Veterans-For-Change, Inc. NEWS


Veterans-For-Change, Inc. NEWS

The VA and Toxins: See No Evil, Cure No Evil

(via – The military medical corps in the various branches have been responsible for some of the great leaps forward in treating battle injuries. The Veterans Administration has tried to match the treatment level provided at military hospitals with long term programs that over the years have met with varying degrees of success. But with the exception of battlefield gas, the military brass and the VA bureaucracy have chosen to act like ostriches over toxics exposure for nearly one hundred years. After every war it has taken years for the VA to acknowledge the impact of toxins in military environments and even longer for them to accept responsibility for treatment.

 By Ben Stillwater, Freelance Writer,

The Asbestos Epidemic

The 800,000 – plus lawsuits over asbestos exposure are old news today. But when World War II veterans, especially Navy veterans, began to develop mesothelioma and asbestosis thirty years after the war was over, the reaction from the military infrastructure was, “It wasn’t us.” It took the illness of tens of thousands of shipyard workers and Navy veterans who were exposed to asbestos insulation, asbestos sprays, asbestos gaskets, asbestos bearing packing, and the asbestos fabric used for fire protection to convince the VA that there was a problem. Between about 1930 and 1975 every Navy ship commissioned contained tons of asbestos insulation. The military bases and barracks built during that era contained flooring, roofing, ceiling tiles, insulation, joint compound, and cement that were laced with asbestos.

It can still be a challenge for veterans who have developed mesothelioma and who were exposed to asbestos during active duty, to prove to the VA that the exposure occurred during time of service. In the meantime thousands of critically ill veterans were denied treatment for a lethal form of cancer or for asbestosis, which is a progressive, non-curable, respiratory illness that slowly reduces breathing capacity. While most of those veterans are gone, the VA is still often reluctant to treat asbestos related illness as a service-related condition.

 Agent Orange

The story of Agent Orange and its impact on Vietnam-era vets has played out on a public stage, with much more press coverage of and commentary on the issue than occurred with asbestos. For an interminable period of time veterans complained about various illnesses and the military command structure was resolute in denying any connection between the herbicides and veteran complaints. It’s been a very slow turn to the situation today, when the VA provides volumes of information on Agent Orange-related illnesses and health issues. The lawsuits started in 1979.

In 1983 as the result of a class action lawsuit, several chemical companies involved with the manufacture of Agent Orange set up a $180 million trust fund to pay damage claims filed by veterans who could claim “total disability” as the result of exposure to the herbicides. However the guidelines for claim recognition, the requirements for proof of

illness and the window of opportunity for filing those claims led to fewer than 50,000 paid claims. The lawsuits have continued with no real civil restitution for the additional hundreds of thousands of veterans who may have been exposed, but the VA has slowly come to terms with the health damage that Agent Orange did to an entire generation of combat veterans. In 2003 the acknowledged link between Agent Orange and chronic lymphocytic leukemia; other diseases have followed.

Gulf War Syndrome

This generation’s battlefield poison has taken less time for recognition from the VA, but only because the number of impacted veterans is so high in relation to the number of men and women who served. As with Agent Orange, there is a collection of health problems that initially defied diagnosis as to cause. But the fact that those health problems exist is unmistakable; as this website notes over a third of the veterans who served have developed significant health problems.

The people who have gravitated to this website and certainly those who maintain it know much more about the Gulf-related health problems and their causes than we do. We can’t contribute to the body of knowledge on Gulf War Syndrome, but we can draw some parallels with previous wars, previous classes of veterans and previous responses from the military. In the case of all three wars, primary exposure to toxins was respiratory in nature. Protective measures were inadequate or nonexistent.

That’s not entirely a shortcoming of planning or logistics; in some cases such as with asbestos the danger was not widely acknowledged. What has been consistent, it seems, is the struggle to get VA recognition of and treatment for the health problems generated in these various war theaters. Sure, the health problems have been unusual, or difficult to link to a cause, but the conditions that veterans were exposed to were also unusual. Toxins cause all sorts of problems; multiple toxins cause multiple problems. Most recently the concern among Gulf War veterans has been the authorization of funds for research. A decade’s worth of tangible health problems should be a pretty good basis for clinical studies. Inertia in the VA has become an American military tradition.

 Article Source:

 Ben Stillwater is a freelance writer for Asbestos News, an information and news resource on the risks and dangers associated with high levels of asbestos exposure, and the related illnesses that arise from such exposure.  Ben prepared this article for as a special service to Gulf War veterans.

Courtesy: VT

VA Program Helps Families Help Their Veterans

 Do you know a Veteran who needs help?

“Families At Ease” is a new program developed by Department of Veterans Affairs that works with family members and friends of Veterans of any era to help them help their Veteran get care.

Many Veterans are reluctant to get help for the symptoms or difficulties they are having, or may not recognize their need for help.

It could be difficulty at work or at home, problems sleeping, driving too fast, or drinking too much. Or it could just be that they seem irritable or sad.

Whatever the problem, family members are often very aware of Veterans’ mental health difficulties and want to play a positive role in helping Veterans seek the help they need.

The “Families At Ease” educational campaign attempts to reach new Veterans through their concerned family members and provides information and support to help the Veteran access VA facilities for services and benefits.

A multi-site call center was developed at the Philadelphia, Pa. and Durham, N.C. VA Medical Centers to answer calls from family members and friends, as well as Veterans.

Callers can get information on how to enroll in VA care. They can also get free telephone-based coaching by a mental health consultant to help when a Veteran is reluctant to admit having difficulties.

According to Dr. Steven Sayers, “Familes At Ease” Director, “We take a positive approach to motivating the Veteran, which means while we work with the family member to motivate the Veteran, the choice to come in is always in the Veteran’s hands.”

Dr. Sayers is a Clinical Psychologist with the Mental Illness, Research, Education, and Clinical Center at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.

He adds that, “Coaching of family members involves discussing ways to talk to the Veteran about the difficulties they are having and offering help without trying to force the Veteran to go for this help. A family member may have one, two or several coaching calls over the span of a few days or weeks in order to try to help them encourage the Veteran to seek care.”

The program has served about 50 family members and Veterans so far and has had positive results. About half of the calls pertained to Veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, with the rest serving in Vietnam, the first Gulf War, and other conflicts.

Seventy percent of Veterans associated with callers were already enrolled in VA care; the coaching of family members has resulted in an increase from 70% to 85% for enrollment in VA care.

A significant improvement was seen in Veterans receiving mental health care, with an increase from 24 percent to 45 percent, thanks to the coaching of family members.

Explaining the importance of the program, Dr. Sayers notes, “The role of family members in supporting treatment of our military Veterans is now a key part of the services provided by VA. ‘Families At Ease’ is an example of the innovative strategies now part of VA services.”

The pilot phase of the program was launched in Philadelphia and Durham in January 2010. By January 2011, “Families At Ease” will being to take calls during expanded business hours and start the process of becoming a national program.

Following the pilot phase of the new program, “Families At Ease” will be a national program with an additional call center site in Los Angeles.

VA is getting the word out on the new program with web-based advertising and networking on Facebook and Twitter.

VA has also reached out through clergy, Welcome Home events, newspaper ads, mass transit ads and grocery store carts.

Family members or Veterans can reach “Families At Ease” at 888-823-7458 (8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. ET), by e-mailing, or on the web at

Source:  DVA

Veterans & Families in Need

The following are those who need our help in the New Year.  Please take a moment to read and let sink in those who need us now and if you’re able to make even a small tax deductible donation, please do so.

Ø       Yesterday, John Allen, editor of VT received an E-Mail from Cheryl Petrovich requesting assistance for Veteran Kenneth Blagburn, his wife and four children.

They need help with food for their family!

Kenneth, is an Iraq Veteran and served his country proudly is also battling illness and his wife is battling cancer and is trying to keep upbeat, but taking care of a family while sick and financially strapped is putting a strain on her mental and physical well being.

We’d like to be able to provide them a Kroeger Grocery Shopping card for $250.00 which should be enough to purchase groceries for about 2-3 weeks.

Ø       CPO Jeremy Abraham, USN has come to ask for assistance in both utilities and food.  We’ve arranged for payment to the power company and would also like to send him an $80.00 Kroeger Grocery Shopping card.  Total we’re looking to raise to help Jeremy is $137.00.

Ø       CPL Clifford Peavely, USMC has come to ask for assistance with utilities.  We’ve arranged for payment to both power and gas companies.  We’re looking to raise $119.60 to help Clifford.

Total we’re hoping to raise in the next 24 hours is $506.60, and would be the last chance for a tax deductible donation for 2010.

Iif you’ve been blessed to never have problems, please consider the movie “Pay it Forward!”

If you’re able to contribute $10, $25, $50, $100 or more, please click HERE to be taken direct to the PayPal site!

 If Veteran’s don’t help Veteran’s, who will?

Tax ID #27-3820181

New Information (December Formulary Updates) Has Been Posted

Buddy Search

Have you been looking for a buddy you served with?  Gone to all the privately owned websites, had no luck?

Look no more!

Veterans-For-Change has databases with 236,590 former military listed.

If you’re looking for a buddy, send an E-Mail to JDAVIS92840@SBCGLOBAL.NET with the First and Last Name, Last City/State known, and Branch of Service and we’ll respond with all those listed within 7-10 days.

Please keep request to no more than two names, and only place your request one time.  If the person you are trying to locate isn’t found it goes on a wait list to check new databases as received.

If you’d like to be included, please E-Mail me and request a buddy list entry form.

This is another FREE service of Veterans-For-Change!

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 our all new Homeless Heroes Program on Face Book too!

Follow us on Twitter too:  @VeteransForChng

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 issues (including Toxic Dioxin resulting in Diabetes, Cancers and numerous other health problems), POW MIA recoveries,  TBI and dioxin poisoning during current and past Combat Operations in the Persian Gulf region.

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:

Links to other Stories

Please keep in mind each of these stories, if you comment MSNBC pays Veterans-For-Change 3-4 cents per comment.  You need to log-in, in order to post comments which will provide funds to VFC.  The more comments, the better the chances we have at being on front page and the more opportunity we have of MSNBC picking up the story for national.

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.

Additionally we’re looking for Veterans who have experienced problems with eye care clinics, diagnosis and treatment.

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

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.

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 interesting in signing the petition and able to gather 8-10 more please click HERE and send us an E-Mail requesting the petition, be sure to put in the subject line TCE 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!


As of December 27, 2010 

Service Name Rank Dateof Death Age Gender Home of Record City Home ofRecord State
Marine Torbert, Eric Michael Jr CPL 12/18/10 25 M LANCASTER PA
Army Javier Diaz, Conrado Jr PFC 12/20/10 19 M MARINA CA
Marine Crouse, William Harry IV LCPL 12/21/10 22 M WOODRUFF SC
Marine Corzine, Kenneth A LCPL 12/24/10 23 M BETHALTO IL
Marine Misener, Garrett Anderson SGT 12/27/10 25 M CORDOVA TN

 Listed above are the names of those of our soldiers who gave their all in defense of our Country!  Please remember those who have served and are serving still, and pray for these families in their time of need, and for those still serving for their safe return home.

Veterans who served in Korea & along the DMZ your help is needed!

The research questionnaire response so far has been good, but we still need more veterans who served in Korea to participate.

Veterans-For-Change is distributing a questionnaire to veterans pertaining to service in Korea to help us gather statistical information in our ongoing efforts to correct the wrongs and to assist in declassifying many missions in Korea so that veterans such as you will be able to gain the benefits and services needed from the VA System.

This questionnaire is anonymous, you do not need to provide personal contact information if you’re not comfortable with this.

However, if you do provide personal contact information it will be kept 100% confidential, will not be given to any member of Congress, the VA or the DoD, nor will it be sold to any company for any reason what-so-ever.

Statistical information will be used to compile a report to submit to various members of Congress in our efforts to declassify all missions 25 or more years ago so that all veterans can apply for and gain the much needed benefits and medical care/services needed and long over due.

If you’re interested in participating, please click HERE and request a copy.  In the Subject put Korean Service.

COLA Tied to Social Security and Consumer Price Index

WASHINGTON – The Social Security Administration has announced that no cost-of-living adjustments will be made to Social Security benefits in 2011 because the consumer price index has not risen since 2008 when the last Social Security increase occurred.

Like recipients of Social Security and other federal benefits, Veterans, their families and survivors will also not see a cost-of-living adjustment in 2011 to their compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Under federal law, the cost-of-living adjustments to VA’s compensation and pension rates are the same percentage as for Social Security benefits. 

VA provides compensation and pension benefits to about four million Veterans and beneficiaries.  For more information about VA benefits, go to or call 1-800-827-1000.

Source:  VA

What to do if your Veteran has a stroke

VA has 44 easy-to-read Fact Sheets online — a Lifeline for Caregivers!

 An estimated 15,000 Veterans suffer a stroke each year.

Because stroke onset is so sudden, family members and friends unexpectedly become a loved one’s caregiver and are caught unprepared for this new role.

What do I do now?

Most family caregivers lack basic knowledge about stroke, the stroke recovery process, how to care for a stroke survivor, and how to prevent future strokes. They also may not know how to avoid or reduce the stress and challenges that come with being a caregiver.

In addition to their existing home and work responsibilities, a new caregiver takes on the role of serving as a “lifeguard,” responsible for the safety and well-being of the stroke survivor.

Like a lifeguard, caregivers need the knowledge, training, and tools to preserve the life of the stroke survivor, while taking care to keep themselves from drowning.

Where can I get help?

Recognizing that caregivers have this urgent need for information, the VA has launched the RESCUE website. RESCUE stands for Resources and Education for Stroke Caregivers’ Understanding and Empowerment.

Information on the RESCUE website is available on 44 easy-to-read fact sheets.

Caregivers can download and print the fact sheets in English and Spanish.

The fact sheets are organized into nine categories:

  • General Stroke Information
  • Obtaining Good Healthcare and Information
  • Keeping Your Loved One Healthy
  • Helping Your Loved One Become More Independent
  • Caring for Someone with Physical Needs
  • Caring for Someone with Emotional and Behavioral Needs
  • Understanding How Caring for a Loved One Affects You
  • Finding Community Resources
  • Managing Financial and Legal Issues

The RESCUE website was designed to serve as an educational lifeline, to help the caregiver “keep their head above water.” The rescuer (caregiver) may be overwhelmed and eventually feel like the one who needs to be rescued.

Visitors to the RESCUE website can also view the bi-monthly RESCUE Newsletter and access previous newsletters.

The RESCUE Newsletter covers a wide range of topics facing stroke caregivers, such as post-stroke depression, sex after stroke, and web links for caregiver resources.

My HealtheVet adds to the program

One of the resources regularly featured in the RESCUE Newsletter is the VA’s My HealtheVet website.

Registered “My HealtheVet” users have access to helpful health tracking tools in the “Vitals and Readings” section. Several of the tracking tools are related to risk factors for stroke, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body weight.

Once Veterans enrolled for VA health care complete the “My HealtheVet” in-person authentication process they can receive online access to portions of their electronic medical record and the VA prescription refill service.

VA researcher Constance R. Uphold, PhD, ARNP and her team are responsible for creating this valuable, helpful website to provide critical information which could save your Veteran’s life.

Source:  VA

Pride, Honor and Patriotism

13 Year Old Cody Alicea of Denair California, attending Denair Middle School rides his bicycle to and from school every day proudly flying his American flag strapped to the back of his bike.

He did until he was told by school district officials “people” had called and said it was offensive and there were death threats.

This story went from a local television station to being viral in a matter of hours.

Telephone calls poured into the school district office where the initial decision was made and ultimately reversed.

Cody did return to school proudly flying his American flag once again but this time with his own personal army, and army of American Legion Patriot Guard Riders by the hundreds, Cody’s grandfather being one of them.

All in support of Cody’s patriotism, and his constitutional right!

Seems to me our country has reached an all time low when we have to cow tow to those who find OUR way of life, OUR patriotism for OUR country offensive.

Hundreds of thousands have served, fought and died for our freedoms and our way of life, our country and what I find offensive is that we must provide pamphlets, brochures, voting ballots, DMV guide books, and almost any government public document in multiple languages costing us (we the people, taxpayer) billions of dollars each year to be PC (politically correct).

Ethics and Patriotism in this country are deteriorating at an alarming rate. The districts decision to ban the Stars and Stripes –on US soil — because other nationalities living on US soil are offended, is frightening.  Makes one wonder what other anti-US lessons are being taught in our schools?

Pandering to one or more cultures over another does not garner respect on either side. Being proud of your ethnicity must not be confused with respecting your country of residence.

If you honestly believe in our Country, our Flag, and what our brave men and women have laid their lives on the line fighting for, then I encourage each person who reads this to write your letters to the School Superintendent and the Governor of California.

Let them know this is our Country and we should not be ashamed of flying our flag regardless of who takes offense!

Denair Unified School District
3460 Lester Rd, Denair, CA 95316
(209) 634-0917

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814


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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 ensure 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.