Articles in Category: News

File Income Taxes for Free

on Tuesday, 09 January 2018. Posted in News

Tax season is here. Individuals who earn $64,000 or less can self-file their federal and state taxes for free through a secure mobile-optimized website called MyFree Taxes.

The website is provided in partnership with United Way and H&R Block. Individuals also can utilize a helpline at 855-MY-TX-HELP and online chat support with services available in English and Spanish by IRS-certified specialists.

VA’s Modernization of Claims Process Continues

on Friday, 24 March 2017. Posted in News

More than 300,000 digitalized inactive-claim records removed to improve process service

March 20, 2017
Early this year, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) began extracting hundreds of thousands of inactive-claim records from regional offices east of the Mississippi for digital conversion. Inactive-claim records are claim files that have been settled and have remained inactive for a number of years. The initiative will help reduce processing time for thousands of new claims associated with inactive records.

PTSD in Military Veterans Causes, Symptoms, and Steps to Recovery

on Tuesday, 22 August 2017. Posted in News

Soldier with therapist

For all too many veterans, returning from military service means coping with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You may be having a hard time readjusting to life out of the military. Or you may constantly be feeling on edge, emotionally numb and disconnected, or close to panicking or exploding. But no matter how long the V.A. wait times, or how isolated or emotionally cut off from others you feel, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and there are plenty of things you can do to start feeling better. These steps can help you learn to deal with nightmares and flashbacks, cope with feelings of depression, anxiety or guilt, and regain your sense of control.

What causes PTSD in veterans? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sometimes known as shell shock or combat stress, occurs after you experience severe trauma or a life-threatening event. It’s normal for your mind and body to be in shock after such an event, but this normal response becomes PTSD when your nervous system gets “stuck.”

Your nervous system has two automatic or reflexive ways of responding to stressful events:
Mobilization, or fight-or-flight, occurs when you need to defend yourself or survive the danger of a combat situation. Your heart pounds faster, your blood pressure rises, and your muscles tighten, increasing your strength and reaction speed. Once the danger has passed, your nervous system calms your body, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, and winding back down to its normal balance.

Immobilization occurs when you’ve experienced too much stress in a situation and even though the danger has passed, you find yourself “stuck.” Your nervous system is unable to return to its normal state of balance and you’re unable to move on from the event. This is PTSD.

Recovering from PTSD involves transitioning out of the mental and emotional war zone you’re still living in and helping your nervous system become "unstuck."

VA Weighs PTSD Care that Avoids Traumatic Memories

on Friday, 21 August 2015. Posted in News

 An instructor with Joined Forces Yoga teaches a class for Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) offered by Joined Forces Yoga at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, April 23, 2015. (U.S. Army photo/ Sgt. Sierra A. Fown)

An instructor with Joined Forces Yoga teaches a class for Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) offered by Joined Forces Yoga at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, April 23, 2015. (U.S. Army photo/ Sgt. Sierra A. Fown)

VA Weighs PTSD Care that Avoids Traumatic Memories

NAPLES, Italy — Revisiting a traumatic event in a therapy session can open a door to relief for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But confronting bad memories may not be the answer for everyone.

After years of emphasizing trauma-focused psychotherapy as a preferred treatment for PTSD, researchers and clinicians with the Department of Veterans Affairs are considering forms of therapy that steer clear of traumatic memories, including those focusing on mindfulness.

Although relatively new and backed by less research than other therapies, the treatments could expand practitioners’ options and could offer patients a greater say in their care, a top VA clinician said. That, in turn, could lead to better outcomes.

“I think the coming years will be a maturation of the field, the realization that there’s more than one door,” said Harold Kudler, chief consultant for VA Mental Health Services.

Illinois Joining Forces

on Friday, 28 June 2013. Posted in News

Illinois Joining Forces (IJF) is a network of public and not-for-profit organizations working together to improve services to Illinois’ military and veteran communities.  Our goal is to increase awareness and connectivity among our member organizations so that we, and those we serve, can better navigate the system of support.

IJF member organizations collaborate via Working Groups and update their services and events on this online platform.  Illinois veterans, service members, and their families can use IJF to find and connect with the right resource – or use our site support teamprovided by the Illinois Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Military Affairs to assist in connecting.

2018 IRS Tax Information for Military Members

on Friday, 26 January 2018. Posted in News

What Members of Military Should Know about the Earned Income Tax Credit

The IRS reminds members of the military and veterans that they may qualify for the earned income tax credit. This credit benefits certain people who work and have earned income that’s less than $53,930.

A tax credit usually means more money in the taxpayer’s pocket. The EITC can reduce the amount of tax someone owes, but it might also result in a refund. Here are some things members of the armed forces should know about this credit. 

Hershel "Woody" Williams Medal of Honor Foundation Gold Star Living Legacy Scholarships

on Thursday, 02 November 2017. Posted in News


One initiative of the Hershel "Woody" Williams Medal of Honor Foundation is to honor the Fallen by helping their children pay for their education through the awarding of Gold Star Living Legacy scholarships.

Our scholarships are provided to Gold Star Children of an underserved group, those whose parent sacrificed their life in the service in the Army National Guard, the Air National Guard, or one of the five Reserve components, (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard).

This underserved group of surviving Gold Star Children are not eligible for the Fry Scholarship and/or Chapter 35 DEA Program (Dependents Educational Assistance). Our Gold Star Living Legacy Scholarships award amount is needs-based with a maximum award amount of $2,500 per academic year.

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.


Stanford Scholar Helps Veterans Recover from War Trauma

on Tuesday, 02 December 2014. Posted in News

Stanford Report 

September 5, 2014

Newly published research by Stanford scholar Emma Seppala shows how meditation and breathing exercises can help military veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Adam Burn practicing yoga

Adam Burn, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, practices yoga techniques to help combat stress. A Stanford scholar has found that breathing-based meditation dramatically reduces PTSD in veterans.


For several years, Emma Seppala, associate director of Stanford's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and lead author of the article, has been studying the effects of breathing-based meditation practices on veterans suffering from PTSD.

"This is the first randomized controlled study on a form of meditation or yoga for veterans with PTSD that has shown such long-term, lasting effects," she said in an interview.

PTSD, which affects about one in five veterans, is typically triggered by the experience of a terrifying or life-threatening event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts and emotions. Returning vets suffering from PTSD have extremely high suicide rates, Seppala said.

Kevlar for the Mind: Helping Professionals for Veterans

on Wednesday, 04 February 2015. Posted in News

Like the decade following the end of World War II, the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been marked by a tremendous influx of veterans into the classroom.

Traditional "brick and mortar" and virtual universities and schools are frantically trying to keep pace with the opportunities afforded to troops through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

And these opportunities range from technical and scientific fields as found in the Professional Program for Veterans and Military Personnel at California State University to business as exemplified by the Master of Business for Veterans degree at the University of Southern California.