Memories at The Wall: Remembering Vietnam Veterans

on Tuesday, 30 May 2017.

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The granite wall, and the names etched in it, elicit a wide range of responses. Some stand in silence; others pray, or offer a final salute. Many visitors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., feel compelled to leave offerings of love or gratitude or remembrance ... a pair of boots, photographs, letters, even a last cigarette.

Each evening National Park Service rangers collect the items and send them to a massive warehouse in Maryland filled to the rafters with objects left since 1982.

Ranger Janet Folkerts catalogs the items and keeps them in pristine condition. She doesn't know the total number of objects left.

"We have a guess of 400,000. We never will fully know until we have everything cataloged, which we don't have yet," she told CBS News correspondent Chip Reid.

VA extends deadline for seeking Gulf War illness benefits to 2021

on Friday, 21 October 2016.

In February 1991, an armored vehicle passes through a breached sand berm separating Saudi   Arabia from Iraq, paving the way for advancing allied troops during the Gulf War. WAYNE J. BEGASSE/STARS AND STRIPES

WASHINGTON – For the next five years, veterans will have an easier time seeking benefits for illnesses linked to service in the Gulf War because of an extension issued Monday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Since 1994, the VA has automatically presumed a connection from Gulf War service, which included a toxic environment of oil fires and chemical weapons, to an increased risk for several illnesses. The connection enables veterans to receive a disability rating and benefits more quickly.

But the presumed connection and the ability to seek benefits was set to expire at the end of this year, after being extended four times previously. Effective Monday, the VA extended it a fifth time, to Dec. 31, 2021.

Vietnam: The War That Killed Trust

on Tuesday, 10 January 2017.

The legacy of the war still shapes America, even if most of us are too young to remember it.

Vietnam '67
Karl Marlantes

In the early spring of 1967, I was in the middle of a heated 2 a.m. hallway discussion with fellow students at Yale about the Vietnam War. I was from a small town in Oregon, and I had already joined the Marine Corps Reserve. My friends were mostly from East Coast prep schools. One said that Lyndon B. Johnson was lying to us about the war. I blurted out, “But … but an American president wouldn’t lie to Americans!” They all burst out laughing.

When I told that story to my children, they all burst out laughing, too. Of course presidents lie. All politicians lie. God, Dad, what planet are you from?

Before the Vietnam War, most Americans were like me. After the Vietnam War, most Americans are like my children.

America didn’t just lose the war, and the lives of 58,000 young men and women; Vietnam changed us as a country. In many ways, for the worse: It made us cynical and distrustful of our institutions, especially of government. For many people, it eroded the notion, once nearly universal, that part of being an American was serving your country.

VA Amends Enrollment Regulations

on Wednesday, 01 March 2017. Posted in News

The VA has amended its enrollment regulations to allow veterans to complete applications for enrollment in VA health care by telephone without the need for a signed paper application.  The change is effective immediately for combat veterans and will be effective July 5, 2016, for all veterans.

This phased implementation accelerates VA's effort to enroll all combat veterans with pending applications as part of its ongoing Veterans Enrollment Rework Project. The VA is working to complete the review and rework of all pending health enrollment records for living and deceased veterans this summer. Veterans can view the amended regulation on the Federal Register website.

Horsefeathers Equine Therapy Empowers LCVFSF Veterans and Family members

on Friday, 17 June 2016.

Horse trainer Buck Brannaman, who helped inspire the lead character in the Nicholas Evans novel "The Horse Whisperer," speaks from experience about the healing power a horse can offer its human companion.

"Horses,'' he says, ''are incredibly forgiving. They fill in places we're not capable of filling ourselves. They've given people a new hope, a new lease on life."

That proposition — that horses can be healers — stands at the operational core of Horsefeathers, a therapeutic riding program located at 1181 Riverwoods Road in Lake Forest since 2008.

(Republished) Remarkable Impact of Yoga Breathing for Trauma

on Thursday, 01 June 2017. Posted in News

"Military guys doing yoga and meditation?"

Emma Seppala 

I've been asked in disbelief. It's true that when they first arrived to participate in my study (a yoga-based breathing program offered by a small non-profit organization), the young, tattoo-covered, hard-drinking, motorcycle-driving all-American Midwestern men didn't look like your typical yoga devotees. But their words after the study said it all: "Thank you for giving me my life back" and "I feel like I've been dead since I returned from Iraq and I feel like I'm alive again." Our surprisingly positive findings revealed the power that lies in breath for providing relief from even the most deep-seated forms of anxiety.

As many of us know, there is an unspoken epidemic that is taking 22 lives a day in the U.S.

Who is impacted? Those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in protection of others: Veterans.

How? Suicide.

Why? War trauma.

Average age? 25.

Bankruptcy Becomes an Option for Some Borrowers Burdened by Student Loans

on Thursday, 29 December 2016.

Argument that focuses on legal definition of student loan is at crux of efforts to discharge debt

Some who owe on student loans are arguing in bankruptcy court that their debt wasn’t made for an ‘educational benefit.’ Above, the entrance to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in lower Manhattan, N.Y.

By SARAH CHANEY

Borrowers are beginning to win battles to erase some student loans in bankruptcy court, overcoming stiff obstacles that have generally blocked that path except in extreme cases of financial hardship.

Since March, several bankruptcy courts have allowed borrowers to cancel private student loans with a new legal argument that relies on vague wording about the legal definition of a student loan.

Bankruptcy law says that, without proving extreme hardship, a borrower can’t discharge a loan made for an “educational benefit.” This language has opened a window to cancel loans for students who argue their loans falls outside this category of debt. Such reasoning has been applied to loans obtained to attend schools without accreditation or to study for a bar exam.

The argument applies only to a slice of the private student-loan market, which makes up less than 10% of the more than $1.3 trillion in outstanding student debt. The federal government dominates the student-loan market and isn’t as vulnerable in bankruptcy proceedings.

Pentagon Holds Up GI Bill Benefits for Reservists

on Sunday, 27 November 2016.

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Stars and Stripes | Nov 26, 2016 | by Alex Horton

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Nearly 300 Marines came home from their seven-month deployment to Central America this week. They have a few things in tow -- wood carvings from local artisans and the grit of experience responding to Hurricane Matthew, among the world's worst recent natural disasters.

But the reservists returned without something that most were counting on: seven months of GI Bill benefits.

A relatively new and obscure deployment code, a measure the Pentagon created in 2014 to scale back spending on benefits, is the reason. By law, reservists involuntarily mobilized under Title 10, section 12304b, do not receive credit for the GI Bill while they are activated.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is paid out by the amount of active-duty time racked up. Reservists say deployments are in high demand in part because education benefits will grow much faster than relying on drill time.

The VA Program For Veteran Caregivers You May Not Know About

on Tuesday, 22 March 2016.

VA caregiver benefits provide financial, medical, and peer help for family members that support veterans.

Roughly 5.5 million people serve as caregivers for veteran family members. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a lesser known benefit for these family members. Known as Caregiver Support Services, these benefits aim to help family members who are tasked with the primary care of a disabled veteran.

The services available include access to a caregiver support line, support coordinator, peer support for caregivers, adult day health care centers, and home care, among other things.

Make Your Health Records Work for You

on Thursday, 07 July 2016.

 
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Make your health records work for you.

Dear Veteran,

Connecting your docs with 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, so they can provide you the best possible care.

This exchange occurs over a secure and private network known as the eHealth Exchange. This program is free and voluntary for Veterans, but VA needs your consent to share your health records (VA Form 10-0485).

sign up nowIf you have not already joined, go to the eBenefits website and sign up (It's free)! 
If you have technical difficulties, please call 1-800-983-0937 for assistance.

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