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Military Connection: Companion Veteran Legislation

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By Debbie Gregory.

As a service member, you supported and defended the Constitution and the American way of life. As a Veteran, it’s important to continue that patriotism and citizenship by taking part in the processes that run your country. This means voting, being aware of current legislation and policies, and contacting your elected leaders and telling them how best to represent you, especially when it comes to Veteran-centric legislation.

On March 16, 2015, a pair of bills were introduced, one into each house of Congress, that are designed to provide Veterans with greater access to long-term care centers in their communities.

The Veterans Access to Extended Care Act has been introduced into the House as H.R. 1369 and into the Senate as S. 739. Together, this set of companion bi-partisan legislation is paving the way for improved programs for older Veterans and Veterans who need long-term care.

H.R. 1369 was introduced by Representative Jackie Walorski (R-Indiana) and co-sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii),and  Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pennsylvania).

S. 739 was introduced by Senator John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) and cosponsored by Joe Manchin (D- West Virginia).

The summary of both forms of the legislation read as:

Veterans Access to Extended Care Act of 2015

This bill modifies the treatment of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agreements with service providers to furnish veterans with nursing home care, adult day health care, or other extended care services.

Any such agreement shall:

  • not be treated as a federal contract for the acquisition of goods or services and shall be not subject to any provision of law governing federal contracts for the acquisition of goods or services, and
  • include specified requirements (such as for medical licensing and VA review of staff and facilities) to ensure the safety and quality of care furnished to veterans pursuant to such agreement.

The failure of a provider to comply with a provision of the agreement may result in VA termination of the agreement.

Such agreements are exempted from the application of certain public contract labor laws.

Both bills were read on the floors of their respective chambers, and referred to their houses’ Committee on Veterans Affairs. Be sure to frequent www.Congree.gov to check on the Veterans Access to Extended Care Act in both forms of the bill, H.R. 1369 and S. 739. Be sure to contact your representatives and senators and tell them how you want them to vote on these and other bills on your behalf.

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: Companion Veteran Legislation: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA Creates Committee of Experts to Improve MyVA

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By Debbie Gregory.

On March 13, 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the formation of the MyVA Advisory Committee (MVAC). The MVAC was designed to bring together specialists from the private, government and non-profit sectors to assist with streamlining the VA to better meet the needs of Veterans. The MVAC will be responsible for advising the VA Secretary, specifically in the areas of improving customer service, Veteran outcomes and setting the course for long-term reform.

The MVAC will meet multiple times throughout the year, engaging in periodic reviews of VA programs and policies in order to ensure the department is achieving the goals of MyVA.  The committee will provide guidance on completing both short-term and long-term strategies for improving the operational functions, services, processes and outputs of VA programs. The committee will also recommend appropriate levels of support and funding that would be needed to achieve MyVA objectives. The MVAC will also review implementation of recommended improvements, and suggest any necessary course corrections.

The MVAC will be led by Major General Josue “Joe” Robles Jr. U.S. Army (retired), who will serve as the committee’s chairman. General Robles served in the Army for 28 years and then went on to hold the position of President and CEO of USAA.The committee members all have high level degrees of experience in corporate management and healthcare. Most of the members are Veterans, but all have a strong belief in providing the best care and services for those who served their country.

“The success of MyVA will be Veterans who are better served by VA, so the work of this committee is incredibly important,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald.  “The collective wisdom of our committee members is invaluable and each of them understands that VA must improve customer service and focus the Department on the needs of our Veterans. They are dedicated to that mission and I am grateful for their principled service to our Veterans.”

Putting together a team like this is sure to yield positive results for the MyVA program, ultimately leading to better delivery of services, benefits and care to Veterans.

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 Forms Committee of Experts to Improve MyVA: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Breakdown of VA Life Insurance Programs

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By Debbie Gregory.

Those who served in the U.S. military are eligible for a multitude of benefits, services and resources through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Included in these provisions are a variety of life insurance programs that are designed specifically for Veterans.

The VA offers seven main Veteran life insurance programs. Knowing which programs you qualify for and which program will provide the most benefit to you and your family is very important. Here is a general breakdown of the VA life insurance programs:

  • Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) – A low-cost term life insurance with coverage up to $400,000. Coverage is automatic for nearly all active-duty personnel. It is also automatic for members of the National Guard and Individual Ready Reserve scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive duty training per year, cadets and midshipmen of the U.S. military academies, and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps members, as well as many others.
  • Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Disability Extension (SGLI-DE) – Active personnel deemed totally disabled at time of their separation from active-duty have the option extend their SGLI coverage for up to two years at no cost.
  • Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) – A program that offers lifetime renewable group term insurance for Veterans. Veterans who had full-time SGLI coverage are eligible to convert SGLI to VGLI within one year and 120 days after separation.
  • Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) – This option insures spouses and dependent children of active-duty personnel with SGLI coverage up to $100,000. Dependent children are automatically covered under FSGLI at no charge. The monthly rates for insuring spouses range between $0.50 and $50.
  • Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) – In the event that a service member suffers a traumatic injury, including amputations, blindness, or paraplegia as the result of traumatic injuries, TSGLI provides automatic SGLI coverage. TSGLI is not only for combat injuries, but provides insurance coverage for injuries incurred both on and off duty.
  • Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) – Totally disabled Veterans may be eligible for free coverage and may have the opportunity to purchase additional insurance. S-DVI life insurance coverage is for Veterans who received a service connected disability rating from the VA within the last two years; the rating must be for a new disability.
  • Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) – This option is a mortgage life insurance protection provided for severely disabled Veterans after the VA has approved a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant.

The VA provides an extremely useful Interactive Overview of the different VA Insurance benefits at http://www.benefits.va.gov/insurance/overviewInsurance.html

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: Breakdown of VA Life Insurance Programs: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: What Veterans Can Expect For 2015

2015 Predictions

Current and former members of the U.S. military belong to a fraternal demographic unmatched by any other American society. No other group of former coworkers, schoolmates or teammates share the bond that service members and Veterans share with one another. At the same time, Veterans and current service members, numbering 24 million-strong, enjoy tremendous support from the government and the American public. As we begin 2015, there are a few predictions that we may see realized for our nation’s military/veteran community.

Veteran Employment As Standard Business Practice–  Thousands of employers across the country have experienced the value of hiring and retaining Veterans, so much so that they implemented larger-scale operating practices to recruit, hire and retain Veterans. While the strong push to hire Veterans will slow eventually, it is believed that the initiatives and programs created for Post-9/11 Veterans will continue on.

Increases in Veteran Owned Business– Economists predict that amassing resources to bolster Veteran employment will also generate a focus facilitating more Veteran-owned businesses. This new focus makes sense because of job creation and the fact that Veteran-owned businesses are 30% more likely to hire Veterans than other businesses.

Fewer Initiatives Enacted– For almost a decade, the government and the public has showered the Veteran community with goodwill and new benefits. With the wars officially at a close, the need to include new Veteran-friendly initiatives and legislation will begin to decline. We will likely see the beginning of this decline in the coming months.

Veterans Catching On– Most Veterans have investigated at least one “employment opportunity,” or “Veterans Discount” only to realize that they were being targeted for some sort of scam. It’s sad, but true. And most Veterans have to learn the hard way about these less than honest offerings. But with the rise of social media and the reach of Veteran-friendly government agencies and private organizations, many newly separated Veterans will be made aware of the scams without exposing themselves to the risks.

More Military Discounts– With a large population of war time Veterans carrying clout in the economic market, many retailers are beginning to devise mutually beneficial discounts in order to get these Veterans to their physical and online stores.  Additionally, advances in technology enable online verification of military statusand many states are now issuing Veteran ID cards which make it easy for retailers to verify military/Veteran status in-store.

Increased Targeting of Veterans in Advertising– Companies are recognizing that the 24 million service members and Veterans, as well as their immediate and extended families have massive spending power.  Advertisers believe that the impact of the military/Veteran community’s consumer market is near $1 trillion. This will lead to increases in military-centric advertising, special discounts, and tailored products and services.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans 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 Boardinformation 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: What Veterans Can Expect For 2015: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA Combat Call Center: By Debbie Gregory

CombatCallCenterVeterans are susceptible to stresses that most civilians cannot relate to. When they were in the service, it wasn’t always easy to talk to civilian friends and family back home about their problems, mostly because they couldn’t relate. Instead, service members would lean on their battle buddies or their comrades because they could understand the struggles, and sympathize with the difficulties.

Now that they have transitioned out, Veterans may need support system comprised of those who can relate to what they have been through. The VA Combat Call Center at 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387) is there for any Veteran who needs someone to talk to.

The VA Combat Call Center runs 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, staffed by combat Veterans and the spouses of disabled Veterans. This means that any Veteran, family member or friend seeking counseling in relation to military service can call, anytime, and be connected to a sympathetic staff member who has walked in the same shoes.

Along with relating to callers on a personal level, staff members at the VA Combat Call Center are also highly trained counselors, and several are also licensed mental health providers. They are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of a Veteran in crisis, and take the appropriate measures to get each caller the help they need.

The VA Combat Call Center has a working relationship with the Veterans Crisis Line. When a caller is clearly in crisis, the call center has the capability to keep the person on the line and include a counselor from the Veterans Crisis Line via a warm transfer, ensuring that the Veteran or family member in crisis gets the help they need from the most appropriate source.

Through both training and personal experience, all Veterans and spouses working at the VA Combat Call Center are also experts on services and benefits offered by the VA and local programs. These services and benefits include mental health/readjustment counseling, bereavement assistance, homeless programs, substance abuse and PTSD treatment options, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, VA home loan guaranty, and even how to obtain copies of their DD-214s.

The VA Combat Call Center is always available to assist Veterans, 24/7 at 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387).

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 Combat Call Center: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Social Security for Veterans: By Debbie Gregory

DF-SC-84-11881Many articles talk about the sacrifices made by those who serve in the military. There are none who make a greater sacrifice than those who have become permanently and totally disabled as a result of their military service. We, as a nation, can never do enough to compensate these Veterans and their families for their sacrifices. But there are benefits available to disabled Veterans that they might not be aware of.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) began The Faces and Facts of Disability campaign, designed to raise awareness and provide information about disability programs.

One of the key talking points for the campaign is letting  disabled Veterans know that they can qualify for Social Security benefits on top of their benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Through the Faces and Facts of Disability campaign, the SSA hopes to educate Veterans about Social Security benefits.

Both the SSA and the VA can pay disability benefits to a Veteran. And VA compensation will not affect your Social Security benefits, and vice versa. But disabled Veterans should know that the two programs are very different, as are their processes and criteria for receiving benefits. Just because a Veteran was rated 100% permanently and totally disabled does not guarantee that they will be found eligible for Social Security Benefits. To be approved for Social Security benefits, Veterans must meet the SSA’s  definition of “disability,” which include:

  • The inability to do substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year, or result in death.

Veterans that have been rated 100% P&T by the VA can receive expedited processing through the SSA for Social Security benefits. First, Veterans should apply online, or at 1 (800) 772-1213 or TTY 1 (800) 325-0778 for deaf or hard of hearing. Veterans can also apply in person at their local Social Security office, but you should call ahead and schedule an appointment.

To assist Veterans and members of the public better understand the Social Security disability process, the SSA has created a seven-part YouTube video.

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: Social Security for Veterans: By Debbie Gregory