Veterans-For-Change News

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From the CEO

 

I founded Veterans-For-Change in memory of my father in May 2006 and with the help of Perry Edenfield we brought the beginning life to Veterans-For-Change on Yahoo Groups in August 2006 to be a voice for our veterans and I and our 200+ members continue to fight for the brave men and women who’ve served our country as an advocate, counselor, friend and their voice to Congress.

Over the past week we begun to develop and finalize a new Board of Directors and to move forward in our development and growth, during the initial process it was decided to remove two potential individuals from the running as they appeared to want to take over total control and move in a far different direction than was envisioned.

In the process we also had our webmaster resign, and with that move he destroyed the past five months worth of work re-uploading some 7,000 documents, all the web links, FAQ’s and articles with a simple keystroke (Delete) and has made it clear he will be selling the domain to the highest bidder vs. selling it or transferring ownership to Veterans-For-Change.

If you were sending E-Mails to any Veterans-For-Change.com address, please note they are no longer valid, but soon will be replaced.

We have now elected and installed an initial Board of Directors to help guide us forward.  This Board will help formalize our By-Laws, Articles of Incorporation and the full Incorporation Process.  Once these formal aspects are completed, our Board will proceed with securing official 501 (c) (3) status from the IRS.  In the meantime we continue to operate under the umbrella of Chaplain Mary’s Faith Based Ministries.

This Board is dedicated to helping VFC grow to the next level and to insure we continue in perpetuity.

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Our country has asked a tremendous amount of the brave men and women serving our country from the beaches in Normandy to the sands in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of them have been deployed on tour after tour, away from their homes and families and their service has taken a toll.  Now, as our brave men and women come home from war, we owe them as much support and guidance as we can provide to make their transition back into civilian life is as smooth as possible.  While we can’t begin to repay the debt we owe our veterans for their brave service, we can certainly take steps to ease the physical, psychological and financial hardships they may be experiencing.

It’s crucial that we address the physical and psychological toll war has taken on so many of our veterans.

A recent Stanford University study estimates that up to 35% of our Iraq veterans will be afflicted with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  Yet so often, these illnesses go undiagnosed and untreated in the weeks, months and years after our servicemen and women return home.

Veterans-For-Change started off as an advocacy group on Yahoo, and remains pro-active today!

I had imagined how Veterans-For-Change would grow, what more we could do, how better to serve those who have served our Country without question, hesitation or pause.

A little more than a year ago we developed a program which still not open, would recognize those who are sick and dying, their spouse and children and I’m hoping we can open this program before the end of the year.

We also developed a college scholarship fund program for children of Veterans, also not open as of yet, and this too I hope to open by the end of the year.

I have been asked are we an advocacy group or a charity, the answer to that is quite simple, we’re both.

Our advocacy group is now 200+ members strong, and we hope over the next year we will reach the goal of 5,000 members strong.

We produce a weekly newsletter which we try and pack full of the latest information on benefits and programs available to Veterans and their families, new and potential legislation all Veterans should be aware of as well as other tidbits of information.

Some of the many programs we have already in motion and those to come are listed here:

  • Claims & Appeals Assistance
  • College Scholarship Fund for Children of Veterans
  • Emergency Financial Assistance
  • Homeless Heroes Project
  • Nationwide Stand-down Programs
  • Service Recognition Program
  • Veteran Outreach Program
  • Veteran Service Officer Referral Program

There is no greater call to service than that of our brave men and women who serve our country in combat across the globe.  It’s imperative that we remember to pay honor to their bravery and make their transition to civilian life upon their return from combat as smooth and successful as possible.  It’s the least we should do for those who have suffered injury or financial hardship as a result of serving our nation.

On behalf of myself, our directors and volunteers all over the country, I thank you for your continued support and all your donations we’ve received over the past year.

Jim Davis

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Agent Orange

 Information about Agent Orange, possible health-related problems and VA benefits

Announcements

  • Veterans with Thailand Service: Vietnam-era Veterans who served in Thailand on or near the perimeters of military bases may have been exposed to herbicides and may qualify for VA benefits. Learn more.
  • Final Regulation on Additional Diseases Related to Agent Orange: On August 31, 2010, VA published the final regulation establishing all chronic B-cell leukemias, Parkinson’s disease, and ischemic heart disease as related to exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. After a 60-day congressional review period, eligible Veterans may receive health care and disability compensation for these diseases.
  • Agent Orange Newsletter: Download the latest Agent Orange Review (259 KB, PDF) to read news briefs and more for Veterans who served in Vietnam. Subscribe to receive future newsletters by e-mail.

 Agent Orange is the name of a specific blend of herbicides used during the Vietnam era. The military sprayed millions of gallons on trees and vegetation that provided cover for enemy forces.

Some Vietnam-era Veterans were exposed to these herbicides.  Learn how Veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides during military service, including outside Vietnam.

VA and many other government departments and agencies have conducted research studies on the possible health effects of Agent Orange exposure on U.S. Veterans.

VA has recognized certain cancers and other diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure.  Veterans, Veterans’ children and survivors may be eligible for compensation benefits for these diseases and health care benefits.

Source:  http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/

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Missing WWII Soldiers Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. Lawrence N. Harris, of Elkins, W.V., will be buried on Oct. 8 in Clarksburg, W.V, and Army Cpl. Judge C. Hellums, of Paris, Miss., will be buried on Oct. 9 in Randolph, Miss.  In late September 1944, their unit, the 773rd Tank Battalion, was clearing German forces out of the Parroy Forest near Lunéville.  On Oct. 9, 1944, in the final battle for control of the region, Hellums, Harris and three other soldiers were attacked by enemy fire in their M-10 Tank Destroyer. Harris and Hellums were reported to have been killed, and evidence at the time indicated the remains of the men had been destroyed in the attack and were neither recovered nor buried near the location.

In November 1946, a French soldier working in the Parroy Forest found debris associated with an M-10 vehicle and human remains, which were turned over to the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC).  The remains were buried as unknowns in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium. A year later, the AGRC returned to the Parroy Forest to conduct interviews and search for additional remains.  Investigators noted at that time that all remains of U.S. soldiers had reportedly been removed and that the soldiers were likely buried elsewhere as unknowns.

In 2003, a French citizen exploring the Parroy Forest discovered human remains and an identification bracelet engraved with Hellums’ name.  The information was eventually sent to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).  In April 2006, the man turned over the items to a JPAC team working in Europe.

Historians at DPMO and JPAC continued their research on the burials at the Ardennes Cemetery, and drew a correlation to those unknowns that had been removed from the 1944 battle site.  In early 2008, JPAC disinterred these remains and began their forensic review.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons for both men and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA, which matched that of each soldier’s relatives in the identification of their remains.

At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover, identify and bury approximately 79,000 Americans.  Today, more than 72,000 remain unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, call 703-699-1169 or visit the DPMO Web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo.

Source:  http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=13948

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The one left behind

 By: Bill Hickey

You’re driving to or from the VA and look off to the side of the road and you notice an old man in dirty clothes, a tangled beard and all his earthly belongings are in a grocery cart.

He has a look of being lost; this is a situation where many of us have been.

In your mind, reasons popup why you don’t need to stop.

The individual stares at you and again you find numerous reasons not to stop and make an inquiry.  You might have seen a bottle in his possession or maybe you don’t want to be seen talking to him as it might degrade your life style and people wouldn’t want to talk to some one whom steps the low.

You speed up and pass by this lost individual and now everything is alright as the vagrant can’t be seen.

I think at one time we have all been in the barrel but we were lucky because someone extended their hand and time.

So now the decision is yours – which way will you go – drive down a road where you know he isn’t visible or will you pull over and offer your hand and heart in true and helping friendship.

I know each of us can think of more reason not to stop than the reason to stop and offer to help.

The choice is yours and what ever the decision is you will have to live by it.

We all need a chance to start over!  What will you do next time?

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New Treatment for Spinal Injuries

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation recently announced it is setting up a military and veteran program and has developed an innovative treatment for patients with spinal cord injuries.  The Nuerorecovery Coordination Network, funded by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation combined with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control, provides a new type of physical therapy called Locomotor training.  The treatment allows patients to work with an interdisciplinary physical therapy team to help the patient learn how to walk and run again on the treadmill.  For more information about the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, visit the Foundation’s website.

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Veterans-For-Change hits Facebook & Twitter

You can now track us, meet fellow vets and their families and friends on our new FACEBOOK page!

Come join us, follow us and friends, make new friends, share useful information and more!

Follow us on Twitter too:  @VeteransForChng

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USCG Plans New Electronic Health Record

The Coast Guard recently awarded a $14 million contract to Epic Systems Corporation, a hospital information technology (IT) company, to design a new electronic health record system for the department.  The present system does not meet many federal requirements for a standards-based electronic medical record including the capability to exchange health data and to report population health.  

According to Government Health IT, the new Coast Guard system replaces a piecemealed version of DoD systems that include the Composite Health Care System (CHCS), Provider Graphic User Interface (PGUI), and Armed Forces Healthcare Longitudinal Application (AHLTA).  Most important, the new system will support requirements for the virtual lifetime electronic record now being developed by DOD and VA.  Given the mobile nature of our Uniformed Services, having compatible systems is a good thing.   

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VA Benefits for Former POWs

The VA has expanded its policies to cover increasing numbers of former prisoners of war. Special benefits for former POWs include enrollment in medical care for treatment at VA hospitals and clinics without copayments.  The VA is asking former POWs, who do not currently use VA benefits, to contact the agency at 1-800-827-1000 to determine eligibility for disability compensation and related services.  Veterans can also apply online at the VA’s VONAPP website or contact the coordinator for former POWs located at each VA regional office.  More information about VA services for former POWs is available on the VA website.

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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 suggestions 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!

If you can volunteer 30-60 minutes per month, from the comfort of your own home and computer, please join us in this tremendous fight and make your voice heard loud and clear.

Veterans-For-Change Advocacy Group:         http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VETERANS-FOR-CHANGE/

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New Paralyzed Vets Website Launched

Our friends at the Paralyzed Veterans of America have launched a new website where those wishing to honor active duty military and veterans, from all branches, can post written and/or photo tributes honoring their individual hero’s service.  The Wall of Heroes website encourages visitors to tell the story of their hero and document the memories of that person’s time in the service.  Visitors are encouraged to write about and post a picture of their hero, as well as read other’s stories of heroism and bravery.

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$41.9 Million in Grants to Help the Homeless

The VA recently announced that 40 states will share more than $41.9 million in grants to community groups to provide 2,568 beds for homeless Veterans this year.

“These grants wouldn’t have happened without the extraordinary partnerships forged with community organizers,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “These investments will provide transitional beds to Veterans who have served honorably, but for various reasons now find themselves in a downward spiral toward despair and homelessness.”

The Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program provides grants and per diem payments to help public and nonprofit organizations establish and operate new supportive housing and service centers for homeless Veterans.

The $41.9 million is broken into two categories. About $26.9 million will help renovate, rehabilitate or acquire space for 1,352 transitional housing beds. A second group of awards, valued at $15 million, will immediately fund 1,216 beds at existing transitional housing for homeless Veterans this year. The awards will cover daily living costs based upon the number of homeless Veterans being served in transitional housing.

A key component of VA’s plan to eliminate homelessness among Veterans within five years, the grants and per diem payments helped reduce the number of Veterans who were homeless on a typical night last year by 18 percent to about 107,000 Veterans within one year.

VA’s strategy to eliminate homelessness among Veterans is to implement a “no wrong door” approach, meaning Veterans who seek assistance should find it in any number of VA’s programs, from community partners or through contract services.

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Vet Benefits Bill to Become Law

Just hours before Congress adjourned for the pre-election campaign on 29 September, it passed a comprehensive veterans’ benefits bill (H.R. 3219) to upgrade insurance, disability and survivor programs, family protections, housing and homelessness programs, burial benefits, and other VA programs.

For Guard and Reserve families, the bill:

  • Permits a service person to sue over violations of the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This grew from a case where a Guard soldier’s home was foreclosed, his family evicted and the property sold while he was deployed to Iraq
  • Strengthens SCRA protections governing residential and motor vehicle leases, and terminated cell phone contracts
  • Strengthens Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) coverage when a company changes structure or is bought out
  • Clarifies that USERRA prohibits wage discrimination against Armed Forces members

VA benefit upgrades would:

  • Let Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) participants under age 60 increase their coverage by $25,000 every five years
  • Authorize adaptive housing and automobile equipment for vets with severe burn injuries
  • Allow 2 years (vs 18 months) of SGLI coverage after separation for totally disabled vets separated on or after June 15, 2005
  • End a reduction in the accelerated death benefit for terminally ill veterans with SGLI or VGLI coverage
  • Cover loss of a dominant hand under Traumatic SGLI (TSGLI)
  • Provide retroactive TSGLI payments for certain injuries incurred after Sept. 11, 2001
  • Increase VA mortgage loan guarantee to $150,000 as of Oct. 1, 2011, and to $200,000 as of Jan. 1, 2012
  • Allow an additional VA “aid and attendance” payment for veterans with severe traumatic brain injuries
  • Authorize DIC annuities for survivors of former POWs who died before Sept. 30, 1999
  • Target grants to providers who offer job training, counseling, placement and childcare services to female veterans and homeless veterans with children
  • Permit parents of certain deceased veterans with no spouse or child(ren) to be buried in a national cemetery alongside the veteran

The bill also would require a comprehensive study of best treatment practices for “chronic multi-symptom illness” in Gulf War I veterans and, separately, a study of medical issues of veterans of Post 9/11 conflicts.

Source:  http://www.moaa.org/lac/default.htm

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Medical Malpractice & Poor Medical Care in VAMC’s

I’m sure at one point or another you’ve either heard of a case of malpractice or poor medical care or been on the receiving end of either.

Veterans-For-Change is still documenting as much as we can to present cases to Congress to address these issues.

If you or someone you know has endured these experiences, and would be willing to share your stories, please contact me direct at:  [email protected].

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