VETERAN’S NEWS From the Internet
Gathered by Bob Kinsler, SSG (ret), US Army, VFW Dept. of Oklahoma, Public Affairs Team Member
Veterans, smiles and a dog named Honor by Tom Cramer, VHA Digital Media
In early January the VA Medical Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma, became a brighter, cheerier place with the arrival of its newest staff member.
Her name is Honor, and she’s only 18-months-old.
“Patients smile when they see her coming,” said 34-year-old Terri Woodworth, Honor’s co-worker. “All day long we make regular rounds to the chemo, palliative care and inpatient psych units. We walk around the entire medical center to visit patients throughout the day.”
Honor is a happy, easy-going Golden Retriever who, without even trying too hard, seems to be a natural at instantly boosting everyone’s spirits.
“She can really sense people’s emotions,” said Woodworth, a staffer on the hospital’s social work unit. “She senses emotions and reacts in just the right way to make someone feel better. Having Honor here, doing what she’s doing, is turning out to be better than I had ever imagined.”
The friendly canine always seems to hit the right note with every patient she sees.
Missing pets at home
“We were up on the psych ward earlier this morning,” Woodworth said, “and there was this Veteran sitting alone on the couch doing his crossword puzzle. We asked if he would like a visit with Honor. When he said ‘yes’ Honor just went right up to him, jumped on the couch and lay down next to him. He was delighted. He said, ‘Oh, I have a dog at home and I miss her so much…’
“It’s sad,” Woodworth continued, “because a lot of our patients have pets at home that they miss. So Honor is just what they need.”
She recalls one Veteran who had grown so despondent that he couldn’t even summon the will to get out of bed.
“He’d been in bed for three days,” she said. “He’d already been on the sick ward for a week and no one had come to visit him. But as soon as Honor and I walked into his room he brightened right up. He got out of bed, sat in his chair and loved on Honor for a while. His nurses were so happy. It made me pretty happy too.”
And Honor, of course, is always happy. All day long.
“She’s a morale booster, that’s for sure.” Woodworth said. “And she’s changing lives here.”
VFW Unmet Needs
Well, I am sure most of you heard that the Congress and Senate passed a two-year budget for the Department of Defense and the VA (actually the VA part was just a continuation of the current policy) and President Trump signed it into law. I had obtained a Public Service Announcement to put on the local radio stations around here in case of a government shutdown to help active duty service personnel families get over the financial challenges that these shutdowns give those members.
Since the budget is for two years, I will not need to put on the PSA but do remember, there is a financial funding available for Veterans, their families and the active duty service personnel families from the VFW.
The program is called Unmet Needs. For more information on that please contact your local VFW Service Officer or Commander of the Post.
This week, the VFW formally endorsed H.R. 506, the Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act of 2018. This legislation is the latest effort to close an existing loophole that allows individuals and businesses to target veterans seeking to file disability compensation, pension, and aid and attendance claims, and charge them exorbitant fees for little to no actual assistance. As this practice is illegal, the legislation would close the current loophole in federal law and finally give prosecutors the ability to punish those found guilty. Penalties include fines, imprisonment up to five years, or both, for any person who knowingly engages in any scheme or artifice meant to defraud an individual of veterans’ benefits, or in connection with obtaining benefits for that individual.
2018 Tax Scams
We all know, or should know, tax season leads to an increase in tax related scams. Often times these scams come in various forms, with the end goal being obtaining illegitimate funds. Recently, there have been two different tax alerts being distributed to the public. First, there is a concern hackers will use the information from the Equifax breach to illegally file for a tax returns. Individuals are encouraged to file their taxes as early as possible. If your information is illegally used to file a tax return, before you’re able to file, it could cause a delay in obtaining your return.
Secondly, hackers are targeted tax professionals with malware which takes client information, allowing the hacker to intercept the tax return. Tax professionals must ensure their operating systems and applications are updated to patch any security vulnerabilities that may be lurking. It is also critical they use a solid security solution that will block the execution of this malicious software. Application whitelisting is encouraged, as it will only allow known trusted programs to execute.
Like previous years, 2018 will likely bring the reoccurring tax scams of fake emails and phone calls. Individuals are typically contacted by hackers who claim to be from the government, likely the IRS department. They will then say you either owe funds, or they need to “confirm” data for your return. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, hang up. If you get an email, do not click on any links or download any attachments. Instead, familiarize yourself with the IRS refund policy:
- The IRS will not call or email you. If you truly owe the IRS anything — they will send you a letter in the mail.
- To check whether or not you owe the IRS, you can go to their website www.irs.gov
- To check the status of your return, do so by going to the IRS website www.irs.gov.
- If you receive an email from anyone claiming to be from the IRS, report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If anyone attempts to call you stating they’re from the IRS, you can report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.