2010 December Newsletter

 

Defense Department Wrongfully Discharges Nearly 26,000 Veterans, Refuses to Release Records

12/20/2010

Washington, D.C.--The Defense Department's (DoD) failure to comply with the law in releasing records that show it has blocked disabled veterans from receiving disability compensation and other benefits, earned as a result of service to our nation has prompted Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and VVA Chapter 120 in Hartford, Connecticut, to file a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

The complaint, filed today at the U.S. District Court in New Haven by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, charges that, since the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism, DoD has systematically discharged nearly 26,000 veterans, wrongfully classified as suffering from Personality Disorder, a characterization that renders the service member ineligible for receiving rightful benefits. Personality Disorder is a disability that begins in adolescence or early adulthood and can present with symptoms which may mimic Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"DoD's Personality Disorder designation prevents thousands of wounded veterans from accessing service-connected disability compensation or health care," said VVA National President John Rowan.

In 2007, the Veterans Affairs Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives charged DoD with deliberately misusing personality disorder diagnoses in order to reduce to the cost of health care and disability compensation by at least $12.5 billion. Since then, DoD has dramatically decreased the number of soldiers it has discharged on the basis of Personality Disorder. After discharging an average of 3,750 service members per year for Personality Disorder between 2001 and 2007, DoD has discharged only 960 service members in 2008; 1,426 in 2009; and 650 to date in 2010. However, rather than repairing the harm it has caused to the veterans it misdiagnosed, DoD is refusing to admit that veterans were inappropriately discharged with Personality Disorder before 2008.

"While DoD protects its reputation and its pocketbook, veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury continue to be denied the benefits and medical care they are due," said Dr. Thomas Berger, Executive Director of VVA's Veterans Health Council. Since 2007, VVA has publically criticized DoD's systematic misuse of Personality Disorder discharges, in correspondence to DoD Secretary Gates and in testimony before the House Veterans Affairs Committee, with the intent of curbing the wrongful discharge practice and assisting those wrongfully discharged veterans in receiving the benefits to which they are entitled.

"If DoD truly believes that all Personality Disorder discharges were lawful, why does it refuse to provide records responsive to VVA's Freedom of Information Act request?" asked Melissa Ader, a law stu! dent intern in the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, which is counsel in the case. "We hope that this lawsuit will allow the public to assess for itself whether DoD has treated veterans unjustly."

For more information visit: http://www.vva.org/ppd.html

 

VA Urges Veterans to Sign Up for Direct Deposits

Treasury Publishes Final Regulation to Phase Out Paper Checks by 2013

WASHINGTON - The Department of the Treasury announced a new rule that will extend the safety and convenience of electronic payments to millions of Americans and phase out paper checks for federal benefits by March 1, 2013.  Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) urge Veterans to sign up for electronic payment of their benefits.

“Receiving VA benefits electronically will increase the security, convenience and reliability of these vital payments,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “VA encourages Veterans who are now receiving their benefits in paper checks to set up direct deposits before the deadline.”

On March 1, 2013, VA will stop issuing paper checks.  People who do not have electronic payments for their federal benefits by that time will receive their funds via a pre-paid debit card.  Called the Direct Express card, it is issued by Comerica Bank as the financial agent of the U.S. Treasury.  

Another deadline affects people receiving VA’s compensation or pensions for the first time after May 1, 2011.  Those people will automatically receive the benefits electronically.  

Anyone already receiving federal benefit payments electronically will be unaffected by the changes.   To learn more about the federal government’s switch to direct deposit – or to change VA benefits to direct deposit -- visit  www.GoDirect.org.   Information about the federal government’s “Go Direct” campaign is also available at 1-800-333-1795.

Along with payments for VA benefit, the change will also affect recipients of payments from Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement Board,or Office of Personnel Management.

For more information about VA benefits and programs, go to www.va.gov or call toll free 1-800-827-1000.

 

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

More veterans are complaining about complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), which they believe derived from injuries suffered in the service. The illness can cause lifelong medical nightmares for some adults and even children, usually after a mild trauma inflames the nerves, causing pain that never shuts off - even after the original injury heals. The condition attacks the central nervous system and leaves those affected in constant anguish, much like amputees who feel pain in their "phantom limb." Because the malady isn't formally recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, those affected say they find it difficult to get benefits from the government. Although there is no way to know how many vets suffer from the pain syndrome, according to the Board of Veterans' Appeals the number of appeals for disability compensation that cite the illness rose to nearly 600 in 2009, up from 330 in 2005. The board lists about 500 cases related to the syndrome for 2010. An Air Force Reserve colonel suffering from the syndrome is trying to raise public awareness has led the charge in seeking compensation for hundreds of other military personnel returning from service. Many complain they have found little support from a federal agency already besieged with head injuries and post traumatic stress syndrome.

The VA compensates veterans for injuries related to complex regional pain syndrome, said Thomas Pamperin, the agency's deputy undersecretary for disability assistance, based in Washington. But he doesn't believe it is necessary to assign a code to every disability, saying "our ratings schedule is flexible enough to evaluate any recognized condition." Most patients refer to the condition by its former name — reflex sympathetic dystrophy. It usually begins with a searing or stabbing pain that is disproportionate to the original injury and persists longer than the expected healing time. The first signs may include a hypersensitivity to touch, swelling and skin discoloration, altered temperature and abnormal sweating. The pain ebbs and flows daily, causing anxiety when patients believe they have improved only to have it return, sometimes much later, said Dr. Timothy Lubenow, professor of anesthesiology at Rush University Medical Center. No one is sure how many people suffer from the illness, which can be cured if caught early. The Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association (RSDSA) based in Milford, Conn., estimates there are 50,000 new American patients annually, based on Norwegian studies.

Few doctors understand it, and many don't know how to best treat it, Lubenow said. "It was initially ascribed to people in the Civil War who had gunshot injuries," Lubenow said. "It is not as infrequent as one would think. … It isn't always as readily recognized as it should be because early on it may present with relatively mild symptoms." Some people with the syndrome suffer pain and can hold jobs. Air Force reservist Col. Doug Strand, 51, of Hampton, Va. says if left untreated for too long, the nerve damage can spread to other parts of the body. He said he developed the syndrome after injuring his left leg in 2008, and now copes with problems affecting his lungs. After living daily with pain, many patients experience depression and undergo personality changes, experts said. What exacerbates the problem is that people who aren't familiar with the syndrome don't understand its debilitating effects. Jim Broatch, executive director of the RSDSA, started a Web page http://www.rsds.org/index2.html devoted specifically to veterans after hearing complaints from returning soldiers. "I always laugh when they say, 'It's in your head,'" Broatch said. "I say, 'Damn right.'" [Source: Chicago Tribune Lisa Black article 26 Dec 2010 ++]

 

2010 November Newsletter


Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010 Signed Into Law
New law will enhance, expand and modernize benefits for veterans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2010

Washington, D.C. – House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) announced that President Obama signed H.R. 3219 into law.  The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 improves and modernizes certain benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans and their families.

Chairman Filner said, "This new law is the result of numerous productive hearings and markups, meaningful oversight and bi-partisan compromise – all to ensure that those who were willing to lay down their lives for our country and their families and survivors, receive meaningful, world-class, 21st Century benefits.  These improvements will make a big difference in the lives of many of America’s brave veterans."

Specifically, the new law addresses the needs of veterans by enhancing employment opportunities, preventing and caring for homeless veterans, ensuring the welfare of veterans and their families by increasing insurance limits, protecting service members called to combat, honoring fallen service members and their families, strengthening education benefits, addressing housing needs of disabled veterans, and investing in research for Gulf War veterans. 

Chairman Filner concluded: "This Congress has been extraordinarily productive for America’s veterans.  Speaker Pelosi’s strong leadership has been critical as this Congress passed caregiver legislation, approved advance appropriations for veterans’ health care, raised the VA budget to adequately care for veterans during wartime, and passed a G.I. Bill for the 21st Century.  I am privileged to work with the Members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee who set an aggressive agenda and stood together to ensure that the cost of the war includes the cost of the warrior.  They have truly shown love and compassion to America’s veterans evidenced by their hard work to keep the promises made to our Nation’s heroes of the past, present, and future."    

American Legion National Commander Jimmie Foster offered the following assessment of progress made for veterans:"The 111th Congress may be remembered for banner legislation such as health-care reform, financial regulation and the recovery act.  But in our view, the real successes were the passage of bills that affected nearly every veteran in America."  Reflecting upon his visit to Washington last month, Foster said, "I came to town to deliver my testimony on the needs of our nation’s veterans. Before I left, Congress had passed half of our legislative agenda."

Summary of H.R. 3219 here: Bill Summary
Details of the bill available here:
Press Release


VA Disability Evaluation System:

The Department of Veterans Affairs' Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation met this week in Washington and heard from the VA's Executive Director of the VA-DoD Collaboration Service, Mr. John Medve, who announced that the Disability Evaluation System (DES) pilot program will be expanded worldwide to replace the existing DoD legacy program over the next twelve months. The pilot program came about as a result of the Walter Reed scandal in 2007 that uncovered wounded and disabled service members were receiving "low-balled" ratings as a result of the DES process. Several commissions that investigated Walter Reed and the DES process recommended eliminating dual VA and DoD disability evaluations, but using one medical exam and having DoD use the VA disability ratings in evaluations by the Services' Physical Evaluation Boards. The pilot, which has proven to improve the speed, effectiveness, and transparency of the DES review process, will expand from the current 27 sites to an additional 28 sites during this year's first phase. The system will be expanded to cover all remaining sites in additional three phases, with a target completion of October 2011.

LTG James Terry Scott (USA-Ret.), Chairman of the VA Advisory Committee, also announced that the committee plans to delve deeper into VA philosophy in assessing individual unemployability and the methodology behind presumptions. Scott made the announcement at the two-day meeting where the committee received progress reports on the VA Schedule of Rating Disability re-write project and VA's roll-out of on-line Disability Benefits Questionnaires. The DoD efforts are being led by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness John R. Campbell, a Vietnam-era veteran and Purple Heart recipient recently appointed to this position after leading organizational change at several fortune 500 companies. [Source: MOAA Legislative Update 29 Oct 2010 ++]

VA Mileage Reimbursement

The Veterans Administration has dropped a proposed change in reimbursement policy that would have been trouble for some veterans. The change was announced last week by members of Oregon’s congressional delegation. They said they were pleased that Director John Patrick of the Portland VA Medical Center had agreed to drop the proposal. Currently, veterans who must travel to a VA facility to receive health care services are eligible for reimbursement at 41.5 cents a mile. They can get reimbursements directly from the VA at the time they visit. Under the proposed policy, veterans would have had to submit vouchers and wait weeks for travel reimbursements. The reimbursement change had been scheduled to take effect on 1 JUL 2010. PVAMC Acting Director David Stockwell announced a delay in July after Congressman Peter DeFazio and the Oregon delegation wrote to him expressing their concerns that ―the new process will empty the pockets of veterans already struggling to make ends meet.‖ On 28 OCT, Patrick announced the proposal has been dropped.
[Source: Democrat Herald article 26 Oct 2010 ++]

Vet Cemetery Colorado Update 02:

Veterans Affairs Undersecretary Steve Muro said in Pueblo last week that the 2011 VA budget has money to design a new national cemetery near Fountain, and that the VA expects building it in 2012. After three years of stonewalling by the VA, Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki endorsed the idea early this year. The Southern Colorado cemetery is among five the department currently plans to build. And the site for it, barring any unforeseen problems, is on the Kane Ranch in southern El Paso County. The bipartisan effort on behalf of area military veterans has been driven by Reps. John Salazar (D-CO-03), and Doug Lamborn (R-CO-05). Rep. Lamborn’s predecessor, Republican Joel Hefley, tried in vain for several years to get a third vets’ cemetery for Colorado. The biggest stumbling block was the Senate Veterans Committee, chaired by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

There was a sentiment among that panel that Colorado should wait in line because of requests for new cemeteries from other states. Additionally, opponents in Congress and inside the VA argued that Colorado already has two national cemeteries, one at Fort Lyon in the Arkansas Valley and the other at Fort Logan in the Denver metro area. However, it’s fitting to build a new veterans cemetery between Pueblo and Colorado Springs. Pueblo and the rest of Southern Colorado have a distinguished history of sending their sons and daughters to serve in their nation’s defense, and El Paso County is home to thousands of active military members and many military retirees. The 400-plus acres for the cemetery is part of the Kane Ranch, which was willed to El Paso County for the express purpose of donating it to the VA for a national cemetery. The veterans of this region deserve to have a proper final resting place — hallowed ground for honorable ex-service members. [Source: Pueblo Chieftan article 27 Oct 2010 ++

Vet Jobs Update 23:

Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis says the department is changing some of the eligibility rules for recruits, raising the minimum age from 21 to 25 for those who are not military veterans, while offering new hiring incentives for veterans. However, the department would not scrap a requirement that nonmilitary applicants complete at least two years of college. Veterans with a minimum of three consecutive years of active duty can apply even if they are as young as 21 and have no college. Previously, veterans needed four years of active duty to waive the department's education requirement of 60 semester hours of college credit. Because of staffing shortages, the department will hold a written test for recruits on 11 DEC -- its first in four years. [Source: Chicago Tribune AP article 28 Oct 2010 ++]

NPRC Military Records Update 03:

The National Archives and Records Administration's National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) will relocate more than 100 million records to a new $112 million modernized facility. Crews broke ground on the 474,000 square-foot facility on 16 NOV 09. According to the St. Louis County Economic Council, the project is expected to pump $435 million into the local economy and involve more than 300 construction jobs. NARA will lease the facility for twenty years from The Molasky Group of Companies through the General Services Administration (GSA). Located in North St. Louis County, the facility will open its doors in MAY 2011, which is also when the workforce of 800 will start moving in. The entire move of personnel and records will take about seventeen months. The new location will store approximately 2.3 million cubic feet of records currently housed at three different St. Louis area facilities. The building will be certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) program and will also be compliant with the stringent Federal standards for archival and non-archival records. Records will be housed in climate-controlled stack areas designed for long-term preservation. As well, archival storage bays will have particulate and ultraviolet filtration. Paint, sealants, caulking and the powder-coated finishes for the shelving will be certified for minimal off-gassing of volatile organic compounds. The facility will also offer new research rooms, meeting rooms equipped with the latest video-conferencing technology and tenant office space for other area Federal agencies.

Several move teams are working to ensure that each and every record is accounted for when moved and that NPRC's important services to veterans continue with little delay. Many of the records are currently stored on 10-high shelving units in an old 1950s facility at 9700 Page Avenue in Overland, Missouri. This location was ravaged by a 1973 fire that was one of the worst in U.S. history. The fire destroyed the building's sixth floor and an estimated 16 - 18 million individual military personnel records. The records lost include those of Army personnel discharged between November 1, 1912 and December 31, 1959, and Air Force personnel discharged between September 25, 1947 and December 31, 1963 with names alphabetically following Hubbard, James. Some records were salvaged from the disaster; these fire-damaged records have been stored in a climate-controlled area where specially trained preservation technicians treat the records for mold and delicately piece together whatever they can save. Despite the very fragile state of the burned records, preservationists have been able to retrieve valuable information in an effort to reconstruct portions of a service member's personnel file. At the current Page facility the Preservation Branch also treats several thousand records that have been exposed to the harmful rays of the sun and to other contaminants that shorten a record's life span. In the new building, all of the records will be housed in climate-controlled record storage bays.

NPRC is comprised of three organizational divisions: Civilian Records, Military Records and Archival Programs. Visiting researchers are encouraged to schedule an appointment prior to making a research visit. With headquarters in Washington, DC, the National Archives at St. Louis' NPRC is one of 44 NARA facilities located throughout the United States. Unlike other collections, however, the records held in St. Louis impact nearly every family in the United States. These holdings represent a priceless piece of history and are a critical source of information for genealogists, family members, scholars, veterans and researchers in many fields of knowledge. [Source: St. Louis Economic Council News Release 26 Oct 2010 ++]

Patriot Guard Riders:

As the U.S. Supreme Court contemplates whether protestors at military funerals are protected under First Amendment free-speech rights, a motorcycle group that travels the country attending those funerals as a show of support and respect rides on, undeterred by the political fray. About 200,000 members of the Patriot Guard Riders attend military funerals to honor those who died for or served their country and to support their grieving families. They also escort the bodies of fallen servicemembers as they arrive from Dover Air Force Base, Del., for burial in their hometowns across America. The riders take part in these events only at the family's request and regardless of whether protestors are expected says Bill Richart, national president of the group's board of 11

directors. "What we do is never about the protestors," he said. "We are not a counterprotest group. We don't go anywhere because of them, and we don't not go anywhere because they are not there. ... It's about being there for the families, recognizing their loss and ensuring they know that people care."

Richart emphasized that the riders have no political agenda and take no official position on the pending Supreme Court decision. In that case, Albert Snyder, father of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq in 2006, sued the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., for emotional distress after church members demonstrated and carried offensive signs at his son's funeral in Westminster, Md. A lower court ruled in Snyder's favor. However, the church appealed the decision, arguing to the Supreme Court earlier this month that the protests are protected speech under the First Amendment. As the issue plays out in the courts, the Patriot Guard Riders continue their missions around the country. Richart, an Air Force veteran who deployed to Dharan, Saudi Arabia, during Operation Desert Storm, said he and his fellow riders feel a special connection to the grieving families they support. "If you go out there and you give a couple hours of your time and show families that people care and share their loss, it's very touching to them and to us," he said. For additional information on this organization refer to http://www.patriotguard.org. [Source: AFPS Donna Miles article 28 Oct 2010 ++]

VA Claims Backlog Update 45:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has released three new disability benefits questionnaires for physicians of Veterans applying for VA disability compensation benefits. This initiative marks the beginning of a major reform of the physicians' guides and automated routines that will streamline the claims process for injured or ill Veterans. "This is a major step in the transformation of VA's business processes that is yielding improvements for Veterans as we move to eliminate the disability claims backlog by 2015," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. These new questionnaires are the first of 79 disability benefits questionnaires that will guide Veterans' personal physicians, as well as VA physicians, in the evaluation of the most frequent medical conditions affecting Veterans. Accurate and timely medical evaluations are a critical element of VA's continued commitment to high-quality and prompt decisions about the nature and degree of conditions afflicting Veterans. Streamlining this process by directly involving Veterans' treating physicians in providing specific information needed to evaluate their claims will lead to completeness in the examination and faster compensation decisions.

VA's goal is to process all claims in fewer than 125 days with a decision quality rate no lower than 98%, a mark Secretary Shinseki has mandated by 2015. The physician questionnaire project is one of more than three dozen initiatives actively underway at VA, including a major technology modernization that will lead to paperless claims processing. The disability benefits questionnaires are part of VA's automated health records system which prompts VA physicians conducting disability examinations to include precise information in a standardized way to assist claims adjudicators in ensuring Veterans receive the benefits they deserve as quickly as possible. These VA examination results are electronically available to claims adjudicators in VA regional offices. For Veterans who receive their care from private physicians, VA has placed the disability benefits questionnaires on its Internet site at www.vba.va.gov/disabilityexams with instructions for physicians to submit examination results on Veterans' behalf.

The first three questionnaires cover B-cell leukemia (such as hairy-cell leukemia), Parkinson's disease and ischemic heart disease. VA recently published a final regulation to be implemented 30 OCT that will establish the presumption of eligibility to VA disability compensation benefits for Veterans with one of these three conditions who were exposed to Agent Orange, a herbicide agent used extensively in Vietnam. In practical terms, Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war who have a "presumed" illness do not have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service. This "presumption" establishes eligibility to VA compensation if their condition is disabling to a compensable level. For additional information on the VA disability compensation program or additional presumptive disabilities for Veterans exposed to herbicide agents, contact VA at 800-827-1000 or visit www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/AO/claimherbicide.htm. [Source: VA News Release 26 Oct 2010 ++]

 

Military Discounts Update 06:

Businesses/facilities participating in programs to honor veterans this Veterans Day are listed below.

This list is not all inclusive:

NATIONAL

 Applebee's Restaurant - Complementary dinners to veterans from 11:00 AM till midnight on 11 NOV 2010.

 Golden Corral - Buffet dinner from 5-9 p.m. on Monday 15 NOV 2010 will be provided to anyone who has ever served in the U.S. military and can provide proper identification to substantiate it.

 McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant - A meal at no charge will be provided to all veterans on Sunday, 7 NOV 2010.

 UNO Chicago Grill - All members of the military, both veterans and active duty, are invited to enjoy a entree or individual pizza at no cost with the purchase of an entree or pizza of equal or greater value on 11 NOV 2010.

 Krispy Kreme - One complementary doughnut of any variety will be provided to all veterans on 11 NOV 2010.

 Outback Steakhouse - Complementary Blooming Onion and beverage (one non-alcoholic drink or one draft Anheuser Busch beer except where prohibited by law) with proper identification on 11 NOV 2010.

 Hy-Vee Supermarkets - Breakfast at no charge for all veterans on 11 NOV during regular breakfast hours on 11 NOV 2009. Choose from scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash brown casserole, biscuits and gravy and a small beverage. Veterans will also receive a carnation at the breakfast.

 Sam's Club - Over 36,000 Hugo canes will be given away to U.S. veterans in need of mobility assistance 10-12 NOV 2010. Membership is not required, but supplies are limited, so check with your local store.

 Lowe's & Home Depot - A 10% discount on purchases by active-duty military members, National Guard and reserve members, retirees, honorably discharged veterans and immediate family members with valid military ID or proof of service discharge year round.

 National parks, forests and monuments - Admission at no charge to everyone on Veterans Day 11 NOV 2010. Refer to http://www.nps.gov for info on the almost 400 parks that will be open.

 Brides Across America - Provides wedding gowns to qualified military brides at no charge. Check out www.bridesacrossamerica.com for offering dates, store locations, and contact data. To qualify:

 You must be engaged, or had a civil ceremony and planning a wedding within the next 18 months.

 You or your fiancé were deployed within the past 5 years to Iraq, Afghanistan or Qatar and have not had a formal wedding.

 You or your Fiancé is on active duty and will be deploying to Afghanistan, Iraq or to Qatar.

 All military brides must bring drivers license or military ID.

 Qualifying proof must accompany the bride on day of event.

 Copy of deployment papers for you or your Fiancé that states the time of deployment and location

OTHER

Participating Arby's in OK, AR, MO, KS & Ill (greater STL area) - Arby's invites active duty & veterans will receive a regular roast beef sandwich at n o charge on 11 NOV 2010. Proof of US Military service is required. Limit one per ID.

 Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto Berkeley CA - Lunch or dinner entree at no charge 8 NOV 2010. Proper ID will be required.

 Chick-fil-A Southern Pines NC (near Ft Bragg) - Will give meals to all military veterans at no charge on 11 NOV 2010. Uniform or proof of service required.

 Carolina Burgers and BBQ Matthews NC - A complementary meal will be provided to all service members and veterans on 11 NOV 2010.

 Masala Wok restaurants in Northern VA - Will provide a complimentary entrée from the regular full menu to all US veterans and active duty military on 11 NOV 2010.

 All-Star Chem-Dry Carpet Cleaning Atlanta GA - Will give each customer who mentions this Veterans day release a dinner (pizza!) from Johnny's Pizza at no charge 11-14 NOV 2010.

 Cortiva Institute in Scottsdale AZ - Will provide a complementary one-hour massage in its Student Clinic from 16-21 NOV 2010.

 Center for Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery Grand Rapids MI - In honor of Veterans Day plastic and reconstructive surgery is being offered to any Michigan vet injured while on active duty at no charge. Call (616) 328-8800 or visit office at 2680 Leonard NE, Suite 4.

 Knott's Berry Farm Buena Park CA - Admission at no charge to U.S. armed forces personnel and a guest during Veteran's Month, November 1-26 2010.

 UCLA vs Washington Pasadena CA - Saturday's 7 NOV 2010 football game at the Rose Bowl is the thirteenth annual UCLA Veterans and Armed Forces Appreciation Day. Veterans & Armed Forces personnel are eligible to receive either one (1) general admission ticket at no charge or can purchase up to four Buy-One-Get-One Reserved Tickets.

 National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City - Admission at no charge to veterans and five guests from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on 11 NOV 2010.

 Central Florida Zoo Sanford FL - Admission at no charge on 11 NOV 2010 with proper ID.

 Mill Mountain Zoo Roanoke VA - Admission at no charge for veterans and spouses on 11 NOV 2010 with proper ID.

 Green Bay WI New Zoo - Admission at no charge plus coffee and cookies in the Visitor Center throughout the day while supplies last for veterans and their families on 11 NOV 2010.

 Oklahoma City Zoo - Admission at no charge for military active duty, veterans, and families on 11 NOV 2010.

 Strategic Air & Space Museum Ashland NB. Admission at no charge for Veterans on 11 & 14 NOV 2010.

 Colonial Williamsburg VA - A pass at no charge for active-duty military, guard and reservists, retirees, veterans and their dependents for 6-11 NOV 2010. Pass includes admission to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and Art Museums and also entitles holders to discounted rates at Colonial Williamsburg’s Resort Collection hotel properties.

 USS Midway Museum San Diego CA - All veterans admitted without charge on veterans day 11 NOV 2010

The following, not mentioned above, provided complimentary services to veterans in 2009. As of the editing of this article I had been unable to verify whether or not they will participate in 2010 with similar offers. Readers desiring to visit them on Veterans Day should contact them in advance to verify if they will be participating.

 Coushatta Casino Resort in Oberlin LA - The casino and resort is offering a seven-clans lunch or dinner buffet to veterans or active military at no charge on 11 NOV 2009.

 MarketPlace Grill &Express - Veterans and active-duty military receive entrees at no charge 11 NOV 2009.

 Abuelo's Mexican Food Restaurants - All veterans and active-duty military receive one entrée at no charge 11 NOV 2009.

 Subway – All veterans and active duty will receive a 6‖sub sandwich at no charge on 11 NOV 2009

 Birmingham Museum of Art - Admission at no charge to the ticketed event "Life and Liberty" on for veterans and active military 10-11 NOV 2009.

 Vulcan Park and Museum Birmingham AL - Discounted admission through NOV 2009 to the park and museum.

 San Jacinto Museum of History - Visits at no charge to the Observation Deck, theatre, and a special exhibit for veterans, active duty military personnel, and their families on 11 NOV 2009.

 Historic Jamestown - Admission at no charge to veterans, current Armed Forces members and their family members on 11 NOV 2009.

 Battleship Cove - Admission at no charge and a special ceremony for veterans, active, duty and reservists on 11 NOV 2009.

 Vulcan Park and Museum In Birmingham, Alabama is offering discounted admission through November to the park and museum.

 Aquarium of the Pacific Long Beach CA - Admission at no charge to Veterans, military personnel, police officers, and firefighters who show valid service ID receive free admission on Wednesday, November 11, 2009.

[Source: www.militaryavenue.com/Articles/Veterans+Day+29+-+Military+Discounts-31690.aspx Oct 2010 ++]

Military ID Card (Retiree) Update 02:

Under a new initiative customers can schedule an individual appointment and circumvent the waiting line. Walk-in customers at ID card facilities can experience wait times of two hours or more during periods of peak demand. Under this new initiative, civil servants and contractors are now filling customer service roles previously handled by active-duty personnel at Personnel Support Detachments (PSD) and Customer Service Detachment (CSD) Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and Real- Time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPIDS) sites throughout the United States, Hawaii and Guam. An emphasis on prompt service and customer satisfaction is the focus of this new initiative. The vast majority of patrons who arrive at a scheduled appointment with proper documentation are in and out in less than 20 minutes. Making an appointment is fast and easy via the online appointment scheduler located at: http://appointments.cac.navy.mil.

Having all the necessary documents is key to a successful visit to the ID card office. At a minimum, a valid state or federal government issued picture ID is required and additional documents are often necessary to fulfill certain requests. A listing of required documents can be found on the appointment scheduler website or by calling the local office for clarification. Local office phone numbers are listed on the scheduler website. Customer service hours are between 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. except the Navy Exchanges in Norfolk, Va., and Oak Harbor, Wash., which are open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Patuxent River, Md., Pass & ID with operations between 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekend hours vary by location. For further information such as locating the nearest ID card facility and additional details relating to benefits and eligibility, such as FAQs, go to: http://www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSupport/PayPersSupport/IDCards/. [Source: Shift Colors Fall 2010 ++]

Vet State Bonuses Update 01:

Quite a few states are giving some sort of rebate to veterans. In nearly all cases, the service member must have been a resident of the state when they entered the service, and be a resident of the state at the time of application. The total funds available are limited in some states so if you qualify do not delay in applying. Following is a list of some that are available:

Alabama:

Bonus payment to any service member who was a prisoner of war North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia. This is also available to survivors of POWs who died while a prisoner. For more information refer to www.va.state.al.us/laws.htm#BONUSFORSOUTHEAST .

Illinois:

Offers two separate bonus programs, one for World War II and one for Korean, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf Conflict.

 World War II $10 per month for domestic service and $15 per month for foreign service is payable to a veteran who was a resident of Illinois at time of entering service, served at least 60 days on active duty between September 16, 1940 and September 3, 1945, and received an honorable discharge. Survivors are entitled to a benefit of $1,000, if the veteran’s death was service-connected and within the period specified.

 Korea $100 for service between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1953, and receipt of the Korean Service Medal

 Vietnam $100 for service between January 1, 1961 and March 28, 1973, and receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Era

 Persian Gulf Conflict $100 for service between August 2, 1990 and November 30, 1995 and receipt of the Southwest Asia Service Medal.

 For more information refer to www.veterans.illinois.gov/benefits.htm.

New Hampshire:

Their Global War on Terrorism Bonus was scheduled to expire on June 11, 2009, but there are provisions for the acceptance of applications after that date.

 Global War on Terrorism Bonus of $100. Available to anyone who served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001 and on or before a date to be determined by the Secretary of Defense, and who earned the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal or Afghanistan Campaign, or Iraq Campaign Medal; and who was discharged, released or has a certificate of service there from, with an honorable discharge, or who is missing in action or who was killed in action.

 There is also the possibility to file for service during the Vietnam conflict or service during the Persian Gulf War.

 For more information refer to www.nh.gov/nhveterans/benefits/bonuses.htm

Ohio:

Payments to any veteran on active duty anywhere in the world for purposes other than training between August 2, 1990 and March 3, 1991 or any time since October 7, 2001. 21

 Up to $100 per month of eligible duty in Iraq (since March 19, 2003), Afghanistan (since October 7, 2001) or the Persian Gulf (August 2, 1990-March 3, 1991, up to a maximum of $1000

 Up to $50 per month of eligible active duty elsewhere during the same time period, up to a maximum of $500. Total maximum possible benefit of $1500

 For more information refer to https://veteransbonus.ohio.gov/odvs_web/Default.aspx

Pennsylvania:

Offers the Persian Gulf Veterans Bonus program.

 Service in the Persian Gulf from August 2, 1990 to March 3, 1991, and receipt of the Southwest Asia Service Medal

 Bonus payment of $75 for each month (or major fraction thereof) of service.

 For more information refer to http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/persian_gulf_veterans_bonus/14433

South Dakota:

Offers a $500 bonus for military members who were South Dakota residents for the six months preceding their military service and served during the following dates:

 August 2, 1990 to March 3, 1991 — All active service counts for payment.

 March 4, 1991 to December 31, 1992 — Only service in a hostile area qualifying for the Southwest Asia Service Medal counts for payment.

 January 1, 1993 to September 10, 2001 — Only service in a hostile area qualifying for any United States campaign or service medal awarded for combat operations against hostile forces counts for payment.

 September 11, 2001 to a date to be determined — All active service counts for payment.

 Service both before December 31,192 and after January 1, 1993 may qualify you for two $500 bonuses.

 For more information refer to http://mva.sd.gov/vets_bonus.html

West Virginia:

Offers a bonus to veterans who served in Afghanistan, Iraq or Kosovo.

 Payment of $600 for eligible service members who served in a combat zone and earned the applicable campaign badge or expeditionary medal.

 Payment of $400 for eligible service members who served during the applicable time periods but did not meet the qualifications for the $600 payment.

 Payment of $2000 to the survivor of a military member killed in action during the applicable times.

 For more information refer to www.wvs.state.wv.us/va/forms.htm

[Source: Miltary.com Veterans Report 13 Sep 2010 ++]


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