VETERAN’S NEWS From the Internet
Gathered by Bob Kinsler, SSG (ret), US Army, DAV, VFW Dept. of Oklahoma, PRO/Editor
On December 4, 2015 President Obama signed Public Law 114-94, better known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) act, or the long-term highway funding bill. Buried deep into the law is a provision that may be of interest to many veterans seeking employment as truck drivers.
The new law can save veterans thousands of dollars of CDL training that may not be covered by the GI Bill if they have military experience driving similar commercial-type vehicles and want to get a civilian CDL. Also veterans can save the cost of the annual medical exam required for some commercial driving licenses if they visit VA medical facilities.
Section 5401 of the law contains a provision that exempts veterans from the driving test for a CDL license if that veteran had experience in the armed forces or reserve components driving vehicles similar to a commercial motor vehicle.
This exemption is good for one year after separation from active duty.
The law also directs states to credit military training and knowledge “for purposes of satisfying minimum standards for training and knowledge.”
Currently, all 50 states offer skills test waivers to veterans who have been out of the military for 90 days or less.
More provisions of the law remove any state resident requirements for veterans who wish to get a CDL license, and allow VA doctors to perform any required CDL medical exams.
The law directs the Department of Transportation to enact these changes by the end of 2016, but expect some of them to be effective sooner.
Vets’ benefits protected from incorrect death declarations By Leo Shane III, December 22, 2015
Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., said several of his constituents complained about Veterans Affairs paperwork mistakes that left them classified as deceased and stopped their benefits.
About a dozen veterans each month have their benefits halted after being mistakenly declared dead by the Department of Veterans Affairs, but now agency officials and a Florida lawmaker think they have a fix.
The problem was brought to light by Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., earlier this year after several of his constituents complained about paperwork mistakes that left them classified as deceased. That halted their benefits and led to bureaucratic nightmares in trying to disprove the errors.
“It sounds humorous, but it’s really not,” Jolly said. “Veterans told me this was a devastating problem to work around.”
Jolly’s office said they have handled six such cases since mid-2014, including the widow of a veteran who had more than $6,000 in benefits withheld for months while the problem was reviewed.
In a letter to Jolly’s office earlier this month, VA officials acknowledged 115 such cases from June 2014 to April 2015.
The problem stems from mistakes in the Social Security Administration’s shared records with VA. Department officials said 99.83 percent of cases referred from the other government agency are accurate, but that leaves a small number of beneficiaries left vulnerable to mistakes.
As a result, VA officials are changing their policy of cutting off benefits as soon as those death notices are received and instead giving individuals 30 days to provide proof of an error.
“The new process will allow beneficiaries … an opportunity to correct the error prior to VA terminating (their) monthly benefit,” Acting Undersecretary for Benefits Danny Pummill wrote in the letter.
Jolly calls it a positive step forward to fix the ongoing problem. He has been petitioning the department for action since the spring, and said he is pleased that VA officials have found a solution.
“With all the issues VA has been facing, not all of them can receive the highest priority,” he said. “But this should be an easy one. Let’s not declare people dead when they aren’t.”
VA officials told Jolly’s office they are continuing to review their records protocols to see if other fixes are needed.
While the story above might not be funny to those who it happens too, let me state that if you – the Veteran – Passes to the next heavenly formation without a will, your survivors’ could face a long and costly legal affair probating your personal assets (remember you cannot take them with you). So to insure you can obtain this important documentation of you wishes, I will try to obtain someone of the VFW membership to assist you. (When I get it going I will publish the procedure).
During the time we served, and definitely for those whom were deployed to combat zones, you were required to fill out a wills. That provided the appropriate military branch legal affairs Casualty Action groups assistance if you were killed in action or while on active duty. The US Army method was with that Soldiers Group Life Insurance Card that was held within your Military Personnel File. If you remember, you were always told to update it every year or when you obtained a spouse or children. When you retired, or separated from the US Military (if you did not continue in the reserves or national guards) that will ended.
So, for your survivors’ sake, please take the necessary actions to obtain a will, and file it in the country records office (which hopefully also has a copy of your DD Form 214 already recorded).
By the way, Hopefully you are having a Merry New Year – 2016.
By the way, if you want to complain, add your support, or have something you want added to this article contact me at 580-271-0897 or Email me at BobKinsler@aol.com. This is the veterans’ news and if you have something let me know, please.