American Veteran News 06.17.16

VETERANS ENTITLED TO BENEFITS THEY MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT — WTTV — There are close to 22 million U.S. veterans in this country and many are entitled to a benefit they may not know about: the veteran’s aid and attendance benefit.

“They are eligible for money, a stipend that gets paid to them monthly. They can use that to pay for care,” says Jeff Gronemeyer, with American Senior Communities. “It can pay for in-home services like, bathing, dressing, driving, cooking, medication reminders and various things along those lines.”

But vets first need to know about the benefit. That’s why there are teams of folks dedicated to sorting it out at American Senior Communities.

“The veterans benefit becomes a financial resource for them to get those services that they deserve.”

There is a catch. The veteran has to fill out an extensive application and it may take up to four months to process.

“The application is long; you have to have discharge records, a lot of different things, and certification from doctors. Those all have to say the right thing and show the right things,” says Gronemeyer.

The VA hospital lets veterans know about the benefit. American Senior Communities like the Zionsville Meadows, hosts dinners to explain what this benefit provides. Gronemeyer says if you served 90 consecutive days in any branch of the military and one day of that time was during an actual war, you may be eligible.

AID & ATTENDANCE AND HOUSEBOUND — VA.GOV — Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for additional monetary payment. These benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension, and they are not paid without eligibility to Pension.

Since Aid and Attendance and Housebound allowances increase the pension amount, people who are not eligible for a basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for pension at these increased rates. A Veteran or surviving spouse may not receive Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.

ARMY CAPTAIN KILLED IN ORLANDO MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR PURPLE HEART — MILCOM — The Defense Department on Thursday left open the possibility that Army Reserve Capt. Antonio Davon Brown, who was killed in the attack at the Orlando nightclub early Sunday, might be eligible to receive the Purple Heart.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said that the Purple Heart for Brown would be considered but the award would “depend on the definition of the event” in which his life was lost, a reference to the criteria for the Purple Heart established by Congress after the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings in 2009. Cook said the decision on the award would be up to the Army.

Brown was at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando frequented by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community when the worst mass shooting in U.S. history occurred. Police say he was among the 49 killed by 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in 911 calls.

HOUSE-SENATE CONFEREES TO NEGOTIATE KEY BENEFIT CHANGES — MILITARY ADVANTAGE BLOG — The House and Senate, in passing separate versions of the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, haven’t yet agreed on the size of the next military pay raise, or how to reform health care or housing allowances, or whether to require all 18-year-old women to register with Selective Service to be part of a conscription pool in future major wars.

Ironing out these disparities, and many more consequential to military personnel, retirees and family members, will now fall to a House-Senate conference committee comprised of armed services committee members.

The committees’ professional staffs will negotiate many decisions in advance, on guidance from chairmen Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Max Thornberry (R-Texas), and senior Democrats Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) and Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.). But the principals will need to engage behind closed doors on larger and more controversial topics to produce a single bill that either avoids or challenges a threatened veto from President Obama.

OFFICIAL WHO SAID IT’S ‘ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE’ TO FIRE VA WORKERS LEAVES THE VA — WASHINGTON EXAMINER — The Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday announced the departure of Acting Under Secretary for Benefits at the Veterans Benefits Administration Danny Pummill, an official who famously said in 2015 that it’s “almost impossible” to fire VA employees.

Pummill, who has served as an acting under secretary since October 2015, originally intended on retiring at the end of last year. However, Secretary Robert McDonald requested Pummill remain in this position after Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey’s resignation.

Hickey’s resignation came after accusations that she was responsible for management failings within the VA. Under Hickey’s leadership, the number of backlogged veterans’ disability claims rose to 600,000.

The VA said Pummill was instrumental in “reducing the compensation claims backlog, closing out 2015 with 75,000 backlogged claims” during his time as acting under secretary.

WOUNDED ARMY VETERAN RECEIVES NEW HOUSE IN MICHIGAN — AP — ALPENA, Mich. — A disabled Army veteran has moved into his new home in Alpena after an unveiling ceremony.

Army Staff Sgt. Ben Eberle moved into the home, located on Devil’s Lake, with his family Tuesday.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation sponsored the home’s construction. The nonprofit aims to provide accessible homes to disabled American war veterans. According to WWTV-TV, the new home for the Mio native cost about $500,000. Donations came in from several local businesses and six students from Anderson Middle School in Berkley.

Eberle was struck by an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. He had to have both of his legs and one arm amputated.

FILIPINO WWII VETS’ FAMILY MEMBERS MAY BE ABLE TO COME TO US NOW — ASIAN JOURNAL — A NEW policy issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will allow family-members of Filipino WWII Veterans to come to the US now and remain here while they wait for their family-based petitions to become current. Starting June 8, 2016, eligible individuals under this policy are able to request parole into the United States on a case-by-case basis to join their families here. The Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) policy allows certain beneficiaries of WWII veterans’ family-based immigrant visa petitions to be “paroled” into the US before a visa is available in their category to wait out their time with their veteran family memberhere instead of outside the US.

This policy is intended to recognize the “extraordinary contribution and sacrifices of Filipino veterans” who fought for our country during World War II and to enable these veterans to reunite with their family in their old age.This policy would be an invaluable benefit for eligible individuals, as it allowsfamily members tobypass the extremely long wait time that typically accompanies many family-sponsored petitions. Some family members, for example, have been waiting for over two decades for a visa to become available. This policy would provide, at the very least, the ability for veterans and their faraway family members to be together in the US sooner.

JUSTICES RULE AGAINST VA IN DISABLED VETS CONTRACT DISPUTE — US NEWS & WORLD REPORT — WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs failed to comply with a law aimed at increasing the number of federal contracts awarded to small businesses owned by disabled veterans, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The justices sided with Kingdomware Technologies Inc., a veteran-owned contractor based in Maryland that said it should have been considered to provide services for a VA medical center.

The case is important to veterans groups that claimed the VA was wrongly interpreting bidding requirements in a way that deprived thousands of small companies owned by veterans. Those companies want a slice of the billions of dollars in contracts the VA awards every year.

Federal law requires the agency to use a bidding process if two or more disabled veteran-owned companies can offer service at a fair and reasonable price. But the VA argued the “rule of two” does not apply when it buys goods and services from vendors that already have contracts with the agency under a system called the Federal Supply

SENIOR VA OFFICIAL INVESTIGATED FOR POSSIBLE CONFLICT WITH HUSBAND’S BUSINESS — POGO — A senior official in charge of a high-profile program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the focus of a law enforcement probe into a potential conflict of interest with her husband’s business and possibly other matters, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has learned. The investigation has not been previously disclosed.

A spokesperson for the VA’s Office of Inspector General, which is conducting the probe, told POGO:

“As a matter of policy, we do not comment on ongoing investigations.”

Rosye Cloud, 42, who led the Veterans Employment Center (VEC) at the VA, is married to Chad Cloud, president of Washington, DC’s Software Performance Group, Inc. SPG is a privately owned company that has marketed, among other things, computer programs to help veterans get jobs—a mission that overlaps with the VEC, which Ms. Cloud headed until her move to other duties last month.

VA BENEFITS CHIEF RETIRING; WAS SUSPENDED IN RELOCATION SCAM — US NEWS & WORLD REPORT — The acting head of the Veterans Benefits Administration said Thursday he is retiring, three months after he was suspended for allowing two officials to manipulate the agency’s hiring system for their own gain.

Danny Pummill said in a note to employees that he will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs next Thursday. Pummill was suspended without pay for 15 days in March for his role in a relocation scam that has roiled the agency for more than a year.

The VA said Pummill failed to exercise proper oversight as two senior officials, Kimberly Graves and Diana Rubens, forced lower-ranking employees to accept job transfers and then took the vacant positions themselves — keeping their senior-level salaries while reducing their responsibilities.

Pummill leads an agency with a $2.7 billion annual budget that provides disability and life insurance benefits to more than 10 million veterans.

VETERANS’ HEALTH CARE IN CROSSHAIRS OF PRIVATIZATION FORCES — PEOPLES WORLD — CHICAGO – “Let the veterans have a say-so in anything that’s going to happen to these hospitals,” said Larry Blake, a Vietnam War veteran outside Chicago’s Jesse Brown VA medical center. Blake, 64, is one of a group of friends who often see each other at the facility they rely on. They expressed anger at a privatization proposal that is likely to come before Congress this month. If accepted and implemented, it could drastically change the services for which the vets rely on this Med Center.

James Roberts, 56, a U.S. Navy vet, said he sees the proposal as a way to “put money in someone else’s pocket.” He said he wasn’t ashamed to say that he comes to the facility almost daily to participate in groups that help with PTSD and drug addiction issues related to his Vietnam-era service. “A lot of people who work here are vets themselves,” said Roberts, adding that privatizing the VA would change that.

‘BLOOD STRIPE’ — HOLLYWOOD REPORTER — Kate Nowlin plays an emotionally wounded combat veteran attempting to readjust to civilian life in Remy Auberjonois’ directorial debut.

Prolific actor Remy Auberjonois takes a turn in the director’s chair for Blood Stripe, a tense drama dealing with an American veteran’s struggles with the crippling effects of PTSD. After a slew of features and documentaries from the frontlines of the nation’s seemingly interminable wars, Auberjonois’ film brings it all back home, ably demonstrating the difficulties that returning soldiers often face in attempting to reintegrate with society. Winner of the US Fiction Award at the recent Los Angeles Film Festival, Blood Stripe is centered on an outstanding performance by Kate Nowlin (who co-wrote the script along with husband and collaborator Auberjonois) and could easily attract attention from streamers and broadcasters looking to diversify their programming.

Apparently to emphasize the universality of the narrative, the script coyly refers to Nowlin’s character not by name but by rank, as “Sarge” returns to a weary welcome from her husband Rusty (Chris Sullivan) at home in suburban Minnesota following three tours of duty in Afghanistan with the US Marines. Once the faint glow of marital reunion wears off, it becomes clear that Sarge isn’t so comfortable with her return. Insomnia, heavy drinking, punishing exercise and flashes of violent temper all signal that she’s still suffering from battle fatigue, but won’t seek help from the VA, recognizing that she would face a significant wait for treatment.

MARINE’S MISSION FOR VETS CONTINUES — CULPEPPER STAR-EXPONENT — As a Marine, you’re taught to never leave a man behind.

That’s why Marine Lance Corporal Terry Sharpe, known as the Walking Marine, is walking 22 days for a total of 300 miles.

He wants to bring awareness to the suicide rate of the estimated 22 veterans who take their own lives each day — the equivalent of one every 65 minutes, according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

“As a country, we are leaving many good men behind by not helping them with their struggles and allowing them to get to a point where they think suicide is the answer,” said Sharpe. “We must do a lot better to help our veterans, especially those who are suffering the most.”

The 65-year-old veteran — who is walking from his hometown of Summerfield, North Carolina along with his friend Ken Wilson to the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. — began the trek June 1 and plans to land in the nation’s capital on June 22. Wilson lost a son, a military veteran, who committed suicide, Sharpe said.

ARMY VETERAN TO TAKE OVER AT WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT AFTER TROUBLES — FOX NEWS — HONOLULU – The head of the military agency that searches for and identifies the remains of missing servicemen is resigning after just one year to take over a troubled nonprofit that cares for wounded troops.

Michael Linnington became the director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency last summer. He plans to leave next month to become the CEO of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Linnington became the leader of the POW/MIA mission at the Pentagon after Congress and groups that advocate for families of the missing had criticized the way the military was handling identifications.

Since Linnington took the helm, the agency’s laboratories have nearly doubled the identifications of missing servicemen.


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