Newsletter for Veterans and active military

 Expansion of qualifying time for Post-9/11 GI bill to certain Reserve and Guard members –

The law expands the definition of “active duty” to include Reservists and Guard members ordered to active duty to receive authorized medical care, or to be medically evaluated for disability, or complete a Department of Defense health care study. The expansion applies to service on or after September 11, 2001. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.

 Purple Heart recipient Post-9/11 GI bill eligibility –

Service members and honorably discharged Veterans who were awarded a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, will be entitled to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for up to 36 months. This facet of the law closes a sort of “loophole” where Service members who may not have otherwise had enough time in for full Post-9/11 eligibility are now fully entitled. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.

 Yellow Ribbon extension to Fry Scholarship and Purple Heart recipients –

Recipients of the Fry Scholarship and Purple Heart will be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program. This program provides assistance with tuition and fee charges not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, such as charges over the annual cap for a private school or out-of-state charges. Institutions enter into an agreement with VA to pay uncovered charges (schools decide the amount), and VA matches the amount the school waives. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.

 VA announces roll out and application process for new veterans ID card:

This has been mandated through legislation since 2015 to honor Veterans, and today’s roll out of the ID card fulfills that overdue promise.

Only those Veterans with honorable service will be able to apply for the ID card, which will provide proof of military service, and may be accepted by retailers in lieu of the standard DD-214 form to obtain promotional discounts and other services where offered to Veterans. “The new Veterans Identification Card provides a safer and more convenient and efficient way for most Veterans to show proof of service,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “With the card, Veterans with honorable service to our nation will no longer need to carry around their paper DD-214s to obtain Veteran discounts and other services.” The VIC provides a more portable and secure alternative for those who served the minimum obligated time in service, but did not meet the retirement or medical discharge threshold. Veterans who served in the armed forces, including the reserve components, and who have a discharge of honorable or general (under honorable conditions) can request a VIC.

To request a VIC, Veterans must visit, click on “Apply for Printed Veteran ID Card” on the bottom left of the page and sign in or create an account.

 Vietnam vets test positive for deadly parasite in VA study:

As reported November 24 by Martin Evans for News Day, at least five of fifty Vietnam War veterans who participated in a VA study have tested positive for a waterborne parasite that’s rare beyond Asia, hides unseen in the body for decades, and can cause a deadly form of liver cancer, according to interviews and documentation provided by participants in the study. The survey was conducted last spring at the VA Medical Center at Northport.

At least five of 50 Vietnam War combat veterans who participated in a Veterans Affairs study have tested positive for a waterborne parasite that’s rare beyond Asia, hides unseen in the body for decades and can cause a deadly form of liver cancer, according to interviews and documentation provided by participants in the study.

 White House VA hotline now fully staffed 24/7 to serve nation’s veterans – 855-948-2311 :

On November 29, the VA announced that the White House VA Hotline, first launched in June as part of the President’s commitment to reforming VA, is now fully staffed with live agents working to serve veterans 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. The hotline, which became 24-hour operational in mid-October, is now staffed by a team consisting of 90 percent veterans or employees who have a veteran family member, this, in response to veterans’ requests to talk to agents who could relate to their experiences. The hotline can be accessed at 855-948-2311 and is VA’s first non-clinical, non-emergency, around-the-clock call center. It provides veterans a supplemental option to report issues if they are not being addressed through VA’s normal customer-service channels.

 Survey results on TRICARE program changes:

The survey was conducted between Oct. 26 and Nov. 8, with more than 11,800 responses tallied. Only 48 percent of respondents were aware of any TRICARE program changes, which take effect in the new year. Thirty percent of respondents identified themselves as TRICARE Prime users, but only 12 percent reported being aware that Prime co-payments for military retirees were increasing. TRICARE reports 4.6 million beneficiaries in its Prime category, and 1.94 million using either TRICARE Standard or Extra.

Also beginning Jan. 1, TRICARE Select will replace TRICARE Standard and Extra. A third of respondents stated they preferred the current cost-sharing payment method over the new flat-rate system, while 12 percent preferred the new flat-rate system, citing predictability and a perceived lowering of costs as factors. When asked to rank order considerations when evaluating costs associated with health care, 52 percent listed overall costs as the primary consideration, while only 6 percent listed predictability as their primary consideration.

When asked about pharmacy usage for maintenance medications, 47 percent reported using Mail Order as their primary method. Respondents listed cost (37 percent) and convenience (33 percent) as the top two reasons for this choice. Only 32 percent reported being informed of the recent change in policy, which now requires Mail Order users to annually opt-in to automatically refill each medication.

 Veterans call to remove provisions of tax reform bills that may hurt veteran employment and education:.

Veteran organizations raised concerns today that two proposals within the current tax reform bills on Capitol Hill will hurt veterans. One proposal would remove the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which incentivizes employers to hire veterans. The other proposal removes the student loan interest tax deduction, which allows individuals to deduct interest on student loans that they took out while pursuing their studies. These proposals, if passed, would undoubtedly hurt veterans at a moment when our nation must be investing in veterans and ensuring that any proposed changes to our tax code help, not hurt, veterans. While the tax bill may be a partisan issue, veterans employment and education should not

 VA to provide Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy (HBOT) to some veterans with chronic PTSD:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will offer HBOTas a treatment option for a small number of Veterans with persistent PTSD symptoms resistant to standard options.

Providers from the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System and the VA Northern California Health Care System will partner with HBOT providers at the Tulsa Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center at Oklahoma State Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the David Grant Medical Center on Travis Air Force Base, California, respectively, to provide this care.

This use of HBOT for treatment of PTSD is considered an “off-label” use and will occur under the supervision of a trained physician. Separately, VA and the Department of Defense are planning a multi site research study to examine more fully the use of HBOT for patients diagnosed with PTSD.

 The season is here:

The Christmas season is here and Christmas items have been on display since before Halloween, just a little early for my tastes, but then, that is me. My preference would be for a shorter celebration as it seems that by the time the actual day arrives many people are worn out and the true meaning of ?Christmas is lost.

Please remember those who serve our country and are separated from their families as this time of year can be very difficult for them. Let them know that we care. Thank you.

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