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.

Special "Quilts of Valor" Presentation

on Friday, 20 April 2018.

 
April 20, 2018, Waukegan County Court House         
Mentors for the Veterans Treatment and Assistance Court (VTAC) of the 19th Judicial Circuit were presented with their own Quilt of Valor in recognition of their dedication and service to the VTAC program. The quilts are normally presented to court graduates upon completion of the program as a symbol of the care, warmth and security the VTAC will always provide the graduate.

Judges Christie Bishop and Christopher Stride, the presiding judges of VTAC, broke with the tradition of Quilts of Valor protocol to honor the mentors in addition to only court graduates. The quilts were presented in a solemn ceremony in front of more than 80 spectators to underscore the importance of the mentors in the success of VTAC.

LCVFSF Veteran mentors Kirby Wagner (far left) and Bob Gorman (third from left) were two of the very proud recipients.

To learn more about VTAC, call 847-986-4622.

Court Ruling Favors Blue Water Vietnam Vets

on Wednesday, 30 January 2019.

U.S. Marines prepare to board ship at Danang in 1970 for trip back to U.S. under withdrawal orders. On Tuesday, a federal court ordered VA to award presumptive disability benefit status to thousands of Vietnam veterans who served on ships in the waters around that country. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON — A federal court ruled Tuesday that the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot deny disability benefits to thousands of Vietnam veterans who claim exposure to cancer-causing chemical defoliants simply because those vets served in the waters off the country’s coastline, and not inland.

The ruling marks a major victory for so-called “blue water” Navy veterans who have fought the department for years over the denials. VA officials have said the existing scientific evidence doesn’t justify the presumption of toxic exposure for the group and have strongly opposed legislative efforts to overturn their decision.

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.”

Veterans Treatment Courts Continues Successful Record

on Wednesday, 04 October 2017.

Veterans Treatment Courts — Helping Vets Seek Justice
By Lindsey Getz
Social Work Today
Vol. 17 No. 5 P. 22

[Editor's Note: Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation is one of the founding parties of the Lake County Veterans Treatment and Assistance Court (VTAC) in Waukegan. It continues to be a key part of the specialty court process. To that end, at the conclusion of the following article, please read the information on working and supporting VTAC.]

The specialty court you may not have known existed is helping vets across the country.

Problem-solving courts take a specialized approach to working with participants in addressing the underlying problems that are contributing to their criminal behavior. It's become a big trend in the United States, as we've seen the emergence of drug courts and domestic violence courts that aim to reduce reoffenses and address substance use and other issues at the heart of illegal behavior.

Similar to problem-solving courts, Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) have emerged as a type of specialty court that help address the underlying needs of veterans who wind up facing criminal charges. It's estimated that there are currently around 350 of these specialty courts across the country, and they differ in terms of how they run or what types of charges they adjudicate. But the overarching goal is the same: getting veterans the help they need to stay out of jail and reintegrate with society.

Lake County Sheriff Veteran Ambassador Program Launches

on Monday, 28 May 2018.

Sheriff

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake County Veterans Assistance Commission (VAC), the Lake County States Attorney’s office and LCVFSF celebrated the official launch of the Lake County Veterans Ambassador Program (2.0) on Armed Forces Day, May 19.

The program was created to address Veteran homelessness and suicide in a concrete way, providing transport to shelters and crisis care programs as needed for Veterans needing help from law enforcement community. After a safe night’s sleep, the VAC works with the Veteran to determine eligibility for VA benefits and community resources then connects them as appropriate.

"A Sea of Khaki"

on Sunday, 10 March 2019.

Image result for a sea of khaki

On Feb. 8, thousands of mourners filled the United States Naval Academy’s chapel in Annapolis, Md., to pay their respects to Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent, 35, who was killed by a suicide bomber at a restaurant in Manbij, Syria, last month, along with three other Americans. Kent was stationed at Fort Meade, Md., where she was assigned to Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66, a Navy unit that supports the National Security Agency and military special operations forces. She was supporting the latter at the time of her death.

During the ceremony, a bugler played taps. The Navy hymn “Eternal Father” rang from the pipe organ. But the memorial service departed from most of those that the Academy chapel has hosted in the past — in more ways than one.