Military Connection: Veterans Day Concert: By Debbie Gregory

Veterans concertAttention all Veterans: Make plans to attend a free Veterans Day concert on Sunday, November 9, 2014 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

In tribute to Veterans and members of the Armed Forces, Garry Greene Esq. and His Big Band of Barristers will be performing tunes from the golden age of big bands. The band is comprised of lawyers, judges, legal staff and law students. The band’s mission is to raise funds for those who cannot afford legal services, as well as for other charitable organizations.

The November concert will also feature Pat Boone, Tom Dreesen, June Lockhart, Patrick Kelly, Hal Linden, Judge Judy’s bailiff, Bailiff Byrd, and the Singers in Law. Garry Greene Esq. and his Big Band of Barristers, with the accompaniment of their special guests, will play an array of patriotic and Americana music. The tunes were some of the favorites of service members from several generations. From “Stars and Stripes Forever” to a medley of Beach Boys songs, the concert should provide entertainment for everyone.

The concert will run from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (PST). Tickets for the event are complimentary and available to the general public, but they must be pre-ordered.  Seating is limited and available on a first come, first serve basis,  so Veterans are strongly encouraged to register today!

To register for your complimentary tickets to the concert, go to http://www.eventbrite.com/e/big-band-veterans-day-concert-tickets-5367552494

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Veterans Day Concert: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Illegal Immigrants to Enlist: By Debbie Gregory

MAVNIThe DOD recently announced a policy that will allow illegal immigrants to join the U.S. Military. The DOD is expanding its Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI). This will give recruiters the ability to target foreign nationals with high-demand skills to serve as full-fledged members of the armed forces. The high-demand skills consist of rare or in-demand foreign language expertise, as well as specialized health care training.

Previously, MAVNI was only open to legal non-U.S. citizens. Applicants were required to have been in the U.S. legally for a minimum of two years, have a high school education, achieve qualifying scores on a military entrance examination, and successfully pass a proficiency test for the vital language or skill that they possess.

Participation in the MAVNI program has been used as a fast-track to legal U.S. citizenship for thousands of immigrants.

It has been estimated that as many as 2.1 million children, teenagers and adults living in the U.S. do not possess legal immigration status, but could still meet the criteria for joining the U.S. Military under the expanded MAVNI program. Using the Obama administration’s 2012 policy known as Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), immigrants without a proper visa may join the Military if they came to the U.S. with their parents before age 16, so long as they possess a skill that is considered vital by their branch of service.

To be cleared for the program, illegal immigrants will have to be granted DACA status. DACA status is granted by Homeland Security and includes a background check.

The expanded program is to be capped at 1,500 recruits per year. Under the expanded MAVNI program, recruiters are more likely to target immigrants with language skills critical to national security, such as Arabic, Chinese, Pashto or Persian,.

The U.S. Military recruits around 5,000 non-citizens each year. Most of them are permanent U.S. residents. In 2006, the DOD began accepting foreigners with non-permanent visas, such as students or tourists, if they had special skills that are highly valued.

Since 2001, more than 92,000 foreign-born service members have become U.S. citizens while serving in the military.

Historically, the Army has been the only branch to accept a significant number of recruits under the program. The branches of the military are not required to accept recruits under MAVNI.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Illegal Immigrants to Enlist: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA to Upgrade Claims Process: By Debbie Gregory

VA claimsIn an effort to better serve Veterans and their families, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the launch of a new uniformed disability claims form that will take place next year.

It used to be that a Veteran or survivor did not have to use a specified form to seek compensation or other benefits from VA.  Claims or appeals (Notice of Disagreement) could be submitted on any piece of paper, which caused delays due to missing information.

By standardizing the process that Veterans use to file claims and initiate appeals, the VA hopes to make the process easier for Veterans and survivors. The new standardized forms eliminate applicant guesswork, which in the past has led to insufficient information or proof of eligibility. Applications were denied or sent back to the applicant for more information or correction. This laborious process has done much to tie up the system, as well as delay benefits for deserving Veterans.

The standardized form for all disability claims can more efficiently identify what the Veteran is claiming or appealing. This should allow the VA to rapidly proceed to the next step in the evidence-gathering and decision-making process. Speeding up this part of the process will save administrative processing time and expedite the delivery of earned benefits to Veterans.

“We must do everything that we can to make it as fast and easy as possible for Veterans and their survivors to file for and receive an accurate decision on their claim,” VA Secretary Robert McDonald said. “Our Veterans and survivors will know, at the outset of the claims process, what is needed, which removes subjective interpretation from the process. We want to eliminate any barriers that make it difficult for our Veterans or survivors to receive benefits to which they are entitled.”

The new process will also include standardization of the informal claims process by employing a new “Intent to File a Claim” form, which gives applicants one year to compile the necessary documentation or evidence in order to support the claim, while preserving an effective date of claim.

The VA’s new standardized forms and upgraded process are scheduled to go into effect in March of 2015.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: VA to Upgrade Claims Process: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: CA Gov. Signs 21 Veteran Bills: By Debbie Gregory

CA LawsThis week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a total of 21 bills that directly affect active military, Veterans and their families; proving that California is a Veteran-friendly state.

The signed bills include:

AB 13 – Requires the California Community College and the California State University systems to update their in-state tuition rate policies to comply with the federal Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 and state law. Requests these updates of the University of California as well.

AB 186 – Requires the Department of Consumer Affairs licensing entities to provide eligible military spouses and domestic partners licensed in another state with a 12-month temporary license to practice their profession in California.

AB 585 – Requires the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to develop a prioritized list of uses for unused or underutilized nonresidential real property it owns.

AB 614 – Ensures that Veterans with a 70% or more service disability, who are receiving care in a Veterans home, shall have their accounts deemed paid in full by the money paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

AB 919 – Permits Veterans who are itinerant vendors to receive a refund of sales taxes paid to the Board of Equalization between April 1, 2002 and April 1, 2010.

AB 935 – Allows Veterans to apply for a driver license or identification card featuring a “Veteran” designation.

AB 1397 – Requires the California Department of Human Resources to collect and report on data regarding the Veterans preference system in state hiring.

AB 1453 – Requires CalVet to cooperate with local government bodies in Orange County to design, construct and equip a state-owned and operated Southern California Veterans Cemetery in the City of Irvine, and establish eligibility for interment.

AB 1509 – Requires CalVet to develop a transition assistance program for Veterans who have been discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard of any state.

AB 1518 – Authorizes the California National Guard Adjutant General to receive federal funding to implement a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program.

AB 1589 – Requires elections officials to arrange electronic delivery of a ballot to a military or overseas voter who makes a standing request for all elections, eliminating the requirement that the individuals renew their email address every two years.

AB 1821 – Establishes the Medical Foster Home Pilot Program and authorizes USDVA facilities to create a medical foster home not subject to licensure or regulation as a residential care facility for the elderly.

AB 2215 – Allows a Veteran’s family or legal representatives to file a copy of their military discharge document with a county recorder without the consent of the Veteran.

AB 2263 – Authorizes Veterans service organizations to volunteer as a Veterans service advocate at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation facilities.

AB 2664 – Transfers all funds in the California Military Family Relief Fund to the California Military Department Support Fund.

SB 842 – Requires the California Department of Transportation to construct directional signs on state highways for each Veterans home in the state.

SB 1110 – Requires the court to inform active duty or Veteran status defendants of restorative relief rights available to them and requires the Judicial Council to include information about the provisions in its military service form.

SB 1113 – Extends the statute of limitations for a Veteran with a 100% service disability to claim a disabled Veteran property tax exemption refund from four to eight years.

SB 1226 – Expedites the Department of Consumer Affairs boards and bureaus’ initial licensure process for veteran applicants who were active duty and stationed in California and authorizes prospective proprietary private security officers to submit verification of military training in lieu of a course in security officer skills.

SB 1227 – Authorizes a court to create a diversion program for active duty military personnel or Veterans who commit misdemeanors when they are suffering from service-related trauma or substance abuse.

SB 1440 – Requires that non-veteran spouses living in the Veterans Homes of California pay the same fees as veteran residents.

Click the links for each legislation and read how they benefit you!

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: CA Gov. Signs 21 Veteran Bills: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: House Passes Four Veteran Bills: By Debbie Gregory

4 Veteran BillsThis week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed four bills that directly affect Veterans. The bills include:

H.R. 3593, the VA Construction Assistance Act of 2014. This bill will order the inclusion of an outside entity to manage the VA’s major construction projects. It will require the VA secretary to implement a series of measures for any major construction project on a medical facility, including utilizing a medical equipment planner as part of the architectural and engineering firm for the project, ensuring clear and concise communication among all involved with the project, subjecting projects to peer review, and closely monitoring change-orders. H.R. 3593 also directs the VA secretary to procure the services of the Army Corps of Engineers for appointing not less than one special project manager who has experience in managing construction projects that exceed $60 million. It prohibits additional funds from being authorized to be appropriated to carry out this act.

H.R. 5404, the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2014. This bill extends several government programs for Veterans, including provisions for health benefits, homelessness, employment and relief to be extended through 2015, and provisions for education and home loans to be extended through 2017.

The bill also makes miscellaneous amendments to the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, involving access to care at non-VA facilities. Additionally, it clarifies the VA secretary’s authority to disapprove courses of education provided by a public institution of higher learning if the institution charges veterans living in the state higher tuition and fees than it charges in-state residents, regardless of the veteran’s state of residence.

H.R. 4276, the Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Care Improvement Act of 2014, extends the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 program to assess the effectiveness of providing assistance to eligible veterans with traumatic brain injury to enhance their rehabilitation, quality of life, and community integration.Other amendments include requiring Veterans to have a traumatic brain injury that is classified as complex-mild to severe in order to qualify, and the replacement of the term “assisted living” with “community-based brain injury residential rehabilitative care.”

S.2258, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2014, directs the VA secretary to increase the rates of Veterans’ disability compensation, compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children, affective December 1, 2014.

The bill requires each increase to be the same percentage as the increase in benefits provided under Title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act, on the same effective date. This should mean a higher COLA increase than the 1% that was given last year. Having already been approved by the Senate, S. 2258 will be sent to the president to be signed into law.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: House Passes 4 Veteran Bills: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Bob Woodruff Foundation Presents Stand Up for Heroes: By Debbie Gregory

stand-up-for-hereos-2014The Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival will once again be at the Stand Up for Heroes event.

Stand Up for Heroes kicks off the New York Comedy Festival with an electrifying night of comedy and entertainment, all the while honoring the sacrifice of service members, Veterans and military families.

Among the stars headlining Stand Up for Heroes 2014 will be Louis C.K., Bruce Springsteen, John Mulaney, John Oliver, Brian Williams and other surprise guests.

The event will take place on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. at the Theater, Madison Square Garden. Proceeds from Stand Up for Heroes go to the Bob Woodruff Foundation to help wounded Veterans and their families succeed in all aspects of their lives. This will be the eighth year that the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival have joined forces to offer Stand Up for Heroes. To date, the event has raised more than $21 million for their cause.

“Lee and I are so humbled by the generous contributions of the talent, sponsors, and variety of organizations in honor of our nation’s heroes and their families,” said Bob Woodruff, ABC News Journalist and co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Woodruff continued, “Each year the show gets bigger and better, demonstrating the unwavering support of all those involved.”

Speaking for both he and his wife, Woodruff said, “We, as well as the show’s talented performers, want to show our appreciation for and give back to the brave men and women who served our country and have come home injured. We are inspired and moved by the grand presence of all these groups on such an incredible night for us to commend and remember our heroes.”

Tickets for Stand Up for Heroes 2014 are available for purchase through bobwoodrufffoundation.org, or www.nycomedyfestival.com. Corporate sponsor packages and VIP benefit packages can be purchased by emailing [email protected].

This year’s event will be brought to you by Veterans on Wall Street, as well as the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation supported by founding sponsor GFI Group, Inc.

About the Bob Woodruff Foundation:

The Bob Woodruff Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with a grassroots reach, dedicated to ensuring injured service members and their families are thriving long after they return home.  The foundation diligently navigates the labyrinth of more than 40,000 programs and organizations that provide service to Veterans. As of 2014, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has invested more than $22 million in public education and solutions, reaching more than two million service members, Veterans and their families. The foundation was co-founded in 2006 by award-winning news anchor Bob Woodruff and his family. Woodruff was injured while covering the war in Iraq, which inspired him and his family to help make sure the nation’s heroes have access to the highest level of support and resources, for as long as they need it. For more information about the Bob Woodruff Foundation, please visit www.bobwoodrufffoundation.org

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Stand Up for Heroes Event: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Study Finds Holes in Treatment: By Debbie Gregory

female-veteranWith the number of women separating from the military, and the increasing number of women joining the ranks, there is a growing concern that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other government agencies are not doing enough to aid them and their distinctive needs. A report recently released by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) details areas where policies are lacking in their support of female Veterans.

On Wednesday, September 24, 2014, the DAV released their report, Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home. The report identifies serious gender gaps in nearly every government program intended to serve Veterans, including health care, finance, job training, housing, social issues and combating sexual assault.

The DAV report found multiple inadequacies in the way that the VA cares for female Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The report blamed most of the shortcomings on a lack of regard for the separate needs of female Veterans. The study points out that these programs focus on male Veterans, who make up nearly 90% of the Veteran population, as well as current military personnel.

The VA healthcare system treated approximately 390,000 female Veterans last year at various facilities. While this number has more than doubled since September 11, 2001, it is still far lower than the estimated 5.3 million male Veterans who were treated by the VA.

Currently, one in four VA hospitals do not have a full time gynecologist on staff. Out of 920 community-based clinics that serve Veterans in rural areas 140 do not have a designated women’s health provider. According to the report, one in five female Veterans was subjected to delayed treatment or went without treatment.

With the number of women in the military increasing, the number of female Veterans is rapidly rising as well. In fact, women are the fastest growing population of Veterans by percentages, according to the VA. If the VA and the federal government do not focus on plans to care specifically for women and their needs, then they will be failing all women in uniform.

While many officials and members of the public will attempt to justify the discrepancies in treatment for female Veterans by saying that the agencies are just providing for the greater good, it is an unacceptable defense. Medical treatment cannot be a “one size fits most” mentality. Every Veteran deserves individualized care, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or ailment.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Study Finds Holes in Treatment: By Debbie Gregory