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Something New to Celebrate Veterans Day 2018

Something New to Celebrate Veterans Day 2018

By Bonnie Laiderman, CEO Veterans Home Care

Veterans Day 2018, wartime veterans have something to new to celebrate. Sweeping changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’s benefit known as “Aid and Attendance” went into effect October 18, 2018. The new changes open the door for more deserving veterans and their surviving spouses.

This benefit has two parts. The first part is a pension for veterans who served a minimum of 90 days active duty with one day during wartime. The pension doesn’t require overseas service or combat duty. The second part is an additional payment for those who require “the aid and attendance” of another. The combined monthly amount of the Pension and Aid and Attendance benefit can be as much as $2,169 for a married veteran.

The benefit has been around for many years, yet it’s often overlooked and under-utilized by those who qualify. Instead, most people are aware of health care offered through the Veterans Health Administration or Compensation offered through the Veterans Benefits Administration for veterans who were disabled or killed while serving their country. Few people realize that a pension exists for those who have limited assets and have non-service-connected disabilities.

To learn more, you can contact a Veteran Service Officer or if you choose to use your funds primarily for home care or adult day care, contact Veterans Home Care® Veterans Home Care is a family-owned company offering the exclusive VetAssist® Program which helps wartime veterans or their surviving spouses access a VA benefit and home care. Our clients are served by our nationwide network of home care providers and our unparalleled expertise with the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit.

We change lives. Our VetAssist clients typically start from little to no awareness of the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit to having assistance with bathing, dressing, meal preparation, light housekeeping and companionship in their own home paid by their military service. Call 888-314-6075 or email [email protected].

Charity Ride Provides Healing For Veterans

Charity Ride Provides Healing For Veterans

Charity Ride Provides Healing For Veterans

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

In 2014, Army Airborne Paratrooper, “Indian” Dave Frey was riding solo to the Sturgis Bike Rally when his path crossed with a fellow Paratrooper from his unit, and they quickly became friends. They talked about fellow veterans that were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and how so many are having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life after their war experiences.

Frey and his business partner, Robert Manciero, conceived the idea for a ride that would include “Motorcycle Therapy” and create an adventure of a lifetime for wounded veterans. To get started they needed motorcycles, sidecars to accommodate amputees, and support. The duo contacted Indian Motorcycles and Champion Sidecars, who both jumped onboard, and the Veterans Charity Ride (VCR) to Sturgis hit the road.

In July, 18 wounded warriors departed from Las Vegas and traveled 1600 miles of gorgeous backroads on Indian motorcycles to take part in the 4th Annual VCR to Sturgis. Along the route, entire towns came out to welcome the veterans, treat them to lunch, and celebrate their service and sacrifice.

Frey and his wife Sue offer year-round support services for the veterans that join them on the ride.

Programs include:

WellVet- A nutritional program that helps veterans make healthier choices

VetFam- Gives previous veteran riders and mentors the opportunity to take their family on an all-expense paid four-day retreat at Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, UT.

MotoDono- A tax deductible motorcycle donation program for industry partners and the general public to donate new and used motorcycles and ATVs that are refurbished and modified (when needed) and given to veterans.

SafeVet- A motorcycle safety course that also offers assistance with maintenance, repairs and upgrades to keep riders safe.

TrustedVet- A mentoring program for previous riders to become mentors to the new veterans taking part in the Sturgis ride.

Riders also enjoyed zip-lining, river rafting, horseback riding, off-roading and other activities.

The 2016 ride was what got Army special forces veteran and VCR mentor Keith Helfrich back on a motorcycle. He found that riding relieved his anxiety away and helped him find calm and peace of mind.

“The ride is spectacular and the other veterans, our shared community, is really what this is all about,” said Helfrich. “We’re all in it together, and this ride creates lifelong bonds and friendships.”

To find out more about the Veterans Charity Ride or support their mission, visit https://veteranscharityride.org .

Still Serving, Veterans Self-Deploy to Aid Puerto Rico

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By Debbie Gregory.

When Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico, the catastrophic damage was evident.  Sparking a humanitarian crisis of epic proportion, the majority of residents still don’t have electricity or access to clean water.

While the federal government has been slow to move with emergency response, U.S. veterans aren’t waiting around. A group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and first responders, who have  formed the Warfighter Disaster Response Team, are taking care of business.

After assisting Houston and Florida, the team is helping to restore communications to Puerto Rico, bringing much needed supplies and aid and helping to start the recovery process.  The Warfighter Disaster Response Team mission statement pretty much sums it up: Providing Veterans and First Responders with purpose and direction through service after service by helping their fellow man in times of dire need. Red tape frustrates them, especially when people are hurting and they can help, so they deploy themselves

Another contingent of veterans, led by Army vet Jason Maddy, is buying supplies with their own money, meeting the basic needs of the residents until other aid organizations get their footing.

“We learned through Hurricane Harvey that we were able to move a bit faster than FEMA and other government organizations because we became a ‘smaller task force,’ in a sense,” Maddy said.

Army veteran Chris Agron grew up in Puerto Rico before his family PCSed to California. He reached out to water filtration company Sawyer to purchase reusable mini filters and 170-gallon-a-day bucket adaptor systems at wholesale prices, and set up a GoFundMe to raise $10,000 to pay for the supplies.

“I know that anyone who’s been in the military is not afraid to ruck to bring aid to people.”

Agron plans on linking up with the other vets who have already “self-deployed” to Puerto Rico. And it’s there where Agron finally expects to put his military training to good use.

“We’re going to link up with the vets out there because they’re willing to go to where FEMA and the Red Cross are not,” Agron said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Elizabeth Dole to Chair New VA Veterans’ Family, Caregivers & Survivor Advisory Committee

Liz dole

By Debbie Gregory.

VA Secretary David Shulkin continues to demonstrate his commitment to supporting our nation’s veterans and their caregivers through the formation of the Veterans’ Family, Caregiver, and Survivor Federal Advisory Committee. The committee will be chaired by former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole.

Dole is the founder of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the Hidden Heroes Campaign, both of which focus on military caregiving.

“Senator Dole is an accomplished and experienced advocate for Veterans’ caregivers,” said Secretary Shulkin. “I am honored that she will Chair this landmark Committee.”

The committee will advise the secretary on matters related to:

Veterans’ families, caregivers, and survivors across all generations, relationships, and Veteran status; the use of VA care and benefits services by veteran’s families, caregivers, and survivors, and possible adjustments to such care and benefits services; veterans’ family, caregiver, and survivor experiences, and VA policies, regulations, and administrative requirements related to the transition of Service members from the Department of Defense to enrollment in VA that impact veterans’ families, caregivers, and survivors; and actors that influence access to, quality of, and accountability for services and benefits for veterans’ families, caregivers, and survivors.

Senator Dole has walked the walk, as she was a caregiver to her husband, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole, a World War II veteran injured in combat.

Committee members were chosen from a diverse group, including family members, caregivers, survivors, veteran-focused organizations, military history and academic communities, the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Executive Branch, research experts and service providers; and leaders of key stakeholder associations and organizations.

Former Marine Sherman Gillums, the executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America, will serve as vice chair.

Committee members, in alphabetical order are: Ms. Mary Buckler, Ms. Bonnie Carroll, Ms. Melissa Comeau, Ms. Harriet Dominique, Ms. Jennifer Dorn, Ms. Ellyn Dunford, Dr. Robert Koffman,  Lt. Gen. (U.S. Army, Ret.) Mike Linnington, Mr. Joe Robinson, Ms. Elaine Rogers, Brig. Gen. (U.S. Army, Ret) Dr. Loree Sutton, Mr. Francisco Urena, Ms. Shirley White, Ms. Lee Woodruff, and Ms. Lolita Zinke.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Russia Used Social Media to Spread Propaganda to Veterans and Troops

russia hack

By Debbie Gregory.

British researchers say they have evidence that Russia targeted U.S. military veterans and active-duty troops via social-media, especially Twitter, to spread anti-government propaganda in the spring before the presidential election.

The study by Oxford University traced the reach of three websites, Veteranstoday.com, Veteransnewsnow.com, and Southfront.org, known to have shown ads and posts linked to the Russian government.

The content led to “significant and persistent interactions” on Twitter over a one-month period, with a theme of news to undermine faith in U.S. democracy.

According to Philip Howard, a professor of internet studies who led the research, the study uncovered an entire ecosystem of junk news about national security issues that is deliberately crafted for U.S. veterans and active military personnel.

“It’s a complex blend of content with a Russian view of the world — wild rumors and conspiracies,” Howard said.

The Oxford study categorized 12,413 Twitter users and 11,103 Facebook users who had messages that referenced or carried content from one or more of the Russian-linked websites from April 2 to May 2, 2017.

On both Twitter and Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages. Many were automated accounts, called bots, that sometimes fired off identical messages seconds apart,  and in the exact alphabetical order of their made-up names

News from the study’s findings comes after Facebook revealed that Moscow purchased online ads that specifically targeted presidential swing states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Specific demographic groups were also targeted in an attempt to influence the presidential election.

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating the extent and the success in which Russia disseminated false news or further fanned inflammatory reports.

Given the powerful role of social media in political contests, understanding what Russian did will be crucial in preventing similar attacks in the 2018 congressional races and the 2020 presidential election.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Advice on Obtaining VA Benefits

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By Debbie Gregory.

Most veterans know that if they experience a disabling event while they are serving, they are entitled to VA disability compensation. But the process may be a little more involved than they might first anticipate. Here are some tips to help navigate the process.

The VA will require you to prove you have the condition you are claiming, and that this occurred or was first experienced during service. This can usually be accomplished through a physician’s diagnosis and service records. If the problem wasn’t reported, a buddy or witness statement may suffice.

Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes. Gather as much evidence as you can to support the claim. While the VA will assist you, it’s in your best interest to do the legwork on your own, since no one your case better than you do. Make sure you have a copy of your Official Military Personnel File, and if you don’t, request it from the National Personnel Records Center.

Double check what forms you need to fill out. This is a great time to ask the VA or your Veteran Service Officer for assistance. Their expertise will prevent you from wasting time filling out the wrong forms, and making sure you fill out the ones you need. Stay on top of deadlines and requests for additional information.

If the VA schedules a Compensation and Pension exam for you to meet with a VA examiner, you must show up for the appointment. Failure to do so may cost you your claim.

Don’t underestimate the value of your Veteran Service Officer. Their services are free, and they can help you navigate the system. They can also help you file appeals for denied claims. In addition to State Veteran Affairs Offices, the following organizations also have Veteran Service Officers nationwide:

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Major Events in October with Free Tickets for Service Members, Veterans, and Families

By Debbie Gregory.

Veteran Tickets Foundation (VetTix), a national 501(c) 3 nonprofit founded by veterans, is dedicated to supporting and honoring the U.S. military community, veterans and their families.

Vet Tix has provided veterans, service members, caregivers and the family members of those killed in action with more than three million free tickets since 2008. Events include major sports games, concerts and a diverse mix of other ticketed activities. And because they’re a non-profit, individual ticket holders and businesses can receive tax deductions for their donated tickets.

So, if you’re looking for some fun things to this month, check out Veteran Tickets Foundation.

Here are just some of the hundreds of events available at VetTix.org.:

October 7: Denver, Colorado: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest

October 7: Houston, Texas: Houston Museum of Natural Science

October 8: Peekskill, New York: Buddy Guy – Live in Concert

October 13: San Diego, California: Top Gun Party and Movie Night

October 14: Hagerstown, Maryland: Bach to Beethoven and Beyond!

October 14: Fresno, California: Fresno State Bulldogs vs. New Mexico Lobos NCAA Football

October 14: Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Hoosiers vs. University of Michigan Wolverines NCAA Football

October 14: Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Blue Devils vs. Florida State Seminoles NCAA Football

October 21: Manchester, Maryland: Autumn Armageddon 2017 – Live Professional Wrestling Presented by Maryland Championship Wrestling

October 21: East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State Spartans vs. Indiana Hoosiers

October 22: Peekskill, NY: Steve Solomon’s My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m in Therapy

October 27: Washington, DC: Washington International Horse Show 2017 – Military Night

October 28: Richmond, Virginia: University of Richmond Spiders vs. Stony Brook Seawolves NCAA Football Homecoming

October 28: Rosemont, Illinois: Chicago Wolves vs. Milwaukee Admirals AHL

To become a Vet Tixer and request tickets to these and hundreds of other events, which are free except for a very small delivery fee, visit VetTix.org to create a free account. Once you’ve created an account and verified your military service, you can review hundreds of upcoming events across the country.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Protecting Veterans from High-Pressure Mortgage Refinances

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By Debbie Gregory.

After volunteering to protect their country, servicemembers and veterans are often targeted by disreputable forces at home: predatory lenders.

Government-owned Ginnie Mae, whose purpose is to make mortgages more affordable, is conducting an investigation into unscrupulous mortgage lenders who allegedly pressured servicemembers and veterans into unneeded mortgage refinances.

Ginnie Mae backs loans made through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Under investigation are lenders who push consumers to refinance loans over and over again in a short period of time, a practice known as churning.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, an outspoken critic of the finance industry sent a letter to Ginnie Mae’s Acting President, Michael Bright, asking whether some lenders were abusing Ginnie Mae’s program by engaging in aggressive marketing tactics.

Bright replied that Ginnie Mae and the Department of Veterans Affairs have created a task force to address abusive practices by lenders approved to issue Ginnie Mae-backed bonds.

VA loans do not require a down payment and closing costs are added to loan balances, so borrowers don’t have to pay them at the time of the sale. But this also makes these loans prime targets for churning.

Some lenders are persuading servicemembers to refinance loans at rates that barely reduce their mortgage payment.

Ginnie Mae has been trying to slow down the refinancing rush by putting a six-month moratorium between new mortgages and a refinance.

However, once the six-month mark passed, Bright said Ginnie Mae saw a blitz of lenders once again preying on servicemembers. Bright said that some lenders apparently targeted veterans for a refinance at “six months and one day.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Free Tickets Available for Military, Veterans and Military Families

vettix

By Debbie Gregory.

Veteran Tickets Foundation (VetTix), a national 501(c) 3 nonprofit founded by veterans, is dedicated to supporting and honoring the U.S. military community, veterans and their families.

Vet Tix has provided veterans, service members, caregivers and the family members of those killed in action with more than three million free tickets since 2008. Events include major sports games, concerts and a diverse mix of other ticketed activities. And because they’re a non-profit, individual ticket holders and businesses can receive tax deductions for their donated tickets.

So, if you’re looking for some fun things to this month, check out Veteran Tickets Foundation.

September 10: Bridgeport, Connecticut: Alabama – Live in Concert

September 10: Chicago, Illinois: Blue Man Group

September 12: Phoenix, Arizona: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies – MLB

September 15: Los Angeles, California: Street League Skateboarding Nike Sb Super Crown World Championship

September 16: Piscataway Township, New Jersey: Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Morgan State Military Appreciation Day – NCAA Football

September 19: Atlanta, Georgia: Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals – MLB

September 24: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals – MLB

September 24: Maryland Heights, Missouri: Brad Paisley – Weekend Warrior World Tour 2017 with Special Guest Dustin Lynch, Chase Bryant and Lindsay Ell

September 25: Bronx, New York: New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals – MLB

September 27: Irving, Texas: KISS – Live at the Pavilion at Irving Music Factory

September 29: Archdale, North Carolina: Kersey Valley Spookywoods Haunted Attraction

September 29: Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Blue Devils vs. University of Miami Hurricanes – NCAA Football

To become a Vet Tixer and request tickets to these and hundreds of other events, visit VetTix.org to create a free account. Once you’ve verified your military service, you can review hundreds of upcoming events across the country. Other than a very small delivery fee, all the tickets are free! If you have tickets to donate, click here.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Free Tickets for Vets

By Debbie Gregory.

The Veteran Tickets Foundation (VetTix) is a national 501(c) 3 nonprofit founded by veterans dedicated to support and honor the U.S. military community, veterans and their families.

Since 2008, Vet Tix has provided veterans, service members, caregivers and the family members of those killed in action with more than three million free tickets to major sports games, concerts and a diverse mix of other ticketed events. And because they’re a non-profit, individual ticket holders and businesses can receive tax deductions for their donated tickets.

So, if you’re looking for some fun things to do before summer is officially over, check out Veteran Tickets Foundation.

Here are some of the events remaining for August:

August 15: Phoenix, Arizona: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Houston Astros – MLB

August 16: Washington, DC: Washington Mystics vs. Los Angeles Sparks – WNBA

August 16: Portland, Maine: Goo Goo Dolls’ Long Way Home Summer Tour with Phillip Phillips

August 18: Rochester, New York: Nitro Circus Live

August 19: San Diego, California: Fleet Science Center

August 24: Evansville, Indiana: An Evening with Olivia Newton

August 23: Anaheim, California: Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers – MLB

August 24: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Los Angeles Dodgers – MLB

August 31: Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Washington Nationals – MLB

To become a Vet Tixer and request tickets to these and hundreds of other events, visit VetTix.org to create a free account. Once you’ve verified your military service, you can review hundreds of upcoming events across the country. Other than a very small delivery fee, all the tickets are free! If you have tickets to donate, click here.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.