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.

2018 VA Disability Rates

on Friday, 09 February 2018.

The 2018 VA Disability rates saw a 2.0% increase effective December 1, 2017 and is the largest increase since 2012. The 2017 VA Disability rates saw a small increase of 0.3 percent. This is after seeing no increase in 2016.

VA disability rate tables for veterans with a disability rating of 10 percent or higher. Eligible veterans with disabilities can receive up to $3,527.22 per month as a tax free monetary benefit. Veterans with disabilities can use the following VA disability charts to determine how much financial assistance they are eligible for.

The 2017 LCVFSF Annual Report is Available

on Sunday, 04 March 2018.

1LCVFSFAnnualRept2017Cover

The Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation Annual Report is available and is filled with great information of the accomplishments of our work in 2017.

There are a number of ways to get a copy:

1. Feel free to drop in at DryHootch to pick up a copy.
2. Read it on line here on our website
3. Electronic copies through the Pathfinder newsletter.
4. Click on the image above to get a copy

To access all the hotlinks, download a copy of the report in pdf format.

It is that time of year again.  The Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation Annual Report is available for your review. 

 

It is filled with great information about the stories and metrics of our work in 2017.  There are a number of ways to get a copy:

 

  1. Feel free to drop in at DryHootch to pick up a copy.
  2. Read it on line on our website at www.lakevetsfound.org.
  3. To access all the hotlinks, download a copy of the report in pdf format.
  4. Click on the image above to get a copy

 

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.

VA Offers 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.”

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.

Veterans Affairs Program Works to Ensure That No Vet Dies Alone

on Wednesday, 17 February 2016. Posted in News

No Veteran Dies Alone

The old Army cook and the injured artilleryman sat shooting the breeze at the Department of Veterans Affairs' Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago.

Nick Konz spent part of the 1960s in uniform, turning low-grade meat into meals for soldiers stationed in Germany.

Ray O'Brien came home "banged up" from the Korean War, prompting a discharge and a loss of military life that the 86-year-old would lament after until the day he died.

By that November day, O'Brien was suffering from vascular disease and had settled into hospice care. Still, the Libertyville man retained the loquaciousness of someone healthier as he held court from his wheelchair.

"The American Legion has the best bars," he noted, hair gelled up by a nurse for the visitors, his right leg swollen with blood that refused to circulate.

"Depends on who's bartending," Konz said.

 

Milburn Middle School 8th Graders Learn from Vietnam Veterans

on Monday, 28 May 2018.

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"It was important to hear from the Vietnam Veterans so that we get a firsthand account instead of just what the history books tell us." -Collin Swedberg, Student

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.