VA Mission Act Update

on Thursday, 11 April 2019.

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The new eligibility criteria will be a major improvement over existing criteria in terms of making things simpler: currently, eligibility criteria vary between VA’s community care programs. When the new criteria go into effect, Veterans can expect better access and greater choice in their health care, whether at VA or through a community provider.

The eligibility criteria are projected to go into effect in June 2019 after final regulations are published and effective, so the criteria are not yet final. In addition, key aspects of community care eligibility include the following:

  • Veterans must receive approval from VA prior to obtaining care from a community provider in most circumstances.
  • Veterans must either be enrolled in VA health care or be eligible for VA care without needing to enroll to be eligible for community care.
  • Eligibility for community care will continue to be dependent upon a Veteran’s individual health care needs or circumstances.
  • VA staff members generally make all eligibility determinations.
  • Veterans will usually have the option to receive care at a VA medical facility regardless of their eligibility for community care.
  • Meeting any one of six eligibility criteria listed below is sufficient to be referred to a community provider—a Veteran does not have to meet all of them to be eligible. (Real-world examples of when a Veteran would be eligible for community care are included in the eligibility fact sheet linked at the end of the article).

Coming September 7, 2019

on Monday, 29 April 2019.

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Why We March

Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation presents The Ruck March of Lake County annually to raise awareness about the Veteran suicide epidemic that claims approximately 20 Veteran lives every day.

The Ruck March of Lake County is back for its third year with a new route (see map above). Our passion remains the same: to raise awareness about military suicides and to reduce the number of needless losses.

In 2018 there were 20 suicides per day of active duty military and Veterans, male and female. Alarmingly, the highest number of suicides is among active-duty personnel, the worst in at least six years. Moreover, the overall military suicide rate is much higher than that of civilians. 

The military, VA and advocacy groups are developing new ways to improve mental health care during and after service. Initiatives such as immediate support through the Veterans Crisis Line available 24/7/365 to provide support for Veterans who are at acute risk for suicide, and for those calling on the behalf of a Veteran. We need to get this message out and help reduce this staggering epidemic.

How? It is easy and rewarding.  Just march with us on September 7th and raise awareness.

Legal Advice Line Available from Prairie State Legal

on Thursday, 11 January 2018.

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Prairie State Legal Services is pleased to launch its telephone legal advice line for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault who live in the counties served by PSLS**

The Legal Advice Line is open:
Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays
9am to 1pm
Wednesday Evenings
6 p.m. to 8 pm

Victims Legal Advice Line
844/388-7757 (toll free)

We provide bilingual staff or interpreters for limited English proficient callers.

Need to File a Secondary Claim? File as a DRC

on Sunday, 24 March 2019.

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Do you have a condition that was directly caused by or has gotten worse because of your service-connected condition? If so, you can file a secondary claim for disability compensation for that condition. If you’re planning to file a secondary claim, make sure you file it as a Decision Ready Claim (DRC). Filing as a DRC means you can get a decision on your claim in 30 days or less.

Work with the Veterans Assistance Commission in Waukegan or with another accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) to determine if the DRC Program is right for you and your secondary claim. They can then help you gather and submit all relevant and required evidence so your claim is ready for us to make a decision when you submit it.

Don’t have a secondary condition? You can also file these other types of compensation claims through the DRC Program:

  • Direct Service Connection Claims
  • Presumptive Service Connection Claims
  • Increased Disability Claims
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (for surviving spouses)

Learn more about the DRC Program, including eligibility requirements and what medical evidence you need to submit.  Go to: https://www.lakecountyil.gov/725/Veterans-Assistance-Commission or to find an accredited VSO and get more information before going to the VAC, go to:  https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/drc.asp

Reminder: Connect Your Health Records Now

on Sunday, 28 April 2019.

Make your health records work for you. "Connect Your Docs" with VHIE Health. Get started now.

Would you like to make your doctor visit easier and faster?

Dear Veteran,

Connecting your docs with the Veterans Health Information Exchange (VHIE), also known as the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health program shares important parts of your Veteran health record between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and your community health care providers who participate in this program.

This allows your health care providers to access important information about your health and provide you the best possible care. This exchange occurs over a secure and private network known as the eHealth Exchange.

Watch the video to learn more:

A Veteran talking with medical staff.

Ready to get started?

This program is free and voluntary for Veterans, but VA needs your consent to share your health records (VA Form 10-0485). If you have technical difficulties, please call 1-800-983-0937 for assistance. If you have not already joined, you must first sign up on the eBenefits website (it's free)!

Get started now

Thank you for agreeing to share your VA health data with your providers and, as always, we thank you for your service!

Sincerely,

The VLER Health National Program Office

New Resource Available: Attorney Provides Help with Family Law

on Wednesday, 15 May 2019. Posted in News

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Meet Rebecca Whitcome

Coming from an extended family full of Veterans and having a big “soft spot” for Service Members, Rebecca Whitcombe recently agreed to offer her professional legal services to the foundation’s families and friends.

There is free consultation for those who call LCVFSF to register. Other legal services are offered at a reduced rate that will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Rebecca expects that most of her “return” will come from the satisfaction of helping Veterans and their loved ones. “I want to ‘give something back’ to the Veterans and family members in the community around me,” she said. “That led me to contact LCVFSF.”

Rebecca’s firm, Whitcombe Law, P.C. is dedicated to dealing with family issues that include divorce, adoption, custody, child support, paternity and pre-nuptial agreements. Rebecca started her own Waukegan-based firm nine years ago after working first as a paralegal and then as a lawyer for other firms. She is a graduate of Cornell Law School.

“We are very happy that Rebecca has agreed to work with us in helping Veterans and their loved ones,” said LCVFSF founder and president Paul Baffico. “If you have a family law matter that you need help with, just call us at 847-986-4622.”

Army combat veteran uses her experience to help struggling Lake County Veterans.

on Monday, 06 May 2019.

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Former Army Sgt. Roxann GarzaTershel said her unit was attacked nearly every time it transported gasoline and water during her 13½-month deployment in Iraq.

"Nearly every convoy I was in was attacked in some way," Garza-Tershel said. "We'd see IEDs (improvised explosive devices) or small-arms fire. Through it all, we were told to just keep moving."

The eight-year veteran said she feared for her life many times when explosives or gunfire tore through her convoy. In one instance, her convoy became "sitting ducks" after it was separated from an armored calvary regiment in downtown Baghdad.

"We went through an intersection when the vehicle in front of us was hit by an IED," she said. "It was the first time I was like, 'Holy cow, that could have been us.'"

A New Way to Help Veterans: Donate Your Vehicle

on Wednesday, 05 December 2018.

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Supporters of LCVFSF have been generous with donations of time and money. Now there’s another way. If you own a car, motorcycle, ATV or other motorized vehicle, you can donate it to our Foundation. We get the funds. You get whatever tax deduction your donation earns.  In partnership with Auto Parts City of Gurnee, we are happy to offer a new and easy way to make a donation to LCVFSF to help the Veterans of Lake, McHenry and Southern Kenosha counties.

VA’s Center for Women Veterans Social Media Highlights, Connects and Informs Women Veterans

on Monday, 25 March 2019.

IMAGE: CWV graphic

Posted in Women Veterans by Danielle Corazza

The women Veteran population is growing and VA is stepping up to meet the need through innovative programming and services specifically designed to serve women. But, once the programs are deployed, how do we get the word out? How do we ensure that women Veterans self-identify and take advantage of the benefits they’ve earned and deserve? And, how do we capture the sentiment and reality of what women Veterans are experiencing so we can raise those voices to drive effective policy?

Millburn 8th Graders Learn from Vietnam Veterans

on Sunday, 19 May 2019.

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April 26, 2019, Millburn Middle School, Millburn, Illinois   

Years ago Don Williams and David Schroeder were having coffee one morning.  They started talking about Don's Vietnam experience.  Schroeder thought it might be a great way for his Social Studies students to learn about the period in U.S. history from a genuine Veteran.  Williams agreed and spoke of his personal experiences to the eighth graders, not knowing what kind of reaction he might get.  He was a hit and Schroeder asked him back for an encore the next semester.  Schroeder and Williams extended the invitation to two other Vets of the war, Tom Gramer and Paul Baffico.  They are now part of Schroeder's syllabus during "Vietnam Week" every semester. Friday, April 26th the three Veterans spent the day with multiple classes teaching with Schroeder....a thrill for all! 

In gratitude, David Schroeder wrote the following:

"Vietnam Veterans are local treasures in their respective communities. As fellow citizens, we owe due respect for our Veterans’ service and sacrifice in the United States Armed Forces. It is important to offer our Vietnam Vets a platform to share their experiences to future generations of Americans.

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David Schroeder, Tom Gramer, Don Williams and Paul Baffico