VETERAN’S NEWS From the Internet
Gathered by Bob Kinsler, SSG (ret), US Army, DAV, VFW Dept. of Ok, Public Affairs Team Member
Hearing on Proposed Changes to Arlington National Cemetery Eligibility: On Thursday, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel held a hearing to discuss the rapidly shrinking number of in-ground grave sites at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). VFW National Legislative Service Deputy Director John Towles delivered testimony that advocated for making the eligibility requirements for ANC commensurate with VA’s National Cemetery Administration, and offered support to the proposed “Southern Expansion,” which would give ANC more than 38,000 additional in-ground burial sites. This combination would extend the life of the cemetery through 2074. However, additional land acquisition would be necessary beyond that date. Mr. Towles suggested that in addition to the “Southern Expansion,” the Department of the Army would be well served to consider using excess land at the Soldiers Home National Cemetery, which is adjacent to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., and would provide an additional 80,000-120,000 gravesites.
VA to Provide Adoption Reimbursement: Veterans who lost their ability to reproduce due to a service-connected disability may now be eligible for adoption-related expenses to be reimbursed through VA. Last year VA was authorized to begin providing coverage for assisted reproductive technology, which has primarily been focused on in vitro fertilization, and will now use this authority to provide reimbursement for covered veterans who adopt.
VFW National Commander Keith Harman testified Wednesday before 22 members of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs on issues important to America’s veterans, service members and their families. Backed by a packed house of some 500 VFW and VFW Auxiliary members who attended the 2018 VFW Legislative Conference, the Chief said the VFW is pleased that Congress recently passed a bipartisan budget agreement to alleviate the sequesters impact on our military and veterans, but that Congress only delayed its return by two years. “Our service members, veterans and their families are counting on you to repeal sequestration once and for all!” he stressed. Harman did commend the committees for making some VFW-proposed changes to the Choice Program but reminded them that Choice is merely a stopgap that must be replaced with a permanent and improved program that would ensure timely access to high- quality care, consolidate VA’s community care programs into an easily understood and administered program, and consolidate funding. He also called for the quick passage of the Caring for Veterans Act of 2017, and urged enhancements to other programs, such as expanding telemedicine, granting caregiver benefits to pre-9/11 families, increasing gender-specific services and peer-to-peer support groups, ending the so called “Widow’s Tax,” and extending toxic exposure presumptions for wherever Agent Orange was used, stored or transported, among many others.
Throughout 2018, VA is launching a nationwide campaign to roll out Veteran disability enrollment claim events collaboratively with 20 tribal communities. The campaign, titled “Your Service. Our Mission: Bringing Benefits Home” kicks off March 21 in Navajo Nation. Tribal communities in 11 states have already confirmed their participation.
“This nationwide outreach campaign will focus on identifying and assisting Veterans across Indian Country to come and fill out disability and pension claims,” said Thayer Verschoor, executive director of VA’s intergovernmental affairs.
VA realizes that reaching these Veterans could have a direct, tangible impact on their lives and that of their families.
“We appreciate the participation of our 20 tribal communities who have shown interest,” said Stephanie Birdwell, director, VA’s Office of Tribal Government Relations. “This helps VA enhance and improve the experience for all Veterans and their spouses. We are hopeful as word spreads and tribal communities see the benefit from these events, requests to schedule more will occur.”
Late last year, letters were mailed to more than 500 tribal communities nationwide.
“VA’s Benefits Assistance Service is working hand in hand with tribal government leaders to roll out these claims events,” said Mike Frueh, chief of staff, VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration. “With the focus on Veterans and their widows with presumptive disabilities and those who are pension eligible, VA is hopeful we can help Indian country Veterans access the full range of benefits they have courageously earned through their service.”
A full list of the 20 tribal communities currently scheduled for claim clinics in 2018 are:
- Copper River Native Association (Alaska)
- Native Village of White Mountain (Alaska)
- Tule River Tribe (California)
- Walker River Paiute Tribe (Nevada)
- Siletz Tribe (Oregon)
- Nooksack Indian Tribe (Washington)
- Bay Mills Indian Community (Michigan)
- White Earth Nation (Minnesota)
- Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (Wisconsin)
- Osage Nation (Oklahoma)
- Seminole Nation of Oklahoma (Oklahoma)
- Eastern Shawnee Tribe (Oklahoma)
- Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (Oklahoma)
- Kewa Pueblo (New Mexico)
- Pasqui Yaqui Tribe (Arizona)
- Tohono O’odham Nation (Arizona)
- San Carlos Apache (Arizona)
- Navajo Nation (Arizona)
- Pueblo of Pojoaque (New Mexico)
- Taos Pueblo (New Mexico)
“Many tribal Veterans and families may not realize VA presumes that certain medical conditions are related to military service, although these conditions may first appear after discharge,” said Frueh. “In addition, spouses may be eligible for certain benefits when a Veteran dies as a result of what VA calls presumptive disabilities.”
VA will have staff on hand to review claims on the spot, with the goal of completing the claim same day.
To learn more about VA tribal government programs and services visit https://www.va.gov/TRIBALGOVERNMENT/locations.asp. OR go see your local VFW service officer or OKDVA Claims and Benefits Representatives.
I must correct a misunderstanding that I published a few weeks ago. VFW Post 8316, Hugo is not offering a sort of Meals on Wheels for Veterans. Nor do they want any boat donations.
The rest of the Post within VFW Department of Oklahoma, District Four (SE Oklahoma area) will gladly look at your donation and should get a hold of me about it.