October 24, 2016

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
I’m Susan from Military Helper. We are a group dedicated to serving and helping military service members, veterans and their families.

I was doing research for our next article when I came across your site. I loved the info I found, it was most helpful. I figured I’d reach out to let you know and share some other resources I found helpful that you may have missed).

Thanks again.

Veterans Benefits for Seniors
Tips for Your Next PCS Move
Service Members’ Legal Rights While on Active Duty
Guide to Financial Assistance for Military Families
Sesame Street for Military Families
Employment Resources for Military Spouses

Best,
Susan Williams

Dear Susan
Thanks for the heads up.


Blue military style mailbag with BAVF red letters stenciled on it. Below the BAVF is a tag that says SGT. SHAFTShaft Notes
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has published proposed regulations to establish presumptions for the service connection of eight diseases affecting military members exposed to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The presumptive illnesses apply to active duty, reserve and National Guard members who served for no less than 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and are diagnosed with the following conditions:

  • adult leukemia
  • aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • bladder cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • liver cancer
  • multiple myeloma
  • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

“We have a responsibility to take care of those who have served our Nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald. “Establishing a presumption for service at Camp Lejeune will make it easier for those Veterans to receive the care and benefits they deserve.”

Environmental health experts on VA’s Technical Workgroup conducted comprehensive reviews of scientific evidence, which included analysis and research done by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Environmental Protection Agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the National Toxicology Program, and the National Academies of Science.

Military members with records of service showing no less than 30 days of service, either concurrent or cumulative, at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period can already be granted Veteran status for medical benefits, following passage of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.

VA acknowledges that current science establishes a link between exposure to certain chemicals found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune and later development of one of the proposed presumptive conditions. However, VA experts agree that there is no scientific underpinning to support a specific minimum exposure level for any of the conditions. Therefore, VA welcomes comments on the 30-day minimum exposure requirement and will consider other practical alternatives when drafting the final rule. VA also notes that the proposed 30-day requirement serves to establish eligibility for service connection on a presumptive basis; nothing in this proposed regulation prohibits consideration of service connection on a non-presumptive basis. The 30-day public comment period on the proposed rule is open until Oct.10, 2016.

The Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced several new and expanded partnerships to support the VA Caregiver Support Program. The VA Caregiver Support Program supports the-often unsung heroes of wounded or ill Veterans – the ones who take care of them. Announcement of the partnerships, made during a summit co-hosted by VA and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. The daylong event, Empowering Hidden Heroes: Pathways to InnoVAtion, attracted 400 leaders from government, the non-profit sector, private industry, academic and stakeholders from the Veteran and caregiver community.

The following partnerships were announced:

  • Amazon: Together with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Amazon has curated a bookshelf of titles recommended by experts and caregivers. Titles reflect the most current and useful information to support military and Veteran caregivers and their families. Amazon also provided free Kindles to military and Veteran caregivers in attendance. Titles are available for preview here. Caregivers and consumers can download Kindle software to enjoy these books on any mobile device.
  • Coursera: In 2014, Coursera, an online education platform, teamed up with VA to provide one free education certification to every Veteran and transitioning service member. In 2015, that offer was extended to spouses, and this year, they are expanding the eligibility further to caregivers.
  • PsychArmor Institute: A longstanding collaborator with VA, PsychArmor Institute works with nationally recognized subject matter experts to create and deliver online courses tailored to issues related to military and Veteran communities. In conjunction with today’s event, PsychArmor released a suite of new free training resources for caregivers of Veterans. (www.PsychArmor.org)
  •  VetTix: VA has partnered with Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix), a nonprofit organization that provides free tickets to events for current serving military, Veterans and Gold Star families. Vet Tix has provided more than 2.3 million tickets for current serving military, Veterans and Gold Star families to attend nearly 40,000 events valued at over $87 million since 2008. They currently serve approximately 450,000 Vet Tixers and their families. Through these events, VA and VetTix are exploring ways to encourage service members, families, and friends stay engaged with local communities and reduce stress by attending fun events that everyone can enjoy for a very low delivery fee.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH): VA’s Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence Assistance program has formed a partnership with The Hotline to provide cross-training resources to Veterans. The Hotline provides 24/7/365 support and referrals for people impacted by domestic violence/intimate partner violence. Through this partnership NDVH will also provide the VA with Veteran-specific usage data from the hotline that will be used to inform VA programs and policies.

VA’s Caregiver Support Program began in 2007 and expanded in 2010 to offer a variety of local and national programs including, Building Better Caregivers™; Peer Support Mentoring; Caregiver Self-Care Courses; a national Caregiver Support Line; targeted programs for dementia, stroke and spinal cord injury; Respite; and Home and Community Based Care programs.

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