinquency rate for the last 11 quarters have been the lowest of all measured loan types, even prime loans.  Since 1944, when home loan guaranties were first offered under the original GI Bill, VA has guaranteed more than 19.4 million home loans worth over $1.1 trillion. More information is available at www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans.

————————————–

From:  Amy Mitchell,

Sent:   Friday, February 17, 2012 3:13 PM
Subj:  Subcommittee Reviews VA’s Plan to Decrease Disability Claims Backlog

IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 17, 2012                            CONTACT: Amy Mitchell (202) 225-3527

 Subcommittee Reviews VA’s Plan to Decrease

Disability Claims Backlog

WASHINGTON, D.C.—This week, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) held a hearing to review the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2013 VA budget request as it pertains to the Veterans Benefit Administration, National Cemetery Administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and American Battle Monuments Commission.

The hearing marked the second time in as many days that VA officials testified in front of members of the Committee about their proposed budget for FY2013. Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jon Runyan (NJ-3) was hopeful that VA’s goal this coming year to attempt to decrease the disability claims backlog, which has been growing exponentially the past three years, would work. “I am pleased to learn that VA shares in this endeavor in bringing VA into the 21stCentury, as reflected in the 2013 budget. Timely processing of claims is the very least we can do for our nation’s veterans.”

Chairman Runyan also applauded VA for their proposed use of technology as a way to eliminate the backlog; however, he cautioned against the dangers of thinking that technology alone will solve this problem. “Technology alone will not solve the issues pertaining to the backlog. It is our solemn responsibility to remain vigilant,” Runyan said. “We will continue to oversee these programs to ensure that they are operating efficiently while also serving the needs of our nation’s veterans.  Although VA continues to emphasize its initiatives in the area of people, process, and technology; it is important that VA follow through on these programs while not forgetting its primary goal of providing timely, quality benefits to veterans.”

A second major component addressed at the hearing was a recent audit conducted at National Veterans Cemeteries, revealing mismarked graves and improper burials. Runyan commended the National Cemetery Administration for their quick response, but repeated his charge that “no mistake going forward will be acceptable. We owe this commitment in honoring our veterans and their families that they rest in peace.”

In these tight fiscal times, VA has proposed a 10.5% increase for FY2013. “We face a deficit crisis and we must act to be prudent stewards of our budget for generations yet born to ensure the survival of our common American values,” Runyan said. “But this should not, and will not, come at the expense of our veterans and the sacrifices they have made to ensure we remain the strongest and freest country on the face of the earth.”

Retweetables:

RT @HouseVetAffairs Subcommittee meets to review #President’s 2013 budget for #vets

RT @HouseVetAffairs Subcommittee budget hearing reveals that #VA has a long way to go to fix the backlog

RT@HouseVetAffairs Technology is at the front of the fight against the #backlog, but it can’t be the only solution: http://veterans.house.gov/press-release/committee-reviews-va%E2%80%99s-plan-to-decrease-disability-claims-backlog

For more news from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, please visit:

Veterans.House.Gov

Find us on Facebook at: Facebook.com/HouseVetsAffairs or follow us on Twitter at:

@HouseVetAffairs

—————————–

From: Amy Mitchell 

Sent:  Friday, February 17, 2012 5:05 PM

Subj: Miller: “Time to Provide VA Healthcare to Lejeune Veterans”

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 17, 2012                               CONTACT: Amy Mitchell (202) 225-2527

Miller: “Time to Provide VA Healthcare to Lejeune Veterans”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement to provide VA healthcare to Camp Lejeune veterans who were exposed to contaminated drinking water from the 1950s to the 1980s:

“Thousands of unsuspecting Marines and their families, stationed at Camp Lejeune, were exposed to contaminated drinking water. Although the contamination has been traced back to the 1950s, the government has largely ignored this problem, allowing thousands of husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to suffer alone.

“I am calling on Secretary Shinseki to make our Lejeune veterans a priority group within the VA healthcare system and provide them with the care they so desperately need for medical issues related to the water contamination. Some of our Lejeune veterans are no longer with us. But their sacrifice lives on and reminds us all of our duty to take care of those who remain, and who through no action or fault of their own, are today suffering from a host of serious health problems.

“In 2009, the Administration conceded that ‘VA could, in accordance with the regulatory process, revise its enrollment regulations to establish in Priority 8 an additional subcategory for Veterans who are potentially affected by the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.’ Almost three years have since passed without any assistance being offered to those affected. I will continue to work with the Senate’s champion for Lejeune’s veterans and family members, Senator Richard Burr, to advance legislation, but the Secretary can help these men and women now. They’ve waited long enough.”

To read Chairman Miller’s letter to VA Secretary Shinseki, click here.

For more news from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, please visit:

 Veterans.House.Gov

 Find us on Facebook at: Facebook.com/HouseVetsAffairs or follow us on Twitter at:

 @HouseVetAffairs

 

 

 

(News and comments provided by Wayne Gatewood)

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