Veterans-For-Change Report

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Nearly 3,000 Individuals Have Responded to the CalVet Survey To Help Prioritize Services to California’s Veterans

Sacramento – Nearly 3,000 individuals have responded to the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) online California Veterans Needs Assessment Survey to date.  Though we are at the halfway mark for this survey, CalVet would still like to obtain input from many more veterans, military personnel, families and friends to help it prioritize its efforts in addressing the state’s veterans’ needs.

To participate in the survey, residents are asked to go to CalVet’s website at www.calvet.ca.gov or the California Veterans website at www.veterans.ca.gov and click on the button that says, “Veterans Needs Assessment.”  See attached PDF file of survey.

“We look forward to receiving input from many more California residents so we can better focus our efforts in assisting and serving the veterans of our Golden State,” said Roger Brautigan, Secretary of CalVet. “Over the next month and a half we hope to receive numerous responses to our survey from veterans, their families, and friends.”

“This survey will help CalVet to prioritize where the State of California focuses its efforts in addressing veteran needs,” said Jack Kirwan, Deputy Secretary for Administration.  “By participating in this survey, respondents will be telling CalVet and elected officials what policy areas they see as needing to be addressed.  This will help CalVet to better serve veterans by bringing to our attention their first-hand knowledge of veteran needs and how to best address them.”

The California Veterans Needs Assessment Survey will also give an opportunity to respondents to inform CalVet if they would like to receive additional information regarding veterans’ benefits and other services for themselves or for veterans they know.

Note to editors: This Veterans News and previous CalVet news releases, advisories and newsletters are available on our website at http://www.cdva.ca.gov/newhome.aspx and via email from [email protected].

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Toxic Chemicals CONUS

As most are aware, seen on TV, in the newspapers, and from veteran sites across the country, TCE/PCE is a major issue.

TCE a chemical degreaser used on all bases and board ships is a carcinogenic chemical, and on the many military bases nationwide was disposed of into the ground behind buildings eventually contaminating the ground water and getting into the drinking wells.

Same thing with PCE which is a dry cleaning chemical used both on bases and off base nationwide, also being disposed of into the ground and eventually contaminating the ground water and getting into the drinking wells.

Most recently CNN did a broadcast show highlighting the male breast cancer cluster surrounding Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.

Personally I feel the anchor didn’t bother to do his homework very well, didn’t bring to light all the other medical issues or the families harmed by these chemicals.

There is also currently a bill in committee to award benefits, but in my humble opinion is limited in scope and restrictive to those who served at Camp LeJeune and doesn’t mention any of the 130+ bases nationwide listed on the EPA Superfund list.

Veterans-For-Change has a bill which was drafted back in February 2009 along with a petition to which we’re trying to collect at least 40,000 signatures in order to get either a Senator or Congressman to sign off and present the bill to the floor which will not only address TCE but PCE as well, and opens it up to all military, veterans and family members who served at any base where these chemicals were used and disposed of improperly thereby contaminating all who drank the water or who used the chemicals in their daily jobs.

Veterans-For-Change needs your support desperately to meet the number of signers on the petition.  This is NOT an electronic petition, but a hard copy petition.  We ask that everyone please go to www.veterans-for-change.com, and if you’re not a member to please subscribe, go to the documents section, then to the TCE/PCE and other Chemicals section and download the petition.

Sign and try to obtain at least 10 more signatures and mail the complete form into our California office ASAP.

Should you have any questions, please click HERE and send us an E-Mail and we’ll be more than happy to reply!

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VFW FIRES BACK AT DEFENSE OFFICIAL

Don’t pin budget blame on service members or retirees

WASHINGTON (March 11, 2010) — “Any attempt to link rising military personnel costs with shrinking military readiness is total nonsense,” said Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., who leads the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., the largest and oldest major combat veterans’ organization. 

“If the Defense Department needs a larger budget for personnel programs, then let the VFW carry that message to Congress.  Just don’t pin the budget blame on servicemembers and military retirees.”

Tradewell’s ire is targeted at the new DOD undersecretary of personnel and readiness, Clifford L. Stanley, who in testimony yesterday before the personnel subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said “Rising personnel costs could dramatically affect the readiness of the department.” 

His predecessor, Dr. David Chu, took the same position in a January 2005 Wall Street Journal article, by saying “The amounts have gotten to the point where they are hurtful.  They are taking away from the nation’s ability to defend itself.”

“What’s hurtful,” said Tradewell, a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran from Sussex, Wis., “is a continuing perception that DOD is more concerned about the budget than they are about recruiting and retaining a professional volunteer force that’s been at war now for more than eight years.”

According to Wednesday’s testimony, last year was the military’s most successful recruiting year since the establishment of the all-volunteer force in 1973.  Stanley, a retired Marine Corps major general, said in order to continue that recruiting trend, “The department must provide a compensation package comparable and competitive to the private sector.  At the same time,” he said, “we must balance the demands of the all-volunteer force in the context of growing equipment and operations costs.”

The VFW national commander said any attempt to compare the wages and benefits of those who are fighting a two-front war and those who are not is pointless.  “The military contract requires extended time away from family under extremely hazardous conditions, with being hurt or killed on the job a very real possibility.  No civilian contract requires the same conditions for employment,” he said. 

“War is expensive and so is the cost of fielding an all-volunteer military, as well as retaining the best so that they can lead the force while training their successors.  Our troops only ask for our respect and for better pay, better benefits, and better support programs for themselves and their families,” said Tradewell. 

“It is a sacred responsibility that this nation provides her defenders something more tangible than just the privilege of fighting and dying for their country.” 

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Putting the Concerns of Our Veterans and Our Troops to Rest

By Tammy Duckworth on March 18, 2010

As Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, a constant concern for me is having our Veterans dragged into partisan politics. Unfortunately the debate over health reform has seen that happen far too many times, and at the VA we often have to correct misinformation and assure Veterans that the care they rely on will not be taken away from them.

One of the concerns we are hearing the most now is whether health reform will affect the care Veterans receive under the VA system.

Let me be unambiguous: The healthcare that Veterans receive through the VA system, including dependents of certain veterans enrolled in the CHAMPVA program, will be safe and sound under health reform. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs would continue to maintain sole authority over the system and for enhancing the quality and access for all eligible Veterans.

In addition, TRICARE will continue to be available for all eligible servicemen and women, and their families. Those who are covered by TRICARE would meet the shared responsibility requirement for individuals to have insurance, thereby exempting such members of the uniformed services and dependants from being assessed any sort of penalty. The President has made it clear publicly and to me that he is committed to ensuring that America’s servicemen and women have high quality care, and with health reform that commitment remains very much intact.

I have personally seen what a devastating medical condition can cost. Had I been injured on the freeway and not in combat, it is likely that I would be bankrupt even though I had medical insurance through my civilian employer. I personally receive my world class healthcare from the VA and as a dependent on my husband’s Tricare eligibility. This bill is good for our nation and our Veterans and Service Members and their families can be reassured that their benefits are safe.

Tammy Duckworth is the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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SBP/DIC Offset Bill Making Good Progress

In January 2009, Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) and Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC) introduced H.R. 775, legislation to repeal the reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan by the receipt of veterans Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.  Despite the fact that the bill currently lists 324 cosponsors of the 435 members of Congress, the Armed Services Committee, the committee of jurisdiction, has taken no action on the measure.

On Monday, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced Discharge Petition 111-10 to force the bill from the committee to the House floor so the entire House can vote on it.  A discharge petition is an attempt to get legislation moving.   Only 216 of the 324 cosponsors need to sign on to the petition to bring it to the full House for consideration.

Please go to this NAUS Website and fill in your information and send it to your Representative asking for them to sign the petition.  Encourage your family, friends and neighbors to take action.  Please take action now!

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Medicare and TRICARE Reimbursement Rate Concerns

Congress must again act to block a March 31 scheduled 21.2 percent cut in Medicare and TRICARE payments to doctors.  The deadline is less than two-weeks away. 

On March 10, the Senate approved its version of H.R. 4213, the “Tax Extender Bill” which would postpone the cut until October.  However, the House, whose focus lately has been on health reform legislation, has yet to act on the bill.    

Should the cuts go into effect, tens of thousands of doctors and thousands of health care institutions – hospitals, hospices, outpatient clinics and such – will refuse to treat Medicare and TRICARE patients.  Failure to act would thoroughly devastate the TRICARE benefit. 

Congress must act on H.R. 4213 or similar legislation before April 1, the date the presently scheduled 21.2 percent cut goes into effect.  Failure to fix the scheduled cut in doctors reimbursement is unacceptable. 

Please go to the NAUS CapWiz Website and send a message to your elected officials letting them know how you feel about this issue.  Ask your family and friends to get involved, too.

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Ongoing Re-assessment of Disability Ratings

A recent review by the DoD Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) resulted in 61 percent of applicants having their status changed from a medical separation to retirement on the permanent disability list.  This review is open to eligible veterans of the DoD, Guard and Reserve and Coast Guard. 

Eligible veterans can request a PDBR by submitting a Department of Defense Form 294, which is available at this website.  Veterans requesting a PDBR must mail their completed and signed DD Form 294 to SAF/MRBR, 550 C St. W., Suite 41, Randolph Air Force Base, TX 78150-4743. 

The Air Force is handling the process for all services.  Note: There are many veterans who are eligible for a review who have not yet applied.  We encourage everyone who may be eligible to get their application in as soon as possible.

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VA Awards Contracts for New Polytrauma Center

VA recently announced the award of two contracts totaling $41.5 million to create a polytrauma center for the care of the most severely injured veterans and to improve the existing wards at the Audie L. Murphy VA Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.  The polytrauma center will include physical medicine, rehabilitation services, prosthetics service and research.  A second contract provides for upgrades and expansion of ward 4-A in the medical center, including electrical work, utilities, fire alarm and fire protection systems, telephone and data systems and asbestos abatement.

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Burger King Campaign to Assist VFW Unmet Needs Program Nets $500,000

Kansas City, Mo., March 16, 2010— For the third consecutive year, dedicated supporters have stepped forward to honor America’s men and women in uniform, raising almost $500,000 for the VFW Unmet Needs program.

Launched by Burger King Franchisee Mike DeRosa in 2007, the “buy a burger; donate a buck”  campaign netted a respectable $110,000 in donations for the military and family grant support program.  Since then, participating independent Burger King Franchisees have doubled contributions each year to the VFW Foundation. In 2008, the second year of the program, they raised $250,000 during its “buy a burger; donate a buck” effort. When you add in the almost $500,000 raised this year, the total for three years is over $850,000!

“Their gifts to the Unmet Needs program, has assisted hundreds of military families who are confronted with emergent financial needs.  Their continued generosity enables the VFW to continue to assist our nation’s military families when they need it most. This is an incredible demonstration of love and support for members of our armed forces. We are so appreciative of everyone who helped in this great endeavor,” stated Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., VFW Commander-in-Chief.

Participating states included:

Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The VFW Unmet Needs program provides emergency financial assistance to U.S. military service members experiencing financial hardships, often brought on by deployment. Funds from donations are available to the five branches of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard), as well as members of the Reserves and National Guard. Funds awarded by the program are offered in the form of grants–not loans–so recipients don’t need to repay them.

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For more information:   www.veterans-for-change.com

Author Details
Jim Davis is the son of USMC MGySgt. Lesley Davis (Ret.) who passed away on April 24, 2006 from ALS caused by Agent Orange. His dad’s mission before he passed on was to insure all veterans, spouses, children and widows all received the benefits, medical care and attention and proper facilities from the VA. Because of the promise made to his dad to carry on the mission, in May 2006 Davis began as a one man show sending out 535 letters every single week to all members of Congress requesting and politely demanding the fulfill their promises made over the past decades to care for life those who wore the uniform and their families. Veterans-For-Change was born in August 2006 with a very small membership of 25 people composed of veterans, spouses, widows, family members and friends and to date continues to grow. Mission Statement for Veterans-For-Change A Veterans Advocacy and Assistance Organization. The purpose of Veterans-For-Change is to make major changes in the treatment and rights for all veterans. In benefits claims, appeals, medical care and treatment, VA Facilities, PTSD, Agent Orange, POW & MIA recoveries, diabetes, TBI and dioxins. Members combine their talents, information, ideas and suggestion and contribute to a monthly letter that’s sent to all 535 members of Congress expressing the concerns over various issues and offers possible solutions. This is in an effort to make change within the VA system, to streamline, expedite and insure claims are honored to the best possible rating, to insure all medical facilities are using the best equipment in the most modernized facilities with a properly trained and fully licensed and compassionate medical staff. Additionally we circulate petitions for various pieces of legislation to promote their being presented on the floor and voted on. We conduct research, develop ideas, solutions, and programs and do our best to make sure they’re put into action. We also provide guidance and assistance to veterans, spouses, their children and widows with their claims and appeals and the support of all veterans who seek assistance. We must guarantee the rights of every single veteran and gain the rights and benefits promised! To become a member please go to: Yahoo Group Veterans-For-Change
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