Ruck March Takes Center Stage

on Tuesday, 20 June 2017.

Teams and Individuals Register NOW!

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All Registered Participants Will Receive the Commemorative Ruck March 2017 Wristband 

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There’s an important opportunity ahead for you, your family members, your friends, your co-workers, even your employer to help Veterans and their families.

The September 23rd Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation (LCVFSF) event in collaboration with the Student Veteran Club of the College of Lake County seeks to address two critical needs: lowering Veteran suicides and raising funds to keep the Foundation’s work on behalf of Veterans and their families going strong.

 

Great Cause!

(Veterans Suicide Prevention)

Hard Work!

(Only 24 KM)

Fun! Competition!

(Team and individual)

Awards!

Click Here to Register Immediately!

Route Map After "Continue Reading"


 

Changes to MST-Related PTSD Claims Processing Means More help for Veterans

on Sunday, 02 July 2017. Posted in News

Image of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) poster

Women are disproportionately likely to have experienced sexual harassment and/or assault during their military service. This trauma, referred to by VA as military sexual trauma (MST), can result in conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a cascading impact on all aspects of life. (Click here for more information on military sexual trauma and treatments available for resulting conditions from VA.)

Due to increased awareness of this problem and the challenges of providing corroborating evidence in many cases, VA has taken a number of steps over the years to better serve MST survivors applying for disability compensation for conditions caused by MST, beginning with relaxing evidentiary standards in 2002. Because events involving sexual trauma are not always officially reported, VA looks for “markers” (i.e., signs, events or circumstances) that provide an indication the traumatic event happened, which include but are not limited to records from rape crisis or mental health counseling centers, tests for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, statements from family members or roommates, transfer requests, deterioration in work performance, episodes of depression or anxiety without an identifiable cause and relationship issues – a longer list is available here.

In response to an identified gap in the percent of claims granted for PTSD caused by MST compared to other causes, such as combat-related PTSD, additional changes were made. These include conducting special training for VA regional office personnel who process MST-related claims beginning in 2011 and offering specialized training to medical examiners who provide input on these cases in 2012.

How effective have those efforts been? The table below shows the percent of PTSD issues granted for MST-related and non-MST related claims. In FY11, there is a substantial gap: 59.5% of non-MST related PTSD claims were granted, compared to only 35.6% of MST-related PTSD claims, a nearly 24 point gap. Three years later, in FY14, the gap had shrunk to less than six points, with grant rates of 54.1% and 48.5% respectively. So far this fiscal year, the gap is only around one point, with grant rates of 54.6% for non-MST related claims and 53.4% for MST-related claims.

Impact of Changes to MST-Related PTSD Claims Processing

The dramatic narrowing of the gap, from over 20 points six years ago to virtually indistinguishable today, shows the success of those efforts. The Veterans Benefits Administration and the Center for Women Veterans will continue to analyze data to sustain these improvements in equitable decision-making.

For help with disability compensation related to MST, read more here and contact the MST coordinator at your local Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office.

VA Unveils Claims Submission Option That Promises to Complete Claims within 30 Days

on Saturday, 09 September 2017.

WASHINGTON — Today, as part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) continued efforts to improve timeliness of services for Veterans and their families, VA unveiled the Decision Ready Claims (DRC) initiative, a disability claims submission option with accredited Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) that promises to deliver faster claims decisions to Veterans and their families.

“The DRC initiative is a collaborative effort between VA and VSOs to help Veterans receive faster decisions on disability claims,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “VA works closely with participating VSOs to make sure they are properly trained in this new process and given the tools they need to participate successfully in the program on behalf of the Veterans they serve.”

VA Memorial Benefits for Veterans and Family Members

on Thursday, 06 April 2017.

Pre-Need Application Form

VA takes special care to pay lasting tribute to the memory of Veterans who served and sacrificed and that of their families. VA meticulously maintains 135 VA national cemeteries in 40 states and Puerto Rico and is working to increase access to accommodate Veterans and eligible family members close to home. In a few years, 95 percent of Veterans will have a burial option in an open VA, state or tribal veterans cemetery located within 75 miles of their home. Some benefits are also available for Veterans who choose burial in a private cemetery.

Free Legal Resources Available for Veterans

on Wednesday, 06 September 2017.

 

In the summer of 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a study that answered a troubling question: what was the major reason vets were losing their homes, and become homeless?

Legal aid. A lawyer. They can’t afford it.

The research covered more than 6,000 veterans either living in the streets or in a shelter, many the victims of yet another unfortunate fact: five out of 10 programs leading to homelessness cannot be solved without legal help. They cited fighting evictions, upgrading military discharge statuses as well as restoring a driver’s license as issues that most often led to losing that essential thing that every human should have, every night — a roof over your head.

Thankfully, there are resources and centers that can find veterans free legal aid. Here’s a list of them:

DoD Clarifies Liberal Consideration for Veterans' Discharge Upgrade Requests

on Thursday, 31 August 2017.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2017 — The Defense Department released guidance today to clarify the liberal consideration given to veterans who request upgrades of their discharge saying they had mental health conditions or were victims of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

The new guidance clarifies that the liberal consideration policy includes conditions resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, sexual assault or sexual harassment, said Air Force Lt. Col. Reggie Yager, the acting director of legal policy in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

The policy is meant to ease the burden on veterans and give them a reasonable opportunity to establish the extenuating circumstances of their discharge, Yager said.

Cases involving invisible wounds such as PTSD or other mental health conditions, whether from combat or sexual assault, are some of the most complex and difficult cases to review, he said.

VA Will Offer Mental Healthcare to Vets with "Bad Paper"

on Friday, 10 March 2017.

WASHINGTON – Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin while testifying in a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on March 7, 2017, announced his intention to expand provisions for urgent mental health care needs to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges. This move marks the first time a VA Secretary has implemented an initiative specifically focused on expanding access to assist former OTH service members who are in mental health distress and may be at risk for suicide or other adverse behaviors.

“The president and I have made it clear that suicide prevention is one of our top priorities," Shulkin said. “We know the rate of death by suicide among Veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than Veterans who use VA care. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. We must and we will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one Veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it.”

Equine Therapy for Veterans Available in Lake County

on Wednesday, 31 May 2017. Posted in News

 
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Ashti Dawson, a member of the Illinois Army National Guard, talks about how she was helped by equine therapy, offered by the Equine Assited Growth and Learning Association. 

By Amanda Marrazzo
Special to the Tribune 

Emotional issues that veterans might find too big to tackle in a therapist's office can sometimes be worked out with a little help from a friendly horse, experts say.

Offering an alternative aimed at helping active duty and retired veterans and their families cope with such problems, members of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association hosted a demonstration Monday in Elgin.

"They are not used to talking about their feelings," Hayley Sumner said of many veterans struggling with emotional and mental health issues. Sumner works with an equine therapy program for veterans in Massachusetts. "They are very hands on."

VA Disability Rates for 2017

on Monday, 05 December 2016.

The following tables show the 2017 VA compensation rates for veterans with a disability rating 10 percent or higher. (Effective Dec. 1, 2016)

Dependents Allowance:
In addition veterans entitled to compensation whose disability is rated as 30 percent or more, are entitled to additional compensation for dependents as follows (monthly amounts):

Without Children:
Disability Rating: 30% - 60%
Disability Rating: 70% - 100%

With Children:
Disability Rating: 30% - 60%
Disability Rating: 70% - 100%