Rogue Chapter

NCOA DC

 

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January 10 2018

Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel A. Dailey Confirmed Speaker

NCOA is proud to announce that Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel A. Dailey confirmed his attendance at this year’s Annual Meeting and Vanguard Awards Dinner.  One highlight of our annual event is to hold an E-10 panel of all services to discuss important issues facing our military.  “We are pleased to see SMA Daniel Dailey understands the importance of communicating with associations and its membership.  SMA Dailey will be briefing NCOA members on the future of the U.S. Army and its challenges.”  Said Jon Ostrowski, Executive Director of NCOA.

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Annual Meeting and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City, Arlington VA.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast with NCOA.

Read SMA Daniel A. Dailey bio here.
Register for the conference here.

VA Union Calls for Investigation into $90 Million Fraud

 

  • The American Federation of Government Employees has been working to improve veterans’ access to health care, holding rallies outside VA facilities like the one here in St. Louis, Mo.

 

 

AFGE, which represents 250,000 front-line workers – more than 100,000 of whom are veterans themselves – at the Department of Veterans Affairs, sent the letter from National President J. David Cox Sr. to House Committee of Veterans’ Affairs Chair Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee, Ranking Member Rep. Mark Takano of California, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan, Ranking Member Rep. Ann Kuster of New Hampshire, and Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chair Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Ranking Member Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

In a September memo by the VA Office of Inspector General, titled “Accuracy and Timeliness of Payments Made Under the Choice Program Authorized by the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act,” it was found that at least two third-party administrators of the VA Choice Program had led to $90 million in improper charges to the American taxpayer.

Read more here.

Trump Signs Order to Improve Mental Health Resources for Transitioning Veterans

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2018 – Transitioning service members and veterans can now receive up to a year of mental health care from the Veterans Affairs Department after discharge from the service, according to an executive order President Donald J. Trump signed today.

The order, “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life,” directs the Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security departments to develop a joint action plan to ensure the 60 percent of new veterans who now do not qualify for enrollment in health care — primarily because of a lack of verified service connection related to the medical issue at hand — will receive treatment and access to services for mental health care for one year following their separation from service.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the VA to ensure veterans who have served our country continue to receive the important mental health care and services they need and deserve,” said Defense Secretary James N. Mattis.

Read more here.

Do you have questions about NCOA/PCI member directory update?

Many members have expressed concerns about the new NCOA/PCI member directory and information update.  You may have received a phone call and/or an email requesting you to call and update your information.  Below are a couple of answers to the most frequently asked questions.  For more answers to your questions, please click on the link below.

I received an email/postcard/phone call from a company asking for my personal information.  They said they were working on a directory for Non Commissioned Officers Association.  Is this a legitimate project, or is it a scam?

We have partnered with PCI (also known as Publishing Concepts) to produce our new member’s directory.  PCI is a company located in Dallas, TX that publishes directories for educational institutions, fraternities, sororities and military organizations across the nation. This project allows Non Commissioned Officers Association to receive important updates to our database so we know more about our members and how we can better serve you and future members.

How do I know my information will only be used for directory purposes?

Non Commissioned Officers Association has a contractual agreement with PCI that states:

  • The names, addresses, and information provided to PCI by Non Commissioned Officers Association for the publication of the Directory will be held confidential by PCI, except to the extent that they are utilized in, or in the preparation of, the Directory and except as required by court order or law.
  • The Directory will be made available only to members of Non Commissioned Officers Association. Upon completion of the project, PCI will return to Non Commissioned Officers Association any, and all electronic files that have been supplied by Non Commissioned Officers Association or produced by PCI in connection with the production of the Directory.

More answers to your FAQ’s here.

Register for NCOA Annual Meeting and Vanguard Awards Dinner before prices increase. 

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Android or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership with Memberplanet

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.

Conference registration website HERE.

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January 03 2018

New in 2018: Lawmakers gear up for military pay and benefits fights

In their defense budget for fiscal 2018, lawmakers approved the biggest military pay raise in eight years. Congress also abandoned plans to slash housing allowances.

Will the new year bring even more good news?

Starting Jan. 1, service members will see a 2.4 percent hike in their paychecks. It’s only the second time since 2010 that raise has topped 2 percent. The 2.4 percent pay bump is intended to match the growth in private sector wages and means a boost of about $680 a year for the younger enlisted ranks and about $1,080 a year for more senior enlisted and junior officers.

Based on the federal formula for military pay increases, the 2019 raise should be even higher. The Employment Cost Index set by the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls for a 2.6 percent raise next year.

Read more here.

New in 2018: Conflict hot spots to watch

As the Islamic State group withers in Iraq and Syria, other, more obscure hot spots could emerge in 2018 that will require more U.S. assistance or, possibly, even the presence of more U.S. troops.

Here are a few examples.

Philippines

ISIS has taken up shop in the Philippines and has even managed to hold on to urban terrain on the island of Mindanao for nearly three months. While local security forces, with U.S. assistance, eventually retook the city, the terror group made them pay a heavy price.

The area is ripe for ISIS recruitment, due to sectarian tensions between the country’s Muslim communities, primarily located on Mindanao, and its Catholic and Protestant populations in northern Philippines.

The Pentagon recently renamed its assistance mission in the Philippines, from Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines to Operation Pacific Eagle, a move that highlights a new, ramped up counterterrorism focus in the region.

“The Philippines and United States governments remain steadfast in their alliance and are committed to countering radicalization and violent extremism in the Philippines and Southeast Asia,” said Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman. “To support these efforts, and at the request of the government of the Philippines, we have enhanced our comprehensive counterterrorism cooperation that supports the Philippine Security Forces.”

There were approximately 100 U.S. troops, mostly Marines, in the Philippines as of Sept. 30, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center.

Read more here.

Do you have questions about NCOA/PCI member directory update?

 Many members have expressed concerns about the new NCOA/PCI member directory and information update.  You may have received a phone call and/or an email requesting you to call and update your information.  Below are a couple of answers to the most frequently asked questions.  For more answers to your questions, please click on the link below.

I received an email/postcard/phone call from a company asking for my personal information.  They said they were working on a directory for Non Commissioned Officers Association.  Is this a legitimate project, or is it a scam?

We have partnered with PCI (also known as Publishing Concepts) to produce our new member’s directory.  PCI is a company located in Dallas, TX that publishes directories for educational institutions, fraternities, sororities and military organizations across the nation. This project allows Non Commissioned Officers Association to receive important updates to our database so we know more about our members and how we can better serve you and future members.

How do I know my information will only be used for directory purposes?

Non Commissioned Officers Association has a contractual agreement with PCI that states:

  • The names, addresses, and information provided to PCI by Non Commissioned Officers Association for the publication of the Directory will be held confidential by PCI, except to the extent that they are utilized in, or in the preparation of, the Directory and except as required by court order or law.
  • The Directory will be made available only to members of Non Commissioned Officers Association. Upon completion of the project, PCI will return to Non Commissioned Officers Association any, and all electronic files that have been supplied by Non Commissioned Officers Association or produced by PCI in connection with the production of the Directory.

More answers to your FAQ’s here.

Have you registered?

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.

Register at conference registration website HERE.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership with Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Android or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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December 19 2017

 

A Note from NCOA Board of Director

NCOA Smart Phone App has been updated

 

NCOA has recently updated our Android and iOS apps in their respective stores.  If your smartphone is and Android device you will need to delete your NCOA app and reinstall on your phone.  The update will not work properly unless deleted first.  When searching the respective stores please type NCOAUSA in the search bar.

 

Android Playstore
Apple iOS

 

 

Do you have questions about NCOA/PCI member directory update?

Many have membres have expressed concerns about the new NCOA/PCI member directory and information update.  You may have received a phone call and/or an email requesting you to call and update your information.  Below are a couple of answers to the most frequently asked questions.  For more answers to your questions, please click on the link below.

I received an email/postcard/phone call from a company asking for my personal information.  They said they were working on a directory for Non Commissioned Officers Association.  Is this a legitimate project, or is it a scam?

We have partnered with PCI (also known as Publishing Concepts) to produce our new member’s directory.  PCI is a company located in Dallas, TX that publishes directories for educational institutions, fraternities, sororities and military organizations across the nation. This project allows Non Commissioned Officers Association to receive important updates to our database so we know more about our members and how we can better serve you and future members.

How do I know my information will only be used for directory purposes?

Non Commissioned Officers Association has a contractual agreement with PCI that states:

  • The names, addresses, and information provided to PCI by Non Commissioned Officers Association for the publication of the Directory will be held confidential by PCI, except to the extent that they are utilized in, or in the preparation of, the Directory and except as required by court order or law.
  • The Directory will be made available only to members of Non Commissioned Officers Association. Upon completion of the project, PCI will return to Non Commissioned Officers Association any, and all electronic files that have been supplied by Non Commissioned Officers Association or produced by PCI in connection with the production of the Directory.

 

More answers to your FAQ’s here.

Take Command: Increases to TRICARE Pharmacy Copayments Coming Feb. 1, 2018

On Feb. 1, 2018, copayments for prescription drugs at TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery and retail pharmacies will increase. These changes are required by law and affect TRICARE beneficiaries who are not active duty service members.

While retail pharmacy and home delivery copayments will increase, prescriptions filled at military pharmacies remain available at no cost. You can save the most money by filling your prescriptions at military pharmacies.

“Military pharmacies and TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery will remain the lowest cost pharmacy option for TRICARE beneficiaries,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ann McManis, Pharmacy Operations Division at the Defense Health Agency.

Read more here.

Fiscal Year 2018 Adjustments to Military Retired and Retainer Pay, Survivor Annuities and Premiums

The attachment specifies COLAs for retired and retainer pay, survivor annuities, and premium determinations effective December 1, 2017, unless specified otherwise. These COLAs reflect the required adjustment for cost-of-living as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the four quarters ending with the third calendar quarter of 2017 (July, August, and September 2017).

2018 NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner Registration Now Open

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.

Register at conference registration website HERE.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership with Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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December 13 2017

Trump signs nearly $700B defense policy bill

President Trump signed a nearly $700 billion annual defense policy bill on Tuesday, touting it as a step toward delivering on his promise to build up the military.

“Today with the signing of this defense bill, we accelerate the process of fully restoring America’s military might,” Trump said at a signing ceremony in the White House’s Roosevelt Room.

But though National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes the military to add troops, ships, planes and other equipment, Congress has yet to pass a spending bill to make the buildup a reality.

Indeed, even as he celebrated the NDAA, Trump hit Congress – specifically Democrats – for not passing a defense spending bill.

“Now Congress must finish the job by eliminating the defense sequester and passing a clean appropriations bill. I think it’s going to happen. We need our military; it’s got to be perfecto,” Trump said. “At this time of grave global threats, I urge Democrats to drop their shutdown threats and to send clean funding and a clean funding bill to my desk that fully funds our great military. Protecting our country should always be a bipartisan issue, just like today’s legislation.”

Read more here.

VA Decision Ready Claims Program Expands to Include More Types of Claims

WASHINGTON – As part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) ongoing efforts to modernize and improve Veterans’ experience with the disability claims process, VA unveiled its latest enhancements to the Decision Ready Claims (DRC) program, which will expand the pool of Veterans, surviving spouses and service members eligible to participate in the program.
“These enhancements are another key step in modernizing VA’s benefits delivery to Veterans to a fully digital operating environment,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “With electronic claims processing as a foundation, VA’s innovation will improve service to Veterans, their families and survivors.”

Read more here.

Non Commissioned Officers Association Member Directory

NCOA is partnering with PCI www.publishingconcepts.com to update our member information as part of a comprehensive data verification project. We’ve assembled the information currently listed in our members’ files and now need your assistance to confirm the accuracy of your member data.

You will receive a postcard in the mail in the coming weeks, and we respectfully request you call the toll free number listed on the postcard to update your information.  With your permission ONLY, we are planning to print your member information as part of the Non Commissioned Officers Association Member Directory, and we want to ensure that your information is complete and correct.  If you choose not to list your information or refuse to call the number listed on the post card, we will only list your name and rank in the Member Directory.

When you call to update your information, you will be given the opportunity to reserve a copy of the Member Directory. For more frequently asked question about this project, please visit http://www.ncoausa.org/pci.

2018 NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner Registration Now Open

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.

Register at conference registration website HERE.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Android or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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December 04 2017

2018 NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner Registration Now Open

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.

Register at conference registration website HERE.

How to Work with the New Retirement System

The new Blended Retirement System (BRS) represents one of the most significant changes to military benefits in 70 years. The BRS, the basics of which are provided later in this article, will be standard for active-duty and reserve military service members who join on or after 1 January 2018. Existing service members with less than 12 years of service on 31  December 2017 will stay under the traditional system, or they may choose to transition to the BRS. For those who do not remain in the military long enough to earn the traditional retirement pension-generally 20 years-the BRS looks like a fair trade, because the automatic contributions put new retirement dollars into the pockets of those who today leave the military with no retirement benefits. For the next generation of 20-year career military families, however, the BRS trades the simplicity and security of a standard pension for risks that, without the type of proper planning that is promoted and detailed here, could result in inadequate preparation for retirement.

Read more here.

High demand for new veteran ID cards crashes VA website

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs temporarily removed an online application process for new veteran identification cards after high demand crashed the webpage.

Some veterans seeking to receive the identification cards since the VA opened applications for them Wednesday were met over the weekend with error messages or a webpage that failed to load.

The cards were designed as proof of military service for veterans who don’t have VA medical cards or defense retiree cards. The website that veterans were instructed to apply for them, vets.gov, contained a message Tuesday that it had temporarily stopped the online application process.

Read more here.

How Veterans Can Qualify for SSDI and VA Benefits at the Same Time

Some confusion exists over exactly how similar (or for that matter, dissimilar) Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) coverage is to Veteran’s Administration (VA) benefits. Aside from the fact that VA benefits are only for military veterans, some people assume that they are nearly
identical in scope because VA recipients have filed successful claims for SSDI.

It is true that the SSA definition of disability and the VA standard of ‘unemployability’ are strongly similar and both SSDI and VA disability benefits are intended to ease the financial burdens of disabled applicants, but any real similarity ends there. Below is a list of core differences between the two programs as well as information on how to apply for each one.

Read more here.

VA Using Simple Fix to Improve E.R. Visits

A young nurse and an African man smiling as she shows him his test results

The Department of Veterans Affairs is employing a relatively simple fix to make sure Veterans receive the follow-up care they need after being treated in an emergency room.

Launched in 2015 at the Pittsburgh VA Medical Center, the Rapid Access Clinic model is currently being used at about 20 VA medical centers throughout the United States.

“Little tweaks to the system like this can sometimes result in major improvements to the care we give our Veterans.”

“We’d like to see every VA emergency room adopt this best practice during the next year,” said Dr. Susan Kirsh, VA’s national director for clinical practice management. “It’s simple, it’s not that hard to do, it’s effective and it doesn’t cost anything.  Most of all, it helps reduce the kind of fragmented care that afflicts so much of healthcare in this country today.”

So what, exactly, is the Rapid Access model? How does it work?

Read more here.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership with Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Android or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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November 29 2017

Army to begin providing medical care to Chem/Bio research volunteers

The U.S. Army is notifying veterans that they may be eligible to receive medical care if they participated in U.S. Army chemical or biological substance testing from 1942 to 1975 and have an injury or disease that they believe was proximately caused by their participation.  Recently a class action lawsuit filed by the Vietnam Veterans of America required the U.S. Army to provide medical care to veterans who volunteered to contribute to the advancement of the U.S. biological and chemical programs

To be eligible for medical care veterans who may fall within this identified class must have:

    • A Department of Defense Form 214 or War Department discharge/separation form(s) or the functional equivalent.
    • Served as a volunteer medical research subject in a U.S. Army chemical or biological substance testing program from 1942 to 1975, including the receipt of medications or vaccines under the U.S. Army investigational drug review.
    • A diagnosed medical condition they believe to be a direct result of their participation in a U.S. Army chemical or biological substance testing program.
  • Medical care, to include medications, will be provided at the closest military medical treatment facility that has the capability and capacity.  Medical care will be provided on a space available basis for a specific period of time as described in the authorization letter, and is supplemental to the comprehensive medical care a plaintiff is entitled to receive through the VA based on their status as a veteran.

 

Eligible veterans are encouraged to go to http://armymedicine.mil/Pages/cbtp.aspx or call 1-800-984-8523 if they have any questions or need assistance.

VA Appoints New Members to Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Education

WASHINGTON – Last week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the appointment of 12 new members to its Veterans Advisory Committee on Education, to be chaired by former U.S. Sen. James H. Webb.

“Senator Webb has consistently put Veterans first throughout his career,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “He will bring outstanding experience and knowledge to the leadership of the committee.”

By statute, the committee advises the Secretary on existing VA education benefit programs and services, as well as any new programs and services. The committee submits its recommendations and reports to the Secretary and may also submit reports to Congress.

“This committee is an extraordinary and diverse group of professionals who will bring their experiences and expertise for the good of our education programs,” Shulkin said.

Serving alongside Sen. Webb on the committee will be:

Vice Chairman Jared S. Lyon, president and CEO of Student Veterans of America;

Dawn Halfaker, founder and chief executive of Halfaker and Associates;

Dr. Sandra Harris-Hooker, vice president and senior associate dean at Morehouse School of Medicine;

Ashlynne Haycock, senior coordinator for Education Support Services for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors;

Abby Kinch, Veteran student and president of the Florida State University Student Veterans of America chapter;

Jefferson Bingham Miller, senior legislative advisor at McDermott Will and Emery, former seven-term congressman and former chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee;

Dr. Javier Miyares, president of University of Maryland University College;

Jack Tilley, former sergeant major of the Army;

Robert E. Wallace, executive director, Veterans of Foreign Wars;

Dr. Joseph W. Westcott, executive director of the North Carolina State Approving Agency; and

Kyle Jerome White, seventh living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the war in Afghanistan.

Successful DoD-VA Program for Wounded, Ill, Injured Service Members Marks 10th Anniversary

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) marked the 10th anniversary of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), a program developed by both organizations to streamline the disability evaluation process for wounded, ill and injured service members being medically discharged from military service.

VA and DoD celebrated the launch of IDES with a ceremony Nov. 28 at VA headquarters in Washington, D.C., where key officials shared a number of milestones and accomplishments of the innovative program that, to date, has helped more than 188,000 service members transition back into civilian life.

“Ten years ago, VA and DOD had two separate processes for evaluating disabilities of wounded, ill and injured service members when it came time for them to leave the service,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “On average, it took a service member more than 500 days to navigate those two programs during a critical transition period in their lives. IDES has transformed that process. Now, the average processing time has decreased by more than 40 percent.”

When IDES began in 2007, VA and DoD worked hand-in-hand to make the program a seamless, simple, faster and fair system for service members. IDES eliminated the duplicative, time-consuming and often confusing elements of the disability assessment process within the agencies. Since its inception, the IDES process has helped ensure service members’ access to VA benefits as soon as they separate from the military.

To learn more about the IDES program, visit http://warriorcare.dodlive.mil/disability-evaluation/ides/

NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner coming to Washington, DC this Spring!

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.  Registration opening soon.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Android or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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November 15 2017

House votes overwhelmingly to pass $700 billion defense bill

WASHINGTON – House Republicans and Democrats joined forces Tuesday to decisively approve a defense policy bill that authorizes $700 billion to restock what lawmakers have described as a depleted U.S. military and counter North Korea’s advancing nuclear weapons program.

Lawmakers voted 356-70 to pass the legislation, with 127 Democrats backing the measure. Once the defense bill clears the Senate, which is expected this week, the bill will be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.

The defense bill for the 2018 fiscal year allots some $634 billion for core Pentagon operations and nearly $66 billion for wartime missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. The funding boost pays for more troops, jet fighters, ships and other weapons needed to halt an erosion of the military’s combat readiness, according to the bill’s backers.

Read more here.

 McCain threatens new hold on Pentagon nominees

WASHINGTON – A slate of Pentagon nominees faced off with a Senate panel Tuesday about the changes facing military recruiting today, as one key senator warned that confirmation hearings could be stalled again if the Pentagon doesn’t cooperate with new demands for information.

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee raised questions during a hearing regarding an apparent change in Army recruiting efforts to issue waivers for people with a history of serious mental health illness.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said his committee shouldn’t have learned about the change through a USA Today report Sunday, and if more information isn’t forthcoming, the Pentagon nomination process could get stalled again.

“I don’t envision a confrontation,” McCain said of another delay over nominees. “But there may be.”

Read more here.

 New Vet ID Cards Still Expected This Month

Honorably discharged veterans of all eras should still be able to apply this month to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for a new ID card, agency officials said Tuesday.

“VA is on track to launch the Veteran ID card program nationally this month,” Curtis Cashour, a VA spokesman, told Military.com.

How long veterans will have to wait between application and receiving their card and what the card will look like is still under discussion, Cashour said.

“The design of the card and turnaround time are still being finalized,” he said.

 Preserving the past: 9 tips on obtaining missing military records (and awards) for you or a loved one

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, it’s expected that about a half-million will be alive at the end of 2017.

Many veterans of this and other conflicts will take with them stories of service that can’t be replaced. Some will have earned commendations they mentioned only in passing, or ignored out of modesty, or locked away alongside painful memories.

Family members who want to learn more about their relative’s service, even those in service themselves, may have limited knowledge when it comes to navigating an archive process that, with a bit of persistence, can provide more than just a few dates and places.

Military Times sought advice from the National Personnel Records Center, as well as in-house expert Doug Sterner, curator of the Military Times Hall of Valor, to provide some basic steps on the path to piecing together a personal history.

Read more here.

 NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner coming to Washington, DC this Spring!

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.  Registration opening soon.

 

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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November 07 2017

VA’s Shulkin calls for new, strategic approach to veterans benefits programs

November 6, 2017 6:13 pm

Five days before Veterans Day, the Veterans Affairs Department’s top leader is calling on the veterans community to consider the past 150 years and the vast variety of benefits the department currently provides to those who “have borne the battle” in a completely new way.

“Today … I call for a new way of thinking about benefits,” VA Secretary David Shulkin said Monday during a speech at the National Press Club. “I want to see an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders about rationalizing veterans benefits – a veterans benefit advisory board that can bring clarity to what we’re trying to do for veterans and what’s best and how we can do that in the best way.”

The creation of a new veterans benefit advisory board will help VA focus on what Shulkin described as key aspects of Veterans Benefits Administration programs: providing financial security for those who are severely disabled, providing mental and physical well being to veterans, offering economic and professional opportunities and helping them reintegrate back into civilian life.

“We need more incentives for achieving wellness and independence,” Shulkin said. “This should be a system that focuses on veterans’ abilities, not on their disabilities. VA needs to transform into an organization where we are veterans’ advocates and we facilitate them getting benefits, not being the gatekeeper of benefits decisions.”

Read more here.

House Kicks off Veterans Day Week with Bipartisan Bills

Chairman Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed five veterans bills:

“There’s no better way to kick off the week leading up to Veterans Day than to advocate for our nation’s heroes through our work on the House floor. Tonight, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to pass five pieces of legislation that will honor and protect the women who have served our country honorably. These bills will protect veterans from financial fraud, provide better in-home care for veterans with disabilities and furnish memorial headstones for qualifying veterans. I’m proud of the work we’ve done for veterans today, and I look forward to taking up more legislation to honor their service tomorrow afternoon.”

The House passed the following bills:

H.R. 1066: The VA Management Alignment Act of 2017

The VA Management Alignment Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Derek Kilmer, would require VA to submit a report regarding the roles, responsibility, and accountability of elements and individuals of VA, using the findings of the Independent Assessment, the Commission on Care, and relevant GAO reports as resources. Click here for more information. Read the bill here

H.R. 3122: Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2017

The Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright, directs VA to work with federal agencies and states to develop and implement standards that protect individuals who are eligible for this increased pension from dishonest, predatory or otherwise unlawful practices. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.

H.R. 3562: To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to furnish assistance for adaptations of residences of veterans in rehabilitation programs

H.R. 3561, introduced by Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity Chairman Jodey Arrington and Ranking Member Beto O’Rourke, would give VA-designated appraisers the ability to rely solely on information from approved third parties, such as a desktop appraisal, when determining a home’s value for a VA home loan. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.

H.R. 3656: To establish a consistent applicability date for provision of memorial headstones and markers for eligible non-veteran individuals

H.R. 3656, introduced by Rep. Jim Banks, would provide a headstone or marker for all eligible non-veterans who die on or after November 11, 1998. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.

H.R. 3657: To expand authority to provide headstones and markers to eligible spouses and dependents in tribal veterans cemeteries

H.R. 3657, introduced by Rep. Bruce Poliquin, would authorize VA to provide headstones and markers to eligible spouses and dependents who are buried or interred at tribal veterans cemeteries. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.

 Air Force failed to report Texas church shooter’s domestic assault conviction to FBI

The former airman who killed 26 people in a horrific church shooting Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Texas, should never have been able to legally buy or possess firearms after his 2012 conviction for beating his wife and stepson.

But the Air Force said in a Monday release that initial information indicates Holloman Air Force Base’s Office of Special Investigations failed to enter Devin Kelley’s domestic violence conviction into the National Criminal Information Center’s database, which would have barred him from having guns.

Read more here.

 Nearly 9,000 chiefs facing mandatory retirement – What you need to know

About 8,700 senior enlisted sailors Navy-wide will potentially be on the chopping block in December as the Navy – for the first time in two years – convenes a continuation board that will likely force hundreds of underperforming chiefs into early retirement.

The board, which begins on Dec. 4, aims to clear out senior enlisted sailors who have engaged in misconduct or whose performance has slipped noticeably. These moves will clear the path for younger sailors performing at their best to move up into the chiefs mess.

Fleet Master Chief (SW/IW/AW) Russell Smith said the board has no quotas to meet in the process, meaning there is no target number of chiefs that the board is seeking to push out of the fleet.

“We’re not using this as a force shaping device,” Smith, the senior enlisted advisor for the Chief of Naval Personnel, told Navy Times in a recent interview.

Read more here.

 NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner coming to Washington, DC this Spring!

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.  Registration opening soon.

 Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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November 02 2017

Proclamation sets aside November to recognize veterans, military families

WASHINGTON – In a presidential proclamation issued on Wednesday, November 2017 was declared to be National Veterans and Military Families Month.

President Donald Trump signed the proclamation at the White House enlarging upon the traditional Veterans Day recognition on Nov. 11 and urging the nation to set aside the entire month of November to show honor to veterans.

Americans across the country were encouraged to “acknowledge and honor the service, sacrifices, and contributions of veterans and military families for what they have done and for what they do every day to support our great Nation.”

The presidents entire proclamation can be viewed at the White House website.

 Exclusive: VA goes high-tech with Uber-like tracking center for veteran health care

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs has seemingly lurched in recent years from crisis to crisis, from veterans dying waiting for care in Phoenix and suffering missed diagnoses in Oklahoma to surgery failures in Memphis and Washington, D.C., to name only a few.

Now, a cadre of monitors clustered deep within the VA headquarters in Washington is trying to upend that trend. They are stationed in a new “healthcare improvement center,” which tracks problems at VA hospitals across the country and dispatches help to fix them – ideally before they turn into crises.

VA Secretary David Shulkin gave USA TODAY an exclusive sneak peek at the center, where maps and lists are arrayed over 16 screens in a setup that resembles, well, an Uber-like control room for veteran health care.

Workers can toggle between various data points, including rates of death or avoidable complications, staffing and wait times. Red dots indicate hospitals faring poorly.

“It’s much like you would expect an air-traffic-control system to be – to make sure that they know the altitude of their planes, the speed of their planes so they can have safe landings and safe takeoffs,” Shulkin said. “That’s what we’re doing in our health care system.”

Read more here.

 Navy crews at fault in fatal collisions, investigations find

WASHINGTON – Two accidents that claimed the lives of 17 sailors and wounded dozens more resulted from complete breakdowns in standard Navy procedures and poor decision-making by officers and sailors on the bridge of the two warships, according to a Navy report obtained by Defense News.

The Navy plans to release on Wednesday its first official report on the specific causes of the two unrelated collisions this summer when both the destroyers Fitzgerald and John S. McCain struck commercial vessels in crowded sea lanes in the Pacific.

The report reveals that both collisions came after critical failures of officers and sailors on the bridge and raises troubling questions about the basic proficiency of the Japan-based 7th Fleet and the surface Navy as a whole.

In both incidents, sailors on the bridge failed to sound a ship-wide alarm notifying the crew of danger, which is a standard Navy procedure.

Ships at sea must sound five short blasts of the ship’s whistle to alert the crew and the other ship of a coming collision. That did not occur in either collision. Neither the crew members below deck nor the other ships involved had any warning from the Navy that their ships were headed for disaster, the reports found.

Also, neither bridge’s watch standers sought to make bridge-to-bridge radio communication with the approaching ship, which is also a standard Navy procedure.

Yet the specific failures that led to the collisions on each ship were unique.

Read more here.

 Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

 NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner coming to Washington, DC this Spring!

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.  Registration opening soon.

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October 25 2017

Trump Presents Medal of Honor to Vietnam War Medic

Military.com | 23 Oct 2017 | by Matthew Cox

President Donald Trump on Monday presented the nation’s highest award for valor to a former Green Beret medic for his heroism on a secret operation during the Vietnam War.

At a White House ceremony, Trump presented the Medal of Honor to retired Army Capt. Gary Michael “Mike” Rose for treating as many as 70 wounded soldiers during Operation Tailwind from Sept. 11 to Sept. 14, 1970.

For many years after the war, Rose never spoke of the operation until it was declassified in 1998.

“For many years the story of Mike’s heroism has gone untold, but today we gather to tell the world of his valor and proudly present him with our nation’s highest military honor,” Trump told an audience, which included nine surviving Medal of Honor recipients.

Read more here.

 2-Hour Air Support Delay in Niger Ambush That Killed 4 Troops: Dunford

Military.com | 23 Oct 2017 | by Richard Sisk

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said Monday that about two hours passed before fixed-wing and rotary French air support arrived in the Oct. 4 ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers.

Dunford also said that the military still had no explanation for how Army Sgt. La David Johnson came to be separated from others in the joint patrol with Nigerien forces in western Niger near the border with Mali.

Johnson’s body was found two days later by Nigerien troops. The New York Times, citing U.S. defense officials, reported Monday that the truck Johnson was driving became stuck in the mud during the firefight.

Read more here.

TRICARE Changes Fact Sheet

Beginning in January 2018, there will be change to the TRIJCARE benefit. The changes will expand beneficiary choice, improve access to network providers, simplify beneficiary copayments, and enhance administrative efficiency.  This is a must read for all of our members and family.

Read more here.

 

 

Exchange Helps Military Children Build Their Holiday Wish Lists with 2017 Toyland Toy Book

DALLAS – Service members and their families can take the guesswork out of choosing holiday gifts for their children with the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s 2017 Toyland toy book, which features a special assortment of toys tested by military children.

Available now at select continental United States Exchange stores and Nov. 3 at overseas locations, the Toyland toy book is stocked with more than 350 of the hottest holiday toys and electronics for boys and girls of all ages. Toys tested by military children are identifiable by the Military Brat-Approved logo.

In-demand holiday toys featured in the Toyland toy book include:

  • Nerf Modulus Regulator ($49.95, reg. $59.95)
  • My Little Pony The Movie: Rarity glitter designs ($13.95, reg. $19.95)
  • Hatchimals Colleggtables ($54.95, reg. $59.95)
  • furReal Friends Roarin’ Tyler, the Playful Tiger ($99.95, reg. $129.95)
  • PlaySkool Star Wars Galactic Heroes playset ($69.95, reg. $79.95)
  • Pie Face Sky High board game ($14.95, reg. $24.95) 

Read more here.

NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner coming to Washington, DC this Spring!

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.  Registration opening soon.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership with Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Android or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

 ==========================================================================================

October 18 2017

VA officials promise they’re not looking at benefits cut this year

WASHINGTON – Months after Veterans Affairs officials dropped plans for a controversial benefits cut, the families of those who would have been affected still fear they could lose thousands in monthly payouts.

Confusion over the short-lived plan this week forced department leaders to issue a letter to veterans groups clarifying they will not change the Individual Unemployability program in fiscal 2018, and are looking for other cost-saving solutions in the future.

“The department does not support a termination of [the program],” VA Secretary David Shulkin wrote in a letter to veterans groups Thursday. “We are committed to finding ways that empower disabled veterans through vocational rehabilitation and employment opportunities.”

Advocates praised the move, noting they have been inundated with questions about the potential cut, even months after Shulkin said the department was abandoning the proposal.

Read more here.

 Now is a terrible time for Trump’s VA secretary to abandon his post

A long-awaited overhaul of veterans’ health care is being unveiled to the world. At the helm throughout the two years of developing this road map has been David J. Shulkin.

As the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is finally on the cusp of rolling out its master plan to ensure every veteran has access to timely, quality care, the VA secretary reportedly is interviewing for another job. As the Wall Street Journal revealed Friday, the White House brought Shulkin in last week to discuss having him take over the Department of Health and Human Services, a post left vacant by the abrupt resignation of Tom Price. (VA did not confirm or deny the Journal’s reporting.)

Read more here.

 Take Command – TRICARE

Changes Are Coming to TRICARE. Are You Ready to Take Command of Your Health? Changes are coming to your TRICARE benefit beginning Jan. 1, 2018. These changes will give you more benefit choices, improving your access to care, simplifying cost shares and allowing you to take command of your health.

“Taking command of your health means empowering you to make the right health care and coverage choices for you and your family,” said Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency. “Leading up to Jan. 1, 2018, we will connect you with TRICARE resources to navigate your benefit questions.”

The best way for you to prepare now is to update your information in DEERS, sign up for TRICARE benefit updates, and visit TRICARE Changes.

TRICARE is Changing. Here is what you need to know:

Region Consolidation –
Currently, there are three TRICARE regions in the U.S.: North, South and West. The North and South regions will combine on Jan. 1, 2018 to form TRICARE East, while TRICARE West will remain mostly unchanged. Two new contractors, Humana Military and Health Net Federal Services, LLC, will administer these regions. This change will allow better coordination between the military hospitals and clinics and the civilian health care providers in each region.

TRICARE Select –
On Jan. 1, 2018, TRICARE Select will replace TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra both stateside and overseas. Stateside, TRICARE Select will be a self-managed, preferred provider network option. You will not be required to have a primary care manager (PCM) and therefore you can visit any TRICARE-authorized provider for services covered by TRICARE without a referral. If you live overseas, TRICARE Overseas Program Select will be a preferred provider organization-styled plan that provides access to both network and non-network TRICARE-authorized providers for medically necessary TRICARE covered services. TRICARE Select adopts a number of improvements, including additional preventive care services previously only offered to TRICARE Prime beneficiaries. TRICARE Prime TRICARE Prime is a managed care program option. An assigned PCM provides most of your care. When you need specialty care, your PCM will refer you to a specialist. Active duty service members and their family members do not pay anything when referred to a network provider by their PCM. All others pay annual enrollment fees and network copayments.

Enrollment –
All current TRICARE beneficiaries will transition to their respective TRICARE plan on Jan. 1, 2018 as long as they are eligible. TRICARE Prime enrollees will remain in TRICARE Prime. TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra beneficiaries will be enrolled in TRICARE Select. During 2018, you can continue to choose to enroll in or change coverage plans.
In fall 2018, TRICARE will introduce an annual open enrollment period. During this period, you will choose whether to continue or change your coverage for the following year. Each year, the open enrollment period will begin on the Monday of the second full week in November and run through the Monday of the second full week in December.

Are You Ready? Take Action Now –
You can begin to prepare for the upcoming changes now by:
· Signing up for a DS Logon
· Updating your personal information in DEERS

This is YOUR Benefit – Take Command! Stay informed with the latest information

In the coming months, more information will be available at www.tricare.mil/changes. To stay informed, sign up for email alerts. You can also get alerts by signing up for eCorrespondence in milConnect. By staying informed, you’ll be ready for a smooth transition with TRICARE.

 NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner coming to Washington, DC this Spring!

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.  Registration opening soon.

==========================================================================================

October 11 2017

NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner coming to Washington, DC this Spring!

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.  Registration will be available at www.ncoausa.org/2018NCOARegistration starting October 15, 2017.

Chief of VA health system steps down

WASHINGTON – The leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system unexpectedly stepped down from her position effective Saturday, leaving three top VA positions unfilled by permanent undersecretaries.

Dr. Poonam Alaigh, the acting undersecretary for health since May, sent a message to VA employees last week informing them she was resigning for family reasons.

“I have made the difficult decision to step down,” Alaigh wrote. “I want you to know that it has been my greatest honor to serve [VA Secretary David Shulkin], each one of you and all of our veterans. As I prepare to now leave Washington, I thank you sincerely for what you have helped us to accomplish.”

Read more here.

 Mattis to Army: ‘Stand ready’ if North Korea diplomacy fails

America’s relationship with North Korea remains a diplomatic one, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Monday, but he urged members of the military to be prepared in case the situation breaks down.

“It is right now a diplomatically, economic-sanctions-buttressed effort to try and turn North Korea off of this path,” Mattis told the audience. “What does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say.”

Tensions with North Korea have ratcheted up since the start of the year, following a series of missile launches that culminated in a nuclear test on Sept. 3. Those tensions have been matched with rhetoric from President Donald Trump, who regularly issues provocative tweets and has taken to calling North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “rocket man.”

Read more here.

 Here’s How the 2018 Tricare Changes Impact Retirees

A series of changes to Tricare ushered in through a periodic contractor update or ordered by Congress have major impacts on current and future military retirees, including how they enroll in coverage and what they pay out of pocket.

Fast Facts:

  • Tricare for Life users are not impacted.
  • Tricare plan names, region borders and managing contractors are changing Jan. 1.
  • All Tricare Standard retirees and Tricare Retired Reserve users will see point-of-service fee changes.
  • Retirees of the future force will face annual enrollment fees for all plans; current retirees continue to pay an enrollment fee for Tricare Prime only.

Read how the changes impact other users, including active-duty families and those with Tricare Reserve Select.

Read more here.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

==========================================================================================

October 04 2017

NCOA Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner coming to Washington, DC this Spring!

The Non Commissioned Officers Association Conference and Vanguard Awards Dinner will be taking place April 19-22, 2018 at the Hilton Crystal City.  The Annual Meeting is designed to deliver NCOA’s message by presenting a wide range of informative and relevant presentations, panel discussions and seminars on pertinent veteran, retiree, active military, and guard and reserve subjects.  Also, a variety of valuable networking events available to all who attend.  We end our conference by honoring our Vanguard Service Heroes who have so bravely gone beyond the call of duty.  So please join us to network, learn and toast our heroes.  Be sure to save the dates, because you won’t want to miss our honored guests.  Registration will be available at www.ncoausa.org/2018NCOARegistration starting October 15, 2017.

 Senate won’t confirm Trump’s Pentagon nominees until McCain gets Iraq and Afghanistan details

WASHINGTON – Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain said Tuesday he is refusing to advance U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominees to the Pentagon until he is satisfied the administration is communicating its plans for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Outside a tense committee hearing on Afghanistan with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, McCain told Defense News that because the administration has not been open with Congress, “we’ve been holding nominations … from the Pentagon to fill in those Pentagon jobs.”

Read more here.

 Jim Mattis: No lack of resources in Puerto Rico with 10,000 troops on the ground

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday that about 10,000 troops were on the ground in Puerto Rico and there was no delay in the Pentagon meeting requests for aid, despite criticisms that the administration has been slow to deploy forces to the island.

“I assure you this is all hands on deck. There is no delay, when a request comes in it is approved the moment it hits the Pentagon,” Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee during testimony.

Read more here.

 VA names Elizabeth Dole to head caregivers advisory group

WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs officials on Monday announced former North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole will chair the department’s new family and caregiver advisory committee, formed in response to problems with support programs earlier this year.

The committee, which features a mix of veterans and military caregivers, is charged with advocating for improvements to VA care and benefits services. In a statement, Dole called the work “critical” for the veterans community.

“Military families, caregivers, and survivors are truly our nation’s hidden heroes, and make great sacrifices each and every day on behalf of their loved ones, so we must do more to support them on their journey,” she said.

Read more here.

 The Freebee

By Willie Woolford, Assistant Director of Military Programs, Bellevue University

I recently attended military Family Day event as an education provider, and I was (and still am) a little stumped.
Although there were more than 1,000 people in attendance with an estimated 50 tables of vendors – 10 tables of education institutions, most people concentrated on the freebees, not the information.
As I watched the crowd, I wondered why there wasn’t a bigger interest in the information available at the vendor tables, especially education?  Then it hit me – everyone likes a freebee.
I get it – freebees are neat.  I pick them up too, and handed out a lot from my table.  But, isn’t education a freebee?   If you are serving in the military, you qualify for education benefits that pay for your tuition (freebee).   Most services get between $4,000 and $4,500 a year (renewed every year) to attend higher education.   Even the bypass tests like CLEP (College Level Examination Program) and DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) are free.
Another freebee – colleges will accept your military training as college credit.  And, they will provide a no-cost evaluation to show you how the credit transfers.   I call it an Education Roadmap.
So why isn’t there a line of people in front of every college?
Some of the answers I received:  My job takes too much of my time; I go TDY a lot; I have a family; I haven’t been to college for a while.  Sound familiar?  Colleges have tackled these roadblocks for you.  You can do a program online as it fits your schedule in an asynchronous learning format.  Just like on the job, you have a deadline and can do the work as it fits into your schedule.   I call it:  “Getting a degree in your pajamas”.  You never have to leave your house to do the work.
Quick recap:  Your tuition is paid for and you can do the work as it fits your schedule.  What else keeps you from finishing a degree?   The answer is probably different for everyone, but usually it is motivation or not knowing what to do.
Think college is too difficult?   Many colleges/universities have Military Service Centers with free tutors.  You can even use the resources at Tudor.com (a free service to military).
So, here’s the plan.   Let’s get some freebees.
Step 1 -Pick three universities/colleges that have a degree that interests you.  If you are not sure, choose a generic degree like Management or Business.  Ask those schools for a free evaluation of your credits (military and civilian).  You’ll have to do a little work to get them copies of your transcripts.
When you get all three, review the evaluation for how many credits were accepted, and how many credits you need to take to finish your degree.
Step 2 – find out if the colleges will accept CLEP/DSST exams for what you are missing.
Step 3 – Get another freebee.  Talk to your Education Office representative about how to schedule an exam to fulfill the missing requirements.
When you are done with these three steps, you will have picked a college, received a free evaluation (so you are aware of what it takes to finish a degree) and you will have signed up for free testing to start on your Education Roadmap path.
Oh, yea — another thing.  Many colleges waive the application fee and other things to assist you.  Another freebee.
Here are the websites for the free bypass tests:
CLEP:  https://clep.collegeboard.org/ and DSST:  http://getcollegecredit.com/

If you need advice, have questions, or want a free evaluation, you can email me at willie.woolford@bellevue.edu.   As a “Partner in Education” with the NCOA, I am committed to your success.

 Take Control of Your NCOA Membership with Memberplanet

COA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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September 27, 2017

Department of Veterans Affairs says money for private health care may run out by year’s end

WASHINGTON – Weeks after a veterans’ health initiative received $2.1 billion in emergency funding, the Trump administration says the private-sector Veterans Choice health care program may need additional money as early as December to avoid a disruption of care for hundreds of thousands of veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said in a statement Tuesday that it hoped to move quickly on a proposed long-term legislative fix that would give veterans even wider access to private doctors. The proposal, under review by the White House Office of Management

 Recovery Effort Ramps Up in Puerto Rico

The U.S. Coast Guard says that it has reallocated additional resources to the disaster response effort in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which are attempting to recover after the passage of Hurricane Maria. The service has 13 cutters and 10 aircraft working in the area, carrying relief supplies to hard-hit areas and providing SAR support.

“Our personnel, aircraft and cutter fleet have mobilized from throughout the Atlantic Area, bringing with them port security presence, humanitarian aid to augment our Federal Emergency Management Agency and Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency partners, as well as command and control capabilities while our shore based units in Puerto Rico continues to reconstitute their infrastructure,” said Rear Adm. Peter Brown, commander of Coast Guard’s District Seven. “Our newest National Security Cutter James along with our fast response cutter fleet, medium endurance cutters and seagoing buoy tenders mobilized quickly following Hurricane Maria to fulfill these missions and will continue to do so.”

Read more here.

 My HealtheVet: Vital Resource During Emergency

Hurricane season takes place from June to November each year. With dangerous storms predicted in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, it’s important to take care of your health care needs to help ease stress during a potential emergency.

My HealtheVet provides Veterans with online access to their medication refills, VA health records, Secure Messaging and other valuable tools even when the brick and mortar buildings are inaccessible. If the weather forces you to evacuate to another area, your VA medical records travel with you in your My HealtheVet account.

Here are a few ways My HealtheVet can help in an emergency:

  • Have instant access to your medical records,
  • Print a list of your current medications, including names and dosage
  • Refill VA prescriptions
  • Reschedule your VA appointments via Secure Messaging
  • Contact your health care team via Secure Messaging

Read more here.

 Commissaries to start accepting Military Star card next month

Commissary customers soon will be able to use their Military Star credit card to pay for their groceries, as officials roll out acceptance of the card over the next month and a half.

The Military Star card is a credit card accepted at all the military exchanges, with 1.5 million cardholders.

On Oct. 3, a pilot test starts at the Fort Lee, Virginia, commissary. On Oct. 9, five more commissaries will join the pilot: Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts; Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia; Naval Air Station Key West, Florida; and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Virginia. Twenty more stores, including some overseas, join in Oct. 16.

 Flu Season is here! Veterans protect yourselves and get a NO COST flu shot!

Flu Season is here! Veterans protect yourselves and get a NO COST flu shot!
The cold and flu season is upon us and the Department of Veterans Affairs has once again teamed up with Walgreens Pharmacies nationwide to allow all veterans who are currently enrolled in the VA healthcare system to be able walk into any of the over 8000 Walgreens nationally (and the Duane Reade pharmacies in the New York metropolitan area) to receive a vaccination at no cost.  Vaccinations will be available through March 31, 2018.
Veterans wishing to receive the no cost vaccination simply need to present a Veterans Identification Card and a photo ID, at any participating Walgreens to receive the vaccination. The Group ID is: VAFLU
In addition, after the Walgreens pharmacist administers the vaccine Walgreens will transmit that information securely to VA where it becomes part of the patient’s electronic medical record.
VA is committed to keeping Veteran patients healthy, and during this flu season, vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of flu.  No matter where you live, visit your local VA clinic or Walgreens to get a no cost flu shot.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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September 20, 2017

Happy 70th Birthday to United Stated Air Force

In 1947 President Truman signed the National Security Act which established this new defense organization, and along with it the creation of the US Air Force as an independent service, equal to the US Army and US Navy. The official birthday of the US Air Force is 18 September 1947.

Thank you to all who served in our Air Force, and Happy Birthday from NCOA!

 

 

US Senate passes budget-busting $700 billion defense policy bill

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate voted 89-8 to pass a $700 defense policy bill for 2018 that would exceed President Donald Trump’s budget request and break statutory caps on defense spending.

The Senate on Monday passed a version of the National Defense Authorization Act that exceeds budget caps by $91 billion.  It garnered support from all but four Democrats and all but three Republicans who voted.

Its passage adds pressure on Congress and the president to strike a deal that funds the federal government for 2018. Congress must ease the 2011 Budget Control Act caps or face an automatic across-the-board cut known as sequestration.

Read full story here.

 

McCain: 20 sailors reprimanded in wake of 7th Fleet at-sea incidents

The Navy has issued 20 reprimands to officers and enlisted sailors in the wake of three major collisions in 7th Fleet waters this year that include the fatal disaster involving the destroyer Fitzgerald, Senate Armed Services Committee head Sen. John McCain said Tuesday during a hearing on Navy readiness.

Administrative actions including non-judicial punishment and relief for cause have been undertaken against 20 skippers and sailors from several ships involved in incidents this year, with most stemming from the June 17 Fitzgerald collision that killed seven sailors.

No sailors from the destroyer John S. McCain, which collided with an oil tanker in August and resulted in the deaths of 10 sailors, have been charged or disciplined thus far, according to officials.

Read full story here.

 Suicide among U.S. military veterans higher in certain states

WASHINGTON  Suicide among military veterans is especially high in the western U.S. and rural areas, according to new government data that show wide state-by-state disparities and suggest social isolation, gun ownership and access to health care may be factors.

The figures released Friday are the first-ever Department of Veterans Affairs data on suicide by state. It shows Montana, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico had the highest rates of veteran suicide as of 2014, the most current VA data available. Veterans in big chunks of those states must drive 70 miles or more to reach the nearest VA medical center.

The suicide rates in those four states stood at 60 per 100,000 individuals or higher, far above the national veteran suicide rate of 38.4.

The overall rate in the West was 45.5. All other regions of the country had rates below the national rate.

Read full story here.

 Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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September 13, 2017

Trump pays tribute to 9/11 victims, vows to protect Americans from ‘savage killers’

President Trump paid tribute on Monday to the victims and survivors of 9/11, telling Americans on the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that his administration is committed to doing “whatever we must to keep our people safe.”

The president and first lady joined thousands of service members and families of 9/11 victims at the Pentagon, where hundreds of military personnel were killed after a hijacked plane crashed into the western side of the complex on Sept. 11, 2001.

Read more here.

 

VA Unveils Claims Submission Option That Promises to Complete Claims within 30 Days

WASHINGTON – As part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) continued efforts to improve timeliness of services for Veterans and their families, VA unveiled the Decision Ready Claims (DRC) initiative, a disability claims submission option with accredited Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) that promises to deliver faster claims decisions to Veterans and their families.

“The DRC initiative is a collaborative effort between VA and VSOs to help Veterans receive faster decisions on disability claims,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “VA works closely with participating VSOs to make sure they are properly trained in this new process and given the tools they need to participate successfully in the program on behalf of the Veterans they serve.”

Veterans who choose to submit their claim under DRC can expect to receive a decision within 30 days from the time VA receives the claim. VSOs will ensure all supporting evidence – such as medical exams, military service records, etc. – is included with the claim submission. This advance preparation by the VSOs allows claims to be assigned immediately to claims processors for a quick decision.

DRC was first implemented May 1, 2017, at the St. Paul (Minn.) Regional Office, and is now available at all VA regional offices. While DRC is currently limited to claims for increased compensation  (commonly known as claims for increase), and requires Veterans to work with VSOs, VA’s goal is to expand the types of claims accepted under the initiative and allow Veterans other ways to submit their claim under DRC.

DRC is another key step in aggressively modernizing VA’s benefits delivery to Veterans in a fully digital operating environment. With electronic claims processing as a foundation, VA’s innovation will improve service to Veterans, their families, and survivors.

Learn more about DRC here.

 Be there for Veterans this Suicide Prevention Month

We all can take action to help prevent suicide, but many people don’t know what they can do to support a Veteran in their life who’s going through a difficult time. During Suicide Prevention Month and year round, help VA let people know that preventing suicide starts with this simple act of support: Be There.

You don’t need to make a grand gesture: A simple act of kindness shows you care. You can call up an old friend, check in on a neighbor, cook someone dinner, or invite a colleague on a walk. You can also encourage Veterans to take time for themselves and to focus on their own health and wellness.

Learn more about how you can help here.

 Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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August 30, 2017

Responding to the needs of Veterans affected by Hurricane Harvey

As Hurricane Harvey moves through the Gulf Coast, VA remains ready to deploy its resources to assist Veterans as soon as they are able. The VA Integrated Operations Center was activated to coordinate efforts from VA’s central office in Washington. Local and regional assets in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana are also mobilized to respond and assist those VA facilities most impacted by the storm.

Staff at the Houston VA Medical Center’s emergency operations center.

In Houston, the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC in Houston, Texas, is currently open and operational. We’ve already begun to see VA offices in the region respond with assistance, including Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System who is taking calls from Veterans throughout southeastern Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma who need to reschedule appointments. A Mobile Vet Center will be providing counseling services to Veterans in Corpus Christi, and 8 additional Mobile Vet Centers currently within a 12-hour drive to the Texas coast are on standby for deployment to the region.
Read more here.

 Tricare Waives Referral Requirement and Announces Emergency Refill Procedures

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Tricare has an emergency announcement for all who are evacuated.

Please read more here.

 

 

SBA Is Ready To Help Victims Of Hurricane Harvey With Business Disaster Loans

I have long maintained that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the country’s most effective government agency. Its mission is to help strengthen the economy by enabling the establishment and growth of small businesses and by assisting the economic recovery of communities following disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas this weekend.

Read more here.

 

 

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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August 29, 2017

NCOA’s 2017 Vanguard Coast Guard Recipient

 

 

 

In keeping with the theme “Heroes Among Us”, this week we are featuring the 2017 NCOA Vanguard Coast Guard recipient:  ASTC Michael Spencer.

To read his story please click here.

 

 

 

Trump Signs Bill To Overhaul VA Appeals Process

RENO, Nev. – Under a bill President Donald Trump signed Wednesday, veterans will have more options to appeal denied claims for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits – a process that now leaves veterans waiting an average of five years.

Trump signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization bill on stage at the 99th American Legion National Convention in Reno, Nev. The Legion was one of the groups that supported the overhaul.

During a speech before the signing, Trump touted the legislation as “historic.”

“Veterans will receive timely updates, and they will get decisions much more quickly in a fraction of the time,” Trump said.

Read more here.

 Trump Signs Memo Banning Transgender Service

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed a memo Friday that bans any new transgender men or women from joining the military, but also leaves it to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to determine the fates of transgender service members currently in uniform.

Trump’s directive also covers the Department of Homeland Security, to include the Coast Guard.

The presidential memo, which Trump has transmitted to the Pentagon, contained three major guidelines.

First, it directed that the Pentagon maintain a ban on any new accessions of transgender personnel into the military. Second, it halted the use of any Pentagon or Department of Homeland Security funds for sex reassignment surgery. Third, it directed Mattis to determine whether transgender personnel currently in uniform should be allowed to stay.

Read more here.

 Upcoming Changes to TRICARE

The Military Health System (MHS) is modernizing TRICARE to better serve you and respond to changes in law and policy. Most provisions will go into effect on January 1, 2018, with full implementation occurring on January 1, 2019.

You will find changes that may affect you listed in this section. We are still finalizing some policies and will update this page when additional details become available. Check back frequently and Sign up for Email Updates.

Read more here.

 

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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August 22, 2017

NCOA’s 2017 Vanguard Air Force Recipient

 

To read his story please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get connected to VA benefit information and resources – Live Today @ 2 p.m. EDT

Explore.VA.gov provides an overview of all VA benefits and offers simple resources on how to apply. There are also tools, such as the Benefits Navigator, where you can answer a few questions and receive a list of benefits that may be a fit.

“Veterans may be eligible for things they had no idea they were eligible for,” says Kim, an Army National Guard Veteran.

On August 22, join VA for a “How to #ExploreVA Benefits” Facebook Live event. Find out how you can use the Explore website to learn about benefits and listen to other Veterans share their experiences. After the live video, get your questions answered and learn more about the tools and resources Explore offers. Register for the event and receive event notifications by visiting Explore.VA.gov/events.

This is part of the “#ExploreVA: From Service to Success” online event series highlighting how Veterans and their families are using VA benefits. VA benefits help Veterans earn degrees, start careers, buy homes, stay healthy and more. For information on events, useful resources and to learn how to apply for VA benefits, visit Explore.VA.gov.

 Trump Afghanistan strategy calls for more troops, regional pressure

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump announced a new plan for Afghanistan Monday night with calls for additional U.S. forces, greater NATO participation and regional pressure that held echoes of the previous administrations even as the president said his way forward would be a much more aggressive plan that delivers results.

“Nearly 16 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the American people are weary of war without victory,” Trump told a largely military audience at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.
read more here.

 Tricare Users Must Approve Mail-Order Drug Prescription Renewals

Receiving prescription drugs through Tricare‘s mail-order system will soon require an extra step for users, thanks to an upcoming change in the system’s refill order policy.

Currently, medications received monthly by mail, often used for treatment of chronic medical conditions, can be set for automatic refills.

Express Scripts, Tricare’s mail-order pharmacy contractor, contacts the user’s doctor when the prescription runs out or expires. The doctor can choose to OK the refill or file a new prescription, allowing the patient to receive medication without interruption.

The latest change, however, will require patients to certify that they want the refill before Tricare contacts the doctor. The switch, which will start Sept. 1, affects all Tricare beneficiaries who receive medication by mail through Express Scripts.

 Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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August 15, 2017

 NCOA’s 2017 Vanguard Navy Recipient

 

 

In keeping with the theme “Heroes Among Us”, this week we are featuring the 2017 NCOA Vanguard Navy recipient:  Petty Officer 1st Class Brett Bingham.

To read his story please click here.

 

 

Veterans Can Visit VetVerify.org for Exchange Online Shopping Authentication

The Exchange will soon welcome potentially 13 million honorably discharged Veterans back to their military families. Veterans may log onto VetVerify.org now to verify their eligibility to access this new lifelong online military exchange benefit. Extending online shopping privileges to all honorably discharged Veterans will directly improve family and support programs for Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard members. Beginning Veterans Day, Veterans can log onto military exchange websites for tax-free shopping with military exchange pricing. Visit shopmyexchange.com for more details. This program will improve buying power allowing military exchanges to deliver better pricing and assortments to every member of the military community.

 Trump signs bill to fund veterans medical care program

President Donald Trump has signed an emergency spending bill that will pump more than $2 billion into a program that allows veterans to receive private medical care at government expense.

Trump, who made improving veterans care a central campaign promise, signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act while at his New Jersey golf club on Saturday. The bill, which addresses a budget shortfall at the Department of Veteran Affairs that threatened medical care for thousands of veterans, provides $2.1 billion to continue funding the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to seek private care.
Full Story Here.

 Understanding the New Blended Retirement System

Which military retirement system is right for you and your family?

To help you answer that question, USAA has created the military retirement comparison tool.

It’s simple to use. Just answer a few questions about your service and you’ll get a breakdown of your options.

Click Here.

 Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet.

Read more here.

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August 7, 2017

NCOA’s 2017 Vanguard Marine Corps Recipient

 

 

 

In keeping with the theme “Heroes Among Us”, this week we are featuring the 2017 NCOA Vanguard Marine Corps recipient:  Cpl Patrick B. Sammon.

To read his story please click here.

 

 

 

 

The NCOA Pledges Its Support To The Law Enforcement Community

The Non Commissioned Officers Association pledges its unconditional support to the law enforcement community.  The certificate in the link displays our commitment to one common goal; protecting the citizens of the United States of America. Please click here for the link to the certificate.

Senate Finally Passes New ‘Forever’ GI Bill, Sends It On To Trump

 At the eleventh hour before it recessed for the summer, the Senate finally got around to some real business: passing a sweeping GI Bill upgrade that extends benefits to more veterans and gives them more time to use those bennies. Officially titled the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act after the former American Legion head who wrote out the original GI Bill’s language in 1944, the new GI Bill closes loopholes that had left some deploying reservists and Purple Heart recipients without any educational benefits. It also increases aid to survivors of deceased service members, restores benefits to victims of for-profit schools, expands the programs that educational assistance can be used on, and – most significantly – allows future service members to use their GI Bill benefits at any point in their lifetimes, doing away with the old 15-year “use it or lose it” limit.

Read more here.

President, VA Secretary Announce Veteran Telehealth Initiatives Designed To Provide Greater Access, Care

 This past Thursday, President Trump and VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin announced three initiatives that will expand access to health care for Veterans across the country. Using telehealth technology and mobile applications, VA will connect with more Veterans to provide services where they live.

“This will significantly expand access to care for our Veterans, especially for those who need help in the area of mental health … and also in suicide prevention,” Trump said. “It will make a tremendous difference for the Veterans in rural locations.”

Through VA Telehealth VA can practice over 50 clinical specialties, from tele-dermatology to tele-intensive care, Shulkin explained. Many of the Veterans using telehealth live in rural areas or far away from their closest VA medical facility.

“VA already has the largest telehealth program in the country. Last year, we had 700,000 Veterans who got telehealth services through the VA,” Shulkin said.

Thursday’s announcement will expand VA’s Telehealth capability in three specific areas. Read more here.

Ask a Pharmacist: Get Answers to your VA Pharmacy Questions

 Do you have questions about your medications? Now, VA has a new web application (app) that can help.

VA launched the Ask a Pharmacist app, which provides an easy way to find answers to questions VA pharmacists regularly hear from patients. Having to search through multiple VA sites to find answers or rely on sites outside of VA that may not be accurate is frustrating. Now, you can use Ask a Pharmacist to find information that you know is reliable and VA-approved.

“The Ask a Pharmacist app is a place for Veterans to find as much VA pharmacy information as we can provide.” said Eric Spahn, a pharmacist with VA Pharmacy Benefits Management. He has been involved in the app’s development from the beginning. “We are putting My HealtheVet pharmacy information in one place. It also includes trusted external resources to help Veterans learn about types of medication information that is available, and determine what information is important.”

Read more about it here.

Register to Learn How TRICARE For Life Works With Medicare

 Do you have Medicare? Are you turning 65 soon? Find out if you’re eligible for the TRICARE For Life health plan by joining us on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 1 to 2 p.m. EDT for the next TRICARE and Military OneSource webinar.

What is TRICARE For Life?

TRICARE For Life is Medicare-wraparound coverage for TRICARE beneficiaries. You’re eligible for TRICARE For Life if you have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B, regardless of your age or where you live. Once you have both Medicare Parts A and B, you automatically receive TRICARE benefits under TRICARE For Life.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are age 65 or older, under age 65 with certain disabilities, and those with end-stage renal disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease or certain cases of mesothelioma.

Read more about it here.

Just Left The Service? Don’t Miss Out On VA Benefits

 When leaving the service, looking up VA benefits may be the last thing on your mind. But if you wait to research your benefits, you may find some deadlines have passed.

Take a moment to review benefits you may be eligible for:

Read more here.

 

15 Events In August With Free Tickets For Troops, Veterans, And Families From Vet Tix

 What better way to finish out the summer than attend a fun concert or sporting event with friends or your caregiver? From major country artists, to top MLB matchups and even NFL preseason games, there are a host of events you can attend in August through the national nonprofit, Veteran Tickets Foundation, or Vet Tix.

Since 2008, Vet Tix has provided veterans, service members, caregivers and family members of those killed in action with more than three million free tickets to major sports games, concerts and a diverse mix of other ticketed events.

Read more here.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

 NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Android or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet. Read more here.

NCOA And Government Technology & Services Coalition Launch GOVCON Academy

 NCOA has partnered with the Government Technology & Services Coalition to help transitioning military members who are considering government contracting.

NCOA and GTSC will work together to provide programming to help Veterans understand the complexities and advantages of becoming a government contractor. Through in-person and web-based programs, number of GTSC Strategic Advisors will work with NCOA to provide the A to Z of a successful government contracting company.

Read more here.

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August 1, 2017

NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards Tribute Was a Huge Success

 

The NCOA held our annual conference in Las Vegas July 11-15.  Highlights of the week included the Icebreaker reception featuring the Thunderbirds Flight Crew, an EOD team complete with an advanced robotic device demo, and even some well-known superheroes. The theme was “Heroes Among Us” to honor our members and the illustrious Vanguard winners for their service to our nation.  The Senior enlisted panel was a high point as well, featuring this impressive lineup: Sergeant Major Donald L. Rose Jr. – Army Sergeant Major James K. Porterfield – Marine Corps Fleet Master Chief Paul Kingsbury – Navy Chief Master Sergeant Shawn L. Drinkard – Air Force Command Master Chief Sean McPhilamy – Coast Guard As always, the crowning event of the conference was the Vanguard Dinner at which we honor heroic servicemembers who performed extraordinary acts while off duty.  In the coming weeks, we will feature one of the winners in each edition of our newsletter.  This week we feature Army Vanguard winner:  Sgt Jeremy D. Dahlen.

To read his story please click here.

 

 

 

 NCOA And Government Technology & Services Coalition Launch GOVCON Academy

 

NCOA has partnered with the Government Technology & Services Coalition to help transitioning military members who are considering government contracting.

NCOA and GTSC will work together to provide programming to help Veterans understand the complexities and advantages of becoming a government contractor. Through in-person and web-based programs, number of GTSC Strategic Advisors will work with NCOA to provide the A to Z of a successful government contracting company.

Read more here. 

 

 

Trump Taps Retired Marine General For White House Chief Of Staff

 

Military.com | 28 Jul 2017 | by Brendan McGarry and Hope Hodge Seck

President Donald Trump has named retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, who has been serving as the head of the Homeland Security Department, as his new White House chief of staff to replace Reince Priebus.

The president announced his decision Friday evening on Twitter.

“I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American … and a Great Leader,” he tweeted. “John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration.”

The news came a day after The New Yorker reported the new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, criticized Priebus and threatened to fire him in an explicit interview with Ryan Lizza, a writer for the magazine.

Read more here.

10 Things About The Veterans Choice Program

 

The Veterans Choice Program (VCP) is a benefit that allows eligible Veterans to receive health care from a community provider rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility. Here’s all the information about the Veterans Choice Program. Find out if you are eligible to receive health care from a community provider. How is the 40-mile calculation determined? And other FAQs.

Read more about it here.

 

 

Veterans Affairs Secretary: VA Health Care Will Not Be Privatized On Our Watch

 

As a physician, my professional assessment is that the Department of Veterans Affairs has made significant progress over the past six months – but it still requires intensive care. In order to restore the VA’s health, we must strengthen its ability to provide timely and high quality medical care while improving experiences and outcomes for veterans.

I believe the best way to achieve this goal is to build an integrated system that allows veterans to get the best health care possible, whether it comes from the VA or the private sector.

Some combat veterans are drawn to risk. Here’s how to keep them alive and free.

This is not a novel idea. No health care provider delivers every treatment under the sun. Referral programs for patients to get care through outside providers (known as Choice or Community Care at the VA) are as essential to the medical profession as stethoscopes and tongue depressors. But VA attempts to offer veterans these options have frequently stirred controversy.

Read more here.

7 Ways To Get Smart About TRICARE

 

When you need information about your TRICARE health care benefits, turn to TRICARE.mil. In addition to this website, there are a number of resources to help you learn about your coverage and important health issues. Take a look at seven ways to get smart about TRICARE:

Read more about TRICARE here.

 

 

Last-Minute Veterans Choice Funding Bill Filled With Key VA Hiring Flexibilities

 

An additional $2 billion for the Veterans Choice Program isn’t the only provision lawmakers rushed to pass before leaving Friday for the August recess.

Under the House Veterans Affairs Committee leadership, lawmakers managed to find a solution that replenishes the Veterans Choice Fund with an additional $2.1 billion dollars and invests in key VA functions.

But the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act also includes some significant provisions designed to help the department more quickly hire medical center professionals, retain high-quality senior executives and accurately track a growing number of vacancies.

In addition, it authorizes leases for 28 major medical facilities, a long-awaited action that the department has asked Congress to take for years.

Read more here.

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

 

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet. Read more here.

 

 

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July 24, 2017

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Android or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet. Read more here.

TRICARE Expands Treatment Options for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

TRICARE expanded mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services, adding intensive outpatient programs and expanding options for opioid treatment. In addition to other improvements, this expansion improves access to care and increases opportunities for mental health and SUD treatment. It also makes it easier for beneficiaries to access the right level of care for their health and wellness needs.

These new services round out existing TRICARE covered treatments, including:

  • Emergency and non-emergency inpatient hospitalization
  • Psychiatric residential treatment center care for children
  • Inpatient/residential SUD care
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Outpatient and office-based mental health and SUD treatment

Read more here.

Here’s A First Look At Army National Guard Training Changes Coming In 2018

The Army National Guard is looking to reform its training practices to create more career opportunities and shorter deployments for its soldiers, according to director of the Army National Guard Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy.

Though members of the Guard will continue to serve 39 days a year – one weekend each month and a 15-day training exercise – officials now plan on stressing more flexibility and specialized training, Kadavy told Task & Purpose in an exclusive interview.

The Guard, Kadavy said, is looking to move away from the way it has been training and deploying soldiers to both Afghanistan and Iraq since Sept.11, 2001.

Read more here.

VA Testing Mobile App That Helps Tailor Care Based On Each Veteran’s Genetics

When a new system being field tested this summer goes live, VA will become the first U.S. health care organization ever to put genetic testing data into the hands of patients via a mobile application.

The system, named Genetic Diagnostic Testing App – called GDx – will put individual genetic information in the hands of Veterans – providing them with access to their information anywhere, anytime, as well as  the ability to share it with VA and non-VA providers alike. In short, medical professionals will be able to provide highly-individualized care and better treat their patients.

To explain a bit more in detail, GDx project leads Dr. Michael Icardi, national director of VA Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Science, and Dr. Julie Lynch, nurse research scientist at VA Informatics and Computing Infrastructure answered the following questions about this initiative. Read more here.

Heroes to CEOs: A New Grant Program For Veteran Entrepreneurs

Do you have an idea or a business that needs a boost? Bob Evans Farms and The Mission Continues have partnered to provide grants and coaching and help turn your idea into a success. The Heroes to CEOs initiative will give away $25,000 grants to three veteran entrepreneurs who submit a video proposal demonstrating a solid business concept.

Read more here.

Veterans Groups Urge House to Reject VA Budget Plan

Associated Press | 23 Jul 2017 | by Hope Yen

Eight major veterans’ organizations on Saturday urged Congress to provide emergency money to the Department of Veterans Affairs — without cutting other VA programs — as the House moved quickly to address a budget shortfall that threatened medical care for thousands of patients.

Their joint statement was issued after the House Veterans Affairs Committee unveiled a plan Friday that would shift $2 billion from other VA programs to continue funding the department’s Choice program. Put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA hospital, Choice provides veterans with federally paid medical care outside the VA.

To offset spending, the VA would trim pensions for some veterans and collect fees for housing loans.

The veterans’ groups criticized the plan as unacceptable privatization. They urged the House to embrace a bill that “ensures veterans’ health care is not interrupted in the short term, nor threatened in the long term.” Read more here.

Military Health System Online Transparency Site launch

Patients who use military hospitals and clinics will find it easier to see how their facility is performing thanks to June 28 changes by the Military Health System to its transparency website.

The MHS has put military hospital and clinic quality, safety, and patient satisfaction information online for years, but not always in ways that could be easily found or understood. The recent changes to the site are a good first step to fixing that problem, said Dr. Jill Sterling, co-chair of the MHS Transparency Initiative Group.

“We put all of our public data on health.mil after the Secretary of Defense review in 2014, and added additional measures when Congress passed the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act,” said Sterling. “Making so much information public from so many sources as fast as we did meant there wasn’t much time to design with the user in mind. The site wasn’t very easy to use.”

The website improvements include:

  • Each military hospital and clinic now has a landing page where patients can see all the data in one place. In the past, patients had to download multiple spreadsheets and search for their facility.
  • Users can find a U.S. hospital or clinic by ZIP code search. Users can find any hospital or clinic that reports data, including those overseas, through a name search.
  • Users can compare up to three nearby hospitals or clinics on one custom report.
  • MHS data managers now have a flexible system that lets them update performance measures. They can also add new measures and remove old ones that are no longer used. In the past, adding a new measure could take months. Now MHS can make most changes in days or weeks.

Read more here.

The Campaign To Build A Memorial For The War On Terror Is Gaining Ground In DC

A Pittsburgh veteran’s monumental effort to memorialize his comrades’ sacrifices is gaining traction in Congress.

It’s been five years since Andrew Brennan began his quest to ensure veterans of the Global War on Terror have a memorial in Washington, D.C., like their brethren from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Most of that time has been spent trying to persuade Congress to grant an exception to the 1986 Commemorative Works Acts, which requires a war to be over for 10 years before a memorial can be built.

Both the House and Senate have had hearings on the proposed exemption, support is building, and bill sponsors expect votes in the coming weeks or months.

Without approval, recent veterans may never get their place in Washington alongside the other war memorials. That’s because theirs may be a war without end.

“Their Global War on Terror is unlike any war preceding it. This war has no V Day or VJ Day. Threats continue to rise, and so the longest ongoing conflict in our nation’s history, and after 15 years and over 6,800 American lives lose there’s still no end in sight,” bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., said Friday during a hearing of the House Natural Committee on Natural Resources.

Read more here.

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July 13, 2017

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

 

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Android or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet. Read more here.

House Passes Defense Policy Bill for 2018

 

Associated Press | 14 Jul 2017 | by Richard Lardner

WASHINGTON  – The Republican-led House decisively approved a defense policy bill on Friday that declares climate change a national security threat, demands rigorous oversight of the Pentagon’s cyber operations and rejects the Trump administration’s bid to close military bases.

Lawmakers voted 344-81 on Friday to pass the sweeping legislation. The bill authorizes $696 billion in defense spending for the 2018 fiscal year, including nearly $30 billion more for core Pentagon operations than President Donald Trump requested.

Yet defense hawks pushing the hardest for the big boost in spending still face an uphill battle. For the spending increases to materialize, Congress first will have to agree to roll back a 2011 law that set strict limits on military spending. But that won’t be easy. Lifting the so-called budget caps will face resistance from Democrats who are seeking to increase the budgets for other government agencies.

Read more here.

New GI Bill Would Make College Education a Lifetime Benefit

 

Military.com | 14 Jul 2017 | by Richard Sisk

A bipartisan bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on Thursday to make the GI Bill for post 9/11 veterans a lifetime education benefit for new recruits who go on to serve three years of active duty.

Current post 9/11 veterans who qualify for the GI Bill would still be subject to the use-it-or-lose-it time limit of 15 years for the education benefit under the proposed “Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017,” named for the late American Legion national commander who wrote the original GI Bill in 1944.

The proposed bill also included reforms and changes to the qualifications for the GI Bill for Purple Heart recipients, National Guard and reservists, the dependents of veterans, and victims of for-profit school closures.

At a news conference, Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said he expected to hold a hearing Monday on the GI Bill proposal ahead of quick passage by the full Committee.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told the Associated Press that he also expected quick passage by the full House. “We’ll move it out this month,” he said.

Read more here.

Tricare Officials to Continue Online Portal Upgrades

 

Military.com | 15 Jul 2017 | by Amy Bushatz

Tricare officials plan more online portal updates meant to make it easier for users to access their health records and prescriptions, and to make doctor appointments.

Tricare Online, as the site is known, has long allowed beneficiaries some access to a web-based appointment booking system, health records and prescription refill requests. But until late last year, when officials launched sweeping improvements to the site, it was not user-friendly and was plagued with technical problems.

“We don’t like to admit it much,” Army Col. Richard Wilson, who heads the Defense Health Agency’s solutions delivery division, told Military.com. “Tricare Online, years ago, did not start out very well. They did a poor job launching it and architecting it.”

Wilson is helping direct an agency-wide effort to enhance the site’s user experience, back-end technical platform and information security.

To do so, Wilson said, his team had to completely redesign the look and feel of the site, while upgrading it to be faster — making portions available on mobile devices, increasing available health information for users, requiring military treatment facilities system-wide to make appointments available online, and adding new functionalities, such as easier access to health records.

Read more here.

New Commander Is Highest Ranking Female Officer In Afghanistan Since War Began

 

Army Maj. Gen. Robin Fontes on Saturday assumed the highest position of any female servicemember in Afghanistan since the war began, taking over command of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan.

“I promise to give you my full support, my best effort, my respect and my loyalty every day,” Fontes told a crowd at a change-of-command ceremony.  Fontes took over from outgoing Commander Army Maj. Gen. Richard Kaiser.

Fontes, a U.S. Military Academy graduate, has spent 12 years in the region, serving in Afghanistan multiple times, as well as in India, Pakistan and Tajikistan. She speaks three regional languages. Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, described Fontes as “the most proficient and competent officer” in the field of security assistance within the military. He said he had to fight to get her the position because she was heavily sought after in Washington.

Read more here.

Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Wait for Lawsuit Decision

 

Special to McClatchy Washington Bureau | 16 Jul 2017 | by By Patricia Kime

Hundreds of veterans and their families, who have spent eight years in federal court trying to prove that burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan made U.S. troops sick, are worried they’ll hit a legal dead end if a Maryland judge decides the company that ran the smoke-belching disposal sites can’t be sued — because it was working on behalf of the government.

“It’s been a living hell, emotionally, financially and physically,” said Rosie Torres, whose husband, LeRoy, a former Army Reserve captain, was diagnosed with a debilitating, progressive lung disease after he returned home to Texas following a deployment to Iraq. “It is the war that followed us home.”

For Dina McKenna, the case represents hope for long-delayed justice from a military contractor. The widow, who now lives in Tennessee, initially survived on charitable donations until veterans benefits kicked in after her 41-year-old husband, former Army Sgt. William McKenna, died in 2010 from a rare form of T-cell lymphoma. He had served in Iraq.

“What do I want out of this lawsuit? I want the rules changed so soldiers don’t go through this again. I want to see money distributed to families who lost their homes because their spouse suffered or is suffering,” McKenna said.

Read more here.

Army Mulls Creating New Pay Grades for Senior NCOs

 

Military.com | 14 Jul 2017 | by Matthew Cox

The U.S. Army’s top enlisted leader is trying to build momentum for an effort to create two new pay grades — E-10 and E-11 — to compensate senior noncommissioned officers as they take on more command responsibility.

Currently, enlisted pay grades stop at E-9, but command sergeants major typically advance from battalion level to higher command positions such as brigade-, division- and corps-level CSM without additional compensation.

Commissioned officers receive a pay increase each time they are promoted, all the way up to four-star general. Read more here.

Have Short- and Long-Term Plans If Not Selecting SBP

 

POSTED BY: KATE HORRELL JULY 11, 2017

If you are electing not to enroll in the Survivor Benefit Plan, be sure you have both short-term and long-term plans for income replacement.

Military retirement pay is an important part of a retired military family’s financial plan, but military retirement pay ends with the death of the military retiree.  Retirees and their spouses have the option to purchase income replacement coverage through the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP.)  SBP provides a portion of retirement pay for life, with adjustments for inflation just like military retirement pay.

However, inflation-adjusted lifetime income isn’t cheap.  SBP premiums, while much less expensive than similar commercial coverage, are 6.5% of the covered amount of retirement pay.  That’s a lot of money.  Many families, hopefully after careful consideration of the other options, decide not to elect SBP and have other plans for their family’s financial security.  That’s fine, as long as those other plans work out.

As a financial educator, I tend to hear from people when they are in trouble, not when things are going well.  And I’ve recently run into two different types of situations where the choice not to elect SBP has been regretted.  While at different ends of the age spectrum, both families are struggling because they didn’t elect SBP and they didn’t have other plans that filled all the gaps. Read more here.

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July 09, 2017

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

 

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet. Read more here.

NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards Tribute Is This Week!

 

NCOA will hold its 53rd annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute this week!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues. Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates. Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates.

VA Choice Funding Problem Looms for Congress

 

WASHINGTON – When they return from legislative recess this week, lawmakers will have only a few days to address financial problems with the Veterans Affairs Choice program before users start to see significant problems. Last month, in testimony before the Senate, VA Secretary David Shulkin warned lawmakers that money in the Choice program funds was being spent at a faster rate than officials expected, threatening to bankrupt the program before the end of the fiscal year. Available funds dropped from about $2 billion to less than $850 million in three months. Shulkin has asked for authority to move money from other outside care initiatives to the program to cover the funding gaps, ensuring that veterans medical appointments aren’t disrupted while VA officials work on an update of the Choice program. But Congress left town for the July 4 recess without addressing the issue. VA officials have warned that the money will run out in early August, and the program will face problems if a fix isn’t put in place well before then. In testimony before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on June 22, acting VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Poonam Alaigh predicted longer wait times for veterans seeking care, fewer available appointments for veterans with physicians outside the VA system, and layoff of some private-sector staff working with the Choice program.

Read more here.

VA Partners With State Coordinators To Better Serve Women Veterans

 

It’s official. VA’s Center for Women Veterans and the National Association of State Women Veterans Coordinators (NASWVC) are now partners in serving women Veterans.

In late June, Kayla Williams, director of the Center for Women Veterans, and Carrie Sconza, current president of the association, signed a memorandum of agreement during the 18th Annual NASWVC Training Conference in Bloomington, Minnesota.

“The Center for Women Veterans and NASWVC share a common goal in serving our nation’s women Veterans,” Sconza said.  “We are both committed to facilitating the delivery of timely, quality benefits for women Veterans.”

The new partners will collaborate to advance and improve the quality of life for women Veterans by working to enhance accessibility to services, the evaluation of existing programs and by gaining information from the individuals that directly serve women Veterans.

Read more here.

Veterans Among The First To Benefit From Cutting-Edge Bionic Arm

 

The Life Under Kinetic Evolution (LUKE) arm  the world’s most advanced commercial prosthetic  is about to change the lives of Veterans and others with upper arm amputations.

Unlike less-advanced prosthetics, the entire LUKE arm can move as one unit, reducing the labor-intensive process of controlling one joint at a time. The LUKE arm also features the first commercially available powered shoulder, with up to 10 powered degrees of freedom. On Friday, VA secretary Dr. David Shulkin and Army Veteran Fred Downs showed the LUKE arm to morning news programs, including Fox & Friends and New Day, prior to an event at the VA New York Harbor Health Care System in Manhattan. Downs, who served as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, was injured in combat and had his left arm amputated above the elbow. The Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient was formerly the national director for VA’s prosthetic and sensory aids services and is now a consultant for Paralyzed Veterans of America.

“This is why the VA exists,” Shulkin explained on CNN’s New Day hosts, “to bring the very best technology to Veterans.”

Read more here.

First American Job Center On Base Opens at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

 

Military.com | 7 Jul 2017 | by Richard Sisk

Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Washington state was opening the first American Jobs Center (AJC) on a military base Friday for transitioning service members, spouses and working-age dependents.

Col. Daniel Morgan, JBLM’s garrison commander, was joining with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs and the Washington State Military transition council at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the AJC, a project of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

The AJC will bolster the existing support services at JBLM, and public-private partnerships in the region, to aid transitioning service members in joining the civilian workforce.

In a statement, Morgan said that bringing the AJC to JBLM was the result of two years of planning to take advantage of the AJC’s expertise in training, referrals, career counseling, job listings, and other services.

“In an era of fiscal uncertainty,” Morgan said, “the best way ahead is to link official federal, state, and local resources in a sustainable manner so we have transparency across the spectrum and can measure our success versus a loosely knitted approach that is overwhelming our people,” said Morgan.

Read more here.

Soldier Gives His Medal of Honor to the Brigade He Says Earned It

 

Stars and Stripes | 9 Jul 2017 | by Nancy Montgomery

VICENZA, Italy — The Medal of Honor has always hung heavily around Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta’s neck. On Wednesday, he finally got to take it off.

In a ceremony marking the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s new memorial to all the brigade’s soldiers who earned the military’s highest award, the former Subway sandwich maker unfastened the medal’s blue ribbon from his neck and handed it over to the brigade commander.

“It can’t be with me because it’s ours,” said Giunta. In 2010, for his heroic actions during an ambush in Afghanistan, became the first living man to earn the medal since the Vietnam War.

“I want this to stay in Vicenza, Italy, with the 173rd, with the men and women who earn this every single day through their selflessness and sacrifice,” he said.

Giunta’s gift to the brigade came near the beginning of a casual, 45-minute event in which privates, children and civilians strolled with war heroes, sergeants major and a major general along a brick walkway on a balmy Italian evening. The walkway, stretching from the brigade headquarters to the gym, is lined with 18 memorials to men who, on what was frequently the worst and final day of their lives, displayed conspicuous gallantry and uncommon valor.

Read more here.

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THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

The conflict between the colonies and England was already a year old when the colonies convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. In a June 7 session in the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall), Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution with the famous words: “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

Lee’s words were the impetus for the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence, although the resolution was not followed up on immediately. On June 11, consideration of the resolution was postponed by a vote of seven colonies to five, with New York abstaining. However, a Committee of Five was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies’ case for independence. Members of the Committee included John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The task of drafting the actual document fell on Jefferson.

On July 1, 1776, the Continental Congress reconvened, and on the following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. Discussions of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence resulted in some minor changes, but the spirit of the document was unchanged. The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late afternoon of July 4, when the Declaration was officially adopted. Of the 13 colonies, nine voted in favor of the Declaration, two — Pennsylvania and South Carolina — voted No, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. It is said that John Hancock’s signed his name “with a great flourish” so England’s “King George can read that without spectacles!”

Today, the original copy of the Declaration is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States laid down its claim to be a free and independent nation.

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July 03, 2017

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

 

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Adroid or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet. Read more here.

Register For Updates About NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

 

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues. Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates. Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates. Register for the conference and Annual Meeting here.

House Panel Approves $696.5B Defense Policy Bill

 

On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee passed its version of the 2018 NDAA, by a vote of 60 to 1. Just a few of the provisions in this bill:

  • Would provide a 2.4 percent military pay raise.
  • Would allow military families to stay in base housing, under certain circumstances, up to six months after the sponsor PCSs to a new location.  They would also be allowed to move six months early when the sponsor has orders and to use the higher BAH rate, if applicable.
  • Would permit the children and dependents of military retirees who reside in military housing to attend DoD elementary and secondary schools, rather than requiring students to transfer once their parent(s) retire from service.
  • Would prohibit funds for another round of base realignments and closures.
  • Did not approve an extension of the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance past its current expiration date of 31 May 2018.
  • Refused to include a proposal to decrease the basic allowance for housing for those residing in privatized housing.
  • Refused to include DoD’s call to raise TRICARE fees for working-age retirees.
  • Refused to include DoD’s call to increase co-pays for prescriptions at TRICARE retail stores and/or those obtained through the TRICARE mail order program.
  • Refused a proposal to have women register for the draft.

Read more here.

Veterans Matter Program and VA Announce Milestone of Helping 1,500 Homeless Veterans Secure Stable Housing

 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department Veterans Affairs (VA) and Veterans Matter – a program that provides security deposits to homeless Veterans in 14 states and the District of Columbia – today announced that, through their joint efforts, they have helped 1,500 Veterans exit homelessness and move into permanent housing.

Veterans Matter, supported by John Mellencamp, Dusty Hill, Katy Perry, Kid Rock and many others in the entertainment industry, was established in 2012 by the Toledo, Ohio-based nonprofit 1Matters.org, and focuses exclusively on providing security deposits to homeless Veterans who qualify for rental subsidies from the joint U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. In providing these security deposits, Veterans Matter removes a major barrier to securing stable housing for homeless Veterans.

“VA can’t end Veteran homelessness alone,” said Anthony Love, senior adviser and director of community engagement for the Veterans Health Administration Homeless Programs Office. “Partnerships with innovative, community-oriented groups, such as Veterans Matter, have played a major role in the decline in Veteran homelessness in recent years.”

“In collaboration with VA, we are able to make a greater impact for homeless Veterans than we could on our own,” said Ken Leslie, who founded Veterans Matter and was once homeless himself.

Read more here.

Find Out How You Can Benefit From VA Health Care

 

VA provides world-class health care to eligible Veterans. The Veterans Health Administration is America’s largest integrated health care system, with more than 1,700 sites of care, and it is consistently ranked among the nation’s top health care providers.

Many Veterans may be eligible for VA health care. Enrollment in VA health care satisfies your Affordable Care Act health coverage requirement-no add-on insurance plan is needed. VA encourages you to explore your health care benefits, including the following services:

  • All enrolled Veterans have access to VA’s comprehensive medical benefits package including preventive, primary, and specialty care; prescriptions; mental health care; home health care; geriatrics and extended care; medical equipment and prosthetics; and more.
  • Most Veterans qualify for cost-free health care services, although some Veterans must pay modest copays for health care or prescriptions.
  • Women Veterans can receive primary care, breast and cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, maternity care coverage, and other gender-specific services.
  • Veterans who have served in combat-zones-and their family members-may visit VA’s many community-based Vet Centers, which provide no-cost counseling, outreach, and referral services to help the whole family adjust to life after deployment.
  • Combat Veterans who were discharged or released from active service on or after Jan. 28, 2003, are eligible to enroll in the VA healthcare system for five years from the date of their discharge or release, regardless of their disability claim status. Combat Veterans who enroll with VA under this enhanced Combat Veteran authority will continue to be enrolled after their enhanced eligibility period ends, although their enrollment priority group may change. Many Combat Veterans applying after their five-year special enrollment period ends are eligible for enrollment and are encouraged to learn more about these and other health care benefits on VA’s health benefits page.

Read more here.

Senate Panel Advances VA Appeals Legislation, Eyes a Busy July

 

WASHINGTON – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee members quickly passed a comprehensive overhaul of the veterans benefits appeals process on Wednesday, setting up what they hope will be a flurry of major advances on veterans issues before the August congressional recess. The legislation, dubbed the Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, was approved unanimously by the panel and could face a full Senate vote in early July. The House passed similar legislation in May, but would need to vote on the Senate measure because of technical changes in the bill. If it becomes law, the new plan would create new options on how veterans can appeal benefits decisions they think are too low or missed critical health evidence. In some cases, veterans in the new system would waive the chance to submit new evidence or official hearings in favor of quicker resolutions. In others, they’d retain those rights, but face more reasonable timelines for submissions and decisions.

Read more here.

Veterans with Back Pain Have Treatment Options

 

There’s a revolution in the treatment of back pain now that research shows that physical therapy, spinal manipulation, and yoga can help as much as surgery or drugs – with far fewer risks. That advice is backed up by a new nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of 3,562 back-pain sufferers.

It found that more than 80 percent of those who had tried yoga or tai chi or had seen a massage therapist or chiropractor said it had helped them. Altogether, a higher percentage of people in our survey who saw a yoga or tai chi instructor, massage therapist, chiropractor, or physical therapist said the advice or treatment was helpful compared with those who said they saw a doctor.

Read more here.

Online SGLI System Delayed for Airmen, Soldiers, Marines

 

By:  Karen Jowers – Military Times For now, the insurance paperwork will continue. Technical glitches have delayed the launch of the online system for enrolling and making changes in the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance for members of the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps. The delays range from one to two months, according to a source, and are the result of problems in transferring sailors’ SGLI records to the online system. That information could not be confirmed by defense officials by press time. The Navy in April was the first service to launch the SGLI Online Enrollment System, or SOES. SOES eventually will allow service members to go online to change coverage amounts, beneficiaries and other aspects of their life insurance. This moves away from the current requirement of filling out a paper form for every change made to SGLI or Family SGLI. The Navy’s transition to SOES is expected to be finished by the end of March 2018. When there were problems transferring sailors’ records, defense officials decided to delay the implementation of SOES across other services so the issues can be worked out, according to the source, who requested anonymity and was not authorized to speak on the move.

Read more about it here.

VA Secretary Formalizes Expansion of Emergency Mental Health Care To Former Service Members With Other-Than-Honorable Discharges

 

VA released finalized plans that lay the framework for providing emergency mental health coverage to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges.

This is the first time a VA Secretary has implemented an initiative specifically focused on this group of former service members who are in mental health distress.

“Suicide prevention is my top clinical priority,” said Secretary Shulkin, also a physician. “We want these former service members to know there is someplace they can turn if they are facing a mental health emergency – whether it means urgent care at a VA emergency department, a Vet Center or through the Veterans Crisis Line.”

Effective July 5, all Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical centers will be prepared to offer emergency stabilization care for former service members who present at the facility with an emergent mental health need. Under this initiative, former service members with an OTH administrative discharge may receive care for their mental health emergency for an initial period of up to 90 days, which can include inpatient, residential or outpatient care.

Read more here.

Independence Day Military Discounts

 

Military.com | by Heather Sweeney

On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Today, we can celebrate this freedom with discounts that span a number of products and services.

The following is a list of military discounts offered for Independence Day 2017. Please check back frequently as the list is updated. Read more here.

NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Expo

Army Command Sergeant Major John Wayne Troxell is the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the senior noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Armed Forces. In this role, he serves as the principal military advisor to the Chairman and the Secretary of Defense on all matters involving joint and combined total force integration, utilization, health of the force and joint development for enlisted personnel and is confirmed to attend.  So mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will host the NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute.  This will be the last time in Las Vegas for many years to come.  The meeting will be held July 11-14, 2017. This will be a new schedule of exciting guest speakers and government agencies who will discuss new and existing benefits coming to veterans.  This new format will be spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski who plan to guide NCOA into the future. Don’t miss NCOA’s new program! Register here.

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June 26, 2017

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership With Memberplanet

 

NCOA has teamed up with Memberplanet to offer you, our valued members, a simple way to stay informed and active with the association.  Memberplanet is our new association management software company, and is not a scam or phishing program. You can update your contact information, pay dues, receive texts on your phone, and even download the Memberplanet app on your Android or IOS phones to display your membership card.  Always stay connected with Memberplanet. Read more here.

Register for Updates About NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

 

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues. Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates. Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates. Register for the conference and Annual Meeting here.

Trump Signs VA Accountability Act, Gives Pen to Double-Amputee

 

Military.com | 23 Jun 2017 | by Richard Sisk

Double-amputee 82nd Airborne Division Sgt. Michael Verardo was at the White House on Friday to attest to the urgent need to hold Veterans Affairs Department employees more accountable for delayed or poor treatment.

With President Donald Trump and Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David Shulkin looking on, Verardo told an audience of lawmakers and representatives of veterans service organizations of his struggles with the VA system after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010.

Verardo said he was prepared for the risks and injuries of combat, but “what I was not prepared for was coming home to a broken VA system. I wasn’t prepared to wait 57 days for a signature on a piece of paper so that my prosthetic limb could be repaired.”

Read more here.

The VA’s New Open Data Portal

 

Here you will find data, APIs, tools and resources that can be used to develop web and mobile applications, design data visualizations, and create stories Here you will find data, APIs, tools and resources that can be used to develop web and mobile applications, design data visualizations, and create stories directly from VA resources.

So go on, explore some of our public data–innovate, create, and make sure to give us your feedback. directly from VA resources.

So go on, explore some of our public data–innovate, create, and make sure to give us your feedback.

Read more here

It’s App to You: Get MOVE!-ing this Summer!

 

Summer is back. The weather is warmer, there’s more daylight and many people spend a lot more time outdoors. It’s a great time to get active and get back into healthy habits. You might want some help.

Have you heard of MOVE!, VA’s national Weight Management Program? Since MOVE! started in 2006, more than 650,000 Veterans have enrolled in an effort to lose weight, keep it off and improve their health. Now you can use the MOVE! Coach app to help you get into a healthy routine.

Vietnam War Era Army Veteran Warren Pennington from Shreveport, LA found success with the MOVE! Coach App. “Once I found out about MOVE! Coach, I was all about it!” said Pennington. “It allowed me to stay at home to lose weight, but still talk to my clinician which was very helpful. When I started MOVE! Coach, I got serious about wanting to lose weight and maintain it.”

Read more here.

The Navy Is Relaxing Its ‘Up Or Out’ Policy For Some Enlisted Sailors

 

If you’re a petty officer who’s having trouble advancing in your rating, your career might not be over. A new Navy policy change, announced June 21, relaxes the “high year tenure” policies that have forced many enlisted sailors to age out of the service. When the new policy takes effect on August 1, E-4 through E-6 sailors on active duty or full-time support status will get a few more years to make rank before they’re discharged.

Read more about it here.

Men: Get Screened for Cancer Risk

 

Your doctor calls to give you your test results. Is it cancer? You are worried because cancer runs in your family. Luckily the tests come back clear. Although there’s no magic potion to prevent all cancers, you may be able to reduce your cancer risk by participating in recommended cancer screenings. Learn more about risk factors for cancers that are common in men and about screenings covered under TRICARE.

Read more here

Soldier Who Lost 4 Limbs Opening Retreat to Help Others

 

Associated Press | 22 Jun 2017 | by David Sharp

ROME, Maine (AP) – Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills awoke in a hospital on his 25th birthday to learn that an explosion in Afghanistan had robbed him of all four limbs. He later told his wife to take their daughter and their belongings, and just go. He didn’t want her saddled with his burden.

“She assured me that’s not how this works,” Mills said, “and she stayed by my side.”

Family support aided his recovery, Mills said, and now a foundation he created is bringing others with war injuries and their families to Maine to continue their healing while surrounded by others who understand what they’ve gone through.

The retreat at the lakeside estate of the late cosmetics magnate Elizabeth Arden will be dedicated this weekend after an overhaul that included accessibility upgrades.

Mills uses his personal story to offer encouragement: “I don’t look at myself and pity myself. I tell people to never give up, never quit, and to always keep pushing forward.”

Read more here

VA Standardizing Caregiver Plan Before Opening to Older Vets

 

Military Update: VA Secretary David Shulkin has told congressional committees in recent weeks he supports a change in law to expand the Post-9/11 caregiver program so that its cash stipend and menu of support services can benefit caregivers to severely injured veterans from earlier generations.

First, however, the Department of Veterans Affairs wants to standardize how the Post-9/11 program is administered across more than 150 VA medical facilities supported by more than 360 caregiver coordinators. Toward that end, the VA on Wednesday issued its first policy directive on screening, supporting and dismissing participants for Post-9/11 benefits so the program is more uniform and predictable.

“This new directive,” said a VA spokesman, “provides consistent guidance to the field about eligibility requirements for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, including guidance regarding discharge from the program.”

Veteran service organizations have been pressing for more detailed guidance on proper operation of caregiver benefits. The need became more apparent as VA began discharging hundreds of veterans and caregivers from the program with little or no explanation as to why they no longer qualified for benefits.

Read more here.

Naval Station Norfolk’s First 100 Years: the World’s Largest Navy Base

 

The Virginian-Pilot | 25 Jun 2017 | by Courtney Mabeus

A drum-and-bugle corps led 1,400 apprentice seamen as they left the Navy’s St. Helena Training Station in the Berkley neighborhood early on the morning of Oct. 12, 1917, and marched more than 11 miles north across the city.

They paused as they entered their new 474-acre home on Sewells Point around 10:30 a.m. to salute Rear Adm. Albert Dillingham. He had spent the past four months whipping the site — which 10 years earlier had hosted the Jamestown Exposition — into shape for this moment.

Orders were read. The band broke into the national anthem. Flags were hoisted.

A training facility that would grow to become Naval Station Norfolk was born.

“The simplicity with which the great naval base was placed in operation was impressive,” The Virginian-Pilot reported the next day. “Not a cog slipped as the wheels of the machinery began to move. In the passing of only a few minutes, the grey-green rows of barrack buildings, that had been empty, were teeming with occupants, were alive with bustle and activity.”

Cross the Hampton Roads or Monitor-Merrimac Memorial bridge-tunnels on any given day, and the glimpse of massive, gray-hulled aircraft carriers at the naval station’s piers symbolizes the important role the region plays in the country’s defense.

Read more here

NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Expo

 

U. S. Army Sergeant Major Donald L. Rose Jr. is the Executive Officer at the Office of the Sergeant Major of the Army, Pentagon, Washington, DC and is confirmed to attend.  So mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will host the NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute.  This will be the last time in Las Vegas for many years to come.  The meeting will be held July 11-14, 2017.

This will be a new schedule of exciting guest speakers and government agencies who will discuss new and existing benefits coming to veterans.  This new format will be spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski who plan to guide NCOA into the future. Don’t miss NCOA’s new program! Register here.

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June 19, 2017

Take Control of Your NCOA Membership

 

Register For Updates About NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

 

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues.

Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates. Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates.

Register for the conference and Annual Meeting here.

VA Shelves Plan to Cut Benefit for Elderly Disabled Vets

 

Military.com | 14 Jun 2017 | by Richard Sisk

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday shelved a proposal that would have cut the Individual Unemployability benefit for elderly and disabled veterans.

“To withdraw this benefit from people who rely on that money would be very difficult to do,” VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin said at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.

Shulkin said that the proposal to cut IU came from an effort to make more efficient use of department funding, but it soon “became clear that this would be hurting some veterans, and I’m really concerned about that. I’m not going to pursue policies that hurt veterans.”

The proposal to cut the benefit, which VA officials said averages about $1,600 a month, to about 330,000 veterans provoked furious opposition from those receiving it and from veterans service organizations.

Read more here.

Senators Push to End ‘Discrepancies’ in Enlisted Pay

 

Military.com | 14 Jun 2017 | by Richard Sisk

Two senators on Wednesday introduced a bill aimed at boosting pay rates for enlisted personnel by requiring presidents to go by the Employment Cost Index in recommending raises.

The bill proposed by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, would also correct what they called “discrepancies” resulting in different pay rates for senior enlisted personnel of the same rank and equal responsibilities.

“Except for seven senior enlisted positions, enlisted personnel do not receive a pay increase as their responsibility levels grow, creating great discrepancies,” the two senators said in a joint statement.

“For example, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff [Gen. Joseph Dunford] gets paid more than the senior enlisted adviser to the commander of Pacific Command [Adm. Harry Harris], even though they both are of the same rank with equivalent levels of responsibility,” the two senators said.

Read more here.

Dallas Breaks Ground on First Women Veterans’ Enterprise Center

 

The Veterans Resource Center in south Dallas is paving the way for the opening of the first Women Veterans’ Enterprise Center. An official groundbreaking ceremony and women-Veteran celebration took place on June 12.

The full day of activities kicked off with an official groundbreaking ceremony featuring an overview of the proposed center, testimonies from female Veteran business owners and statements of support and announcement of public/private partnerships from political, corporate and community leaders.  Over lunch, the center hosted a presentation highlighting women veteran business owners, demonstrating the need for continued support and programming as well as the contributions women veterans are making throughout Dallas-Fort Worth.

“As the fastest growing Veteran population, VA North Texas Health Care System is proud to support the Women Veterans’ Enterprise Center to help women Veterans flourish as business owners,” said Leslie Snowden-Crawford, the facility’s women Veterans program manager.  “This groundbreaking marked a special tribute to North Texas women Veterans.”

The day ended on a high note with a reception commemorating the first Women’s Veterans Day for the State of Texas.

The Women Veterans’ Enterprise Center is a pilot initiative for a national model.  Each center will provide their CEO Suites of Services, which includes co-working space, enrichment activities and opportunities for expansion and advancement. The center will engage a broad range of women Veteran business owners and is designed to create a measurable socio-economic impact by promoting entrepreneurship and economic development focused on increased revenue generation, employment opportunities and community connections.

Read more here.

Kick-Start Your New Career with VA Benefits

 

What do you want to be when you grow up? This common question to children brings out optimism, hope and a lot of imagination.

VA benefits give Veterans the opportunity to experience this excitement again. Whether the goal is to be a veterinarian, chef or mechanic, VA may be able to help Veterans with their career goals.

VA education benefits may be used toward traditional degrees, non-college degrees, on-the-job training, apprenticeships and more. A few key programs that Veterans may be able to use to pursue dream careers include:

Read more about it here.

20 Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out

 

For every resume in existence, it seems there are 100 articles, webinars, seminars, and blog posts about how to improve your resume. Here, I’ve distilled down 20 of the best tips I’ve found for a stand out resume in the military-to-civilian transition:

Read more here.

The Veteran Unemployment Rate Is At Its Lowest In A Decade – Except For Post-9/11 Vets

 

If you served in Iraq or Afghanistan and have found yourself seemingly unable to find work since separation, you’re not alone: Post-9/11 veterans continue to face higher rates of unemployment than both their civilian counterparts and among veterans as a whole, according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the month of May, overall veteran unemployment hit a 10-year low at just 3.4%, well below the national unemployment rate of 4.0% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among post-9/11 veterans, the unemployment rate spiked to 4.6% from April’s rate 3.9%, the lowest this year.

Read more here.

Veterans: Protect Your Skin and Your Hearing

 

Do you know the difference in Ultraviolet B and Ultraviolet A sun’s rays? And what is a safe decibel (dB) level of noise? Here are a few quick handy answers just in time for summer.

Read more here.

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2018 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Legislation

 

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee released the fiscal year 2018 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which will be considered in subcommittee. The legislation meets the goals outlined by the White House to rebuild the military, providing funding to house, train, and equip military personnel, provide housing and services to military families, and help maintain base infrastructure. The bill also funds veterans’ benefits and programs.

In total, the legislation provides $88.8 billion in discretionary funding – $6 billion above the fiscal year 2017 level. This includes $638 million in Overseas Contingency Operations funding, which includes funding for European Reassurance Initiative projects.

Within this total, funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs is increased by $4 billion – 5 percent –  over the fiscal year 2017 level, including funding to increase access to services for veterans, and to increase oversight and accountability within the department. This includes the advance funding provided for veterans in the fiscal year 2017 appropriations bill.

Military construction is increased by $2.1 billion – 25 percent over the fiscal year 2017 level – to provide the necessary resources to continue to rebuild our military, to prepare our service members to be to face existing and emerging threats, and to care for military families.

Read more here.

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June 12, 2017

Register For Updates About NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting; Early Bird Rates Extended to June 15th!

 

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues.

Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates. Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates.

Register for the conference and Annual Meeting here for early bird pricing.  Early bird extended to June 15th.

Congress Gets Plan to Replace VA ‘Choice’ with ‘CARE’ Plan

 

Posted by: Tom Philpott – Military.com June 9, 2017

Military Update: The nation’s largest veteran groups joined key senators Wednesday to endorse conditionally a plan from VA Secretary (Dr.) David J. Shulkin to replace the unpopular 2014 VA Choice program, which critics contend often has failed to provide timely access to private sector care when VA healthcare isn’t readily available.

However, veteran groups adamantly oppose VA’s plan to fund the Choice replacement plan by cutting disability compensation paid through the Individual Unemployability (IU) program to 208,000 severely disabled veterans, those ages 62 and older who also are eligible for at least minimum social security benefits.

In testimony before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Shulkin unveiled his replacement for Choice, titled the Veterans Coordinated Access and Rewarding Experiences (CARE) Program. CARE would have the familiar features of a managed care program, with VA healthcare providers assigned to patients and deciding, based on clinical needs, whether to treat patients inside VA or refer them to an outside network of private sector care providers under contract to VA.

VA is asking Congress to scrap the “arbitrary” mandates established under Choice to offer access to private sector healthcare if veterans reside more than 40 miles from a VA hospital, or a VA clinic staffed by a primary care provider, or if they must wait longer than 30 days for access to VA care after seeking an appointment.

Read more here.

VA Secretary Announces Big Changes To VA’s Electronic Health Records

 

In a mystery-shrouded press conference at the Department of Veterans Affairs last week, VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin announced that the department would move quickly to adopt the same electronic health-records system that the Department of Defense uses – a move once mulled by the Obama administration that veterans advocates are praising today.

“The president made clear that we’re going to do things differently for our veterans, to include in the area of EHR,” Shulkin said, adding that the department’s current VistA e-records system “is in need of major modernization… and software development is not a core competency of VA.”

The announcement was long on ambitions and short on details – such as how long it will take to implement the switch and how much it might cost – but IT improvements have been a major priority for Shulkin, a doctor who ran the Veterans Health Administration before President Donald Trump tapped him to run VA in January.

Read more here

Pre-Need Burial Eligibility Determination from the National Cemetery Administration

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented the pre-need burial eligibility determination program to assist anyone who would like to know if they are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery. VA is promoting pre-need eligibility determinations to encourage Veterans and their eligible family members to plan in advance to use VA burial benefits that Veterans have earned through their military service. Planning in advance for a Veteran’s or loved-one’s final resting place can eliminate unnecessary delays and reduce stress on a family at a difficult time. Veteran families will have increased confidence that their loved ones are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery at their time of need.

Read more about it here.

3 Top Tips for Service Members Entering the Civilian Job Market

 

If there is one thing I know after recruiting for over two decades in the private sector and defense industry, it’s that former service members populate an elite talent pool. And this talent pool is largely overlooked due to a lack of understanding of military culture and its ultimate purpose. In fact, veterans can potentially contribute a lot more to a business’s success than those who never served at all. But, the biggest challenge facing veterans today is being able to articulate their skills and experiences to be seen as valuable by individuals who make hiring decisions. This is why I have dedicated my career to helping former and transitioning service members find meaningful careers after service. So listen up, Vets!

There are three common needs in landing a job. You need a good resume, you need to cleverly network, and you need to nail the interview.

Read more here.

Senate OKs First Female Army Officer To Become Forces Command Deputy

 

The U.S. Senate has confirmed the appointment of Maj. Gen. Laura J. Richardson to be the next deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command.

Richardson, who will be promoted to lieutenant general on Monday, will be the first female Army officer to officially hold that position.

For more than a week, another female Army officer, Maj. Gen. Jody Daniels, has filled the position on an interim basis. Daniels is Forces Command’s chief of staff.

According to officials, Richardson will report to Fort Bragg to take her position in early July.

She is serving in Washington, where she is chief legislative liaison in the Office of the Secretary of the Army.

“Maj. Gen. Richardson personifies the highest standards of the Army and our officer corps,” said Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams, the commanding general of Forces Command. “Throughout her distinguished career, she has led by outstanding personal example from the front – in combat, and in challenging command and staff positions of great responsibility.”

Forces Command is the largest command in the U.S. Army, responsible for training and preparing active, Reserve and National Guard troops to meet the requirements of combatant commanders around the globe. Read more here.

This Combat Vet Wants to Inspire a New Generation of Farmers

 

Military.com | 9 Jun 2017 | by Brendan McGarry

Growing up on a 15-acre family farm in central California, Morgan Boyd never dreamed of a career in agriculture. He recalled harvesting corn by hand in the sweltering heat in the Huasna Valley and hawking produce at farmer’s markets around San Luis Obispo County.

“I didn’t see the farm as something I ever wanted to pursue at all,” he said.

But after serving a dozen years in the Army, during which he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, he was medically retired and struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. He found peace back on the farm.

“My transition out was really rough — I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life,” he said in a telephone interview with Military.com. “I was coming home and helping my family on the farm, and I was finding a lot of peace and solitude and, to be quite honest, some healing out there.”

Now, Boyd, a remarried father of two, wants to inspire other veterans interested in trading their combat fatigues for overalls. He launched the Farmer Experiential Education and Development, or FEED, program at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo to give beginner farmers a crash course in farming.

Read more here

VA Launches Physician Ambassador Program

 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced last week that it has launched the Physician Ambassador Program, an effort to recruit volunteer medical providers, at the more than 1,700 VA health-care facilities across the nation.

The physician and clinician “ambassadors” are qualified, trained and licensed health providers who will meet the same requirements as VA professionals in terms of credentials, supervision and evaluation.

“Our Veterans deserve the highest quality of care – at all times,” said Dr. Poonam L. Alaigh, VA’s Acting Under Secretary for Health. “The Physician Ambassador Program is one of the many ways we are working to keep and honor our promise to care for Veterans and their families. Working with the health-care teams and staff in our VA facilities, these incredibly skilled and qualified volunteer physicians and clinicians will improve our ability to deliver great care and service.”

Read more here

More Than 18,000 Vets Verified For Online Exchange Access

 

Exchange officials have verified 18,011 honorably discharged veterans for online shopping privileges, including nearly 15,000 in the first four days of the new verification process, officials said Friday.   And no, the site that handles the verification, VetVerify.org, isn’t a scam. A number of veterans have contacted Military Times and exchange officials with identity theft concerns, but “there is no need to worry about the security or authenticity of the site,” said Chris Ward, spokesman for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which administers the verification process. “VetVerify.org is a shared service for all the four military exchanges with the sole purpose of supporting the newly approved veterans online shopping benefit.”

Read more here

NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Expo

 

Marine Corps Sergeant Major James K. Porterfield is the Sergeant Major at the Third Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego, CA and is confirmed to attend.  So mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will host the NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute.  This will be the last time in Las Vegas for many years to come.  The meeting will be held July 11-14, 2017. This will be a new schedule of exciting guest speakers and government agencies who will discuss new and existing benefits coming to veterans.  This new format will be spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski who plan to guide NCOA into the future. Don’t miss NCOA’s new program!

Register here.

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June 05, 2017

Register For Updates About NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

 

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues.

Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates.

Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates.

Register for the conference and Annual Meeting here for early bird pricing.

Secretary Shulkin on the ‘State of VA’: Making VA Into an Organization Veterans Deserve

VA’s secretary, Dr. David Shulkin, spoke to the press corps in the White House briefing room last week – diagnosing VA and providing his prescription for its ills.

“As a physician I tend to look at things in terms of the way I was trained – assess, diagnose, and then aggressively treat the patient,” he said before outlining the current state of VA, clearly identifying risks the department faces in caring for Veterans. Shulkin identified key areas that require attention.  These included: Access to care, Paying providers, Community care, Quality of care, Disability claims and appeals, Information technology, Capital Assets, Accountability, Staffing, Bureaucracy, Fraud, Waste and Abuse, and Veteran Suicides,

Read more here.

Tricare Options for Retirees and Their Families

 

POSTED BY: KATE HORRELL JUNE 1, 2017

Tricare health coverage is a valuable benefit of military service, and that value continues after retirement.  The costs of Tricare for retirees and their families is a little different that Tricare for active duty, but it is still exceptional coverage at an excellent price.

Just like active duty folks, retirees and dependent family members under age 65 may choose Tricare Prime or Tricare Standard and Extra.  Retirees and dependent family members age 65 and older use Tricare For Life in conjunction with Medicare. Read more here.

New VA Online Tool Helps Veterans Learn About and Compare Effective PTSD Treatments

 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a new online tool this week that will help Veterans compare various treatment options for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The PTSD Treatment Decision Aid is a free, interactive online tool that helps educate patients about effective treatment options for PTSD and encourages them to participate actively in decisions about their care.

“The health and well-being of the courageous men and women who have served their country in uniform is the VA’s highest priority,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The PTSD Treatment Decision Aid is an important step in putting Veterans in control of their health care. By helping to bridge understanding and communication between Veterans and providers about the most effective treatment options available, we are ensuring Veterans receive the treatments that best promote their healing and recovery.”

The tool includes information about evidence-based PTSD treatments, such as talk therapy and prescription medication options. It also includes useful information designed for people who have served in the military. Users can watch videos of providers explaining different treatment options and what to expect with those treatments, and hear from Veterans who have benefited from them.

Read more here.

The Top 10 Military Employers

 

In the ever-changing employment landscape, what are the current best companies for veterans to work? Forbes, with a research assist from Payscale.com, has tackled the question from a particular angle, analyzing companies that employ a large number of veterans and also have jobs available that match military skills and experience — specifically, skilled labor positions.

“We focus on skilled labor positions for the reason that military training does not better prepare you for retail positions but does give you necessary skills useful for the skilled labor force,” says Katie Bardaro, Payscale’s lead economist. “After finishing a tour, veterans can always choose to move into a retail position — as long as those companies are hiring, which they often are — but the pay and benefits are minimal and the position would use very little of their training. If the veterans are looking for pay to rival their military pay and a position that lets them build upon the skills they gained in service, then skilled labor is the way to go.” Read more about it here.

The Navy Just Took Delivery Of The World’s Most Advanced Aircraft Carrier

 

The U.S. Navy just took delivery of the world’s most advanced aircraft carrier on Wednesday, the service said in a news release.

The future USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) finished acceptance trials under the shipbuilder, Newport News Shipbuilding, on May 26. Soon after those trials, which tested and verified the ship’s basic motor functions, the Navy officially picked up the ship from the builder, representing the first new aircraft carrier for the service since 1975.

The Navy plans to officially commission the Ford into the fleet sometime this summer.

The Ford is packed with plenty of new technology and upgrades, like a beefier nuclear power plant that can handle lasers and railguns. It also has a larger flight deck with an electromagnetic aircraft launch system, which can handle more wear and tear from launching jets off the deck than older steam-powered systems.

Read more here.

At Age 111, America’s Oldest Veteran Is Still Loving Life

 

AUSTIN — Richard Overton is right where he wants to be.

He’s sitting in a lawn chair on the front porch of the Austin home he built nearly 70 years ago, working on his fifth Tampa Sweet cigar on a 91-degree sunny day. The smooth tunes of the Isley Brothers flow from a portable speaker. Birds are chirping in the late afternoon breeze.

“I’m feeling pretty good today,” Overton says, emphasizing the word pretty, because any day spent on this porch smoking cigars is a pretty good day for the 111-year-old.

This is where you’ll find the nation’s oldest veteran for 10 hours every day when the weather is nice. His friends call it his “stage.” It’s where Overton sits and thinks about life, his starting in 1906, the same year as the first wireless radio broadcast and a year before the paper towel was invented.

On this day, Overton is wearing a red cardigan buttoned over a powder blue polo, with light blue slacks and a black World War II veteran hat. He’s smiling and joking and feeling thankful.

The previous week, Overton was wearing a hospital gown. He spent those sunny days stuck in a hospital bed with a 102-degree fever, in a non-smoking room, hooked to an IV as his body tried to fight off its latest bout of pneumonia.

Read more here about this veteran.

VA Secretary Shulkin: ‘We’re Interested In Looking’ At Medical Marijuana For Vets

In his first “state of the VA” address at the White House on May 31, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin highlighted his department’s focus on wait times, accountability, quality of care, and veteran suicides. But it may have been one brief answer to a question after his speech that really signaled Shulkin’s openness to radical reforms for veteran health care.

Asked whether his emphasis on improving veteran mental health and preventing suicides meant he was considering an American Legion proposal to decriminalize marijuana and study the drug as a medicine, Shulkin responded: “I hope the people take a look at that.”

“Right now, federal law does not prevent us at VA to look at that as an option for veterans,” he told the assembled crowd of journalists, but he emphasized that any policy change would have to come from lawmakers. Pressed by a reporter on his opinion toward pot as a trained physician, Shulkin praised several states’ careful decriminalization and regulation of medical marijuana.

“There may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful, and we’re interested in looking at that,” he said. Read more here.

10 Ways to Get the Most from a Mentor

 

As part of your military-to-civilian transition and career development, engaging with a mentor is highly valuable. With millions of transitioning veterans seeking new employment or seeking better employment, mentoring is a critical system for career development, networking and long-term success. As stated by Veterati, a national veteran-focused mentoring platform, “Mentors introduce you to the 80% of job opportunities that exist only in personal networks.”

Most information on mentoring emphasizes the responsibilities and accountabilities of the mentor – the one offering the advice, counsel and connections. The mentee, however, has responsibility to extract and implement the guidance offered by the mentor as well.

Read more here.

NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Expo

 

Army Command Sergeant Major John Wayne Troxell is the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the senior noncommissioned officer in the U.  S. Armed Forces and is confirmed to attend.  In this role, he serves as the principal military advisor to the Chairman and the Secretary of Defense on all matters involving joint and combined total force integration, utilization, health of the force and joint development for enlisted personnel.  We are honored that CSM Troxell will be joining us to participate in a number of events.  So mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will host the NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute.  This will be the last time in Las Vegas for many years to come.  The meeting will be held July 11-14, 2017. This will be a new schedule of exciting guest speakers and government agencies who will discuss new and existing benefits coming to veterans.  This new format will be spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski who plan to guide NCOA into the future. Don’t miss NCOA’s new program! Register here

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May 30, 2017

Register For Updates About NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

 

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues.

Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates.

Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates.

Register for the conference and Annual Meeting here for early bird pricing.

Trump’s Budget Calls For Cuts To VA Benefits As Tradeoff For Extending Choice Program

 

President Donald Trump’s budget released last week proposes cutting monthly stipends to some disabled, unemployed veterans and reducing veterans’ cost-of-living adjustments as offsets to continue a program that allows veterans to seek care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The $186.5 billion budget calls for $2.9 billion in new spending in fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1, to fund the Veterans Choice Program, which was created as a temporary measure and allows veterans, in certain instances, to seek health care in the private sector at the VA’s expense. Trump’s budget also asks for $3.5 billion more for the program in 2019 and every subsequent year.

Read more here.

Benefits of The Armed Forces Retirement Home

 

Enjoy the best benefit of your service

General Requirements

The AFRH provides eligible veterans with supportive care and shared camaraderie. Just like you experienced in your service days. Back then you invested in the AFRH via small payroll deductions. Now it’s time for you to get back what you earned from Uncle Sam: an affordable, comfortable, and secure retirement.

To live at the AFRH, you must be able to live independently upon admission. This means you must be able to care for your personal needs, attend a dining facility for meals, and keep all medical appointments. You must not have a felony conviction. And you must be free of drug, alcohol, and psychiatric problems. If advanced care is needed later on, three levels of skilled nursing are available for a little more per month. Read more here

6 Transition Mistakes To Avoid When You’re Getting Out Of The Military

 

As you prepare to get out of the military, don’t make these mistakes.

There are some days you never forget – the day you turn 21, your wedding, and the birth of a child. But for those of us in the veteran community, those days also include your expiration of term of service day.

In 2010, burned out and ready to grow a beard, I left the Army and made near every mistake you can. As a result, my readjustment period was the worst year of my life, even worse than my deployment.

A few years older and wiser, I’ve compiled a list of my mistakes so that you can learn from them. Read more about it here.

Find Out If You Are Eligible For Burial In a VA National Cemetery

 

Memorial Benefits:  VA honors the service and sacrifice of Veterans and their family members.

  • To find out in advance if a Veteran or family member is eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery, click “Apply for Pre-Need Burial Eligibility” to fill out and submit the application.

If pre-need eligibility has not been determined, upon the death of the Veteran or his or her spouse or dependent (also called the time of need), family members should locate the Veteran’s DD-214 or other discharge papers if readily available and click “Schedule a Burial” to begin the process. Then make arrangements with a funeral home, National Cemetery Scheduling Office, or directly with a VA national cemetery.

Read more here

Appreciating Veterans and Their Ongoing Efforts

 

Military.com | by Justin Sloan

As military appreciation month reminds us to show our appreciation for the men and women of the armed forces, many of us veterans are reminded of the void we feel when not serving our country the way we once did. We appreciate the respect this month brings with it for active service men and women as well as veterans, but it’s also a time for self-contemplation. We start thinking about finding a community like we had, and considering what more we could be doing to help the communities we live in. As a veteran, what are you doing?

While there are many answers to what you could be doing and we would love to hear about all of the great options in the comments, what follows are some examples of how veterans are contributing to society and their fellow veterans. Let us take a moment to appreciate these veterans who are giving back, and consider how we too can make a difference.

Read more here.

Veterans Make It Their Mission To Clean Up Historic Cemetery

 

Dona Ana, N.M. –  As Memorial Day rolls around, a group of veterans are making it their mission to refurbish an historic cemetery with graves from the Civil War and Mexican American War.

Before the group began its work, the cemetery was overgrown with mesquite bush and sagebrush. But in 2013, Peter Stone was scouting locations for a feature film and walked up next to the cemetery and saw a small metal angel, crosses, and gravestones in the bushes. That sparked the idea for him to refurbish the cemetery.

“It was a cemetery that time forgot. And when you look at the markers, and the era of the dates that they birth and the dates that they died. We’re standing on history,” said Stone, a motion picture location scout and army veteran.

This year, Stone and a team of volunteers, who are largely veterans, got to work. They removed the bushes and brush and refurbished some of the tombstones.

Read more here

Veterans Conquer Depression with Equine Therapy

 

By Tom Cramer Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Twenty-eight-year-old Katie Hudgin said she sometimes walks over to her favorite horse, Diesel, and buries her face in his neck.

“It’s like I’m giving him a hug and he’s hugging me back,” said the Army Veteran. “He’s my buddy. If he even sees me look at another horse he gets mad at me.  He doesn’t want me to love on other horses.”

Diesel and numerous other horses inhabit a magical place called Windhaven Therapeutic Riding near Vancouver, Wash. It was established back in January, after two years of preparation, for the sole purpose of providing equine therapy to Veterans.

Not all of Windhaven’s clients are referred there by the VA, but a lot of them are, like Katie Hudgin. Read more here

VA Drug Thefts Continue Despite New Efforts

 

Associated Press | 29 May 2017 | by Hope Yen

Federal authorities have launched dozens of new criminal investigations into possible opioid and other drug thefts by employees at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, a sign the problem isn’t going away despite new prevention efforts.

Data obtained by The Associated Press show 36 cases opened by the VA inspector general’s office from Oct. 1 through May 19. It brings the total number of open criminal investigations to 108 involving missing prescriptions, theft or unauthorized drug use. Most of those probes typically lead to criminal charges.

The numbers are an increase from a similar period in the previous year. The VA has pledged “zero tolerance” in drug thefts following an AP story in February about a sharp rise in reported cases of stolen or missing drugs since 2009. Doctors, nurses or pharmacy staff in the VA’s network of more than 160 medical centers and 1,000 clinics are suspected of siphoning away controlled substances for their own use or street sale — sometimes to the harm of patients — or drugs simply went missing without explanation.

Read more here

NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Expo

Chief Master Sergeant Shawn L. Drinkard is the Command Chief Master Sergeant, 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada and is confirmed to attend.  So mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will host the NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute.  This will be the last time in Las Vegas for many years to come.  The meeting will be held July 11-14, 2017. This will be a new schedule of exciting guest speakers and government agencies who will discuss new and existing benefits coming to veterans.  This new format will be spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski who plan to guide NCOA into the future.   Don’t miss NCOA’s new program! Register here

25% off Graduate and Post Graduate Programs. The University of Phoenix has partnered with NCOA to offer eligible members considerable discounts on tuition and resource fees. This is an exciting opportunity that you don’t want to miss!

Elite sponsor of NCOA

Bellevue University

$1,000 Military Tuition Waiver & reduced costs.  Contact willie.woolford@bellevue.edu for more information

NCOA is the Official Military Fraternal Association Partner for Snowball Express

Proud sponsor of NCOA

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May 22, 2017

Register For Updates About NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

 

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues. Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates. Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates. Register for the conference and Annual Meeting here for early bird pricing.

Air Force Veteran Encourages the Rediscovering of Memorial Day’s True Meaning

 

Memorial Day, a holiday to honor those who gave their lives for our country, has evolved into a day recognized primarily through parades, barbecues, drinks and discounts. Though U.S. service members today fight and die in multiple countries, and cemeteries across the country stand as monuments to lives lost at war, we’ve forgotten how to commemorate sacrifice. But I believe we can rediscover the meaning of this special day on May 29, thanks to the new #FlowerOnEveryGrave campaign.

It’s not surprising that we’ve lost track of Memorial Day’s purpose and meaning. With less than one percent of today’s U.S. population serving, and less than seven percent having served at some point in their lives, it is easy for Americans to lose track of war’s toll.

Read more about it here.

New Supreme Court Decision Has Serious Implications For Ex-Military Spouses

 

A U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down on May 15 may have serious implications for former spouses of veterans, despite providing clarity regarding disability pay from the Department of Veterans Affairs. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court sided in favor of a veteran who believed he did not owe his ex-wife 20% of that pay, and ruled that state courts cannot order veterans to pay divorced spouses for the loss of his or her retirement pay caused by service-related disability benefits.

The ruling on Howell v. Howell – a case in which former Airman John Howell hoped to prove he did not have to consider his disability pay as part of divisible assets  in divorce – clarifies that disability pay is not divisible as community property. Read more here.

Women in the Infantry: How the Army is Growing its First Female Enlisted Grunts

 

FORT BENNING, Ga. – Things are looking a little different on Sand Hill these days, and it’s not just the coiled hair or the female drill sergeants screaming at recruit formations. When the 198th Infantry Brigade welcomed its first gender-integrated class back in February, months of research and planning had gone into preparing one of the Army’s last all-male environments for the arrival of the first women to enlist in the service’s largest military occupational specialty. “There hasn’t been any light bulb moment of surprises,” Capt. Seth Davis, a One Station Unit Training company commander, told Army Times on April 30.  “Female gender integration is new to the infantry branch, but it’s not new to the Army.” Officials across the Army, all the way up to Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey, had similar things to say – that the Army has been training men and women together and deploying them together for decades, and this move is largely business as usual. But gender integration was a long fight, and, at every step, detractors within and outside the Army argued that women weren’t physically up to the challenge. Some argued that women’s unique medical needs would disqualify them, or throwing them into such a macho culture would damage unit cohesion.

Read more here.

Ten Steps to a Federal Job for Veterans

 

The federal government, which offers some of the best jobs, pay, and benefits in the United States, has various veteran hiring programs and is full of veterans who would love to bring on more veterans.

The federal job application system is competitive and time-consuming. Be prepared and read the job announcements carefully. Ensure you match the resume to the qualifications in the announcement.

The federal government is hiring. The jobs, pay, and benefits are among the best in the United States. However, the application process for these highly competitive positions is complex. Be ready to earn your federal government job by putting time and effort into each step of the application.

Read more here

Sen Tim Kaine Wants To Protect Gold Star Children From Education Cuts

 

After 16 years of war, the young children who lost a parent to combat in Iraq or Afghanistan are starting come of age and deal with new challenges, but one obstacle that Gold Star dependents should not have to face is the struggle to pay for education.

“As more of our post-9/11 Gold Star children are starting to reach college age, now is the right time to improve the grant system,” Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine told Task & Purpose. “Keeping our promise to protect Gold Star families is the right thing to do and we can’t expect to sustain a strong all volunteer force without the public knowing that we will take care of their families if they decide to serve.”

He and fellow Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana introduced a bill that’s intended to shield children who lost a parent to military service from cuts to the federal education budget.

Called the “Protect Our Gold Star Families’ Education Act,” the bill – which was introduced May 16 – would expand the federal Pell Grant program to include the children and dependents of service members killed in action after September 11, 2001 to offset their educational expenses.

Read more here.

The Secret To Applying To College As A Military Veteran

 

As service members consider the choices available to them when they transition out of the military, many are faced with a difficult decision. The path to civilian life is not always straightforward, and the job security of the military appears alluring when one considers the unknowns of easing back into civilian life.

In this article, my aim is to use my story of transitioning from the Air Force to Yale University to help fellow veterans realize their options in the realm of education. Read more here

For Veterans With Arthritis, VA Offers a Variety of Treatment

 

Did you know that arthritis affects 1 in 5 adults in America?  Did you know that arthritis is our nation’s #1 cause of disability and that two-thirds of arthritis sufferers are working-age adults who are striving to stay employed in the face of pain and functional limitations?

The burden of arthritis is even greater among U.S. military Veterans. About 1 in 3 Veterans has arthritis. About half of all Veterans with arthritis report limitations in their daily activities because of joint symptoms.

May is Arthritis Awareness Month. It’s a time for us to pay attention to the tremendous impact arthritis has among Veterans, and to the ongoing need for new, better treatments. It’s also a time to focus on what Veterans, their health care providers and their communities can do now to face arthritis as a team.

Researchers are working hard to understand the causes of arthritis and to develop better treatments, and ultimately a cure. In the meantime, arthritis is best managed with a combination of clinical therapies (like medicines) and healthy behaviors. Years of research have shown that physical activity and weight management help to improve pain and function for people with arthritis. But it can be hard to exercise when your joints hurt! So Veterans with arthritis need tools and a team of supporters to help them stay active and manage their arthritis. Here are some tips and key resources for Veterans with arthritis:

Read more here

Women Veterans: Help for Postpartum Depression

 

The birth of a baby is a life-changing event that can trigger all kinds of emotions from happiness and joy to jitters and fear.  It can also lead to something you might not expect – postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression – a depression that occurs after having a baby – is the most common complication of giving birth.  It affects one in seven new mothers.  Left untreated, postpartum depression can have long-lasting negative results, harming the health of new mothers, their babies, and their families.

It could be the “baby blues” or it could be postpartum depression.

After giving birth, many women have the “baby blues,” which are feelings of worry, sadness, and tiredness that usually last a few days.  Symptoms of postpartum depression are like those of “baby blues,” however, postpartum depression symptoms are more intense and can last for many months.

Are you at risk for postpartum depression?

Women Veterans commonly suffer from depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder after military service.  Veterans who become pregnant have an increased likelihood of having a mental health issue, which puts them at a higher risk for postpartum depression.  With more women serving in the military than ever before, it is important to support women Veterans by providing information and treatment options.

Read more here

NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Expo

 

Command Sergeant Major Gerald C. Ecker, U. S. Army Medical Command is confirmed to attend.  So mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will host the NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute.  This will be the last time in Las Vegas for many years to come.  The meeting will be held July 11-14, 2017. This will be a new schedule of exciting guest speakers and government agencies who will discuss new and existing benefits coming to veterans.  This new format will be spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski who plan to guide NCOA into the future. Don’t miss NCOA’s new program! Register here.

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May 15, 2017

Register For Updates About NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

 

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues.
Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates.
Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates.
Register for the conference and Annual Meeting here for early bird pricing.

Listening to Veterans is Essential For Shaping the Future of VA Community Care

VA has made it a top priority to continuously engage Veterans and their families to improve our VA community care operations, and over the past several weeks, I again had the privilege of hearing directly from Veterans on how VA can better provide care when and where Veterans need it.

“VA continues to focus on increasing access to timely, high-quality care,” says Poonam Alaigh, M.D., acting under secretary for Health. “Taking time to directly listen to Veterans about their experience with VHA’s community care program is a crucial part of our approach to not only improving how VA delivers care, but also in strengthening VA’s relationship with Veterans and all of our stakeholders.”

Throughout March and April, Jake Leinenkugel, White House senior advisor, as well as staff from the Veterans Experience Office, and I led five listening sessions with Veterans around the country, including sessions in Dayton, Ohio, Helena, Montana, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Phoenix, Arizona.

The goal of the sessions was to gain a better understanding of Veterans’ personal experiences using VA community care, both positive and negative, so we can turn that feedback into action. As part of the conversations, I also had the opportunity to meet with Congressional staff members in the area, state and county Veteran Service Organizations, along with community providers and VA staff. Read more here.

VA & Hepatitis C: Over 80,000 patients – 90% cure rate. Get tested now!

 

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and VA has made great progress in testing, treating, and curing hepatitis C (Hep C) for Veterans enrolled in VA health care.

As of December 2016, 75 percent of VA’s patients born between 1945 and 1965, (a group shown to have higher rates of Hep C) had been tested. And 98 percent of all Veterans tested have had reflex confirmatory testing performed on those results, an important step. These are far better rates than any other large health care organization in the U.S.

VA has also treated more patients for hepatitis C than any other health care system in the U.S. and in almost all other countries. Since the availability of all oral antiviral treatments in 2014 through January 2017, we’ve treated over 80,000 patients with cure rates over 90 percent. We are continuing to treat approximately 2,000 Veterans each month. As of December 31, 2016, there were approximately 64,000 Veterans with Hep C in VA care who are potentially eligible for treatment.

Read more here.

Coast Guard Honors Top Enlisted Members of 2016

 

WASHINGTON – The Coast Guard’s senior-most leaders formally recognized the service’s top enlisted members during the 2016 Coast Guard Enlisted Persons of the Year Banquet Thursday at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven W. Cantrell hosted the banquet and awards ceremony to recognize the outstanding achievements of: Petty Officer 1st Class Nicole K. Cimino, the 2016 Coast Guard Enlisted Person of the Year – Reserve Component; and Seaman Gregory W. Jacquet, the 2016 Coast Guard Enlisted Person of the Year – Active-Duty Component.

Read more here.

VA Offers a Full Continuum of Care For Veterans to Choose From to Meet Their Hearing Needs

 

Approximately 46 million Americans experience some form of communication disorder.  Communication disorders can compromise physical and emotional health and affect the social, educational, vocational and recreational aspects of life.  Hearing loss, loss of speech and other communication disorders can lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of connection with family, friends and community.

Veterans have higher rates of hearing loss and tinnitus than the general public due to the occupational injury that can be incurred as a result of the noise levels encountered while in the service, including gunfire, aircraft, machinery and much more. Tinnitus and hearing loss are the top two service-connected disabilities among Veterans enrolled in VA for care.  In 2016, more than 190,000 Veterans were awarded service-connection for tinnitus and more than 103,000 Veterans were awarded service-connection for hearing loss.  In total, more than 2.7 million Veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss and/or tinnitus. Read more here.

Commission Eyes Converting Military to a Salary System

 

Military Update: New ‘QRMC’ Study Will Eye Converting Military to Salary System

By year’s end the Department of Defense expects to launch its 13th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC), which will assess the pros and cons of converting service members from traditional basic pay and tax-free allowances to a single, civilian-like salary system.

That’s a slower pace of study than Congress wanted last December when it ordered the department to prepare a plan to begin to transition to a salary system no later than Jan. 1, 2018, and in the interim to provide “an initial assessment and progress report” on the effort by March 1 this year.

The under-staffed department delivered that initial report April 17, as a two-page letter to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Max Thornberry, chairmen of the Senate and House armed services committees. The letter advised that assessing the ramifications of moving to military salaries is an enormous task, and “necessarily and most appropriately” performed by the next QRMC.

The department takes “very seriously” that order from Congress, wrote senior defense executive A. M. Kurta. However, he explained, transitioning to a salary system “would be a change of historic proportions” requiring “significant additional study [of] second and third order effects, the potential risk to readiness, if any, and the effects on DoD’s ability to recruit and retain” a volunteer force. Read more about it here.

Commissary’s New In-House Brands Coming This Month

 

POSTED BY: AMY BUSHATZ MAY 10, 2017

The commissary system will introduce its first-ever product under its new in-house brands at the end of May: bottled water.

Officials announced plans to produce and introduce 4,000 private label, generally known as “generic,” items after a 2015 law change allowed them to do so. Last year they announced that those brands would be known as the not at all cheesy “Freedom’s Choice” and “HomeBase” product lines. (No word yet on whether or not “Freedom Rings” cereal will be an option – but please let it be so).

And commissary officials say that will kick-off with bottled water. At least one store is advertising the upcoming introduction, although officials tell us that announcement isn’t system wide. Read more here.

New Project Serves Military Families Impacted by Autism

 

Jessica Buterbaugh, Penn State News

Nobody ever thinks that they’ll have a child with autism. Yet, according to the National Autism Association, the number of children affected by the disorder has increased steadily in the last 20 years. Today, one in 68 children are diagnosed with autism.

Unexpected diagnoses leave parents searching for resources and treatment options to help their child. While this can be stressful for any family, military families who have children with autism face unique challenges.

“Military families move three to five times more than other families,” said Lt. Col. Eric Flake, a developmental pediatrician for the U.S. Air Force. “It is not uncommon for us to diagnose a child with autism weeks before families move to another base.”

The constant moves make it difficult for parents of children with autism to locate effective treatment programs and early intervention services. Additionally, Flake said that a number of families may be stationed abroad where resources are limited and they are separated from extended family and support systems. Read more here.

Eight Ways To Get Through A Long Pay Period

 

POSTED BY: KATE HORRELL MAY 12, 2017

Sometimes, military paydays can come pretty far apart.  Paydays are regularly on the 15th and 1st of the month, but are bumped to the business day prior if the 15th or 1st fall on a weekend or holiday.  This means that paydays can come as far as 19 days apart.  We’re just headed into one of those super-long pay periods right now.  If you got paid yesterday or today, it will be 19 days until your next paycheck.  If your bank or credit union deposits on the actual payday, Monday, you’ll have 17 days until your next pay deposit.

If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, and counting on a new deposit every 14 or 15 days, a few extra days can be trouble.  Here are ten ways to get through if you don’t have any cash buffer:

Read more here.

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May 8, 2017

Register For Updates About NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

 

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues.   Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates. Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates. Register for the conference and Annual Meeting here for early bird pricing.

Use Your Voice This Mental Health Awareness Month

 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, let everyone know that recovery is possible.

Every May, VA recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s an opportunity to educate organizations and individuals about mental health challenges and treatment options, and to make sure people know that recovery is possible. You can make an impact by sharing Make the Connection’s resources, information, and tools with a Veteran you know.

Read more here.

Veterans Choice Program (VCP) Phone Line Imposter

 

It has come to VA’s attention that a phone line has been set up by an unknown party to potentially “mimic” the VCP phone line. This imposter phone line may be intended to reach Veterans who inadvertently dial the VCP number incorrectly.  We want you to know that we are taking this seriously and to keep you aware of the steps we are taking.. VHA Office of Community Care (VHA CC) has reported the “mimic” line to the VA Office of Inspector General for a possible civil or criminal investigation.

“Mimic” Phone Line The phone line established to “mimic” the VCP phone line is 1-800-606-8198. You know you have reached the wrong VCP phone line when: -The phone line offers callers a $100 rebate if the caller provides a credit card. -The phone line does not state the caller has reached U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the VCP phone line.  Be aware that this phone number incorrectly confirms callers had reach the VCP if the caller asks that question.

VCP Phone Line The correct VCP phone line is 1-866-606-8198. This line is for Veterans to check their eligibility for the VCP and ask questions about the program.  If you are unsure if you have reached the correct phone line, hang up and dial 1-866-606-8198 again. The phone line will state the called has reach the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Read more here.

TRICARE Changes to Nexium Coverage

 

Starting on June 28, 2017, TRICARE will no longer include the drug Nexium in the preferred, or formulary, drug list, and it will no longer be available in military hospitals and clinics. In order to prepare for the change, patients are currently being asked to switch to one of the following three preferred alternatives that have been shown to demonstrate effective results.

  • Omeprazole
  • Pantoprazole
  • Rabeprazole

Your doctor may determine that the preferred alternatives are not right for you and that Nexium is medically necessary.  In those cases, TRICARE will continue to cover the cost of Nexium, minus the $20 copay for a 90-day supply of home delivery and $24 copay for a 30-day supply via a retail outlet.  Your doctor must submit a prior authorization and a reason why it is medically necessary via the Express Scripts doctor line in order for you to fill your prescription.  For patients who continue to use Nexium with a prior authorization but WITHOUT a doctor’s medical necessity determination, the non-formulary copay cost will be $49 for a 90-day supply via home pharmacy delivery or $50 for a 30-day supply via a retail outlet.

Navy Redesigning Its Submarines to Accommodate Women

Associated Press | by Jennifer Mcdermott

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Every submarine in the U.S. fleet was designed with the height, reach and strength of men in mind, from the way valves are placed to how display screens are angled.

That’s going to change.

With women now serving aboard submarines, defense contractor Electric Boat is designing what will be the first Navy subs built specifically to accommodate female crew members.

The designers are doing the obvious things, such as adding more doors and washrooms to create separate sleeping and bathing areas for men and women and to give them more privacy. But they are also making more subtle modifications that may not have been in everyone’s periscope when the Navy admitted women into the Silent Service.

For example, they are lowering some overhead valves and making them easier to turn, and installing steps in front of the triple-high bunk beds and stacked laundry machines.

The first vessel built with some of the new features is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2021, the future USS New Jersey.

Read more here.

Need Medical Advice Late at Night? Call the Nurse Advice Line

 

It’s midnight, your spouse is deployed and your toddler’s fever is rising. The last thing you want to do is load your other sleeping children into the car for a long night in the ER. Should you wait it out until morning? Give another dose of fever reducing medication? If only you could talk with a medical professional for advice. Thanks to the free Military Health System Nurse Advice Line (NAL), that medical professional is just a phone call away.

Registered nurses (including pediatric nurses) answer roughly 1,750 calls each day on the NAL. These professionals help stateside TRICARE beneficiaries decide what course of action they should take. To date, the NAL has helped 1.5 million callers.

When you call the NAL (1-800-TRICARE, option 1), the nurse will:

Read more about it here.

Military Appreciation Month Discounts

 

Military.com | by Heather Sweeney

Service members and families are being honored during Military Appreciation Month with a variety of discounts. Below are some highlighted offerings. Please check back frequently as the list is updated.

Make sure to visit the Military.com Discounts Center for more discounts and articles. And sign up for the Military Deals and Discounts Newsletter to get even more discounts and information in your inbox on how military families can save big.

Read more here.

Veteran Hiring: The Importance of Reading Recommendations

 

By:  Lida Citroën

As a recruiter or hiring manager, you likely spend a lot of time sifting through of resumes for each open position you need to fill. While a resume reflects on the candidate’s experiences, skills and background, it can miss the mark on telling you who the person is, where they come from and what’s important to them.

I find this particularly true with military veterans: As veterans prepare their resumes for review and uploading into a variety of online tools, they often leave out the “why,” the personal brand. They forget to tell you why they are passionate about their work, why they chose to serve their country, and why you should consider them for an open position. They often forget to sell you on their value.

Read more here.

FEMA Reservist Job Opportunities

When disaster strikes, America looks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Now FEMA looks to you. FEMA is seeking talented men and women who are eager to assist disaster survivors as a FEMA Reservist in the Public Assistance cadre. Reservists are vital employees, to FEMA’s disaster workforce, who work on an on-call, intermittent basis to support disaster survivors when they are most in need.  If you are looking for a rewarding opportunity to assist survivors when they are most in need, then join the FEMA Reservist Program

Read more here.

Lawmakers Battle Over Whether New Health Care Bill Hurts Vets

 

Military.com | 5 May 2017 | by Richard Sisk

A partisan fight broke out in the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Friday over whether the new health care bill proposal to replace Obamacare would help or hurt vets.

The Republican chairman of the committee, Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee, vehemently said the proposed bill, called the American Health Care Act, wouldn’t hurt veterans. Democrats just as vehemently said it would.

The issue is tax credits and how they do or don’t apply to veterans under Obamacare, which Republicans want to repeal and replace.

As it stands now, veterans who are currently enrolled in VA health care are deemed to meet minimum coverage requirements under Obamacare, meaning they are not eligible for tax credits.

However, veterans who are not enrolled in VA health care, even if they are eligible but have chosen not to enroll, are eligible for the tax credits to purchase coverage.

Please read more here.

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May 1, 2017

Register For Updates About NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues.

Signup to receive NCOA Conference and Annual Meeting updates.
Signup to become “Free Basic Member” and NCOA Conference updates.

Register for the conference and Annual Meeting here for early bird pricing.

Congress Reaches Deal To Keep Government Open Through September

By Kelsey Snell -Washington Post 

Congressional negotiators reached an agreement late Sunday on a broad spending package to fund the government through the end of September, alleviating fears of a government shutdown later this week, several congressional aides said.

Congress is expected to vote on the roughly $1 trillion package early this week. The bipartisan agreement includes policy victories for Democrats, whose votes will be necessary to pass the measure in the Senate, as well as $12.5 billion in new military spending and $1.5 billion more for border security requested by Republican leaders in Congress.

The agreement follows weeks of tense negotiations between Democrats and GOP leaders after President Trump insisted that the deal include funding to begin building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump eventually dropped that demand, leaving Congress to resolve lingering issues over several unrelated policy measures.

The new border-security money comes with strict limitations that the Trump administration use it only for technology investments and repairs to existing fencing and infrastructure, the aides said.

“This agreement is a good agreement for the American people and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). “The bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren’t used to fund an ineffective border wall, excludes poison pill riders and increases investments in programs that the middle class relies on, like medical research, education and infrastructure.”

Read more here.

New TRICARE Laws, Contracts to Drive ‘Historic’ Reforms

Military healthcare is seven months from rolling out “historic” reforms to improve patient access and quality of care, to streamline health operations across Army, Navy and Air Force, and to better integrate that direct care system with networks of private sector providers supporting TRICARE insurance beneficiaries, said Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA).

DHA is responsible for implementing the changes while following through on many previous reforms the last two defense secretaries had set in motion for modernizing the military health care system.

“This is historic because we have the opportunity here to redesign our system of health,” says Bono. “At the heart of it, I believe, is a growing recognition, both in the military health system and the commercial and private healthcare system, that our patients truly need to be co-designers.”

Many elements of military healthcare are in flux due to three factors: a hefty package of reforms voted by Congress last December; a new generation of TRICARE support contracts taking effect soon, and the introduction of MHS Genesis, the military’s new electronic records and scheduling system, which began at few medical facilities earlier this year and will be running department-wide by 2022.

Read more here.

Cybersecurity Awareness – Are You Cyberfit?

You can store and track your health and fitness information with fitness wearables, mobile devices, applications or other online services.  While this technology makes it easier for you to be in charge of your health information, it may increase the possibility that it can be stolen.  Only you can protect the health information under your control.

Make cyber fitness a part of your daily routine.  Read more here for the the steps and tips to be more “cyberfit.”

New Air Force Policy Gives New Mothers 12 Months To Decide If They Want To Stay In Uniform

By:  Stephen Losey, April 26, 2017

Female airmen who give birth now have up to a year to decide whether they want to stay in the Air Force, under a new policy that went into effect Wednesday.
The Air Force Personnel Center said in a Thursday release that the change is part of the latest slate of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Previously, pregnant airmen had to separate before childbirth if they wanted to leave the Air Force, the release said.
AFPC said this will give new mothers time to adjust and figure out if they want to continue to balance their military career with their family needs. And new parents can use the MyVector online mentoring system to find other airmen who are also parents and get their help and advice on how to balance work and family.
“Our country has a natural advantage in our incredibly diverse population,” said Daniel Sitterly, acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs. “We just need to maximize it. This is another initiative which allows airmen flexibility in making decisions for their careers, their families and their futures.” 

Read more here.

Get Checked: Recommended Screenings and Immunizations

As you get older, you are at greater risk for certain illnesses and diseases. While you can’t prevent aging, you can help detect and prevent these illnesses and diseases early on. Screenings can help find them earlier when they can be more successfully treated.

Most screenings are based on age, sex, health, and family history. Mammograms and Prostate exams are just two options you may have heard about that can screen for cancer, but here are many different recommended screenings for both women and men.

Read more here on the recommended screenings and immunizations, and talk with your health care provider about what screenings are right for you.

VA Modernization Initiative Reduces Processing Time for Veterans’ Claims, Saves Future Taxpayer Dollars

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently started digitizing older, inactive paper records, which will save taxpayer dollars through reduced, leased office-space that currently houses these records.

“This is just one of the ways in which we are modernizing our capabilities, not only to be more responsive to Veterans and their families, but also to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said VA’s Acting Under Secretary for Benefits Thomas Murphy.

This new “paper-extraction” process ensures that when a claim is filed, the Veteran’s electronic record is already available in VA’s computer systems, reducing processing time for benefit claims from Veterans and their survivors. In the past, when a Veteran filed a new or supplemental claim, if a medical condition had worsened, the retired paper files were boxed and shipped to a central site to scan into VA’s systems before work would begin on the new claim.

Nearly 2 million inactive files were housed in 33 regional offices across the country before the change. As of April 14, more than 500,000 files have been collected from eight regional offices for scanning. Once the records have been digitized, VA will archive and store them in less expensive long-term storage for safekeeping.

Please read more here.

Coast Guard Floats, Fights and Navigates in Cyberspace

Acceleration in technology has fueled unprecedented growth, speed and efficiency in our globalized economy. More than 90 percent of the world’s goods and over $4 trillion of economic activity are supported by our networked domestic and global maritime supply chain. At the heart of that supply chain is the U.S. maritime transportation system (MTS) – the lifeblood of our economic security and prosperity and key to U.S. strategic mobility.

Today, the MTS is highly dependent upon cyberspace, but the seductive opportunities technology offers also carry new risks.

The U.S. is struggling to understand and manage those risks against a cyber threat environment that is dynamic and evolving. Russia, China, Iran and North Korea and other actors are developing strength and proficiency in cyberspace capabilities, and transnational criminal organizations and other non-state actors are increasingly reaching for the advantage technology offers. The U.S. must be prepared to deter others, defeat threats and respond to cyberspace incidents that threaten our national security and economic prosperity.

Read more here.

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Apr 24, 2017

Brand New Advanced Weapons Demo Debuting at NCOA’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

You don’t want to miss out on NCOA’s Annual Conference, Membership Meeting, and Vanguard Awards tribute!  This will be the last time NCOA will hold this important event in Las Vegas, chocked full of important agenda items relating to military and veteran issues.  You can read all about it here.

Sign up here for early bird pricing.

Trump Signs Bill to Extend Veterans Choice Program

Military.com | 19 Apr 2017 | by Richard Sisk

President Donald Trump extended the Veterans Choice Act on Wednesday to set the stage for a push in Congress to expand the program and allow more access to private care for veterans.

Flanked by veterans at an Oval Office ceremony, the president signed the bill to extend the Choice program, which was to expire on Aug. 7, and allow the expenditure of the remaining $950 million in the program.

The Choice Card program allowed vets facing lengthy wait times at Veterans Administration facilities or living more than 40 miles from the nearest VA to seek care in the private sector. Those already in the program will not need to re-apply under the bill signed by Trump, VA officials said.

The new bill — the Veterans Choice Improvement Act — addressed a major complaint of veterans service organizations by directing the VA to cover co-pays and deductibles directly for private care rather than reimbursing veterans for paying up front.

Read more here.

There’s a Plan in Congress to Start Charging Troops For Their GI Bill Benefits

NCOA Call To Action

Last week, Congress took stupid to a whole new level by announcing a ridiculous plan to tax enlistees $2,400 to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill. Yes, some in Congress want to tax troops to use the GI Bill. It’s insanity!

It’s bad for veterans. Bad for our military. Bad for recruiting. Bad for our economy. And especially bad for families making a base pay of only about $19,000 a year.

NCOA won’t stand for it.

If you’ve volunteered to serve this country, you are entitled to your education benefits. It’s a cost of war. PERIOD.

But our earned wartime benefits are under attack again by politicians looking to nickel and dime our brothers and sisters–as bullets continue to fly at them in combat around the world.

NCOA will ferociously #DefendTheGIBill. Now and forever. We will fight to ensure all enlistees get the same benefits (or better) than we got. And we need you to have our back.

Together, we will win.

“Strength in Unity”,

Jon Ostrowski, Executive Director Non Commissioned Officers Association

Click here to sign the petition.

VA Sees Curbing Veteran Suicides as Top Priority

Associated Press | 22 Apr 2017 | by Susan Montoya Bryan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Curbing suicide among military veterans and boosting access to mental health care are among the top priorities of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Deputy Secretary Scott Blackburn said Friday.

Blackburn, an Army veteran, said staffing shortages in mental health and other specialties were among concerns he heard about while meeting with patients, doctors and others at New Mexico’s largest VA medical center.

Administrators acknowledged that recruiting psychiatrists has been a challenge in New Mexico, and that the shortage extends far beyond the VA system. The state currently has a shortage of about 130 psychiatrists and needs dozens more primary care physicians to meet demand, officials said.

Read more here.

VA Helps Vietnam Veteran Get His Life Back

By Tom Cramer VHA Communications

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dale Herb knew something was going terribly wrong with him, but he couldn’t figure out what it was.

“Eleven years ago I had to stop working because of my health,” said the 67-year-old Vietnam Veteran. “I was getting weaker and weaker.  I was breaking down physically. So I went to the VA because I thought they might have an idea what was wrong with me.  And they did.”

Not Good News

Herb’s doctors at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center told him he had Parkinson’s disease, a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.

“I got exposed to a lot of chemicals in Vietnam,” said the Army Veteran, who lives with his wife Deborah in Marietta, Ohio. “I guess I’m paying the price for serving my country, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  I went out into the jungle and did what I was supposed to do.  All of us did.  We did our jobs.”

Herb said he’s glad he turned to the VA for help.

“I found out I had benefits I wasn’t aware of, so that’s been very helpful to me,” he said. “The VA has been taking care of me.  I’m lucky, because there’s no way I could have paid for the medicine they’re giving me.  It’s very expensive.  Without the VA I would have had to choose between food or medicine.”

Read more here.

Nashua, New Hampshire the Latest Community to Effectively End Veteran Homelessness

At the end of March, the Greater Nashua region in the state of New Hampshire announced the end of Veteran homelessness in their community, bringing us another step closer to ending Veteran homelessness across our nation.

The City of Nashua joins more than 40 communities and three states – Connecticut, Delaware, and Virginia – that have effectively ended Veteran homelessness. Communities that have reached this goal have identified each homeless Veteran by name and have processes in place to secure permanent housing.

Since VA launched its initiative to prevent and end Veteran homelessness in 2010, more than 480,000 Veterans and their family members have been permanently housed, rapidly re-housed, or prevented from becoming homeless. In Greater Nashua alone – which includes Nashua, and nine nearby communities- nearly 900 formerly homeless Veterans have obtained permanent housing since October 2012.

Achieving an end to homelessness was a hard-fought victory for Nashua. The staff at Manchester VA Medical Center has worked tirelessly alongside its community partners to support homeless Veterans in the areas of housing, employment, transportation assistance and more.

Read more here.

Patients Will Save, Some Docs Will Flee New TRICARE Dental Plan

Military Update: Responsibility to provide dental care coverage to 1.37 million active duty family members, and 376,000 Reserve and Guard members and their families, will shift May 1 from MetLife to United Concordia Companies, Inc., of Harrisburg, Pa.

The change in TRICARE Dental Program contractor will bring lower patient premiums and a modest expansion of covered services.

However, United Concordia also will lower key reimbursements to dentists below what they have been paid, prompting some dentists to warn patients they won’t be joining the new network.

So, starting next month an unknown number of TRICARE Dental Program enrollees will need to find new dentists off a directory of participating providers that United Concordia began to build after it won the competitive bid contract last year.

TRICARE beneficiaries are accustomed to having to switch healthcare providers from time to time, usually when they move to new assignments or when TRICARE support contracts expire and a new company wins the business.

Please read more here.

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Apr 17, 2017

VA’s New Online Tool Helps Veterans Make Informed Health Care Decisions

For many Veterans, deciding when, where and how to receive medical care is often one of the most complex and challenging decisions of the entire health care process. Health care performance, access or quality of care data, is very complicated – leaving many Veterans at a loss for the best course of action. To help, VA is launching a new website with an access and quality tool to help Veterans make more informed choices.

The new online tool allows Veterans, caregivers and the public to access the most transparent and easy-to-understand wait time and quality of care measures across the health care industry. That means Veterans can quickly and easily compare access and quality measures from their VA facility to other VA facilities, and make informed choices about where, when and how they receive their health care. Further, Veterans at some of VA’s largest medical centers will now be able to compare the quality of VA care to local private-sector hospitals with more hospital comparisons being added soon.

Read more here.

Senator Tester Calls on VA to Take Preventive Measures After Student Veterans Wrongly Charged for Education Benefits

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 –  U.S. Senator Jon Tester is using his powerful position on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to save taxpayers money and cut debt for veterans.

In a letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin, Tester is calling on the VA to reform its administration of the Post-9/11 GI Bill after reports surfaced that student veterans were being overcharged for their education benefits because of miscommunication between their schools and the VA.

“I am very concerned by the rate of improper payments being made to veterans receiving education benefits,” Tester wrote. “Overpayments are a serious matter. They cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year and the way they are clawed back from veterans creates nothing but confusion and financial hardship. Veterans should not be left holding the bill for programmatic mistakes for a benefit they have earned, and it’s past time for further action from the VA to reform this process.”

Last October, the Government Accountability Office reported that the VA made $416 million worth of inaccurate Post-9/11 GI Bill payments in 2014. This waste of taxpayer money has left approximately one out of every four student veterans who use the program holding the bill for mistakes that could have been easily avoided.

Read more here.

How Military Spouses Pay For College

Military.com | by Raleigh Duttweiler

You made the decision to go back to school and retool. Good on you. But you are a military spouse. You and your service member have the rent, a car loan, some credit card debt and maybe only one income.

How do you pay for college when you haven’t got a dime?

The good news is that military spouses are eligible for military benefits as well as programs available to civilians. With our guide to paying for school, you’ll be cracking those books in no time.

Please read more here.

Senators Push to Strengthen Support Services for Veterans’ Caregivers

Thursday, April 13, 2017  – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are demanding stronger support services for caregivers of disabled or injured veterans.

Following a recent report that finds the VA is dropping veterans’ caregivers from the Caregiver Support Program, Tester and Murray are calling on VA Secretary David Shulkin to investigate why some VA hospitals across the country are removing caregivers from a support program that is critical for veterans and their families.

“The Caregiver Support Program is indispensable in giving caregivers the tools they need to care for their veterans, and keeping those veterans at home and out of institutions,” the Senators wrote to Shulkin. “It’s inappropriate and unacceptable to remove veterans’ caregivers from the program. It’s imperative that you address discrepancies in program eligibility and benefits across multiple states.”

According to NPR, caregivers across the nation, including in Montana and Washington, are reportedly being kicked out of the Caregiver Support Program, which provides essential support services to those who care for disabled or injured veterans. Many caregivers are not given a cause for their removal and aren’t notified until they attempt to access benefits through the program.

Read more here.

Damage To The Military Of A Continuing Resolution

Last week, the House Armed Services Committee heard from the Service Chiefs on the “Damage to the Military from a Continuing Resolution.” To watch the hearing or read testimony click here.  Below are excerpts from some of the stories identifying critical readiness shortfalls:

Congress’ failure to budget is “malpractice”: Warning that the “world is more dangerous by the day,” the Army Chief of Staff said Congress’ failure to pass a budget is “professional malpractice.”  He also used a smoking analogy to describe the deadly collective impact of stopgap funding on the military, saying, “One cigarette’s not going to kill. But you do that for eight, 10, 20 years, 30 years, you’re eventually going to die of lung cancer.” AP

CR and no Supplemental increase risk to troops: Army’s top general warned that the “lack of 2017 appropriations and no supplemental increase in funding will significantly impact readiness and increase the risk to our force.” Defense News

Read more here.

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Apr 10, 2017

VA Secretary Praises Congress for Extending Choice Program

WASHINGTON – Today, April 5, 2017, following the U.S. Senate’s passage by unanimous consent this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that extends the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) until the funding dedicated to the program is exhausted. The VCP is a critical program that increases access to care for millions of Veterans. Without this legislation, the ability to use VCP funding would have ended abruptly on Aug. 7 of this year. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin released the following statement of support:

“Congress has once again demonstrated that the country stands firmly united when it comes to supporting our nation’s Veterans,” Secretary Shulkin said. “The Department of Veterans Affairs truly appreciates the quick bipartisan resolution Congress provided with the extension of the Veterans Choice Program.

Read more here.

Combat Vet, Doctor, State Senator Tapped for Army Secretary

Military.com | 7 Apr 2017 | by Hope Hodge Seck

President Donald Trump has nominated Dr. Mark E. Green, a medical doctor, Tennessee state senator and decorated West Point graduate, to be the 23rd secretary of the Army, the White House announced Friday afternoon.

Green’s nomination comes more than a month after Wall Street trader and billionaire Vincent Viola, Trump’s previous pick for the position, removed himself from consideration Feb. 3, saying he was unable to distance himself from his business ties to accept the post.

Green served in the Army as an infantry officer from 1986 to 2006, deploying twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan while on active duty, according to a published biography. He earned the prestigious Army Ranger Tab early in his career, and later served as a captain with the 82nd Airborne Division as a battalion supply officer and infantry company commander.

Please read more here.

DoD to Host 2017 Virtual Military Spouse Symposium

POSTED BY: AMY BUSHATZ APRIL 6, 2017

Virtual military spouse symposiums and military spouse career events are all the rage these days as more and more military families transition out of the service. Now the Defense Department’s military family support office is getting in on the game with what they hope will be an interactive and helpful summit for spouses regardless of their current career situation.

The four day Virtual Military Spouse Symposium, May 15 to 18, will have 24 sessions broadcast by the DoD  between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET. Attendees can hit all of them or just some of them – and the ones they miss will be archived and posted to re-watch within a month, officials said.

But this hardly looks to be your typical military spouse DoD webinar. With partners from military friendly corporations like Starbucks, to the head of LinkedIn’s veteran programs, to yoga and culinary experts from the DoD, the symposium will include a wide variety of presentations and help, all linked to assisting spouses in their careers and work-life balance, officials said. 

Read more here.

Bill Introduced To Ensure Counseling Access For Victims Of Military’s Nude-Photo Scandal

A bipartisan pair of senators and a Democratic congresswoman have introduced legislation to make sure active-duty troops and veterans targeted in the military’s nude-photo-sharing scandal and other cyber sexual harassment have access to the same benefits and care as sexual assault survivors.

“The fact that anyone in uniform has to deal with sexual assault or harassment during the course of their service to our country is unacceptable,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “We owe it to every woman and man affected by these awful acts to ensure they have access to the best possible care and the benefits they need.”

Right now, victims of online sexual harassment are not eligible for the same Veterans Affairs counseling and other services provided to veterans and active-duty troops who are survivors of military sexual assault.

Read more here.

Navy Members Can Now Manage SGLI Online

WASHINGTON – Navy members now have the opportunity to enroll or change their Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) online. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began enrollment for Navy members in the SGLI Online Enrollment System (SOES) on April 5.

SOES allows active-duty and eligible reserve and Guard members to manage their SGLI and Family SGLI coverage electronically at any time, from anywhere in the world.

“Now, the Navy, and soon all of our nation’s service members, will be able to manage their coverage and beneficiaries online – just like their private-sector counterparts” said Thomas Murphy, acting under secretary for Benefits at VA. “Moving to an online, self-service system brings the SGLI program in line with current insurance industry best practices.”

Read more here.

Improvements To The Tricare Dental Program effective May 1, 2017

Beginning on May 1, 2017, United Concordia Companies, Inc. (United Concordia) will manage the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP).

Beneficiaries don’t need to take any actions to continue their coverage.

The TDP is a voluntary dental benefit for eligible active duty family members, National Guard and Reserve members and their families. Several improvements to the TDP include:

Read more here.

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Apr 3, 2017

Command Sergeant Major of The Army National Guard To Attend NCOA’s Annual Membership Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute

Command Sergeant Major Christopher Kepner has accepted NCOA’s invitation to attend the annual membership meeting and Vanguard awards tribute, July 11-14, 2017. CSM Kepner, the 11th Sergeant Major of the Army National Guard, will be representing the Sergeant Major of the Army and will be participating in the Senior Enlisted Service Chief’s Panel, among other events.

Please read more here about the membership meeting and Vangard awards tribute.

USAA Launches New Blended Retirement System Online Calculator

USAA has made its Military Retirement Comparison Tool available to all service members, following changes to the Department of Defense’s retirement plan. The aim of the new tool is to help military families make informed financial decisions based upon their retirement plan. The current military retirement plan will transition to the Blended Retirement System effective Jan. 1, 2018.

Read more here.

Veteran Employment Bill Passes Senate

WASHINGTON — Rep. Paul Cook, R-Apple Valley, announced that the U.S. Senate has passed his bill, HR 244, the Hire Vets Act of 2017.

The bill already passed the House of Representatives in February. Cook had reintroduced this bipartisan bill earlier this year. It was introduced last Congress and passed the House with unanimous support, but was unable to pass the Senate before the end of the year. The bill now heads back to the House for final passage as the Senate made minor technical changes to it.

This legislation would promote private sector recruiting, hiring and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and effective program, according to Cook’s office.

Please read more here.

Dentists Warn New Tricare Rates Will Cause Drop in Providers

Military.com | 30 Mar 2017 | by Amy Bushatz

Dentists in several states are warning reimbursement rates in the new Tricare dental contract are so low that many providers will be forced to stop participating in the plans and pass on higher out-of-pocket costs to military families.

The $2.9 billion Tricare Dental Plan (TDP) contract for the families of active-duty, Guard and reserve troops is set to move from MetLife to United Concordia on May 1. About 1.8 million beneficiaries are enrolled in the program. Military retirees are not impacted by the new contract.

Although the change comes with several expansions to care for users, including an increased yearly cost cap and lower premiums, it also includes a decrease to the in-network rates paid to dentists for their services.

Read more here.

Isakson, Tester Introduce Bill To Increase Benefits For Veterans

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, on Mar. 30, 2017 introduced the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation to increase veterans’ disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“Our men and women in uniform have sacrificed greatly, and it is our duty to provide veterans and their families with the benefits they so rightly deserve,” said Isakson. “As such, we are working to ensure veterans’ benefits mirror rising living costs in our country.”

“Veterans have earned this benefit, and this increase is a step in the right direction to live up to the promises we made to our men and women in uniform,” said Tester. “I’m proud to stand with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to keep veterans’ benefits in line with the rising costs of housing, utilities, and food.”

Read more here.

Veterans Can Now Schedule Appointments Online With Smartphones

Department of Veterans Affairs | 29 Mar 2017

Have you heard the good news? Veterans in many parts of the country are now able to use the new Veteran Appointment Request (VAR) App to request or schedule certain appointments online. VAR is a new web application that is also accessible via smartphones, tablets and desktops. More than 60 VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) have started using VAR, and more are coming online every few weeks. Visit the VA App Store to see where VAR is available

Read more here.

Exclusive Provider of Financial Service for the NCOA

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March 27, 2017

VA Fixes Veterans Crisis Line

 

WASHINGTON – In response to the recently released VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report that reviewed processes from June 6 through Dec. 15, 2016, of the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the following statement: “The Department of Veterans Affairs is proud to announce that the challenges with the Veterans Crisis Line have been resolved. Prior to the opening of our new Atlanta call center, our call rollover rate often exceeded 30 percent. Our current call rollover rate is less than 1 percent, with over 99 percent of all calls being answered by the VCL.”

Please read more here.

VA’s Modernization Of The Claims Process Continues

 

Early this year, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) began extracting hundreds of thousands of inactive-claim records from regional offices east of the Mississippi for digital conversion. Inactive-claim records are claim files that have been settled and have remained inactive for a number of years. The initiative will help reduce processing time for thousands of new claims associated with inactive records.

In the past, VBA only digitized inactive-claim records when Veterans or their family members filed new disability or Dependency Indemnity Compensation claims. The business process added days to the claims’ adjudication process as files still needed to be boxed, shipped and digitized before review of the new claim could even begin.

Read the full article here.

Warner, Kaine Introduce Legislation to Overhaul Broken VA Appeals Process

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friday, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined a group of fourteen Senators in introducing legislation to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs’ broken appeals process. The process has not been updated since 1933, and more than 450,000 appeals are currently pending. Because of redundancies and inefficiencies in the current process, most veterans wait years for a decision on their appeals. By replacing the current process, the Department of Veterans Affairs Appeals Modernization Act would expedite appeals before the Board of Veterans Appeals and give veterans clear options after receiving an initial decision.

Read more here.

Mental Health Services Help Homeless Veterans Sustain Permanent Housing

 

In an effort to help homeless Veterans find and sustain permanent housing, VA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have come together to form HUD-VASH, a collaborative program that provides HUD rental assistance vouchers for privately owned housing with VA supportive services to eligible Veterans and their families.

VA case managers connect Veterans with the social services they need to maintain long-term housing. The mental health and substance use counselors, along with educational and vocational support, are critical to help Veterans recover and re-establish themselves in the community.

Read more here.

Coast Guard Avoids Proposed Budget Cut

 

POSTED BY: BRENDAN MCGARRY MARCH 20, 2017

The U.S. Coast Guard has apparently sailed around a proposed billion-dollar budget cut after an outcry from advocates and lawmakers.

The Homeland Security Department, of which the service is a part, recently released additional details into the White House’s budget amendment for fiscal 2017 and budget blueprint for fiscal 2018, also known as the “skinny budget.”

While the latter – a 62-page document released Thursday – doesn’t mention the Coast Guard, the department’s release from the same day states the proposed spending plan “sustains current funding levels for the U.S. Coast Guard, which allows for the continuation of day-to-day operations and investments in the acquisition, construction and improvements account.”

A spokeswoman for the Coast Guard referred questions about the matter to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which first proposed the reduction.

The news was nevertheless welcomed by Coastie enthusiasts, from Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft to Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California and a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee.

Read more here.

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March 20, 2017

Master Chief Petty Officer of The Navy to attend NCOA’s Annual Membership Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute

 

Master Chief Petty of the Navy Steven S. Giordano has accepted NCOA’s invitation to attend the annual membership meeting and Vanguard awards tribute, July 11-14, 2017.  MCPON Giordano, the 14th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, will be participating in the Senior Enlisted Service Chief’s Panel, among other events.

Please read more here about the membership meeting and Vangard awards tribute.

NCOA President, MCPOCG Patton Testifies Before Congress

 

March 9, 2017 – Washington DC

NCOA President and National Commander MCPOCG Vince Patton, III testified before a joint committee on Veterans Affairs.  MCPOCG Patton highlighted NCOA priorities and thanked the committee for all of the hard work they have done for our veterans.  Other Veterans Service Organizations that presented at the hearing included the Association of the United States Navy, American Veterans, Gold Star Wives, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, National Guard Association of the United States, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

Read the full testimony here.

VA’s National Center for Patient Safety Fostering a Strong Culture of Safety

 

By Derek D. Atkinson, Public Affairs Officer VA National Center for Patient Safety Tuesday, March 14, 2017

It’s VA’s National Center for Patient Safety (NCPS), and it has:

  • Contributed to an 82 percent decrease in deaths from suicide in VA inpatient mental health
  • Helped reduce major fall-related injuries by five per month since 2012
  • Fostered a strong culture of safety throughout the Veterans Health Administration
  • Created a five-step process for Ensuring Correct Surgery, including a timeout for safety before an invasive procedure or operation

Read more here.

VA’s Rule Establishes a Presumption of Service Connection for Diseases Associated with Exposure to Contaminants in the Water Supply at Camp Lejeune

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 14, 2017

VA’s Rule Establishes a Presumption of Service Connection for Diseases Associated with Exposure to Contaminants in the Water Supply at Camp Lejeune

            VA to provide disability benefits for related diseases

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regulations to establish presumptions for the service connection of eight diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, N.C. are effective as of today.

“Establishing these presumptions is a demonstration of our commitment to care for those who have served our Nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The Camp Lejeune presumptions will make it easier for those Veterans to receive the care and benefits they earned.”

Read more here.

VA Offers Free Military Sexual Trauma Health Care Services To Veterans

 

High visibility news stories, such as those currently circulating about the Marine Corps recent photo scandal, can sometimes bring back painful memories or lead individuals to realize they are having trouble coping with a difficult experience. If you, or someone you know, are experiencing challenges related to sexual harassment experienced during military service, know that VA can help.

Read more here.

 

 

Exclusive Provider of Financial Service for the NCOA

 NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting Dates Announced

 

Mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will host the NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute.  This will be the last time in Las Vegas for many years to come.  The meeting will be held July 11-14, 2017.

This will be a new schedule of exciting guest speakers and government agencies who will discuss new and existing benefits coming to veterans.  This new format will be spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski who plan to guide NCOA into its bright future.

Don’t miss NCOA’s new program!

Become an NCOA member today!


The Non Commissioned Officers Association, more commonly known as NCOA, welcomes you to our NCOAdvocate newsletter.  NCOA is currently a leader in Veterans and Spouse Employment, a strong voice on Capitol Hill and with the Veterans Administration, and our members around the world are making a difference in their local communities. I encourage you to browse our website and see the great benefits and advantages there are to being an NCOA member and always remember – there is “Strength in Unity!”

 

Master Chief Vince Patton,

President

8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard

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March 13, 2017

Senators Introduce Legislation To Improve The Veterans Choice Program

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, along with Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John McCain (R-Ariz), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today introduced legislation to improve the VA Choice Program and extend access to timely care for more of America’s veterans in their own communities.

The Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act allows the VA to access all of the funding initially appropriated for the program, and ensures that veterans’ access to care isn’t disrupted by the looming sunset of the program. The Choice Program is scheduled to sunset on August 7, 2017, and currently veterans aren’t able to schedule appointments that fall after that expiration date.

In doing so, the legislation also authorizes the VA to be the primary payer under the Choice Program, reducing veterans’ out-of-pocket costs and aligning the Choice Program with the VA’s other community care programs.

Read more here.

VA Secretary Announces Intention to Expand Mental Health Care to Former Service members

 

WASHINGTON – Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin while testifying in a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on March 7, 2017, announced his intention to expand provisions for urgent mental health care needs to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges.  This move marks the first time a VA Secretary has implemented an initiative specifically focused on expanding access to assist former OTH service members who are in mental health distress and may be at risk for suicide or other adverse behaviors.

Read more here.

VA Partnership Provides Community Organizations With Path To Support Homeless Veterans

 

WASHINGTON – Military Outreach USA, a partner of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), recently launched a program to encourage communities to connect with local VA facilities and help VA provide support to homeless or recently homeless Veterans and their families.

The Adopt-a-VA program, which began in February, connects individuals and community organizations, such as schools, faith-based groups and businesses, with a local VA Homeless Program case manager at the VA Medical Center or community-based outpatient clinic in their area to help meet Veterans’ non-medical needs.

“VA remains committed to preventing and ending Veteran homelessness, but we cannot achieve this goal alone,” said Anthony Love, senior advisor and director of Community Engagement for VHA’s Homeless Programs Office. “Partnerships are critical to providing the support needed to help Veterans exit homelessness, and to identifying local housing and employment opportunities that help them remain stably housed. Military Outreach USA’s Adopt-a-VA program makes it easier than ever for everyone to get involved and support Veterans in their communities.”

Read more here.

Veterans in Montana Faced Health Referral Delays Nearly Half the Time

 

Associated Press | 12 Mar 2017 | by Matt Volz, Matthew Brown

HELENA, Mont. – Montana military veterans who were referred to health specialists in 2015 faced delays in getting appointments or receiving needed medical services nearly half the time, and those delays may have harmed four patients, according to a report released Friday.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General’s Office inspected the VA Montana Healthcare System at Fort Harrison in Helena at the request of U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines. The inspectors were asked to look at how often patients experienced delays in obtaining referrals – called “consults” in the VA system – and how those delays affected the patients.

The inspectors found almost 26,000 delays out of 51,941 referrals ordered in 2015, according to the report. They included delays for appointments within the VA system, referrals to specialists outside of the VA and those conducted through the Veterans Choice Program.

Read more here.

Pint-Sized Pup to Patrol World’s Largest Naval Base

 

NORFOLK — There’s a pint-sized pup preparing to sniff out drugs on the world’s largest naval base.

Meet Puskos, a 15-pound Jagd terrier who is about a fifth the size of a typical military working dog at Naval Station Norfolk.

“He’s crazy. He’s hyper. He’s always going 100 percent, 24-7,” said Puskos’ handler, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jordyn Japec. “He just wants to work. … There’s no stopping him. He has no fear.”

Puskos’ small stature allows him to fit into tight spaces aboard ships and submarines that would be difficult for a much larger German shepherd or Belgian Malinois. Another advantage of a small dog is that Puskos will be easier to carry down steep ship stairwells. He is the only small dog assigned to Naval Station Norfolk and expected to be certified to search for narcotics by the end of the month.

Read more here.

Ten Ways to Eat Wisely – A Focus on Nutrition

 

VA’s National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention encourages Veterans and their families to jump start the spring season by using the following Eat Wisely tips.

  1. Establish regular meal times.  Try not to skip any meals because skipping meals leads to over-eating later in the day or evening.
  2. Read food labels when you are purchasing food items.  Pay attention to the portion size, the number of calories in each portion, and the amount of saturated and trans-fat in each portion.
  3. Make small substitutions in your diet to cut calories.  For example, drink water or unsweetened iced tea instead of high-calorie drinks.  Choose low-calorie versions of salad dressing, cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise.  Go easy on fried foods -bake, broil, poach, or grill your food instead.

Read more here.

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March 6, 2017

Secretary Shulkin Addresses His Top 10 Priorities For The VA

 

WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin proposed eliminating a controversial policy that limits veterans from receiving private-sector health care.

Speaking to hundreds of people at the Disabled American Veterans annual conference in Arlington, Va. on Feb. 26, Shulkin laid out his top 10 priorities for the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was his first public address since becoming VA secretary.

High on Shulkin’s list was redesigning the Veterans Choice Program into what he called “Choice 2.0.”

His plan would include removing the rule that allows veterans to go outside the VA for health care if they had to wait more than 30 days for an appointment or live more than 40 miles driving distance from a VA facility. Some veterans and lawmakers have criticized the 40-mile, 30-day rule for limiting veterans’ health care choices, and Shulkin called the program “extremely complex and bureaucratic.”

Read more here.

Senators Introduce Bill to Strengthen Education for America’s Troops and Veterans

 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Ranking Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, and Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today are introducing legislation to ensure that America’s veterans have access to educational opportunities.

The Senators’ Educational Development (ED) for Troops and Veterans Act will provide education benefits to service members who often have to leave behind schools, jobs, and homes to serve their country.

“Our service members have earned a quality education and it is our duty to make sure their lives aren’t totally upended while serving our country,” said Tester. “This legislation will help our nation’s brave men and women get the education they need to transition to civilian life and provide for their families.”

Read more here.

VA to Begin Processing Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Claims

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs expects a surge of compensation claims totaling more than $2.2 billion from veterans exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, N.C., but nothing compared to the “tidal wave” of cases that came out of the Agent Orange class-action suit.

After years of lawsuits and appeals, acts of Congress and amendments since the contaminated water at the Marine Corps base was confirmed in the 1980s, the VA will begin accepting claims March 14 for disabilities stemming from eight presumptive conditions.

A final hurdle to the compensation process emerged with the inauguration of President Donald Trump and his order blocking new federal regulations, which appeared to override rules approved in the last days of President Barack Obama’s administration.

Read more here.

NCOA Down East Chapter Holds its Annual SgtMaj McKinney Awards

 

This year’s recipients are Major General Walter Lee Miller Jr, Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force and MGySgt Paul Levesque USMC (Ret), Past President Rolling Thunder NC-5.

The award is presented to military members who have demonstrated professionalism, dedication, and service to our country and it’s military over a sustained period of time. It is also awarded to members of the local community who have demonstrated a strong support for our military community and their families.

Read more here.

Veterans Online Shopping Benefit At The Exchange Approaching Nov. 11 Launch

 

As the launch of the Veterans online shopping benefit approaches Nov. 11, each Exchange associate plays a vital role in welcoming approximately up to 15.5 million Veterans back to their military family. Years of effort to recognize the service of all honorably discharged Veterans will finally pay off on Veterans Day, when shopmyexchange.com begins offering the first new benefit to Veterans since 1953.

Allowing online-only shopping is a small token of appreciation for those who served honorably. Today, 88 percent of Veterans receive no exchange privilege because the benefit was limited to former service members with 20 years of service or 100 percent disabled. The number of Veterans excluded is even higher for younger former service members, many of whom served multiple tours and were discharged, often involuntarily, before meeting the 20-year criteria for retiree status.

Read more here.

Free LinkedIn Premium and Lynda.com Subscriptions for Veterans

 

As a veteran, you have access to a one year free subscription of Lynda.com and LinkedIn premium.

Once completed, the expert-led online video tutorials from Lynda.com will generate certifications that can be posted directly to your LinkedIn account (searchable by employers).

These additional resources can help you learn more skills, connect with others, and find job opportunities.

Read more here.

Exchange Gives Military Families Chance to Score Outdoor Deals with Free Friday Giveaways

 

DALLAS – There may be several weeks left in the march to spring, but that doesn’t mean military families have to wait to start making their yards an outdoor paradise.

Every Friday in 2017, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service will award one lucky winner an outdoor living gift package valued as high as $1,499.99 at facebook.com/shopmyexchange. To enter, authorized shoppers simply like and share each Free Friday post and comment with their name and local Exchange.

Prize packages include a Black & Decker 20-volt MAX Lithium 22-inch cordless hedge trimmer with battery valued at more than $200 (March 3); a Char-Broil Performance four-burner grill with tool set, grill topper set and 2-in-1 brush valued at more than $245 (March 10); and a Poulan Pro Tractor valued at more than $1,499 (March 17).

Read more here.

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February 27, 2017

Efficiency of the Post-9/11 GI Bill for Returning Veterans

 

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs will examine the usefulness of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other education programs.

The Post-9/11 GI bill, which is administered by VA, is the most generous education program for veterans since the original WWII GI Bill. Based on the length of service, the program funds up to full tuition and fees at public institutions of higher learning and about $22,000 per year at private institutions as well as a monthly living stipend based on the housing allowance paid to service members at the rank of E-5 (with dependents) and the zip code of the institution. Recent changes to the program have expanded eligibility for surviving dependents and the Committee intends to determine how VA is implementing those changes as well as the performance and value of the Veteran Success on Campus program, which currently stations VA Vocational Rehabilitation staff on 94 campuses. Further, as avenues for learning and training continue to evolve and modernize, the Committee will examine these new programs and how they may fit into the construct and requirements of the Post-9/11 GI Bill program. In addition, the Committee will examine outcome measures for users of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, including graduation rates and job placement data, to ensure the effectiveness of taxpayers’ investment in our veterans’ education benefits. Finally, the Committee will work with the State Approving Agencies to put in place policies that protect student 5 veterans against predatory or deceitful recruiting practices of some schools, such as providing misinformation about student outcomes or encouraging veterans to take out unnecessary private student loans.

Effectiveness of the Transition Assistance Program

 

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will review the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).

The Committee continues to be concerned about the effectiveness of the TAP program which is intended to prepare service members for their return to civilian life. The Departments of Defense (DoD), Veterans Affairs (VA), and Labor (DoL) jointly manage and provide content to the five day course that focuses on skills needed to obtain gainful employment as well as an understanding of the benefits that are available to them from VA and DoL. The U.S. Government Accountability Office is currently undergoing a review of the most recent iteration of TAP, at the request of this Committee, which will be complete by this summer. The Committee will conduct an oversight hearing with GAO, DoD, VA, and DoL to discuss the outcomes of the review, as well as discuss how TAP can be enhanced for transitioning service members and their families. Further, the Committee plans to attend TAP classes to review the curriculum that TAP counselors are teaching at the local levels. Finally, the Committee will work with the Committees on Armed Services and Education and the Workforce to address cross-jurisdictional issues as we make improvements to the TAP program.

Accountability and Civil Service Reform at the VA

 

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will look into ways to increase the number of veterans employed at VA and will examine ways to streamline the hiring process for all VA employees.

The Committee will continue its oversight of disciplinary actions taken against VA employees. Further, the Committee will continue its existing efforts to reform VA’s antiquated civil service system. Recent reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have found that it can take six months to a year (and sometimes significantly longer) to dismiss an employee. This system while well intended, is clearly broken and not serving veterans. The Committee will continue its oversight of disciplinary actions at VA and will examine ways to provide true accountability to poor performing employees.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program

 

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will conduct oversight over management and overall effectiveness of the VR&E program.

VA’s VR&E program provides education and training benefits for disabled veterans with barriers to employment. The program will fund all costs related to long and short-term education and training as well as immediate job placement services. VR&E also manages the Independent Living (IL) program designed to enable the most severely injured veterans to live as independently as possible. The Committee continues to be concerned about counselor caseloads and outcomes of VR&E programs as well as the administration of the self-employment track of the VR&E program, which can often result in high costs.

Exchange Gives Military Families Chance to Score Outdoor Deals with Free Friday Giveaways

 

DALLAS – There may be several weeks left in the march to spring, but that doesn’t mean military families have to wait to start making their yards an outdoor paradise.

Every Friday in 2017, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service will award one lucky winner an outdoor living gift package valued as high as $1,499.99 at facebook.com/shopmyexchange. To enter, authorized shoppers simply like and share each Free Friday post and comment with their name and local Exchange.

Prize packages include a Black & Decker 20-volt MAX Lithium 22-inch cordless hedge trimmer with battery valued at more than $200 (March 3); a Char-Broil Performance four-burner grill with tool set, grill topper set and 2-in-1 brush valued at more than $245 (March 10); and a Poulan Pro Tractor valued at more than $1,499 (March 17).

Read more here.

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February 21, 2017

Is the VBA Fiduciary Program Performing Properly?

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs is The Committee will review the performance of the VBA Fiduciary Program. The program is designed to provide financial security to veterans who have been determined unable to manage their VA benefit payments.

Fiduciaries are designated by VA and can be a family member, a close friend, or a professional fiduciary. The review will include oversight of how fiduciaries are appointed, the Department’s compliance with provisions in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Pub.L. 103- 159, 107 Stat. 1536, enacted November 30, 1993) that can effectively deny veterans in the fiduciary program of the Second Amendment rights as well as fraud associated with the program. Moreover, in January 2014, the Department issued a proposed rule to provide more oversight of fiduciaries; however, three years later, VA has not yet finalized the rule. Even as VA fails to act to protect veterans, the Office of Inspector General continues to investigate additional cases of fiduciary abuse, such as a fiduciary who served 80 veterans and was indicted for criminal mistreatment and theft of $211,000. The Committee will review legislation that would better enable VBA to protect and serve veterans in need of fiduciary and ensure their rights of appeal in cases where they have been declared mentally incompetent.

VA Secretary Can Provide Equitable Relief For Administrative Errors

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs plans to assess whether reports to Congress assist in overseeing the VA for equitable relief for administrative errors.

The Secretary has the authority to provide equitable relief in cases when a veteran has been harmed by a mistake made by VA. For example, a veteran may be asked by the Department to reimburse VA for an overpayment even when the overpayment is due to an error made by the Department. In such cases, the Secretary may exercise equitable relief and cancel some or all of the veteran’s debt. The law that requires VA to submit an annual report to Congress regarding cases where the Secretary has exercised equitable relief will expire on December 31, 2017.

VA’s Oversight of National Cemeteries

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs will continue the administration over the National Cemeteries

The Subcommittee will continue oversight over the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), to include each organization’s mission, operations, and inquiries into matters of unclaimed remains, access, and the methodology for determining veteran satisfaction. Each of the above organizations provides a hallowed resting place for veterans. VA alone operates over 150 National Cemeteries to provide an honorable resting placed for veterans and certain dependents. The Committee will look into a number of issues including poor cemetery maintenance, destruction of and misplaced grave markers, and overall management issues.

VA’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs provides advice to the Secretary on the administration of VA benefits for veterans who are minority group members on the topics of health care, compensation, and other services. The authorization for the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans expires on December 31, 2017. The Committee will conduct oversight to ensure that this program is ensuring that all veterans receive the respect and services to which they are entitled.

Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs authority to contract with the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) (formally known as the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a non-governmental organization, to scientifically review evidence on the long-term health effects of Agent Orange expires on December 31, 2017. The Committee will review this authority for this and other VA programs to ensure that veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange receive all the benefits they have earned.

Manila Regional VA Office

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs will look at whether the Manila Regional Office is providing effective, efficient services to World War II veterans who reside in the Philippines.  The authorization for the Manila Regional Office expires on September 30, 2017

Free Flu Shots at Walgreens for VA Enrolled Veterans

This flu season, protecting your health with a flu shot is easier than ever – and as close as your local VA or neighborhood Walgreens! VA and Walgreens care about your health and are partnering to offer enrolled Veteran patients easy access to flu shots.

VA and Walgreens are national partners, providing no-cost flu shots to enrolled Veterans of the VA health care system. Through March 31, 2017, enrolled Veteran patients nationwide have the option of getting their flu shot at any of Walgreens’ 8,000 locations in addition to their local VA health care facilities. No appointment is required; simply go to any Walgreens, tell the pharmacist you receive care at a VA facility and show your Veterans Identification Card and another form of photo ID. Use Group Code: 5933XBAYV.

Read more here.

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February 13, 2017

GTSC & NCOA Partner To Employ Transitioning Veterans

 

Washington, D.C., February 8 –The Government Technology & Services Coalition (GTSC), the premier non-profit organization for companies in homeland and national security, and the Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA), the foremost organization for non commissioned officers in all branches of the military, today announced a powerful partnership to find meaningful employment for transitioning veterans and allow them to continue their commitment to the security of the nation with employers working in homeland and national security.

Read more here.

VA’s New Process For Distributing Workload & Assigning Claims

 

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs is conducting rigorous oversight to ensure National Work Queue improves time of adjudication, accuracy, and transparency of VA claims.

National Work Queue (NWQ) is a new process for the VA of distributing workload and assigning claims to whichever Regional Office has the capacity to handle it first, rather than the more traditional model of having the Regional Office in a veteran’s home state handle the claim. However, VA employees have expressed frustration with how the process is being implemented, and it further obscures the true quality of a given Regional Office.

Is The VA Using Contract Physicians Properly For Disability Claims?

 

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs will look into whether the VA’s contract independent physician program is functioning properly.

Some veterans require a VA medical examination as a part of the adjudication of a claim for disability benefits. Unfortunately, there are not enough VA examiners to perform these evaluations in a timely manner, and some veterans experience lengthy delays before VA is able to schedule such examinations. It may be especially difficult for VA to timely schedule these examinations if the veteran needs to see a specialist, such as a cardiologist or orthopedic surgeon. Moreover, veterans who live in rural areas may have to travel many miles to a VA facility in order to see a VA examiner for a disability examination. To provide veterans with more timely examinations, VA has authority to contract with independent physicians to conduct disability examinations. However, such authority expires on December 31, 2017. The Committee will look into whether this program is functioning as intended.

Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) IT Development

 

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs is receiving briefings and updates on the implementation, usage, and costs of Veterans Benefits Administration IT systems.

Information Technology – VBA has mismanaged IT development, particularly the development and implementation of Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS). The cost of VBMS has doubled from the original estimate ($560 million to $1.3 billion), yet VBMS is still unable to handle appeals or non-rating claims. VA also has not established a timeline to complete implementation of VBMS. This is particularly troubling as the effective functioning of NWQ is premised on the assumption that VBMS is operating properly. VA continues to develop IT systems intended to help improve quality and consistency, however, without proper training, the technology often becomes a crutch, encouraging employees to rely on the system rather than their own knowledge. The Committee will continue to receive briefings and updates on the implementation, usage, and costs of VBA IT systems.

Congress May Pass ‘at Least’ $18 Billion in More Defense Funds

 

POSTED BY: HOPE HODGE SECK FEBRUARY 6, 2017

Early next month, Congress expects to receive a supplemental defense budget request from the White House that House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry hopes will add back billions in modernization and equipment funding that was cut from the House version of the defense budget before it passed.

President Donald Trump campaigned on rebuilding a robust American military, emphasizing his plans to increase the size of the Navy fleet significantly, grow the Air Force’s inventory of aircraft, and boost Marine Corps and Army troop strength by tens and hundreds of thousands, respectively. Thornberry suggested he begin with reaffirming the House’s initial defense budget in his request

Read more here.

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February 6, 2017

Appeals Reform For VA Claims

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs is reviewing Appeals Reform.

The Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) reviews benefits claims submitted by veterans who disagree with the decision made on their claim by a VA Regional Office. It currently takes almost three years for BVA to reach a decision due to the backlog of claims. The process often involves a remand by BVA to the Regional Office for additional information which further lengthens the time to a final decision. As VA has reduced the claims backlog, the number of appeals has skyrocketed. Committee staff will continue to pursue options for appeals reform, such as the proposal developed by VA in 2016. That proposal would reform the appeals process by allowing veterans to choose an expedited process in certain circumstances. Under the 2016 proposal, veterans could waive the right to offer additional evidence and have a hearing in exchange for an expedited decision on his or her appeal. However, the proposal noted that those veterans who wish to retain the right to have a hearing or submit supplemental evidence may still do so if the appropriate elections are made within the process.

Veterans Benefits Administration Employs Quality Review of Initial Claims Decisions

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs is working on Veterans Benefits Administration quality review of initial claims decisions.

VA employs a variety of mechanisms to review the quality of initial claims decisions. One of Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) main tools to review the accuracy of claim decisions is the Systematic Technical Accuracy Review (STAR) checklist. The checklist has a very restrictive category of what constitutes as an “error,” and a more expansive category of what would be considered a “comment,” which is why the VA claims a 98% accuracy rating despite many complaints by veterans and Congress as to the quality of decisions. Moreover, by allowing quality reviewers to simply comment on many errors, VA can sidestep actually holding employees accountable for inaccuracies. The Committee will investigate how VBA has designed its quality review measures and to what extent that design yields accurate results.

Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) Requires Update of Training Standards

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs conducts its oversight with the help of four Subcommittees.  The Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs is tasked with reviewing Veterans Benefits Administration training.

Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) training is generally ineffective, resulting in many errors. VBA’s challenge training is poor quality and does not adequately prepare examiners to process claims. Furthermore, the VBA manual is frequently updated and employees are not required to undergo new training or even open the email that explains the changes. The Committee will conduct oversight into to how VBA implements training and look for ways to improve training to ensure veterans receive the benefits to which they are entitled.

Military Caregiver Courses Help Spouses at Home

Military.com | by Amy Bushatz

The PsychArmor Institute’s military caregiver video courses are designed to give veteran spouses and family members help with tackling the difficult issues that caring for and living with a veteran can bring.

The first set of caregiver videos focuses on the psychological injuries a veteran may be experiencing, and helps caregivers understand and work through those issues.

“Our hope is that this particular presentation will be helpful to families of veterans,” Heidi Kraft, a clinical psychologist, Navy veteran and PsychArmor’s clinical director says in the introduction video. “We hope that this will give you the information you need, as well as help you understand some of your own feelings.”

Read more here.

Tricare Dental Premiums to Drop May 1

Military.com | Feb 01, 2017 | by Amy Bushatz

Monthly Tricare dental premiums for active-duty families as well as National Guard and Reserve members and their families will drop across all categories May 1 — in some cases more than $15 — as the program is taken over by United Concordia as part of a new management contract.

Military retirees are not affected by the change.

Monthly premiums for active-duty families will drop from $11.68 a month to $11.10 a month for a single dependent user and from $34.68 to $28.87 for two or more dependents. Active-duty troops do not use the Tricare dental plan, according to information posted to Tricare’s website.

Read more here.

==========================================================================================

January 30, 2017

VA Specifies Jobs Exempt From Trump’s Hiring Freeze

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has released a full list of jobs exempt from President Trump’s federal hiring freezing that includes a slew of medical specialties.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to exempt anyone it deems necessary for public health and safety, including frontline caregivers,” acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Snyder said in a statement. “The president and VA remain committed to seeing that our veterans receive the quality care and benefits they’ve earned. This is the right thing to do for our veterans.”

Read more here.

Mattis Backs Nominees for Army, Navy, Air Force Secretaries

 

POSTED BY: RICHARD SISK JANUARY 26, 2017

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s nominees to become the civilian chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force had his full support.

“All three of these nominees have my utmost confidence,” Mattis said in a statement announcing his backing and also putting to rest rumors that his advice had not been sought on the picks.

“They had my full support during the selection process, and they will have my full support during the Senate confirmation process,” the retired Marine general said.

Trump announced Wednesday that financier and former Army Reserve officer Philip Bilden is his choice to succeed Ray Mabus as the next secretary of the Navy.

Earlier, Trump had tapped former Rep. Heather Wilson, a New Mexico Republican and Air Force veteran, to succeed Deborah Lee James as secretary of the Air Force and Vincent Viola, a billionaire businessman and Army veteran, as secretary of the Army.

Read more here.

New Blended Retirement Plan Compared to Legacy High-3

 

Personal finance expert Suze Orman knows military leaders, pay officials and retirement service offices are getting ready to educate service members on the new Blended Retirement System (BRS). But none of them, she said, can advise individuals whether to opt in, or avoid, the BRS when it becomes available in 2018.

“But I certainly can,” said Orman with the spunk that made her so popular over decades with TV audiences and book buyers hoping to become better investors and wiser consumers of loans, insurance and other financial products.

Part of her familiar mantra is to avoid debt, pay off credit cards, run from payday lenders, buy, don’t lease, vehicles, and buy used not new. For military folks, she like to add, protect your money as aggressively as you do the nation.

We reached Orman at her home in Boca Raton, Fla., for a phone interview, just a few weeks after she visited the Pentagon and agreed to help the Army educate soldiers on the new retirement, by starring in a new instructional video.

But in February, the primary tool to introduce BRS to active and reserve component service members will be a two-hour online course that explains features and compares potential lifetime values with the legacy “High-3” retirement plan. They also will have access to a new online calculator to compare BRS with High-3 using age, years expected to serve, planned contributions to Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) with government matching (a key feature of BRS), historic rates of return on TSP investment options, personal tolerance for investment risk and more.

Read more here.

Troops Who Cleaned Up Radioactive Islands Can’t Get Medical Care

 

RICHLAND, Wash. – When Tim Snider arrived on Enewetak Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to clean up the fallout from dozens of nuclear tests on the ring of coral islands, Army officers immediately ordered him to put on a respirator and a bright yellow suit designed to guard against plutonium poisoning.

A military film crew snapped photos and shot movies of Mr. Snider, a 20-year-old Air Force radiation technician, in the crisp new safety gear. Then he was ordered to give all the gear back. He spent the rest of his four-month stint on the islands wearing only cutoff shorts and a floppy sun hat.

“I never saw one of those suits again,” Mr. Snider, now 58, said in an interview in his kitchen here as he thumbed a yellowing photo he still has from the 1979 shoot. “It was just propaganda.”

Today Mr. Snider has tumors on his ribs, spine and skull – which he thinks resulted from his work on the crew, in the largest nuclear cleanup ever undertaken by the United States military.

Read more here.

Wells Fargo Veterans Scholarship Program & Emergency Grant Program

 

The Wells Fargo Veterans Scholarship Program is to help meet the needs of veterans after military benefits and other grants and scholarships have been packaged by their school. This financial support will allow veterans to focus on completing their education and reduce reliance on student loans.

The Wells Fargo Veterans Emergency Grant Program helps veterans already enrolled in postsecondary education who might otherwise be forced to drop out of college because of unforeseen financial emergencies. Grants will be available for a one-time distribution up to $1,000 based on the cost of the emergency need, such as rent, utilities, daycare and medical expenses.

Read more about both programs here.

==========================================================================================

January 23, 2017

Military.com and NCOA upgrade career fairs for veterans

 

McLean, Va.- Military.com and the Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA) announced today that they are teaming up to enhance existing NCOA job fairs through the addition of workshops and access to Military.com’s extensive network of employers seeking to hire veterans.

Read more here.

Learn more at www.ncoacareerexpos.org

Trump-Tapped Group Proposes Sweeping VA Reforms

 

Stars and Stripes | Jan 21, 2017 | by Nikki Wentling

A conservative-backed group that has gained more influence since the election is renewing its effort to transfer oversight of Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities to a government-chartered nonprofit. It’s also seeking to expand veterans’ private-sector health care options.

Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) has proposed the ideas before, creating consternation among more established veterans organizations that feared too much of an expansion into the private sector would drain the VA of resources.

A bipartisan, CVA-commissioned task force outlined a plan for significant changes at the VA in 2015, and it was unveiled as draft legislation by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., in June 2016.

The bill, “Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act,” never went anywhere. But since then — with Trump calling for an overhaul of the department and tapping one of CVA’s senior advisers for his transition team — group leaders say they have more leverage.

Read more here.

Mattis Arrives at Pentagon as Defense Secretary

 

Military.com | Jan 21, 2017 | by Richard Sisk

Hours after he was sworn in, retired Marine Gen. James arrived at the Pentagon Saturday for the first time as the nation’s 26th Secretary of Defense.

Mattis, carrying two briefcases, stepped out of a black sport-utility vehicle and was greeted at noontime on the steps of the Pentagon’s River Entrance by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, who served under Mattis as a regimental commander in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Neither Mattis nor Dunford made any comment as they quickly entered the building, but Mattis said in an earlier statement that “it’s good to be back” after three years in retirement.

Read more here.

VA’s Agent Orange Policy Leaves Navy Veterans High And Dry

 

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 is a bill to restore the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange by veterans who served in the harbors, bays and territorial seas of Vietnam. The bill was introduced on January 5 by Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif) and co-sponsored by Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Joseph Courtney (D-Conn.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and Joe Lobiono (R-N.J.). The bill picked up an additional 100 co-sponsors in less than a week.

R 299 would correct a policy by the Veteran’s Affairs implemented in 2002 that striped veterans of the presumption of exposure as stipulated in the Agent Orange Act of 1991. The action was based on the interpretation of the phrase that service in the Republic of Vietnam applies only to those who served in the landmass of Vietnam. The opinion ignored that national sovereignty extended to the territorial seas.

Read more here.

Army Picks Sig Sauer’s P320 Handgun to Replace M9 Service Pistol

 

Military.com | Jan 19, 2017 | by Matthew Cox and Hope Hodge Seck

LAS VEGAS — The U.S. Army on Thursday awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth $580 million to make the next service pistol based on the company’s P320 handgun.

Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, the maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program.

“We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice,” Ron Cohen, chief executive officer of Sig Sauer, said in a statement to Military.com here at SHOT Show, the world’s largest gun show, taking place this week in the city.

Read more here.

Manpower shortage threatens Donald Trump’s hopes to rebuild military

 

By Carlo Muñoz – The Washington Times – Sunday, January 22, 2017

Manpower, not money, may prove a bigger challenge to President Trump’s hopes to rebuild what he calls a “hollowed-out” U.S. military.

While much of the debate over how the administration will pay for its ambitious defense buildup, an equally large question mark looms over whether Mr. Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis can find enough willing and able recruits to meet the demands for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump called for a restoration of force levels across the services to numbers before a series of “sequestration” cuts to defense spending, including a 540,000-member Army, backed by a 350-ship Navy and an Air Force of 1,200 fighter aircraft.

The increases to the Navy and Air Force would likely result in a small uptick of 100,000 sailors and airmen combined, compared with the force levels sought in the Army and Marine Corps, Mark Cancian, senior international security adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Washington Times.

Between the proposed expansions of the Army and Marine Corps, Mr. Trump’s plan would fall hardest on the Marines, Mr. Cancian said.

Read more here.

==========================================================================================

January 17, 2017

Combat Veterans To Recoup Wrongly-taxed Severance From DoD

 

Combat-injured veterans will soon receive notification about money they are owed on improperly taxed benefits.

On Dec. 16, President Obama signed the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act (P.L. 114-292), a law allowing combat-injured veterans the opportunity to reclaim a wrongly-taxed portion of their disability severance payment.

The new law requires the Department of Defense to identify and contact veterans medically separated from military service due to combat-related injuries that were issued severance payments after January 17, 1991, and withheld amounts for tax purposes.

The Department of Defense will provide affected veterans with a notice of the amount of improperly withheld severance payments, along with instructions for filing amended tax returns to recover that amount. Veterans will have up to one year following notification from the Department of Defense to file an IRS claim for a credit.

Read more here.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Releases Subcommittee Names

 

WASHINGTON – Rep. Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, announced the Members who will lead the committee’s subcommittees in the 115th Congress.

In making this announcement, Thornberry commented, “Our country faces an increasingly dangerous and complex world.  We have a lot to do to strengthen our military, support the men and women who serve, and help all Americans be safer and more secure.  This Committee has a special responsibility to lead those efforts, and I am confident our team has the expertise and commitment to be successful.”

Read more here

PTSD and Marriage: 5 Things Spouses Need to Know

 

Military.com | by Amy Bushatz

You never invited combat stress or post-traumatic stress disorder to be a part of your marriage. But there it is anyway, making everything harder.

Sometimes you want to give up. Why does everything have to be so, so hard? Other times, you wish someone would just give you a manual for dealing with the whole thing. Surely there’s a way to know how to handle this disease?

Like the rest of marriage, loving someone who suffers from PTSD or who is trying to work through the ghosts of combat doesn’t come with a guidebook. And although the whole thing can feel very isolating (everyone else seems fine! Is my marriage the only one in trouble?) that doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Read more here.

Applications to be accepted for 2017 National Veterans Golden Age Games

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will accept applications from Veterans interested in competing in the 2017 National Veterans Golden Age Games beginning Feb. 1. Veterans ages 55 and older and enrolled in VA health care may complete applications online at www.veteransgoldenagegames.va.gov. Applications will be accepted through March 1.

“VA is committed to offer sports and fitness as an integral part of a successful healthcare program, and I encourage every eligible Veteran to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Carla Carmichael, National Veterans Golden Age Games director. “There are significant health benefits to leading an active lifestyle, and in keeping with the Games motto, we want every Veteran to achieve ‘Fitness For Life.'”

The 2017 National Veterans Golden Age Games will take place in Biloxi, Mississippi, May 7-11.

Read more here.

Opt Out Now: Website Lets Anyone See Your Home Address

 

POSTED BY: AMY BUSHATZ JANUARY 11, 2017

You need to opt out of FamilyTreeNow.

As military spouses we hear a lot – and I mean a lot – about personal security and operational security. Loose lips sink ships, after all. So the idea that a series of public websites have your home address, including any on-base residence, and a pretty darn accurate list of family members just sitting there, waiting anyone to search and find is pretty shocking.

Read more here.

==========================================================================================

January 9, 2017

Navy, Trump Planning Biggest Fleet Expansion Since Cold War

 Mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will be the site for NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute to be held July 11-14, 2017.

This will be a week spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski will be on hand to discuss NCOA’s initiatives and its bright future.

Business meetings comprise the day time schedule and night time events will be exciting as NCOA members enjoy camaraderie and build relationships.

This is a week you don’t want to miss out on!

Associated Press | Jan 09, 2017 | by David Sharp

BATH, Maine – With President-elect Donald Trump demanding more ships, the Navy is proposing the biggest shipbuilding boom since the end of the Cold War to meet threats from a resurgent Russia and saber-rattling China.

The Navy’s 355-ship proposal released last month is even larger than what the Republican Trump had promoted on the campaign trail, providing a potential boost to shipyards that have struggled because budget caps that have limited money funding for ships.

At Maine’s Bath Iron Works, workers worried about the future want to build more ships but wonder where the billions of dollars will come from.

“Whether Congress and the government can actually fund it, is a whole other ball game,” said Rich Nolan, president of the shipyard’s largest union.

Read more here.

Lessons From L.A. on Ending Veterans’ Homelessness: Robert A. McDonald

 

By Secretary Robert A. McDonald

Seven years ago, President Obama and the Department of Veterans Affairs named ending veteran homelessness a top priority. No one who fought for this country should sleep on the streets. Period. So we got to work, and with the help of the first lady’s Joining Forces Initiative and Mayors Challenge, we’ve forged powerful partnerships among federal, state, and local agencies and nongovernmental organizations. As a result, we’ve cut veteran homelessness nearly in half – down 47 percent since 2010.

Today, we better understand what causes homelessness and can better prevent it. Problems with physical and mental health, addiction, poverty, limited social support, and lack of community resources and affordable housing all contribute to veteran homelessness. Compared to the general population, veterans are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and mental illness.

Read more here.

Military Amputees May Soon Get ‘LUKE’ Bionic Arms

 

POSTED BY: BRENDAN MCGARRY JANUARY 4, 2017

A couple of U.S. military amputees may soon get a new type of bionic arm developed with funding from the Pentagon’s research arm.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, recently delivered the first two “LUKE” arms to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C., according to an announcement.

The name stands for Life Under Kinetic Evolution, according to the release, but also pays homage to the “Stars Wars” character Luke Skywalker, who receives a robotic hand after losing his own in a lightsaber duel. Yet with its clear translucent plastic hand and silver arm, the “LUKE” limb looks more like those from the robots in the “I, Robot” film.

Read more here.

Avalanche of Enacted TRICARE Changes Poses Challenges

POSTED BY: TOM PHILPOTT JANUARY 5, 2017

Military Update: The National Defense Authorization Act (S 2943) signed into law Dec. 23 orders an avalanche of changes to the TRICARE healthcare benefit used by service members, retirees and their families. It also makes sweeping reforms to how the military direct-care system is organized and operates.

The sheer number of changes and additional studies being mandated, filling 40 sections and 150 pages of the Act, is more impressive than any short list of highlights we might be able to review here.

“There’s a lot of good stuff in there. There’s a lot of stuff we’re still puzzling over,” said Dr. Karen S. Guice, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. She will serve in that post only two more weeks, until the Trump administration assumes responsibility for the $50-billion-a-year military healthcare system and a beneficiary population of 9.6 million.

The authorization act for fiscal 2017 “is full of ideas, concepts and new things for us to tackle,” said Guice in phone interview. She added that it contains “a remarkable series of provisions that set forth some challenges [and] provides us with new authorities that we’re greatly looking forward to.”

Read more here.

VA Workers Got Millions in Unjustified Incentives

 

Stars and Stripes | Jan 07, 2017 | by Nikki Wentling

The Department of Veterans Affairs handed out more than $30 million in employee incentives in one year without justification, and it will continue to overspend if changes aren’t made, according to a report released Jan. 5 by the agency’s internal watchdog.

The findings are the result of an investigation by the VA inspector general’s office into how the department was using funds to attract and retain employees. Inspectors initiated the investigation after allegations that the department was giving out too many incentives to VA executives without cause — a charge Republican lawmakers and VA leaders have quarreled about in recent years.

“The VA has limited assurance that it is using [recruitment, relocation and retention] incentives effectively and strategically to acquire and retain talent,” the inspectors’ report stated.

Inspectors found $30.7 million of $66 million spent in fiscal 2014 to recruit, relocate or retain employees was not fully justified. At that rate, they estimated the VA could give out $158.7 million in unsupported incentives through September 2019. Inspectors concluded VA officials did not always confirm the incentives were being used to help fix workforce gaps or were necessary to recruit and retain employees.

Read more here.

How Does Direct Deposit Work? (courtesy of USAA)

 

Direct deposit means you can skip depositing a physical check. A direct deposit allows a company or organization (i.e. your employer) to electronically transfer funds from their bank account into your bank account. This is done through a national, third-party network called, the Automated Clearing House (ACH).

Read more here.

Tell a friend about NCOA 2017 Job Fair schedule!

 

NCOA 2017 Job Fair Schedule

February

15– JB San Antonio (TX)

16–Ft. Hood (TX)

March

29 – Ft. Lee (VA )

30 – Norfolk (VA)

April

18 – Ft. Stewart (GA)

19 – Moody AFB (GA)*

May

9 – Luke AFB (AZ)

10 – Ft. Huachuca (AZ) *

11 – Davis-Monthan AFB (AZ)

June

13 Fort Hamilton (NY)*

July

11–Nellis AFB (NV) – NCOA Annual Business Meeting

August

15 – Ft. Bragg (NC)*

September

EUROPEAN TOUR Dates (TBD)*

USAG Italy, Vicenza

USAG Bavaria, Vilseck

USAG Stuttgart, Germany

USAG Wiesbaden, Germany

USAG Kaiserslautern, Germany (near Ramstein AFB)

October

5 – Vandenburg-Edwards AFB (CA) *

20 – Dallas  (TX)- American Airlines Skyball

November

1 – Jacksonville NAS (FL)*

2 – Fort Walton or Eglin AFB (FL)

Boots to Suits Conference, (NC) (Date TBD)

*Dates and location are subject to change.

Employer and Job Seeker registration can be found here.

NCOA’s 53rd Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Dates Announce

 

Mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will be the site for NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute to be held July 11-14, 2017.

This will be a week spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski will be on hand to discuss NCOA’s initiatives and its bright future.

Business meetings comprise the day time schedule and night time events will be exciting as NCOA members enjoy camaraderie and build relationships.

This is a week you don’t want to miss out on!

==========================================================================================

December 27, 2016

Sailors Welcome Navy’s Ratings Reversal

 

Stars and Stripes | Dec 22, 2016 | by Tara Copp, Tyler Hlavac and Chris Church

The Navy reversed course on its decision to scrap job-oriented enlisted titles, giving an unexpected Christmas gift to tens of thousands of sailors angered by the move to scuttle a centuries-old tradition.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, who announced the reversal, cited the strong backlash from sailors against the plan to end the system of job-oriented titles, such as gunner’s mate or boatswain’s mate.

Sailors were to receive more information Wednesday from Richardson and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano, Navy officials said.

The reaction on social media was almost instantaneous and mostly positive, ranging from “good call,” to “leave tradition alone.”

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/5Oj4r8wiYQaLlHqHllQuVw>.

Billionaire West Point Grad Tapped for Army Secretary

 

Military.com | Dec 19, 2016 | by Brendan McGarry

President-elect Donald Trump on Monday announced he plans to nominate a billionaire West Point graduate and former infantry officer to become Army secretary.

Trump intends to nominate Vincent “Vinnie” Viola, the founder and executive chairman of the high-frequency trading firm Virtu Financial and owner of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers, to become the top civilian at the military’s biggest service.

“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge,” Trump said in a statement.

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/3x3KFQxS4zwCIAVyXhuISg>.

Major Effort To Combat Vet Suicides Launches In Atlanta

 

Posted: 12:01 p.m. Monday, December 19, 2016

More than a decade of war, an aging Vietnam-era population and the VA’s own breakdowns contribute to a staggering statistic that points to a dire crisis for the nation’s veterans: Some 20 veterans kill themselves each day.

Atlanta is now playing a major role in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs revamped effort to end this crisis after a new call center for the National Veterans Crisis hotline opened in DeKalb County in October – one of two facilities of its kind in the country.

The first facility in upstate New York was the subject of a documentary film “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” that won an Oscar in 2015 after it chronicled efforts of responders to talk veterans back from edge of despair and get them help.

But government auditors and other reports have criticized the hotline for significant failures, including delayed answer times, calls that roll to voice mail and lax employee performance. Last month, President Obama signed a new law to bring more oversight to the hotline and improve response times for veterans in crisis.

The Atlanta call center is central to this plan, but the question remains: Can it put a dent in what has become a deadly epidemic affecting thousands of veterans and their families each year?

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/WG0oRlBeXzYwPLa7FcBtyA>.

VA Discloses Ratings of Its 146 Medical Centers

 

By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 22, 2016

WASHINGTON – Most medical centers serving veterans across the country are improving, according to a once-withheld rating system just released by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Yet, the ratings show several facilities racked by scandal continue to struggle.

Of the 146 medical centers rated, 120 of them, or 82 percent, improved in the past year, according to the VA. But the Phoenix hospital, the epicenter of the 2014 wait-time scandal, was one of the worst rated, and the hospital in Tomah, Wisconsin – another one that has recently come under fire – saw a drop in performance this year.

The performance ratings were released to the public under pressure following an investigation by USA Today earlier this month that revealed the ratings were being held, undisclosed, within the VA.

The VA gave a one- to five-star rating to 146 VA medical centers across the country indicating their quality-of-care at the end of 2016. The information posted online also shows whether each hospital improved since the end of 2015.

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/VfTrNtfY2elRTUY69Q_H3w>.

Groups Worry Historic Commissary Reforms could Fail

 

Stars and Stripes | Dec 25, 2016 | by Travis J. Tritten

Commissary-brand pasta sauce or breakfast cereal? It could be a reality for military shoppers next year.

New products with commissary labels along with new pricing on staples such as bananas, milk and soda are set to begin hitting store shelves in May. About 1,000 new items will be rolled out by the end of 2017.

The changes will mean new choices and some deals for shoppers. But they also signal a profound transformation of commissaries behind the scenes — a shift that groups representing troops and manufacturers worry could fail and imperil the on-base supermarkets.

Commissaries will for the first time try to make a profit by selling to military shoppers as part of a new business model being rolled out to save the global chain of 238 stores, which has seen falling sales for four years straight and is facing increasing pressure to slash its budget.

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/ZUyDvAEhAGgPs-IKn0bkIg>.

The Military Backward Planning Process Ensures Project Success (courtesy of USAA)

 

Content provided courtesy of USAA. By Chad Storlie

Project planning is a difficult process. One of the greatest difficulties in project planning is how to connect the present to the future when the plan is complete. The complexities in project planning lies in how to ensure all the elements such as budget, people, locations, transportation, and materials that are needed to create a successful project come together.

The military’s answer to project planning as well as the planning of military operations lies in the use of the backward planning process. The secret to the backward planning process is that its starts with success or what the successful end of the project looks like and then creates a plan that moves from the successful conclusion “backwards” to the present.

These five tips help make a successful use of the Military Backward Planning process:

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/nWgW3YphwmtgKz2As7Ipiw>.

Tell a friend about NCOA 2017 Job Fair schedule!

 

NCOA 2017 Job Fair Schedule

February

15– JB San Antonio (TX)

16–Ft. Hood (TX)

March

29 – Ft. Lee (VA )

30 – Norfolk (VA)

April

18 – Ft. Stewart (GA)

19 – Moody AFB (GA)*

May

9 – Luke AFB (AZ)

10 – Ft. Huachuca (AZ) *

11 – Davis-Monthan AFB (AZ)

June

13 Fort Hamilton (NY)*

July

11–Nellis AFB (NV) – NCOA Annual Business Meeting

August

15 – Ft. Bragg (NC)*

September

EUROPEAN TOUR Dates (TBD)*

USAG Italy, Vicenza

USAG Bavaria, Vilseck

USAG Stuttgart, Germany

USAG Wiesbaden, Germany

USAG Kaiserslautern, Germany (near Ramstein AFB)

October

5 – Vandenburg-Edwards AFB (CA) *

20 – Dallas  (TX)- American Airlines Skyball

November

1 – Jacksonville NAS (FL)*

2 – Fort Walton or Eglin AFB (FL) Boots to Suits Conference, (NC) (Date TBD)

*Dates and location are subject to change.

Employer and Job Seeker registration can be found here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/_uLZzjvT-xM6LjMhgfWsVQ>.

NCOA’s 53rd Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Dates Announced

 

Mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will be the site for NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute to be held July 11-14, 2017.

This will be a week spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski will be on hand to discuss NCOA’s initiatives and its bright future.

Business meetings comprise the day time schedule and night time events will be exciting as NCOA members enjoy camaraderie and build relationships.

This is a week you don’t want to miss out on!

==========================================================================================

December 19, 2016

Coast Guard Seizes 26.5 Tons of Cocaine

 

More than 26 tons of cocaine worth $2 billion have been seized by the US Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy, officials said Thursday.

Approximately 100 suspected drug smugglers were apprehended at sea and turned over to federal authorities, said Vice Adm. Karl Schultz, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. The inter-agency operation intercepted 27 shipments and five bale recovery efforts over the course of 10 weeks, Schultz said.

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/6KXrLlaFWfzkWEARVPaUZg>.

Army’s Focus on Modernization and Training Efforts

For more than 15 years, the Army has focused on winning against asymmetrical adversaries; however, the operating environment of the future is complex. Because U.S. enemies threaten the advantage across a multi-domain battlefield, the Army must project power across all domains to ensure joint force freedom of action. Learn how the Army will win in a complex world through the Multi-Domain Battle Concept, a concept that calls for ready ground combat forces capable of outmaneuvering adversaries through combined arms across all domains.

Click to see short video here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/STZlTtUCTFfk3ETazslbNQ>.

Supreme Court May Change Divorce Pension Payments

 

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider a case next year that could change the amount disabled military retirees must pay a former spouse after a divorce.

The case, Howell v. Howell, centers on an Arizona Air Force couple who divorced in 1991. At the time of the divorce, John Howell’s upcoming pension was considered a “marital asset” under a federal law known as the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), and split 50-50 with his former spouse, Sandra.

But when John received a 20 percent disability rating in 2005 from the Department of Veterans Affairs, he elected to waive a portion of his monthly retirement pay under pension offset rules, about $250, in order to receive his full monthly VA award. The result, however, was that Sandra’s portion of the pension went down by about $125 a month.

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/CT_PgtESne84ss1-bZ-WVw>.

Obama Approves U.S. honor For Veterans of WWII Spies Agency

 

By Associated Press December 18

BUFFALO, N.Y. – President Barack Obama has signed legislation that bestows one of the nation’s highest civilian awards on veterans of the American World War II spy agency founded by a New Yorker.

The OSS Congressional Gold Medal Act signed this week honors veterans of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA and today’s special operations forces. The Senate passed the measure earlier this year, with the House following last month.

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/uCUEoHDBrNTCtcnJCpsztw>.

New Regulation Decreases Cost of Outpatient Medication Copay for Most Veterans

Washington – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its regulation on copayments for Veterans’ outpatient medications for non-service connected conditions. VA currently charges non-exempt Veterans either $8 or $9 for each 30-day or less supply of outpatient medication, and under current regulations, a calculation based on the medication of the Medical Consumer Price Index (CPI-P) would be used to determine the copayment amount in future years.

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/z2G3iys7cFIyx8gGhf-EYw>.

4 Things to Consider Before Working with Friends and Family (courtesy of USAA)

 

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

By Chazz Pratt

Ever hear the saying “Never work for friends. Never work for family?” If you have, you’ve probably faced an opportunity to work with someone you know well.

The question of working with those you know comes up frequently these days. I believe several factors contribute to the growing topic of working for those familiar faces in your life. As you get older, you’ve been around the block a time of two and you get to develop long-term friendships with some incredible people. You work together on important projects, hang out at meetings, or chit-chat in the “meeting after the meeting” all in an effort to make sense of all you face at work.

Read more here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/FtTK1f2Qg7hhz0x_uiJwZQ>.

Tell a friend about NCOA 2017 Job Fair schedule!

 

NCOA 2017 Job Fair Schedule

February

15– JB San Antonio (TX)

16–Ft. Hood (TX)

March

29 – Ft. Lee (VA )

30 – Norfolk (VA)

April

18 – Ft. Stewart (GA)

19 – Moody AFB (GA)*

May

9 – Luke AFB (AZ)

10 – Ft. Huachuca (AZ) *

11 – Davis-Monthan AFB (AZ)

June

13 Fort Hamilton (NY)*

July

11–Nellis AFB (NV) – NCOA Annual Business Meeting

August

15 – Ft. Bragg (NC)*

September

EUROPEAN TOUR Dates (TBD)*

USAG Italy, Vicenza

USAG Bavaria, Vilseck

USAG Stuttgart, Germany

USAG Wiesbaden, Germany

USAG Kaiserslautern, Germany (near Ramstein AFB)

October

5 – Vandenburg-Edwards AFB (CA) *

20 – Dallas (TX)- American Airlines Skyball

November

1 – Jacksonville NAS (FL)*

2 – Fort Walton or Eglin AFB (FL)

Boots to Suits Conference, (NC) (Date TBD)

*Dates and location are subject to change.

Employer and Job Seeker registration can be found here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/eO8y2suw4E6Sy-Y4mXwvnQ>.

NCOA’s 53rd Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Dates Announced

 

Mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will be the site for NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute to be held July 11-14, 2017.

This will be a week spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski will be on hand to discuss NCOA’s initiatives and its bright future.

Business meetings comprise the day time schedule and night time events will be exciting as NCOA members enjoy camaraderie and build relationships.

This is a week you don’t want to miss out on!

==========================================================================================

December 12, 2016

House and Senate Approve 2.1% Troop Pay Raise in 2017

Military.com | Dec 08, 2016 | by Brendan McGarry

The U.S. Senate on Thursday joined the House of Representatives in approving a 2.1 percent pay raise next year for troops.

The upper chamber passed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which included the pay increase, by a vote of 92-7.

The House last week approved the legislation by a veto-proof majority of 375-34. The bill now heads to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

The $619 billion authorization act includes $611 billion for programs overseen by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, including $524 billion for base defense spending, $68 billion for war funding and almost $20 billion for other national security programs.

Read more here.

Shutdown Averted, Senate Backs Stop-gap Spending Bill

Associated Press | Dec 10, 2016 | by Matthew Daly, Andrew Taylor

With less than an hour to spare, the Senate late Friday backed legislation averting a government shutdown, as coal-state Democrats retreated on long-term health care benefits for retired miners and promised a renewed fight for the working class next year.

The 63-36 vote sent the stop-gap spending bill to President Barack Obama, who signed the measure early Saturday morning. The Senate also passed and sent the president a $10 billion water bill with money to respond to lead-tainted drinking water in Michigan and drought in California. The vote was 78-21.

The votes came hours after Democrats dropped threats to block the spending measure in hopes of using the shutdown deadline to try to win a one-year respite for 16,500 miners facing the loss of health care benefits at year’s end. Instead, the legislation provides benefits at a cost of $45 million for four months.

Read more here.

A sign of hope: Fairness for Veterans Act Awaits President’s Signature

One month after the release of the digital, episodic investigation “Charlie Foxtrot,” a mom and two veterans from the series met on Capitol Hill for the first time.  They did not know one another prior to being interviewed about their experiences, but suddenly they found themselves telling their stories before a Congressional audience underneath the Capitol Dome.

This trio provides insight into a problem lurking within our military system.  Service members who receive a less than honorable discharge are stripped of benefits despite symptoms of mental health conditions directly linked to their service. They shared their stories before an audience of lawmakers, policy-shapers, veteran’s advocates, and journalists on a chilly night in early December.

Read more here.

Pilot Program Will Put Military Medical Clinics In Commissaries

Need medical attention? You might be able to do some grocery shopping while you’re there, if the Navy’s planned test of putting medical clinics in some commissaries is successful.

The test, which will take place in the Jacksonville, Florida, area, is in the planning phase. The clinics will be run by Navy corpsmen, said Vice Adm. Forrest Faison III, the Navy surgeon general, during a Dec.1 session at the conference of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, held just outside Washington, D.C.

Read more here.

VA National Cemeteries Now Offering Pre-Need Eligibility Determinations

 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced it now provides eligibility determinations for interment in a VA national cemetery prior to the time of need. Through the Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program, upon request, individuals can learn if they are eligible for burial or memorialization in a VA national cemetery

Interested individuals may submit VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery, and supporting documentation, such as a DD Form 214, if readily available, to the VA National Cemetery Scheduling Office by: toll-free fax at 1-855-840-8299; email to Eligibility.PreNeed@va.govor mail to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151.

Read more here.

Get Smart About Credit (courtesy of USAA)

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

By Mikel Van Cleve

National Get Smart about Credit Day falls on Oct. 20, 2016. In recognition, let’s bust a few common credit myths – and discuss some ways you can protect your credit.

Credit Myths

Myth: It’s impossible to get credit if you’ve never had it.

Truth: It may be more challenging to get approved for certain loan products or amounts until you show you can responsibly use credit, but it is not impossible to begin building credit.

Smart steps: Have you name added as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card (make sure their card issuer reports authorized users to the credit bureau), or open a Secured Card

Myth: You should maintain a balance on your credit card.

Truth: You do NOT need to carry over a balance on your credit card(s) each month to build credit. Carrying over a balance will only cause you to pay unnecessary interest charges.

Smart steps: When you receive your bill, pay it in full by the due date. Both the activity (balance on your statement) and payment will be reported to the bureaus, helping you build good credit.

Read more here.

NCOA is excited to announce our 2017 Job Fair schedule!

Announcing the NCOA 2017 Job Fair Schedule

February

15– JB San Antonio (TX)

16–Ft. Hood (TX)

March

29 – Ft. Lee (VA )

30 – Norfolk (VA)

April

18 – Ft. Stewart (GA)

19 – Moody AFB (GA)*

May

9 – Luke AFB (AZ)

10 – Ft. Huachuca (AZ) *

11 – Davis-Monthan AFB (AZ)

June

13 Fort Hamilton (NY)*

July

11–Nellis AFB (NV) – NCOA Annual Business Meeting

August

15 – Ft. Bragg (NC)*

September

EUROPEAN TOUR Dates (TBD)*

USAG Italy, Vicenza

USAG Bavaria, Vilseck

USAG Stuttgart, Germany

USAG Wiesbaden, Germany

USAG Kaiserslautern, Germany (near Ramstein AFB)

October

5 – Vandenburg-Edwards AFB (CA) *

20 – Dallas  (TX)- American Airlines Skyball

November

1 – Jacksonville NAS (FL)*

2 – Fort Walton or Eglin AFB (FL)

Boots to Suits Conference, (NC) (Date TBD)

*Dates and location are subject to change.

NCOA’s 53rd Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Dates Announced

 

Mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will be the site for NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute to be held July 11-14, 2017.

This will be a week spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski will be on hand to discuss NCOA’s initiatives and its bright future.

Business meetings comprise the day time schedule and night time events will be exciting as NCOA members enjoy camaraderie and build relationships.

This is a week you don’t want to miss out on!

==========================================================================================

December 05, 2016

Veto of NDAA 2017 Looks Unlikely

If President Barack Obama wants to block the 2017 defense authorization bill, he’ll have to do so without help from fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill.

On Friday, the annual defense policy measure overwhelmingly passed the House by a vote of 375 to 34, with most chamber Democrats backing the legislation despite the $619 billion price tag coming in several billion dollars over White House requests.

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., called the measure an “excellent bill” even though he has spoken against oversized defense budgets.

Before the vote, he noted that “we do not have an infinite amount of money” but added that “we’re going to keep working hard to figure out how to make that money go as far as possible.”

Read more here.

SecDef Carter Confident His Successor Will Be Ready to Take Command

Associated Press | Dec 05, 2016 | by Robert Burns

TOKYO — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday he believes his designated successor, if confirmed by the Senate as expected, will be a quick study regarding the responsibilities of the office.

Carter declined to offer his view of whether President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of retired Marine Gen. James Mattis undermines the principle of civilian control of the military.

Because Mattis has been out of uniform for fewer than seven years, which is the minimum required by law, his nomination will require new legislation to override the prohibition. Mattis, 66, retired in 2013 as a four-star general. He is a combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is a former head of U.S. Central Command.

Read more here.

New Military Concealed Carry Policy Excludes Retirees for Now

Military.com | Dec 02, 2016 | by Matthew Cox

The Pentagon’s new policy for carrying firearms on base is intended for uniformed service members and civilians working for the U.S. military — not for retirees, Defense Department officials maintain.

“Arming and the Use of Force,” a Nov. 18 Department of Defense Directiveapproved by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, provides detailed guidance to the services for permitting soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard personnel to carry privately owned firearms on DoD property, according to the document.

In response to its Nov. 21 story, Military.com has received numerous emails from retired service members, asking if the directive will allow them to carry their firearms on base.

Read more here.

Congress Wants to Know Why Soldiers, Marines Don’t Use the Same Rifle Ammo

POSTED BY: HOPE HODGE SECK NOVEMBER 30, 2016

The Marine Corps and the Army use different rifle ammo – and Congress is demanding a report explaining why.

The final joint version of the Fiscal 2017 National Defense Appropriations Act, released Wednesday, includes a provision requiring the secretary of defense to submit a report to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees explaining why the two services are using different types of 5.56 mm ammunition for their M16A4 and M4 rifles.

According to the provision, the report must be submitted within 180 days after the bill, which includes the entire defense budget for the coming year, is enacted.

Read more here.

Tips for Financing Your Next Car (courtesy of USAA)

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

Car buying and financing can be overwhelming, especially the first time. Don’t let the fine print intimidate you – use these seven tips to navigate the auto loan process.

Read more here.

NCOA’s 53rd Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Dates Announced

Mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will be the site for NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute to be held July 11-14, 2017.

This will be a week spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski will be on hand to discuss NCOA’s initiatives and its bright future.

Business meetings comprise the day time schedule and night time events will be exciting as NCOA members enjoy camaraderie and build relationships.

This is a week you don’t want to miss out on!

NCOA is excited to announce our 2017 Job Fair schedule!

Announcing the NCOA 2017 Job Fair Schedule

February

15– JB San Antonio (TX)

16–Ft. Hood (TX)

March

29 – Ft. Lee (VA )

30 – Norfolk (VA)

April

18 – Ft. Stewart (GA)

19 – Moody AFB (GA)*

May

9 – Luke AFB (AZ)

10 – Ft. Huachuca (AZ) *

11 – Davis-Monthan AFB (AZ)

June

13 Fort Hamilton (NY)*

July

11–Nellis AFB (NV) – NCOA Annual Business Meeting

August

15 – Ft. Bragg (NC)*

September

EUROPEAN TOUR Dates (TBD)*

USAG Italy, Vicenza

USAG Bavaria, Vilseck

USAG Stuttgart, Germany

USAG Wiesbaden, Germany

USAG Kaiserslautern, Germany (near Ramstein AFB)

October

5 – Vandenburg-Edwards AFB (CA) *

20 – Dallas  (TX)- American Airlines Skyball

November

1 – Jacksonville NAS (FL)*

2 – Fort Walton or Eglin AFB (FL)

Boots to Suits Conference, (NC) (Date TBD)

*Dates and location are subject to change.

==========================================================================================

November 28, 2016

MyVA311: One number to call to reach the VA

When VA Secretary Bob McDonald first started evaluating business and customer service practices across VA to improve the Veteran experience, the need for a revamped phone system was clear. Instead of navigating dozens of automated phone trees with no guarantee of success, Veterans needed one place to call to get connected to the right place quickly

VA is introducing 1-844-MyVA311 (1-844-698-2311) as a go-to source for Veterans and their families who don’t know what number to call. This new national toll-free number will help eliminate the feeling of frustration and confusion that Veterans and their families have expressed when navigating the 1000-plus phone numbers that currently exist.

Read more here.

Pentagon Holds Up GI Bill Benefits for Reservists

Stars and Stripes | Nov 26, 2016 | by Alex Horton

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras — Nearly 300 Marines came home from their seven-month deployment to Central America this week. They have a few things in tow — wood carvings from local artisans and the grit of experience responding to Hurricane Matthew, among the world’s worst recent natural disasters.

But the reservists returned without something that most were counting on: seven months of GI Bill benefits.

A relatively new and obscure deployment code, a measure the Pentagon created in 2014 to scale back spending on benefits, is the reason. By law, reservists involuntarily mobilized under Title 10, section 12304b, do not receive credit for the GI Bill while they are activated.

Read more here.

The Marine Corps Is Experimenting With a New Service Rifle

On the heels of a widely praised 2015 decision to issue the more maneuverable M4 carbine in lieu of the M16A4 to Marines in infantry battalions, the Marine Corps may be on the cusp of another major weapons decision.

The Marine Corps’ experimental battalion, the California-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, has been conducting pre-deployment exercises with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle to evaluate it as the new service rifle for infantry battalions, the commander of 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Daniel O’Donohue told Military.com Thursday.

The battalion is set to deploy aboard the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit this spring. As part of its workup and deployment, it has been charged with testing and evaluating a host of technologies and concepts ranging from teaming operations with unmanned systems and robotics to experiments with differently sized squads.

Read more here.

How Can Military Spouses Overcome Career Boundaries? (courtesy of USAA)

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

By Angela Caban

If you’re a military spouse you are more than familiar with the career boundaries you face with either frequent moves or busy military schedules. Although it may seem almost impossible to establish and maintain a successful career, I promise you it is not and you’re not alone.

Based on the findings in Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families’ military spouses are more often underemployed or unemployed, earn less income, and have less career advancement than their civilian counterparts-despite possessing more advanced education.

That is about enough to discourage just about anyone, but will you let these boundaries and challenges stop you from obtaining the career you deserve?

Read more here.

NCOA is excited to announce our 2017 Job Fair schedule!

Announcing the NCOA 2017 Job Fair Schedule

February

15– JB San Antonio (TX)

16–Ft. Hood (TX)

March

29 – Ft. Lee (VA )

30 – Norfolk (VA)

April

18 – Ft. Stewart (GA)

19 – Moody AFB (GA)*

May

9 – Luke AFB (AZ)

10 – Ft. Huachuca (AZ) *

11 – Davis-Monthan AFB (AZ)

June

13 Fort Hamilton (NY)*

July

11–Nellis AFB (NV) – NCOA Annual Business Meeting

August

15 – Ft. Bragg (NC)*

September

EUROPEAN TOUR Dates (TBD)*

USAG Italy, Vicenza

USAG Bavaria, Vilseck

USAG Stuttgart, Germany

USAG Wiesbaden, Germany

USAG Kaiserslautern, Germany (near Ramstein AFB)

October

5 – Vandenburg-Edwards AFB (CA) *

20 – Dallas (TX)- American Airlines Skyball

November

1 – Jacksonville NAS (FL)*

2 – Fort Walton or Eglin AFB (FL)

Boots to Suits Conference, (NC) (Date TBD)

*Dates and location are subject to change.

NCOA’s 53rd Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Dates Announced

Mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will be the site for NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute to be held July 11-14, 2017.

This will be a week spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski will be on hand to discuss NCOA’s initiatives and its bright future.

Business meetings comprise the day time schedule and night time events will be exciting as NCOA members enjoy camaraderie and build relationships.

This is a week you don’t want to miss out on!

==========================================================================================

November 21, 2016

Enlisted Rating Modernization: What’s Next for the Navy

Military.com | Nov 20, 2016 | by Robert Burke

Vice Adm. Robert Burke is the chief of naval personnel. He assumed the role in May and is responsible for the planning and programming of all manpower, personnel, training and education resources for the U.S. Navy. This views expressed in this commentary are his own.

Earlier this month, Fleet Master Chief April Beldo and I travelled to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility to visit sailors operating on the Navy’s front lines.

During the visit, sailors not only impressed us with their mission-focused, can-do attitude, but also with their initiative, creativity and thoughtful questions on some of our recent personnel changes — including the Navy’s enlisted rating modernization effort.

Two questions came up frequently: “Why do we need to change?” and “How will the new system work going forward?”

Read more here.

Gulf War Veterans With Brain Cancer Denied Fast Track To Compensation

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of veterans with terminal brain cancer and their families were close to being fast-tracked toward millions of dollars in government benefits and compensation — before a White House decision this fall prevented it.

The White House denied a recommendation from the Department of Veterans Affairs that would establish a connection between brain cancer and service in the Persian Gulf War, fast-tracking VA benefits and compensation. As it stands, veterans and families have the burden of proving the connection – a process that can take years and require hundreds of pages of military and medical records.

Read more here.

How VA Denies Your PTSD Claim

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a condition that’s both underestimated and misunderstood, especially when it comes to the Veterans Association. PTSD is actually a common condition. The Mayo Clinic estimates that more than 3 million Americans are diagnosed with PTSD every year – and that doesn’t take into account those individuals who never receive a diagnosis.

PTSD develops when an individual has witnessed or experienced a traumatic or terrifying event. Unsurprisingly, it’s a condition that’s particularly prevalent among veterans. Although the VA estimates that 10-15% of veterans will develop PTSD at some point following their military service, it’s entirely possible these numbers might actually be much higher in reality.

Read more here.

Trump’s VA Chief to Decide on New Agent Orange Ailments

Bob McDonald won’t be the VA secretary to decide if thousands more Vietnam War veterans – those with bladder cancer, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism or Parkinson’s-like symptoms – should be eligible for VA health care and disability pay because of research associating the ailments with possible exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides used in the war.

The decision to add any of these ailments to the list of 17 conditions VA already presumes are tied to herbicides will be left for President Trump’s VA Secretary, department officials told us Wednesday.

“For this administration, the deadline for proposing new rules for potential new presumptions [of service connection to herbicide] has passed, and this will become work for the new administration to take to completion,” VA officials explained in a written statement.

Read more here.

How Do I Safely Recycle My Old Electronics? (courtesy of USAA)

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

Along with many benefits, the digital age ushered in increased security risks for our data – especially as we discard outdated devices.

Hackers have become more sophisticated as they pursue access to lucrative personal information. And that includes mining it from the personal electronic devices we recycle, donate or resell.

The first step to understanding these risks, says James McQueen, communications counsel with Consumer Reports®, is being aware of what sensitive data electronics may hold:

  • Computers may contain everything from your bank account information, your Social Security number, tax returns, credit cards, passwords and more.
  • Smartphones increasingly hold the same type of information as your computer.
  • Printers and copiers often include hard drives with records of everything you have printed, copied or faxed.

McQueen recommends these key practices to protect personal data:

Read more here

Free Christmas Trees for Military Families

POSTED BY: KATE HORRELL NOVEMBER 18, 2016

Once again, the Christmas Spirit Foundation is offering free Christmas trees for military members and their families at selected locations across the country.  With generous support from FedEx, the Trees for Troops program will deliver more than 18,000 donated trees, which are distributed on various dates from 30 November 2016 to 9 December 2016.

This is the 12th year for the Trees for Troops program.  Tree farmers across America donate trees, which are delivered to bases during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Read more here.

NCOA’s 53rd Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Dates Announced

Mark your calendars as The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will be the site for NCOA’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting and Vanguard Awards Tribute to be held July 11-14, 2017.

This will be a week spearheaded by NCOA’s new leadership.  President Vince Patton and Executive Director Jon Ostrowski will be on hand to discuss NCOA’s initiatives and its bright future.

Business meetings comprise the day time schedule and night time events will be exciting as NCOA members enjoy camaraderie and build relationships.

This is a week you don’t want to miss out on!

==========================================================================================

November 14, 2016

Obama Urges Nation to ‘Forge Unity’ in Veterans Day Speech

Associated Press | Nov 11, 2016 | by Darlene Superville

ARLINGTON, Va. – Three days after Election Day, President Barack Obama used his last Veterans Day speech to urge Americans to learn from the example of veterans as a divided nation seeks to “forge unity” after the bitter 2016 campaign.

Obama, in remarks at Arlington National Cemetery, noted that Veterans Day often comes on the heels of hard-fought campaigns that “lay bare disagreements across our nation.”

“But the American instinct has never been to find isolation in opposite corners,” Obama said. “It is to find strength in our common creed, to forge unity from our great diversity, to maintain that strength and unity even when it is hard.”

He added that now that the election is over, “as we search for ways to come together, to reconnect with one another and with the principles that are more enduring than transitory politics, some of our best examples are the men and women we salute on Veterans Day.”

Read more here.

My VA – Putting Veterans First (transformation update from Secretary McDonald)

Dear Fellow Veterans,

One hundred and fifty years ago, November 1, 1866, the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Togus, Maine, officially opened its doors to Union soldiers. These soldiers had courageously fought for the sake of the simple truth that “all men are created equal.” They’d sacrificed for those unalienable rights we cherish-“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” And they brought us closer to “a more perfect Union,” the same that brave young men and women volunteer to defend still today. Our Nation’s first tangible answer to President Lincoln’s call “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan” was that facility in Togus, the cornerstone of a network of National Homes that would become the Veterans Administration in 1930, that in 1988 President Ronald Reagan would take from an Agency with an Administrator to a cabinet-level Department with a Secretary. On this diamond anniversary, I’m pleased to share our third update on your MyVA Transformation, and I’m excited to report that we’ve made irreversible progress over the last few years. We’re changing VA into a world-class service provider. We’re transforming all of VA-changing the entire Department, not just parts of it-and putting the needs, expectations, and interests of you and your families first, putting you in control of how, when, and where you wish to be served.

Read more here.

Veterans Group Seeks to Delay Passage of Veterans First Act

Stars and Stripes | Nov 13, 2016 | by Nikki Wentling

A massive veterans reform bill backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs will face resistance in Congress’ lame-duck session starting Tuesday from a group intent on letting the new Republican-controlled Senate and President-Elect Donald Trump have a say in how expeditiously VA employees can be fired.

With only a couple of months left as VA Secretary, Bob McDonald is making one final appeal to Congress to pass the reform bill that’s the culmination of his two-year tenure. The 400-page Veterans First Act contains dozens of provisions to streamline the appeals process for disability compensation, allow more leeway in disciplining employees and grant VA medical staff the ability to work flexible hours, among other things.

“We worked to design a new law. We’ve given a new law to Congress, and we’ve asked Congress to pass that new law,” McDonald said Thursday during an event at The Washington Post. “I’m hoping it gets passed in the lame-duck session.”

Read more here.

VA Celebrates New Strategic Partnerships on Veterans Day

 

Partnerships Affirm VA’s Commitment to Engaging External Organizations to Support Veterans and Families

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced nine new strategic partnerships that will provide additional health care and support services for Veterans and their families.  These new formal relationships are the latest in a series of strategic partnerships developed to bring the private and public sectors together with VA to enhance the Veteran experience.

“Strategic partnerships allow us to expand the reach of services available for Veterans and their families,” said Secretary Robert A. McDonald.  “Since we’ve named strategic partnerships as one of our five MyVA strategies, I’m happy to report we’ve established partnerships at unprecedented rate to tackle a myriad of different Veteran needs.”

Read more here.

VA Introduces “This Week at VA” (New Weekly Podcast)

WASHINGTON – As part of its ongoing effort to engage and reach out to Veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a podcast titled “This Week at VA.” The podcast will be produced weekly. Each episode will include information on benefits or products, interviews with Veterans, a highlighted Veteran of the Day and other helpful content. This week’s show features an interview with VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald.

“This Week at VA highlights the department’s commitment to delivering valuable information to the Veteran community through real stories of the Veteran experience,” said McDonald.

Read more here.

Activity vs. Productivity: Being Busy Does Not Equal Success (courtesy of USAA)

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

By Angela Caban

I have always been one to believe that you should never bite off more than you can chew. This day in age, we are more focused on how busy we are, how much we have to do — and this is how others determine the success of a person. Whatever happened to focusing on one project at a time?

Years ago when I worked outside of the home, I had a coworker who would take on various projects at a time. Her theory was that if management saw she was taking on as much as they asked her to, she would soon be promoted. Yes the projects would get completed, but she never gave it her all. Those projects were never given the full attention they deserved, and frankly, while the work was completed, it was not the best. You may be wondering if she ever got promoted, the answer is no.

Read more here.

Marine Corps Communication Playbook (11-7-2016)

Attached is the most current edition of the Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication Public Affairs Playbook.  It provides context and talking points for newsworthy issues.

Briefing Cards:

–Black Sea Rotational Force

–Blended Retirement

–Force Fitness Instructor

–Marine Corps Operating Concept

–MCAS Iwakuni Initiatives

–Personal Finance

–Ready Emergency Preparedness

–Rotational Presence in Norway

–Sea Dragon 2025

–Transgender Policy

Read Playbook here

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November 17, 2016

Afghanistan: The War Trump and Clinton Have Ignored

Associated Press | Nov 04, 2016 | by Deb Riechmann, Robert Burns

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have said next to nothing about how they would handle the war in Afghanistan.

That’s remarkable, given the enormous U.S. investment in blood and treasure over the past 15 years – including two American deaths on Thursday – the resilience of the Taliban insurgency and the risk of an Afghan government collapse that would risk empowering extremists and could force the next president’s hands.

In addition to the two service members killed on Thursday, four others were wounded while assisting Afghan forces in the northern city of Kunduz.

Read more here.

6 Tricks For Veterans Transitioning From College To The Workplace

 

You’ve already made one major transition, learning to undo your military mindset and getting into the collegiate brain space. It can be a tough transition, finding a way to engage in the informal culture that drives academia

Now you’ve got to switch gears again, putting aside your student self as you brace to enter the world of work. It can be a long and challenging road from campus to corporate life. 

Read more here.

Veterans help veterans cope with PTSD through Marine’s Headstrong Project

Two years after serving two tours in Iraq, Army veteran Dustin Shryock started feeling something was wrong – and he didn’t know how to make it right.

“Anxiety attacks that would pop up for no reason,” he recalls of the problems that surfaced out of the blue in 2010. “I’d be sitting on the couch, doing nothing. You can just imagine a normal anxiety attack, like a public speaking engagement.

“And a tiny little thing like that, over time, over and over, became debilitating.”

A fellow veteran pulled him aside with a solution: The Headstrong Project, a group founded four years ago by combat-decorated Marine Corps officer Zach Iscol to assist his fellow American fighters scarred by invisible wounds.

Read more here.

2016 Veterans Day Free Meals and Discounts

Veterans Day is soon approaching and there are many restaurants and companies who want to thank our veterans by providing them with discounts or a free meal. To those companies offering veterans a free meal or discount, the military community gives a collective thanks!

Read more here.

6 Steps to Paying Off Credit Card Debt (courtesy of USAA)

THE BEST DEBTS are those you speak of in the past tense. That’s particularly true of credit card debt, says JJ Montanaro, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at USAA.

Estimates abound for how much credit card debt the average American carries, but the number that matters most is your number. Let’s say it’s $5,000.

Review this six-step plan on how to crush that debt over the next 12 months.

Read more here.

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Octobber 17, 2016

Making improvements at the Department of Veterans Affairs

Credit: VA

LaVerne H. Council is the assistant secretary for information and technology and the chief information officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There she oversees the VA’s $4 billion IT budget and more than 8,000 employees and 8,000 contractors.

Council, who spent years in the private sector, including serving as the first Global CIO at Johnson & Johnson, joined the administration in 2015 to help upgrade the VA’s internal systems and improve services for veterans. She talked about her government experiences and her leadership philosophy with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and the vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Read more here.

VA Seeks to Extend Gulf War Syndrome Filing Deadline

Military.com | Oct 14, 2016 | by Jim Absher

The VA is seeking to expand the time limit that veterans can claim disability benefits for Gulf War Syndrome by five years.

In a document to be published in the Federal Register on October 17, the VA seeks to expand the time limit that veterans of the Gulf War may claim disability benefits for the chronic multi symptom illness known as Gulf War Syndrome from December 31, 2016 until December 31, 2021. The VA is inviting the public to comment on their plans by December 18, 2016. The document, with instructions for commenting can be found on the Federal Register website 

Read more here.

Are You Cyberfit?

You can store and track your health and fitness information with fitness wearables, mobile devices, applications or other online services.

While this technology makes it easier for you to be in charge of your health information, it may increase the possibility that it can be stolen. 

Read more here.

Ten things most Veterans don’t know about VA home loans

More than 21 million Veterans and Service members live in the U.S. today, but only about 6 percent of them bought a home using a VA home loan in the past five years. That percentage could be much higher.

Eligible Veterans often bypass the program as a viable option for a number of reasons.

First, they may not know all the advantages. Second, they may think getting a VA loan is an arduous process to be avoided. Last, some lenders don’t take the time to teach Veterans about the program, or don’t know much about it themselves. The VA home loan is a program non-military home buyers wish they had access to.

My advice: take a few minutes to learn these 10 facts about the program, and you’ll all but forget about any other home buying or refinance option. 

Read more here

Well-Child Visits Now Covered under Tricare Policy

Military.com | Oct 15, 2016 | by Amy Bushatz

Well-child visits for Tricare users over age six, as well as physicals required for school admissions, will now be covered due to newly updated rules.

The policy change, issued this week, seeks to bring the healthcare system’s rules closer in line with the pediatric care standards known as “Bright Futures,” included in the Affordable Care Act. Those rules, laid out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are considered the blueprint for preventive child healthcare. Tricare is exempt by law from the Affordable Care Act.

Read more here.

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October 11, 2016

Navy Scuttles Sailors’ Enlisted Rating Titles in Huge Career Shake-up

The Navy deep-sixed all of its 91 enlisted ratings titles Thursday, marking the beginning of an overhaul of the rigid career structure that has existed since the Continental Navy in a radical shift sure to reverberate through the fleet and the veterans community beyond.

Sailors will no longer be identified by their job title, say, Fire Controlman 1st Class Joe Sailor, effective immediately. Instead, that would be Petty Officer 1st Class Joe Sailor.

Read more here.

The Ultimate Guide to Veterans Benefit

Military men and women who are in service or have been discharged honorably are recognized by the US government as having faithfully served the country and are deserving of a variety of benefits.

Many of these benefits are designed to help those who have been wounded physically or gone through some psychological trauma. Other benefits are to help make returning to civilian life a better transition.

Read more here.

Miller V. McDonald: Clash of Agendas and Legacies for Vets

Military Update:  Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, the soon-to-retire chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is a former deputy sheriff of Gilchrist County, Fla., who despises wrongdoing by VA department employees.

Indeed his committee, through his six years as chairman, is perceived by veteran groups as having fixated on exposing fraud, waste and abuse inside the Obama administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

While veteran service organizations largely praise VA Secretary Bob McDonald’s actions and those of his deputy and former West Point classmate, Sloan Gibson, since they took charge amid a patient wait-time scandal in 2014 and began to reform a vast VA bureaucracy, Miller isn’t a fan.

Read more here

Are You Entitled to Another VA Loan?

The most frequently asked VA loan question is about repeat use of VA loan benefits.

It’s true: VA loan benefits can be used again and again, provided that you meet the qualifications for reuse. Here is a closer look at 3 common scenarios may help some veterans get another VA loan.

Read more here.

NCOA Hosts Job Fairs for The First Time Ever in Europe

In mid-September 2016, the Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA) hosted Job Fairs overseas for the first time in the history of the NCOA Veteran Employment Assistance (VEA) program. The events were held in partnership with the Soldier for Life (SFL) transition offices and Army Community Service Employment Readiness (ACS) programs in Italy and throughout Germany.

Read more here.

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September 26, 2016

VA secretary affirms pledge to veterans and their families

CHELSEA – U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald visited Maine on Saturday to take part in the VA Maine Healthcare System’s celebration of the Togus facility’s 150th year of operation.

Speaking at a media session before the official proceedings, McDonald talked about changes being made to improve veterans care and emphasized the VA’s commitment to not only continue to care for veterans but also their families and future generations.

Read more here.

Chairman Miller Statement On Biggest Construction Failure In VA History

Sep 21, 2016

Press Release

For more information, contact: Curt Cashour, (202) 225-3527

Today, Chairman Miller released the below statement regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General report on the replacement Denver VA medical center, the biggest construction failure in VA History.

Read more here.

Leaders Meet in Washington to Discuss Improving Public Access for Vets with Post-Traumatic Stress Service Dogs

Washington – Today American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, released the findings of a new survey of U.S. retail employees measuring their experiences with, and perceptions of, customers with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) service dogs.

Harnessing the healing powers of the human-animal bond, specially trained PTS service dogs can offer vital and often lifesaving support to the estimated 14 percent of our nation’s service members and veterans who suffer from combat-related PTS. However, though many people rely on these animals every day, there are currently no national standards or accepted best practices for the definition, training, and credentialing of PTS service dogs-a void that creates obstacles for PTS veterans seeking access and reasonable accommodations for their service dogs in public places of business.

Read more here.

Columbus will be home to the National Veterans Memorial & Museum as backers expand scope

Columbus could be home to the country’s first official national veterans memorial.

A name change is in store for the museum being constructed on downtown’s Scioto peninsula, with support from a bill introduced in Congress to designate it as such.

 

“We are moving forward as the National Veterans Memorial & Museum,” said Amy Taylor, COO of Columbus Downtown Development Corp., the nonprofit developer behind the tribute to military veterans. “(The name) will provide important validity to it, regardless of how the bill progresses.”

Read more here.

5 Ways to Avoid Drowning in Student Debt (Courtesy of USAA)

As college costs rise, many students find themselves taking out bigger and bigger loans to pay for their education. Carefully considered and managed, student loans can be a smart investment in your future. Here are nine strategies to help you manage student debt:

Read more here.

 

News

The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County

 

2nd Annual Rogue Valley VeteRUN
                  October 13, 2018

*New Information*

The Medford National Guard Armory is now doing ID card renewals Thursdays on walk in basis ONLY from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Located at:
1701 South Pacific Hwy
Medford, OR 97501

Call 541-618-5876 to make sure you have all paperwork needed before you go. More info…

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