Vetshome Veteran's Newsletter

        Every Day Is Veterans Day At VetsHome.Com
June 2011
   
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1. Reserve Retirement Age:
 
The Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act reduced the archaic 60 year eligibility age for retired members of the Ready Reserve to collect retirement pay three months sooner for each aggregate of 90 days per fiscal year of active duty performed in Title 10 status in support of a contingency operation, or in Title 32 status in responding to a national emergency. However, the qualifying
service must occur within a single fiscal year, thereby not crediting otherwise qualifying service spread over two
consecutive fiscal years. For example, if one served 90 days in OIF from September 1, 2010 through November 29, 2010, that service would not be credited in reducing the retirement eligibility age. However, if the person served 90 days in OIF from October 1, 2010 through December 29, 2010, that service would be fully credited. This distinction unfairly penalizes those who serve bravely with orders spanning two fiscal years.
Senate bill S.866 introduced by Se, Jon Tester (?-MT) on 2 MAY would correct this inequity by fully crediting each aggregate of 90 days of qualifying service served over any two consecutive fiscal years after 28 JAN 08. As of 26 MAY this bill had only 12 cosponsors. Those who would like to support this bill and see it passed through the Senate are urged to go to http://capwiz.com/ngaus/issues/alert/?alertid=48379501&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] and submit the preformatted editable message to their legislators requesting their Senators sign on as cosponsors.

3. Defense Bill Includes Tricare  Increases:

The House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act this week.  The $533 billion defense bill (H.R. 1540) provides a 1.6-percent military pay increase, reduces the SBP-DIC offset for survivors, and would increase TRICARE fees for working-age military retirees.  Beginning with FY 2013, the committee voted to link future TRICARE increases to annual cost-of-living-adjustments, or COLAs, which has been zero for military retirees for the past two years.  The committee did not vote to prohibit a fee increase for FY 2012, which now opens the door for DOD to raise TRICARE fees by 13 percent this fall.  The VFW will continue to oppose all TRICARE fee increases.  Military retirees paid for their healthcare through long and faithful service; for their children being uprooted repeatedly from school; for their spouses not being able to have full careers; for their homes accumulating no equity; and for some, for not being fully marketable because they served so many years in uniform.  The House, then the Senate, have to agree on the bill before it goes to the president for his signature.  The VFW urges you to redouble your efforts and get your representatives to reject the TRICARE increase when the bill comes up for a floor vote, and to contact your senators to reject the proposal if it makes it through the House. 

 

7. Ever Wonder How VA Math Works?

Veterans frequently ask how VA math determines their compensation percentages. A quick way to understand this process is described below. A veteran begins at 100% or the equivalent of a “whole” healthy person equaling 100. Let’s say that the veteran receives 40% disability for service connected back problems and 30% for each knee. If you add 40% + 30% + 30% you will calculate that the veteran is at 100%; however, that does not take into account that each disability percentage affects the overall whole (100) at different stages. So, consider the following: The highest value disability is calculated first; therefore, the 40% disability is calculated first: 100 X .60 = 60 or 60% of the whole. The veteran has decreased from 100% to 60% of the whole healthy person. Now the 60% is used below. If the next largest disability is rated at 30%, multiply .60 (from the 60% above) by .30 (or 30%): 60 X .30 = 18 Then subtract 18 from 60 as follows: 60 – 18 = 42 or 42% of the whole. The veteran has decreased from 100% to 60% to 42 % of the whole healthy person. Now the 42% is used below. Next calculate the third largest disability. In this case let’s use 30% disability. 42 X .30 = 12.6 or 12.6% of the whole Then subtract 12.6 from 42 as follows: 42 – 12.6 = 29 or 29% of the whole. The veteran has decreased from 100% to 60% to 29% of the whole healthy person. Now the 29% is used below. We originally started at 100% of the whole and must subtract 29% as the remnant of the procedure above and that leaves 71%… 100 – 29 = 71% Since the VA calculates in whole amounts, the veteran is now considered to have a 70% service connected disability by rounding to the nearest percentage.


9. Military Compensation:

In his remarks before the American Enterprise Institute on 23 MAY, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the next round of budget cuts could force lawmakers to pare back military pay and benefits. He indicated the government would have to "re-examine military compensation," consider altering the retirement system to reduce outlays for pay and pensions and do more to address spiraling health-care costs. None would be good for the military or retiree communities and any one of them could wind up harming individual service recruiting and retention efforts. A number of groups have called for reductions in earned military pay and benefit programs recently. Gates referenced one in his comments: the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. That group proposed a three-year freeze on basic pay, military housing and food allowances in addition to raising TRICARE-related fees for all beneficiaries (among other things).
Additional recommendations are expected to be seen in coming months and the threat to earned military benefits
will increase.

 

 

 




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2. Vet Toxic Exposure McMurdo:

Vet Toxic Exposure ~ McMurdo Update 02: The nuclear power plant at McMurdo was
known as PM-3A and was part of the Navy's effort to provide electrical power to remote areas. The plant was brought online in 1962 but experienced frequent malfunctions until it was finally shut down in 1973. The plant was
disassembled and 7,700 cubic meters of rock and dirt were hauled away over the next several years. In the plant's final operating report issued after this shutdown in it was noted that it has experienced 438 malfunctions and 123 reports of radiation exposure in excess of allowable limits..
More


4. COLA

A COLA is Finally Coming (We Think)-The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased for the 9th straight month in May. This time it increased by 0.5%. The CPI is the basis for calculating a Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) for many programs including military retired pay, veterans’ disability pay, SBP, DIC and Social Security. If nothing changes in the next 4 months, there should be a COLA of 3.4%. But it is likely that there will be further inflation so we are expecting a substantial increase. We will continue to follow the monthly findings and pass them on to you.


5. House Hearings:

The House VA Committee cleared several VFW-supported bills, which now move to the House floor for a vote.  They include:
*   HR 1383, Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011, to grandfather veterans attending private schools who were adversely affected by the changes made in the GI Bill last Congress.  It also increases the cap to $27,000 from $17,500 for students already enrolled in private schools under Chapter 33.
*     HR 1657, legislation that would improve VA's enforcement of service-disabled, veteran-owned small business contracting.
* HR 1441, a bill to ban reserving burial and interment locations at Arlington National Cemetery, and clears the way for a memorial on Chaplains Hill to honor Jewish chaplains who died defending our country.
*   HR 1407, The Veterans Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2011, would provide a cost-of-living increase to veterans' disability compensation rates and other benefits.  It would also provide a five-year extension to VA adaptive grants program for severely wounded veterans residing in a family member's home.
For more information visit the committee website at http://veterans.house.gov/.

6. PTSD Update 65:

A Vietnam veteran who received the Bronze Star and later was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder filed a federal lawsuit 21 APR trying to get the Army to modify his other-than-honorable discharge so that his sacrifice will be recognized and he can get disability benefits. John Shepherd, 63, says he battled alcoholism and struggled to stay employed for 40 years, but was not diagnosed with PTSD until 2004. "My other-than-honorable discharge has made me feel deeply ashamed for many years," Shepherd said in a statement. "I hope this lawsuit can finally change that." In 1969, Shepherd served a combat tour in the Mekong Delta, participating in patrols and search-and-destroy missions. The Army awarded him with a Bronze Star after his unit came under intense fire and Shepherd rushed toward an enemy bunker, entered it and threw a grenade that killed several enemy soldiers, according to the lawsuit....read on

 

8. 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.

 


- Archives -



10. Senior Discounts:

Turn your senior status into a source of savings. Here's a round up of senior discounts
for your perusal: Note: While every attempt has been made to verify the accuracy of these listings, offers are subject to change. Terms may also vary from location to location, so call to confirm the availability of these offers in your area.
 AMC Theaters - A discount of up to 30% is available for ages 55+ at most theater locations.
 Amtrak - Everyday. 15% discount on adult rail fare with some exclusions. Ages 62+.
 Arby's - A 10% discount at participating locations. Ages 55+.
 Banana Republic - 10% discount everyday. Ages 50+. Discount and age may vary by location.
 Belks - First Tuesday of the month. 15% discount. Ages 55+.
 Best Western - At least 10% off regular room rates. Late checkouts and other offers also available. Ages 55+.
 Burger King - A 10% discount at participating locations. Ages 60+.
 Chili's - A 10% discount at participating locations. Ages 55+.
 Choice Hotels - Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban, Econo Lodge, Rhodeway Inn Everyday. 10% discount with Mature Travelers rate. Ages
50+. 20-30% discount with advanced reservations (Sixty Plus Rate). Ages 60+.
 Denny's - AARP members get a 20% discount off the total check amount from 4pm-10pm. Coffee is $1 a up round the clock for members and guests.
 Goody’s - Every Wednesday. 15% discount with some exclusions. Ages 55+.
 Goodwill - 10% discount one day a week for ages 55+. Specifics may vary by location.
 Greyhound - 5% discount on unrestricted passenger fares. Ages 62+.
 Hardee’s - Everyday. 33-cent drinks. Ages 65+.
 Hyatt - Save up to 50% at participating hotels. Ages 62+.
 IHOP - A 10% discount at participating locations. Ages 55+.
 Jiffy Lube - Many locations offer a discount for ages 55+.
 Kmart - Gold K presciption discount program. Up to 20% discount on prescription medication. Ages 50+.
 Kohl’s - Every Wednesday. 15% discount. Ages 62+. (Day may vary by store)
 Kroger - Day varies by location. 10% off total order. Ages 60+.
 Long John Silvers - Discount for ages 55+ at participating locations.
 Marriott Hotels - A discount of at least 15% for ages 62+. Good seven days a week.
 McDonald's - Everyday. Discounted senior coffee.
 Motel 6 - 10% discount at over 900 locations. Ages 60+
 Mrs. Fields - A 10% discount at participating locations. Ages 60+.
 National Car Rental - Everyday. Call 1-800-CAR-RENT for details. Ages 50+.
 National Parks - Free entrance to national parks with purchase of $10 America the Beautiful Senior Pass.
 Regal Cinema - A discounted senior movie ticket for ages 60+.
 Rite Aid - Join the free Living More Loyalty program, and save 10% off most purchases Tuesdays, plus
10% off cash prescriptions and Rite Aid brand products everyday. Bonus: Get 20% off purchases the first Tuesday of the month.
 Ross - 10% off on Tuesdays for ages 55+ at participating locations.
Shoney’s - Everyday. 10% discount. Ages 60+.
 Salvation Army Thrift Stores - Most locations provide discounts from 15% to 50% off. Discounts may only
be available on certain days of the week with Wednesdays being the most popular discount day. Ages 55+
 Sizzler - Typically offers a specially priced menu for seniors; other locations may provide discounts of up to 15% off the regularly priced menu. Ages 60+
 SuperCuts - $2 off hair cut. Ages 60+.
 Taco Bell - Free drinks for seniors at participating locations.
 TCBY - A 10% discount at participating locations. Ages 55+.
& Wendy's - A 10% discount at participating locations. Ages 55+

Thank you

Contact Information:  
Bob Brown   bob@vetshome.com   Ph# 1.405.324.4015   
Oklahoma City, Ok.