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Signed into Law: The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act

Signed into Law: The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act

Patricia Kime, writer for Military.com, reported early last Wednesday that after decades of negotiations, President Donald Trump signed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act into law late Tuesday.

The sailors, Marines and other service personnel who served off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam have been fighting for the passing of H.R. 299 for decades. Before this legislation, the specific diseases connected to Agent Orange exposure exposure were recognized only for ground troops. This new law extends that recognition to all those who served off of the coast of the Republic of Vietnam and Cambodia between January 1962 and May 1975.

This change in legislation stands to benefit an estimated 90,000 veterans who were exposed to the chemical herbicide agent produced by Monsanto in the 1960’s. The medical conditions of these veterans who served off the coastline will now receive the same considerations as ground troops and will have their disability compensation fast-tracked. Agent Orange-associated illnesses range from respiratory cancers to Parkinson’s, heart disease and certain types of diabetes. 

Veterans who have previously had claims denied are now eligible to resubmit along with those who were deployed in the Korean Demilitarized Zone from 9/1/67-8/31/71. An additional group covered by this new legislation is the children of veterans who served in Thailand from 1/62-5/75 who were born with spina bifida. 

Not everyone is celebrating this new legislation. The Military-Veterans Advocacy group has some significant concerns about the wording of H.R. 299. The bill covers Blue Water veterans that were up to 12 miles off the shores of Vietnam and Cambodia. The concern of the Military-Veterans Advocacy group is for the Blue Water veterans who are outside of this perimeter of the predetermined area but still within the South China sea and subject to the waters and chemical runoff of the heavily impacted Mekong River. Military-Veterans Advocacy has previously filed a lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of the Blue Water veterans over the denial of benefits. 

Rep. Mark Takano, (Democrat, CA) is one of the original drafters of the legislation. He also chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Takano has been quoted as saying that Congress has now “righted a terrible injustice.”

“We can finally tell the tens of thousands of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War but wrongly denied benefits that justice is finally coming.” 

While the signing of the legislation should absolutely be viewed as a victory for all Blue Water veterans, this win does not mean the end of the war. Provisions are now in place for tens of thousands of additional veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. However, the work is not complete until every benefit is available to every exposed veteran, no questions asked.  

With additional benefits come additional costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these changes could cost as much as $1.1 billion over 10 years but the Department of Veterans Affairs has a much higher estimate of $5.5 billion. Non-disabled veterans can expect additional fees on VA-supported home loans (less than a percentage point). 

 

MilitaryConnection.com Launches the Veteran Art Connection

MilitaryConnection.com Launches the Veteran Art Connection
For Immediate Release: February 14, 2019
Contact: Kris Galasso
kris@militaryconnection.com
 

  • VeteranArtConnection.com features an online gallery of work created exclusively by Veterans of our Armed Services suffering from PTSD
  • Online Gallery has pieces available for purchase
  • The Veteran artist gets 50% of the sales after production costs and the art therapy organization gets 10%
  • VeteranArtConnection.com turns art therapy into an entrepreneurial method for Veterans

 
MilitaryConnection.com is pleased to announce the launch of Veterans Art Connection, a joint partnership with Visions For Vets, that features an online gallery of art produced by America’s military heroes. The artwork, created by Veterans as a method of therapeutic release, will be featured and available for purchase in an online gallery.
 
Visions for Vets, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is a program designed by a Veteran for other Veterans that utilizes art therapy techniques as a treatment for PTSD, lifelong disabilities or any other issues that have been a result of a soldier’s military service. Prior to now, Visions for Vets has been a safe outlet for self-expression and a critical step in the healing process. Through this partnership with MilitaryConnection.com, Veterans are able to turn the results of their therapy into an entrepreneurial opportunity.
 
Art therapy has been proven to be an effective therapeutic method in the relief and reduction of tension and anxiety. In the instances of our retired servicemen and women, it also provides the opportunity for self-expression, healing and achievement of self-awareness. Many of these Veterans have been on disability and unable to work since leaving active duty. The Veteran Art Connection supplies these men and women with a unique opportunity to heal their invisible wounds through the power of art while establishing a possible revenue stream for their future.
 
MilitaryConnection.com is the “Go-To” site or the one-stop shop for Veterans, active military and their families. The site features a real-time job postings board with new employment opportunities for candidates across the country.In addition to the job postings board, MilitaryConnection.com is loaded with information that has proven helpful for active and retired military, military spouses, families, retirees and more. From writing a competitive resume and cover letter to preparing yourself for the interview; from finding a local place to get your free flu shot to picking an exercise that works best for you, MilitaryConnection.com has your needs covered.
 
MIlitaryConnection.com is the “Go-To” site for Veterans. With offices in Missouri, California and Maryland.

Attention Medically Discharged Veterans – You May be Missing Out on Rating Upgrade

Attention Medically Discharged Veterans – You May be Missing Out on Rating Upgrade

Attention Medically Discharged Veterans – You May be Missing Out on Rating Upgrade

By Debbie Gregory

The Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) was legislated by Congress and implemented by the Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure the accuracy and fairness of combined disability ratings of 20% or less assigned to service members who were discharged between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2009.

The review gives a veteran a second look at a disability process and corrects any errors that the service may have made, which may result in either a modification to their assigned rating or disability retirement.  

When a servicemember receives full medical retirement, they are eligible for health care and a stipend for the rest of their life. A 30 percent rating or higher gives the veteran retiree status, which includes a tax-free disability retirement and TRICARE eligibility. And a review by PDBR cannot hurt a veteran’s existing rating. Those who apply but are not granted a review or a change in status can still continue receiving services from the VA.

The top three medical conditions that result in a favorable recommendation are back ailments, arthritis, and mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress.

So far, only 19,000 veterans have applied, although it is estimated that some 71,000 veterans are eligible for at least a disability rating review. If an eligible veteran is incapacitated or deceased, a surviving spouse, next of kin or legal representative also can request the PDBR review.

The majority of applicants, some 70 percent, have been Army, 20 percent are Navy/Marine Corps veterans, 10 percent Air Force, and less than one percent Coast Guard.

The process does require patience, as the wait for a decision can be lengthy, but in the long run, the process can be a game-changer for disabled veterans and their family members.

Former Camp Lejeune Veterans Affected By Tainted Water Can Apply for Disability

Camp Lejeune

By Debbie Gregory.

Former service members exposed to contaminated water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune over a 35-year period can now apply for Veterans Disability Benefits, under a new federal rule.

For decades, complaints blamed on the water at Lejeune, including serious ailments such as cancers, infertility, neurobehavioral effects, and deaths, have plagued the base. The Marine Corps has said the contamination was unintentional, occurring when federal law didn’t limit toxins in drinking water.

The move is expected to affect as many as 900,000 veterans and cost more than $2 billion over the next five years.

In a statement, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin called the move “a demonstration of our commitment to care for those who have served our nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service.”

It comes after years of lawsuits and lobbying by veterans groups who said tens of thousands of troops and their families were exposed to unhealthy levels of contaminants from leaky fuel tanks and other chemical sources while serving at the North Carolina base from the early 1950s to the late 1980s.

In 2012, Congress passed a bill that was signed into law by then-President Obama extending free VA medical care to affected veterans and their families. But veterans were not automatically provided disability aid or survivor benefits.

The disability benefits may supplement VA health care already being provided to eligible veterans who were stationed at the Marine base for at least 30 cumulative days between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987. Veterans will have to submit evidence of their diagnoses and service information.

The new rule covers active duty, Reserve and National Guard members who developed one of the eight diseases: leukemia; aplastic anemia (and other myelodysplastic syndromes); bladder cancer; kidney cancer; liver cancer; multiple myeloma; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; and Parkinson’s disease.

Veterans have a year to file the benefits claims, and if approved will receive payouts from their date of filing.

Tell Us What You Think About This  New Benefit

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.

 

Filing a VA Claim? Make Sure to Make Technology Work for You

hadit

By Theresa Aldrich

Filing a claim for service connected disability compensation through Veterans Affairs can be a daunting task. But take heart; in 2016, it’s much easier for veterans than it used to be.

When I started the site HadIt.com Veteran To Veteran in 1997, there weren’t many online resources for veterans trying to research their claims. We were left to get a VSO and trust what they said, or try to go it alone and hope we got it right. Coming out of the military, many of us foolishly thought it would be a straightforward process.

But now, with the reach of the world wide web, here are some ways that the internet can assist you:

Medication side effects: Some of the drugs that are prescribed for service connected disabilities may cause secondary disabilities. Research the side effects of any medications you are taking. This can help link secondary conditions to service connected conditions.

Locating Records: Unit records and histories are available online,  so if you are trying to find places and dates, it’s probably out there.

BVA Case Search: Search previous Board of Veterans Appeals decisions on the internet. If you’re wondering what kind of evidence you need to prove your case, you can research similar cases and see what evidence was required. The same applies to the US Court of Veterans Appeals.

Resource Materials: VA manuals, such as 38 CFR (Schedule for Rating Disabilities, Code of Federal Regulations, etc.) can be read, downloaded, and even printed out.

Communities and Social Media: There are numerous veteran blogs communities. The ability to talk to other veterans and work together to research or give opinions is priceless. Don’t forget to check out the resources available on Hadit.com and MilitaryConnection.com.

No one has a bigger stake in your claim than you, so be proactive.