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.

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

on Monday, 02 April 2018. 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.

National Guard Scholarship Announced

on Friday, 09 February 2018.

NatGuard 2

Leonardo DRS Guardian Scholarship Fund
Administered by The National Guard Educational Foundation

APPLICATION CRITERIA AND INFORMATION

Eligibility Criteria for ALL Scholarship Grants

1. A scholarship applicant must be a dependent son or daughter of a National Guard member who died in an operational or training mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation New Dawn.
2. All scholarship grants are to help cover the cost of tuition, applicable room and board, fees, and books.
3. All educational institutions to be attended by scholarship recipients must be geographically located within the SO United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Guam.
4. All scholarship applicants or previous scholarship recipients must apply or re-apply each year no later than June 30.
5. Send scholarship applications and required documentation to:
    The National Guard Educational Foundation
    Attention: Leonardo DRS Guardian Scholarship Fund
    One Massachusetts Avenue, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20001
6. Scholarship recipients will be notified no later than August 1.
7. All scholarship grants awarded will be paid directly to the educational institution to be attended by the scholarship recipient.

Wingman's Fundraiser for Fisher House Foundation

on Tuesday, 08 May 2018.

Wingman2 

Fundraiser for Fisher House Foundation by Keith Kennedy

I am going to attempt to travel to all 49 states in the USA beginning on May 1, 2018. I expect to conclude the ride around the middle of August, after the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD. I would like to take this opportunity to raise money for a cause that is close to my heart. The Fisher House Foundation, which strives to improve the lives of our service men and women and their families during their loved one’s hospital stays. They truly believe a family's love is good medicine.


 

Make Your Health Records Work for You

on Thursday, 07 July 2016.

 
US Department of Veterans Affairs Seal
 
 
 
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

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.

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.

 

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

 

Commentary: Veterans Deserve Our Support Every Day

on Thursday, 26 November 2015.

By Marc Burgess, Special to Military Times 12:10 p.m. EST November 25, 2015

Our recent annual observance of Veterans Day marked a genuine, heartfelt "thank you" to the men and women who have bravely served our nation. But now that the celebrations are over, it's an appropriate time to ask an important question: Are we truly supporting America's veterans?

A landmark survey conducted by my organization, Disabled American Veterans, reveals a very mixed answer.

There are 22 million veterans in this country. They are our family members, friends and neighbors; indeed, we all likely know at least one veteran. But there is much that many of us don't know or understand about their experiences, attitudes and perceptions.

LCVFSF Increases Donation Options for Future Program Growth

on Tuesday, 11 October 2016.

Success is a wonderful thing. It is exhilarating and exciting, especially when it comes to helping others. But it can also be very limiting when it drains resources that need to be replenished in order to sustain growth.  

That is the state of affairs the Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation finds itself in as we complete our first full year of operation. Our robust growth has paid off, but we need to raise money to continue to serve our Service Member target population fully and efficiently. So, we are happy to announce two more options for our supporters to help us with donations.