Showing posts with label disabled veterans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disabled veterans. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

President Biden Signs PACT Act For Veterans!

FACT SHEET: President Biden Signs the PACT Act and Delivers on His Promise to America’s Veterans

AUGUST 10, 2022

STATEMENTS AND RELEASES
PACT Act Marks Most Significant Expansion of VA Health Care in 30 Years

Today, President Biden is delivering on his promise to strengthen health care and benefits for America’s veterans and their survivors by signing the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. The PACT Act is the most significant expansion of benefits and services for toxic exposed veterans in more than 30 years.

In his first State of the Union address, President Biden called on Congress to send a bill to his desk that would comprehensively address toxic exposures that have impacted veterans, as well as their families and caregivers, and provide them with the health care and benefits they have earned and deserve. Thanks to the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Veterans Committees, the PACT Act does just that.

President Biden believes that our nation has a sacred obligation to properly prepare and equip the troops we send into harm’s way – and to care for them and their families when they return home. Sometimes military service can result in increased health risks for our veterans, and some injuries and illnesses like asthma, cancer, and others can take years to manifest. These realities can make it difficult for veterans to establish a direct connection between their service and disabilities resulting from military environmental exposures such as burn pits – a necessary step to ensure they receive the health care they earned.

President Biden made clear that supporting those who wear the uniform is a commitment that unites all Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – and why he made supporting our veterans a core element of his Unity Agenda. And, the legislation supports President Biden’s reignited Cancer Moonshot to help end cancer as we know it.

By signing the bipartisan PACT Act, President Biden is delivering for America’s veterans and their families, and demonstrating that we can – and will – come together where we agree to get big things done for our country. 

The PACT Act: Delivering Critical Health Care and Other Benefits for Veterans
Named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, a decorated combat medic who died from a rare form of lung cancer, this historic legislation will help deliver more timely benefits and services to more than 5 million veterans—across all generations—who may have been impacted by toxic exposures while serving our country. Danielle Robinson, the widow of Sergeant First Class Robinson, was a guest of the First Lady at President Biden’s first State of the Union address when he called on Congress to pass a law to make sure veterans devastated by toxic exposures – like her husband – finally get the health care and benefits they deserve.

The PACT Act will:
To ensure veterans can receive high-quality health care screenings and services related to potential toxic exposures, the PACT Act expands access to VA health care services for veterans exposed during their military service. For post-9/11 combat veterans, the bill extends the period of time they have to enroll in VA health care from five to ten years post-discharge. For those combat veterans who do not fall within that window, the bill also creates a one-year open enrollment period. These expansions mean that more veterans can enroll in VA health care without having to demonstrate a service connected disability.
The PACT Act codifies VA’s new process for evaluating and determining presumption of exposure and service connection for various chronic conditions when the evidence of a military environmental exposure and the associated health risks are strong in the aggregate but hard to prove on an individual basis. PACT requires VA to seek independent evaluation of this process as well as external input on the conditions it will review using this framework. The new process is evidence-based, transparent, and allows VA to make faster policy decisions on crucial exposure issues. This new process has already fundamentally changed how VA makes decisions on environmental exposures and ensures more veterans have access to the care they need.
The legislation removes the need for certain veterans and their survivors to prove service connection if they are diagnosed with one of 23 specific conditions. This greatly reduces the amount of paperwork and need for exams that veterans diagnosed with one of these conditions must complete before being granted access to health care and disability compensation, thereby speeding up their receipt of the benefits they have earned. This list includes 11 respiratory related conditions, along with several forms of cancer, including reproductive cancers, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and brain cancers such as glioblastoma. Survivors of veterans who died due to one of these conditions may now also be eligible for benefits.
To better understand the impact of toxic exposures, the PACT Act requires VA to conduct new studies of veterans who served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War and analyses of post-9/11 veterans’ health trends. The new law also directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to convene a new interagency working group to develop a five-year strategic plan on toxic exposure research.
Ensuring veterans get the care they need includes ensuring that they are screened for toxic exposure and that VA personnel have the appropriate education and training. The PACT Act requires that veterans enrolled in VA health care be screened regularly for toxic exposure related concerns. This new law also requires VA to establish an outreach program for veterans regarding toxic exposure related benefits and supports, and to require additional toxic exposure related education and training for VA personnel.
This bill also delivers critical resources to VA to ensure it can deliver timely access to services and benefits for all veterans eligible – including those already enrolled. The PACT Act provides VA with mechanisms to enhance claims processing and to increase the workforce. The bill also invests in VA health care facilities by authorizing 31 major medical health clinics and research facilities in 19 states.
Biden-Harris Administration Record of Action on Military Toxic Exposures
This historic legislation builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s existing efforts to address the harmful effects of environmental exposures affecting service men and women:

Established Presumption for Rare Respiratory Cancers: In April 2022, VA defined presumptive service connection for several rare respiratory cancers for certain veterans – a step that marked progress toward President Biden’s commitment to end cancer as we know it. Since this change, VA has been able to complete more claims for veterans and survivors involving a possible presumption of rare respiratory cancer. With VA taking steps to raise awareness of these benefits, we expect the number of claims to rise in the months ahead.

Processing Claims for New Presumptive Respiratory Conditions: In August 2021, VA began processing disability claims for asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis based on presumed exposure to particulate matter. Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations and other areas and who developed these conditions within ten years of military service are now eligible to apply for disability benefits and access to VA health care. Since August, VA has completed 33,276 claims, granting over 25,000 veterans and their survivors benefits for one or more conditions, leading to over $93 million in retroactive benefit payments.

Raising Awareness of VA Benefits Related to Military Exposures: Many veterans remain unaware of their eligibility for benefits and services related to potential military exposures. Beginning in November 2021, VA launched a proactive campaign to inform and encourage veterans to file claims related to military environmental exposures.

Requiring Training for VA and Non-VA Providers: Health care providers and compensation and pension examiners sometimes do not have the training to understand or treat veterans’ exposure concerns. To address this challenge, VA directed compensation and pension providers and Veterans Health Administration clinicians to complete a training module on assessing deployment related to environmental exposures. VA is also encouraging all providers who care for veterans outside of VA through the Community Care Network contract to complete training on the TRAIN Learning Network, VA’s publicly available training site. Furthermore, VA employees and community care providers have been directed to utilize the Exposure Ed App to help providers provide information to veterans on health effects associated with certain exposures during military service. More information on the app is available here.

Implementing a Network of Specialized Providers and Call Center: Veterans with concerns about the health outcomes of military exposures experience inconsistent care to address these specific issues, especially outside of VA. Earlier this year, VA launched VET-HOME, The Veterans Exposure Team-Health Outcomes of Military Exposures. VA plans to hire health professionals, including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who will specialize in conducting patient assessments regarding the health effects of military exposures. By January 2023, VA expects to have a fully operational call center and network of experts to help veterans concerned about environmental exposure and provide consultative services to veterans in primary care clinics.


The video



PBS a deeper look at this bill

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

U.S. Senate 86 voted for veterans 11 voted against them

The Senate passes help for veterans exposed to toxins, after a reversal drew fury

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) looks on Tuesday as Susan Zeier, mother-in-law of the late Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson, hugs Rosie Torres, wife of veteran Le Roy Torres, who suffers from illnesses related to his exposure to burn pits in Iraq, after the Senate passed the PACT Act at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Drew Angerer/Getty Images


The U.S. Senate, in a bipartisan 86-11 vote, approved a measure to provide health care and benefits for millions of veterans injured by exposure to toxins, from Agent Orange in Vietnam to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Known as the PACT Act, the bill no longer would force generations of veterans to prove that their illness was caused by toxic exposures suffered in the military in order to get VA coverage. It had been hailed as the largest expansion of care in VA history, and was expected to cost $280 billion over a decade.

The House passed the measure in July. President Biden, who supports the PACT Act, is expected to sign it into law.

read more here 


You may be wondering who were the eleven Senators voting against taking care of the veterans. You can stop wondering, This list is from Yahoo News


On Tuesday, the 11 no votes included:

  • Mitt Romney of Utah

  • Rand Paul of Kentucky

  • Mike Crapo of Idaho

  • James Lankford of Oklahoma

  • Mike Lee of Utah

  • Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming

  • James Risch of Idaho

  • Richard Shelby of Alabama

  • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

  • Tommy Tuberville of Alabama

  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina

All 11 senators also voted against the bill in June.



Monday, August 1, 2022

Read the Burn Pit bill yourself and know what else was in it, they voted against!

Veterans have been camping out on the Capitol steps after GOP blocks burn pit bill



NBC"
By Scott Wong, Ali Vitali and Frank Thorp V
August 1, 2022

WASHINGTON — Jen Burch, 35, a retired staff sergeant in the Air Force, looks strong and healthy from the outside. She says that inside, however, she’s suffering from ailments that she believes are related to her service during the Afghanistan war more than a decade ago.

While they were in Kandahar, Burch and her fellow service members were exposed to “burn pits, incinerators and poo ponds,” she said. When she left, she battled pneumonia and bronchitis. And in the years since then, she has been “in and out of ERs” and has struggled with intense migraine headaches and shortness of breath whenever she climbs a flight of stairs.

“I actually ended up trying to take my life because I just can’t handle it anymore. I just go crazy in my head,” Burch said at a rally Monday outside the U.S. Capitol.
read more here

This is the link to the PACT ACT
Among the things that are in the bill are provisions for those who served at Fort McClellan
(Sec. 801) The VA must conduct an epidemiological study on the health trends of veterans who served at Fort McClellan at any time between January 1, 1935, and May 20, 1999.

Veterans that served in Palomares, Spain and hule Air Force Base, Greenland
(Sec. 402) This section includes veterans who participated in the cleanup of radioactive materials at Palomares, Spain, or in the response effort following the on-board fire and crash of a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber in the vicinity of Thule Air Force Base, Greenland, as radiation-exposed veterans for purposes of the presumption of service-connection for specified cancers.

Vietnam veterans
Veterans Agent Orange Exposure Equity Act of 2022
(Sec. 403) This section expands the presumption of service-connection for diseases associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents for veterans who served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. Specifically, the bill expands the presumption to cover veterans who served during specified time frames in Thailand at any U.S. or Royal Thai bases, Laos, Cambodia, Guam or American Samoa or the waters thereof, or on Johnson Atoll. Under the bill, such veterans are eligible for VA hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care.

Read the bill yourself and know that those that voted against this, are lying about the bill.

Friday, July 29, 2022

"Ain't this a bitch!" Jon Stewart fights for veterans

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 29, 2022


UPDATE

Worse than we thought as GOP members of the Senate celebrated blocking this bill!







The bill that would finally provide some justice to the men and women we sent to Afghanistan and Iraq, was stopped from passing yesterday by the same people that voted for it weeks ago, GOP members of the Senate!

I've seen a lot of crap in my day and that was over a lifetime. My Dad was 100% Korean War veteran and my husband is 100% disabled Vietnam veteran. I remember what it was like to fight the VA for what their service cost then and our families. I also remember the 40 years of fighting so that veterans and families could finally see their service honored.

I've seen political games played by both parties on all sorts of issues. I have never seen a good bill being blocked to take care of veterans. Surely, politicians prolonged the passage so they could get attention for themselves, whine, moan and complain like a toddler, but in the end, there were enough votes to pass it.

This time, They needed just 10 Republicans to step up so the bill could be voted on. Only five showed up to do the right thing for veterans. So what happened to the other 55 Republicans that voted on it before passing it?
The House passed the PACT Act by a 342-88 vote on July 13, about a month after the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 84-14.
They claim it was because the House tweaked it and they couldn't stand that. I mean, the same crowd that kept repeating they support veterans and their care should never be subjected to budget cuts, is now something they want to use to take a temper tantrum!

Ever since the beginning of this nation, the leaders asked men and women to risk their lives for the sake of this nation. And ever since they returned back to this nation and home and families, they were forced to fight the same leaders to be compensated for what their service did to them. What is the most reprehensible thing of all is when they were forced to fight for what the nation did to them while they were serving and risking their lives.

Vietnam veterans fought for PTSD to be covered and treated, and that was a little easier to take on since it was due to combat. They also had to fight for being treated and compensated for what Agent Orange, sent by the government did to them and their families. Gulf War veterans were forced to fight for care after whatever the cause was for Gulf War Syndrome. And now this! Yet another thing the nation they served did to them with burn pits!

AND NOW THEY HAVE TO HEAR THIS BULLSHIT AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!

This post went up in 2008!

Troops sick from burn pits urged to contact DAV


“Anyone out there who thinks they may have had a long-term health effect ... needs to file a complaint” with the Department of Veterans Affairs, said Kerry Baker, DAV’s associate national legislative director.

Noting that it took Vietnam veterans 20 years to gain benefits for exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange, Baker said, “We don’t want to see these guys have to wait 20 years. We want to see Congress act right away.”
When will they do the right thing? When the American people demand it!

Watch the video and if you are not as angry as all these speakers are, don't ever say you support the troops or veterans with a straight face because the members of the GOP couldn't do the right thing when they had the chance, have been now seen for what they truly are and they are disgusting!

WATCH: Jon Stewart criticizes Republicans for voting down bill to increase care for veterans exposed to burn pits

PBS
Jul 28, 2022

“I’m used to the hypocrisy … but I’m not used to the cruelty,” Stewart said.


Former Talk show host turned veterans advocate, John Stewart joined a bicameral group of Democrats to call out Senate Republicans for failing to pass the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022.

In a speech riddled with strong language, Stewart criticized Republican senators for speaking in support of veterans, but then voting against the bill that would increase spending by more than $300 billion over the next decade and dramatically boost health care services and disability benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’m used to the hypocrisy … but I’m not used to the cruelty,” Stewart said.

The bill would open up Department of Veterans Affairs health care to millions of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service even if they don’t have a service-connected disability. The bill also would provide new or increased disability benefits to thousands of veterans who have become ill with cancer or respiratory conditions such as bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The measure has the backing of the nation’s major veterans groups and underscores the continued cost of war years after the fighting has stopped.
read more here 
Warning: This video contains strong language.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

88 GOP Members of House Voted Against Veterans Burn Pit Bill



U.S. House passes bill expanding health care, benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits

IOWA Dispatch

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill Wednesday to expand health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits overseas, sending the package back to the U.S. Senate after making a minor change.

Senators, who broadly support the landmark package, are expected to quickly clear the measure for President Joe Biden’s signature. The House vote was 342-88. (updated)

Biden, who has linked his son Beau’s death from a brain tumor in 2015 to exposure to burn pits, has repeatedly called on Congress to address the illnesses and deaths linked to toxic exposure. 

“What I found with my son, what I found with my friends, what I found with the generation of Vietnam: There’s this notion that you shouldn’t ask for anything,” Biden said in March while at a resource center in Fort Worth, Texas.

“You should be asking. You should be letting us know. You should let us know what is bothering you, what is the problem because we owe it to you,” Biden continued.

(read it here)


There were 12 Senators that voted against the Senate version sent to the House.

The American Independent
Despite the Senate's broad bipartisan support for the bill, 12 Republicans voted against advancing it:
Sens. Richard Burr (NC),
Bill Cassidy (LA),
John Kennedy (LA),
James Lankford (OK),
Mike Lee (UT),
Cynthia Lummis (WY)
Rand Paul (KY),
Mitt Romney (UT),
Dan Sullivan (AK),
Thom Tillis (NC),
Pat Toomey (PA),
and Todd Young (IN).

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Georgia man sentenced for stealing 100 disabled veterans and Social Security beneficiaries

Man sentenced for stealing veteran, Social Security benefits

A Georgia man has been sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison in South Florida for his part in running a scheme to steal more than $1.8 million in veteran and Social Security benefits
By The Associated Press
March 4, 2022
From 2012 to 2017, Green and others attempted to redirect more than $1.8 million in benefits from more than 100 disabled veterans and Social Security beneficiaries, officials said. The scheme resulted in the actual loss of nearly $1 million although the federal government reimbursed the victims for the full amounts of their stolen benefits.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A Georgia man has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison in South Florida for his part in running a scheme to steal more than $1.8 million in veteran and Social Security benefits.

Ronaldo Garfield Green, 29, was sentenced Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale federal court, according to court records. A federal jury found him guilty in November to conspiracy to commit fraud. He must also pay $915,000 in restitution.
read more here



Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Veterans benefits won't suffer if government shuts down

DoD, VA officials prep for a possible government shutdown later this week

Military Times
By Leo Shane III
September 27, 2021
Last week, Veterans Affairs officials released their shutdown contingency plan, which will be less severe than other department’s because of advance appropriations approved by Congress in last year’s budget agreement.

As a result, 96 percent of VA employees will not have to worry about furloughs if a shutdown occurs, and most VA programs — including medical care, benefits processing and burials at department cemeteries — will continue uninterrupted.
In this Oct. 1, 2013, photo, National Parks Service staff stand by the barricaded Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. because of a partial government shutdown caused by a partisan budget fight in Congress. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
In anticipation of a possible government shutdown later this week, leaders from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have begun warning employees of possible office closures, program interruptions and potential furloughs that will result from a budget lapse. The moves won’t mean any work stoppage for active-duty service members, but it could mean a disruption in their pay until the federal financial issues are resolved.
read more here

On a personal note: SHAME ON THE GOP MEMBERS OF THE SENATE! read it here

Monday, September 20, 2021

100,000 LGBT veterans get justice

There have been a lot of reports over the years about veterans committing suicide. What the reporters leave out, among many, is the fact that if you are not "honorably" discharged, you are not counted as a veteran on anything. The news that LGBTQ+ are having other than honorable discharges changed, is a blessing, however, most of us are wondering what happens to the families when it is too late to honor the service of those who have committed suicide. What is justice for them?

The VA is aware of the problem these veterans have when they manage to get an honoranble discharge. LGBTQ+ Veteran Suicide Prevention proves that, but while today may seem like vindication for up to 100,000, what good does it do to those who are no longer alive because of the way they were treated?

What does justice look like for them?

Biden recognizes the 10th anniversary of 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal
Biden said that many of those veterans received what are known as “other than honorable” discharges, which excluded "them and their families from the vitally important services and benefits they had sacrificed so much to earn."

LGBT vets with other than honorable discharges will get VA benefits under new plan

Military Times
By Leo Shane III
September 17, 2021

Tens of thousands of LGBT veterans forced from the military for their sexual orientation and given other-than-honorable discharges will be able to receive full Veterans Affairs benefits despite their dismissal status under a new move set to be announced Monday.

The change comes as the country approaches the 10th anniversary of repeal of the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” law which forced nearly 14,000 service members out of the ranks for admitting their sexual orientation.

But the impact of the new VA announcement goes further than just those individuals, to potentially include troops who served before and after the law who may have been given bad performance reviews or intimidated into leaving the military because of their LGBT status.

Outside advocates estimate as many as 100,000 over the last 70 years may have been involuntarily separated from the military based on their sexual orientation. Data on how many received other-than-honorable discharges is not available.
read more here

Friday, June 25, 2021

Who failed Nicholas Mavrakis and his family?

When you read this story, notice that it was known he had PTSD and had been deployed multiple times. The last listed deployment was in 2008. The question is, why didn't he get the help he needed to heal during all these years back home?

Did the Army fail him? Did the VA fail him? Did all the suicide awareness groups out there fail him? The truth is, they all did and so did the rest of us!

Greek-American Man Suffering from PTSD Kills Family in Murder/Suicide
Greek Reporter
Patricia Claus
June 25, 2021
The Greek-American man had served in the U.S. Army from April 1993 through July 2013 and retired as a staff sergeant according to US Department of Defense records. He had been deployed to Afghanistan from January 2002 to July 2002, and served in Iraq twice, from February 2003 to February 2004 and then again from September 2007 to November 2008.
Nick Mavrakis and his family. Mavrakis shot and killed his own family on Father’s Day in a murder/suicide. Credit: Facebook/Nick Mavrakis

Nicholas Mavrakis III, of Jackson Township, outside Canton, Ohio, allegedly shot and killed his wife and two children before turning the gun on himself in a murder/suicide on Father’s Day.

The shocking incident took place at the family home in Jackson Township, five miles from Canton, Ohio according to police and local media reports.

The Greek-American man was a U.S. Army veteran who had served in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Local police, in a post on Facebook, reported that Mavrakis, along with his wife Lesley Mavrakis, 37, and children Ace Mavrakis, 13, and Pippa Mavrakis, 5, “were found dead shortly after 4 PM Sunday in their home.”
read more here

Thursday, June 4, 2020

VA acknowledges it’s ‘not there yet’ with coronavirus testing for employees

Federal News Network
Nicole Ogrysko
June 3, 2020


The Department of Veterans Affairs does not have on-demand coronavirus testing for its employees up and running just yet, despite its best intentions to screen anyone who presented symptoms or believed they had been exposed.

VA has tested about 12% of its health workforce for the virus, Richard Stone, executive-in-charge at the Veterans Health Administration, told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Wednesday afternoon.

His comments contrast with those the department made one week ago before another congressional committee, when Jennifer MacDonald, chief consultant to the deputy VA undersecretary for health, told a House appropriations subcommittee any symptomatic employee or anyone who wanted a test could be screened.

“We’re not hearing that,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the committee’s ranking member, said. “We’re not hearing that from the folks on the ground. We’re still hearing that they’re not being tested.”

“Senator, you are exactly right, we’re not there yet,” Stone said. “Although we’ve tested over 12% of our employees, and it is our intent to have on-demand testing for all of our employees, we’re not there yet.”


Saturday, May 30, 2020

VA Employees say VA "not offering widespread testing" for COVID-19

VA Says It's Providing a COVID-19 Test to Any Employee Who Asks. Employees Say That's Not True.


Government Executive
ERIC KATZ
Senior Correspondent
May 29, 2020

Veterans Affairs Department employees across the country are disputing a claim VA leadership made to Congress on Thursday that any employee who wants a COVID-19 test—for any reason—could get one.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie speaks during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Thursday. ANDREW HARNIK/AP

Government Executive heard from employees at a dozen VA facilities in as many states who said the department was not offering widespread testing for the disease related to the novel coronavirus. In most cases, they said, only symptomatic workers could receive a test. That reality falls in sharp contrast to the situation described by VA’s top leaders.

“We also have testing available for our employees,” Jennifer MacDonald, VA’s chief consultant to the deputy undersecretary for health, said at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Thursday. “Any employee who is symptomatic, who is concerned they have been exposed or requests a test is able to receive that.”

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie added VA was no longer experiencing any shortage of testing. “We do have an adequate testing at this point,” he said.

Employees, however, said their experience runs counter to those claims.

“That is absolutely not a true statement at my facility,” said one Ohio-based VA nurse. “If you’re symptomatic, that’s the only way [to get a test].”
read it here

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Women veterans are facing increasing isolation during the pandemic

Women veterans tell Congress VA communication has dropped during pandemic


Connecting Vets
Abbie Bennett
May 20, 2020
Advocates told lawmakers women veterans are facing increasing isolation during the pandemic and are struggling to access VA resources.
Women veterans told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the Department of Veterans Affairs has not communicated well during the coronavirus pandemic.

In an online forum Tuesday hosted by the House Women Veterans Task Force, women veterans who are now researchers, veteran service organization staff and more told Congress members about the challenges female former service members face, and that they worry VA's focus on the pandemic could push those issues aside.

They recognized VA's effort to expand online services, such as telehealth appointments and mental health check-ins, but said they were concerned about ongoing issues that could fall by the wayside in the wake of the crisis.

Those issues include gender or sexual harassment at VA hospitals and clinics, inconsistent services, lack of staff trained to help women vets, lack of childcare and a lack of data keeping track of issues women vets face.
read it here

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

2020 class of Dole Caregiver Fellows, advocates for caregivers of wounded veterans.

Father Caring For Wounded Veteran Daughter Earns National Honor


Patch.com
By D'Ann Lawrence White, Patch Staff
May 17, 2020
Joseph Narvaez has been named to the 2020 class of Dole Caregiver Fellows, advocates for caregivers of wounded veterans.
Joseph Narvaez became the primary caregiver for his wounded veteran daughter, Laura.
(Dole Caregivers Fellow)
CLEARWATER, FL — After his daughter suffered injuries while serving in the Air Force, including a traumatic brain injury from an improvised explosive device, Clearwater resident Joseph Narvaez stepped up to become her primary caregiver.

Now Narvaez is being honored for his commitment by being asked to join the 2020 class of Dole Caregiver Fellows.

The Fellows are 30 military and veteran caregivers who have been carefully selected from across the country to represent Americans caring for a wounded, ill or injured service members or veterans at home.

The role of these Fellows has never been more important as caregivers are under unprecedented stress due to the threat of the coronavirus, said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation based in Washington, D.C.

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Narvaez will serve as a leader, community organizer and advocate for the nation's 5.5 million military caregivers – the spouses, parents, family members and friends who provide more than $14 billion in voluntary care annually to someone who served.
read it here

Thursday, May 14, 2020

“I've gone through a lot of darkness..."

Female veterans struggling with PTSD


CBS 46 News
Bobeth Yates
May 13, 2020

“It just put me in a whole different mindset, that had me mentally imbalanced and irrationally doing things in an OCD type style. Once diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder I have never been able to hold a job for any length of time because the trauma comes with triggers.” Isna T. Summerlin.

CONYERS Ga. (CBS46) -- May is mental health awareness month and its estimated that up to 20% of veterans suffer with PTSD.

Those numbers can be broken down by conflict with each war averaging anywhere from 11-20% of vets with PTSD. But, what about those who didn't go to war and still suffered trauma.

For most a garden is just that, garden but for one veteran suffering with PTSD her garden has been her saving grace.

“This is so therapeutic,” said Air Force veteran Isna T. Summerlin. “I've gone through a lot of darkness and I see me emerging just like these radishes” added Summerlin who says her battle with PTSD goes back decades.

“I’ve been fighting literally since 2001 to get compensation for the post traumatic stress disorder”, Summerlin added.
read it here

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

California Veterans Home with 800 has no COVID-19 cases because of early actions taken

Veterans Home of California with almost 800 aging residents, has had no COVID-19 cases


KTVU FOX 2
By Debora Villalon
May 7, 2020

YOUNTVILLE, Calif. - Across the country, nursing homes and Veterans Affairs facilities are being overwhelmed by COVID-19.
California’s oldest and largest veteran’s home is COVID-19 free
A veteran's home in Yountville has nearly 800 aging residents, but zero cases of COVID-19. KTVU's Debora Villalon reports stringent steps are being taken at the nursing home and it seems to be paying off.


In the Bay Area, one institution stands out.
The Veterans Home of California in Yountville, with almost 800 aging residents, has had no cases.
"Fingers crossed we keep it that way," said Director Lisa Peake, while acknowledging an aggressive response.
"We got on it early, it's nothing to mess around with," said Peak. "Our campus and CalVet were probably a week to two weeks ahead of everyone else."

Access to the sprawling Napa Valley campus tightened in early March.

Staff wearing PPE screened arrivals then, and the precautions have only become more stringent since.
read it here

Monday, May 11, 2020

Brace for Surge in Demand for Veterans Mental Health Care

Veterans Groups, VA Brace for Surge in Demand for Mental Health Care


The Associated Press
By SARAH BLAKE MORGAN, CLAUDIA LAUER and HOPE YEN
May 11, 2020

“After years of self-imposed isolation ... I was really in need of person-to-person contact,” said Goldsmith, now the assistant director of policy at Vietnam Veterans of America. “Flash forward almost 13 years now since I got out, and telehealth is right for me."
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — When Kristofer Goldsmith was discharged from the Army in 2007 he was in crisis.
Margo Jarvis takes part in video teleconference at Cohen Veteran's Network's on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in Fayetteville, N.C. (AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan)

He had been trained as a forward observer — the person who spots a target and gives coordinates to artillery — but when he got to Iraq, the then 19-year-old instead found himself photographing dead bodies for intelligence gathering. A suicide attempt before his second deployment triggered a less than honorable discharge and a long fight to gain honorable status after being diagnosed with PTSD.
VA officials said telehealth medical appointments jumped from 20,000 in February to nearly 154,000 in April. Many of the department’s partners have moved most or all of their mental health appointments to telehealth, including the Cohen Veterans Network which transitioned 98% of patients at its 15 clinics.
read it here

Vietnam-Era Veterans Were Exposed to Agent Orange on Guam

Report Claims Vietnam-Era Veterans Were Exposed to Agent Orange on Guam


Military.com
By Patricia Kime
May 11, 2020

"We conclude that existing evidence establishes that it is, at the very least, 'as likely as not' that veterans who served in Guam from 1962 to 1975 were exposed to Agent Orange and other dioxin-containing herbicides," wrote NVLSP Executive Director Bart Stichman and several law students and attorneys.

A U.S. Huey helicopter sprays Agent Orange over Vietnam. The U.S. military used at least 11 million gallons of Agent Orange in Vietnam from 1961 to 1972. Wikimedia Commons
New research could help Vietnam-era veterans who served in Guam and who have diseases linked to Agent Orange file for disability with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Two veterans advocacy groups published a policy paper Monday saying that veterans who served on Guam between 1962 and 1975 likely were exposed to herbicides disposed of on the Pacific island or used for vegetation control.

The groups -- the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the Jerome Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School -- say their link meets the VA's legal criteria for awarding affected veterans Agent Orange-related benefits.
read it here

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Veteran dying of COVID-19, unable to speak, sang God Bless America before he died!

Veteran's last words hold special meaning to family


WCVB News
May 9, 2020

Tom McDermott was pretty amazing — he survived polio, nearly became a priest and even worked on nuclear submarines while he was in the military.

McDermott's family said goodbye to the 84-year-old who battled Alzheimer's and coronavirus in his final days, but it was his last words that left them all in awe.

"He was on comfort measures and there was no expectation he was communicating," said Vin McDermott, Tom's son.

Doctors said Tom McDermott's lungs were overwhelmed by the virus and he never spoke again. Instead, he sang.

While Tom McDermott's family was at mass, a call came from the hospital: his last words were a song: "God Bless America."

"I don't know where the memory to sing or the energy to sing came from," Vin McDermott said.
read it here

Friday, May 8, 2020

Navy Vet got tired of waiting for prescription at Pensacola VA...went back with AR-15

FBI: Veteran tried to enter Pensacola VA Clinic armed with AR-15-style rifle, handgun


Pensacola News Journal
Colin Warren-Hicks
May 7, 2020
He returned to the clinic two hours later, carrying an AR-15-style rifle that was loaded with 20 rounds of ammunition, with one round in the chamber. The safety was turned off and "ready to fire," the affidavit stated.
After allegedly making threatening comments to a witness in the parking lot, a U.S. Navy veteran approached the Pensacola VA armed with AR-15 style rifle. (Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/gregg@pnj.com)
A U.S. Navy veteran is facing federal charges after he entered the Pensacola Veterans Affairs Clinic on Wednesday armed with an AR-15-style rifle, 34 rounds of ammunition and a handgun because he was upset COVID-19 policy changes were causing his prescriptions to be filled too slowly.

Howell E. Camp, 58, was stopped by police before he entered the building and was taken into custody.
read it here

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

More than 200,000 veterans and service members signed up for Burn Pit Registry

More than 200,000 veterans, troops sign up for VA burn pit, airborne hazard registry


Connecting Vets
Abbie Bennett
May 5, 2020

The Pentagon encouraged registry participation in a letter to more than 700,000 active-duty, National Guard and Reserve members, VA said.
More than 200,000 veterans and service members have signed on to the Department of Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, VA announced Tuesday.

The registry was established in June 2014 and allows current and former service members to self-report toxic exposures and health concerns using an online questionnaire. That registry and their responses can be used to discuss health issues with doctors and other providers.

“Concerns about the long-term effects of exposure to burn pits remain a priority,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. “By joining the registry, veterans, service members and the department will further understand the impact of deployment-related exposures on health.”

VA credited the Defense Department with an extra push to put participation beyond the 200,000 mark, which it called a "major milestone."
read it here