Monday, September 30, 2013

The American Legion: shutdown must not harm defense

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Legion: shutdown must not harm defense
 
WASHINGTON (Sept. 30, 2013) -- National security cannot be diminished in the event of a federal government shutdown, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said Monday.
"The political impasse that is threatening to shut down the U.S. government cannot and must not compromise the readiness and welfare of our armed forces and their support personnel," said Dellinger, who leads the nation's largest veterans service organization.
The Pentagon briefed the 2.4-million-member American Legion last week about the possible effects of a government shutdown on military pay and civilian support duties. The Department of Defense said that servicemembers' Oct. 1 paychecks would be issued as usual, but pay after that date could be threatened by a government shutdown beyond the first week of the month, even though troops would be ordered to remain on duty.  On the civilian side, what are termed "essential operations" – such as fire, police security and combat operations – would continue regardless of a government shutdown, but as many as 400,000 other civilian employees supporting the military could be temporarily furloughed. Pay for furloughed civilians would be issued only by an act of Congress, said the Pentagon.
"Members of Congress must assure us that a government shutdown must not in any way affect our nation's defense, Dellinger added. "Servicemembers must be paid regardless of the government's status. Troop morale would be seriously compromised, as would quality of life for military families, by the economic uncertainty resulting from a pay freeze.
"As for civilians who work for the DoD and support our national security, furloughs and pay freezes are equally serious and threatening to our national security, especially at a time of war.  Congress must act to make sure that our troops are paid, no matter what, and that their civilian supporters continue on duty and on the payroll. This is absolutely essential."
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Contacts: Marty Callaghan:202-263-5758/202-215-8644, mcallaghan@legion.org or Craig Roberts: 202-263-2982/202-406-0887, croberts@legion.org. A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr. Dellinger is available at www.legion.org.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

American Legion issues report on VA health care for women veterans

American Legion issues report on VA health care for women veterans

Findings show that many former women servicemembers do not identify themselves as veterans
WASHINGTON (Sept. 17, 2013) -- The American Legion has issued its report on the quality of health care for women veterans at 15 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers across the country.
Key findings of the Legion's report include the fact that many former women servicemembers do not identify themselves as veterans, many VA medical centers lack long-term health care plans for women veterans, and VA facilities often have no inpatient or residential mental health programs for women veterans.
"We found one case in which a woman veteran in Colorado had to fly to Coatesville, Pa., just to receive her mental-health care," said Verna Jones, director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation (VA & R) Division. "Many women who have served in uniform may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma or depression. VA will be treating many more women veterans in the future, and it needs to make access to mental-health services for women one of its top priorities."
The "2013 Task Force Report on Women Veterans Health Care," released to the public on Sept. 17, is based on site visits by the Legion's System Worth Saving (SWS) Task Force to VA facilities in Buffalo, N.Y.; Augusta, Maine; Fargo, N.D.; Chicago; Tampa, Fla., Erie and Coatesville, Pa.; Dublin, Ga.; Salem, Va.; Las Vegas; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; San Antonio; Texas; Madison, Wis.; Spokane, Wash.; and St. Cloud, Minn.
During these visits, SWS task force members and American Legion field service representatives interviewed each facility's leadership and staff on the delivery of health care for women veterans. 
The report's objectives were to understand what perceptions and barriers prevent women veterans from enrolling in VA health care, determine what challenges women veterans face with their health care, and provide recommendations that VA can take to improve access to health care for women veterans.
Challenges and recommendations from the Legion's report include:
1. Women veterans do not identify themselves as veterans and/or do not know what benefits they are eligible to receive.
Recommendation: VA should develop a customized women veterans health benefits track to assist in making them aware of benefits available to them.
2. VA medical centers evaluated in the report do not have baseline, one-, two- and five-year plans to close the gap between the catchment area, enrollment numbers and actual users among women veterans.
Recommendation: VA should consider implementing baseline facility enrollment and unique women veterans seen as percentage goals in relation to the facility's catchment area.
3. Women veterans do not receive their mammogram results in a timely manner
Recommendation: While the law requires that non-malignant and/or non-suggestive mammograms be reported in 30 days (three to five days for malignant and/or highly suggestive mammograms), The American Legion views this as a minimum standard. VA should provide the necessary funding and resources to expedite the implementation of the mammography package. This package should allow women veterans the option of self-referrals, and allow VA staff the ability to schedule, track and review mammogram results.
4. Many VA facilities do not offer inpatient/residential mental-health programs for women veterans.
Recommendation: Since women make up about 15 percent of active-duty servicemembers, as DoD begins it draw-down and women veterans begin to leave military service, VA should continue to expand the number of mental-health inpatient/residential treatment programs made available for women veterans, and ensure these programs are offered in each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN).
5. VA's legislative authority for the child-care pilot program is due to expire Oct. 2, 2013.
Recommendation: VA should work with Congress to make the child-care legislation a permanent authority.
Dr. Robert Petzel, VA's under secretary for health, and senior staff of the Veterans Health Administration were briefed on the report Sept. 17 by staff members from the Legion's VA & R Division. "Dr. Petzel agreed to evaluate further several of the report's recommendations," said Jacob Gadd, the division's deputy director for health. "He has requested a separate briefing to evaluate our recommendation of providing mental-health inpatient programs for women veterans at all 21 of VA's Veteran Integrated Service Networks."
Gadd said that Petzel thanked The American Legion and the SWS program for its candid feedback and evaluation of VA's health services for women veterans.
The American Legion's SWS program, created in 2003, is the organization's primary health-care evaluation tool for assessing the quality and timeliness of VA health care. On Sept. 11, the SWS Task Force delivered copies of the report to members of Congress, VA officials, American Legion leadership and its members.
Click here for a copy of the report. For more information on the SWS program, contact Jacob Gadd, the Legion's deputy director for health care at jgadd@legion.org or (202) 861-2700.
END
 
Media contact:
Marty Callaghan at 202-263-5758/202-215-8644 or mcallaghan@legion.org.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

American Legion releases report on TBI and PTSD - Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
American Legion releases report on TBI and PTSD
 
After conducting research for more than two years, the Legion shares its findings and
recommendations with Congress, VA and the public
WASHINGTON (Sept. 12, 2013) -- The American Legion released a report on Sept. 11 that is the culmination of a study the wartime veterans organization did on current treatments and best practices for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The report, entitled "The War Within," includes findings and recommendations based on comprehensive research, conducted from January 2011 to February 2013, by an American Legion ad hoc committee chaired by William Detweiler, past national commander of the Legion.
Detweiler said the report shows that while the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) use a number of traditional medical treatments for TBI and PTSD cases, "they have not done a lot of research on alternative methods. There's no simple answer to what works as far as PTSD or TBI is concerned, but we found that the (DoD and VA) medical profession shied away from certain things which they considered to be alternative medicine."
For example, Detweiler said that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is one alternative treatment that "works for some people. It's not the answer for everybody, but (DoD and VA) have shied away from putting any serious money into doing studies."
Key findings from the Legion's report include:
• Currently, VA and DoD have no well-defined approach to the treatment of TBI; providers are merely treating the symptoms.
• Initial attempts to diagnose TBI is often complicated by the clinical overlap of TBI with PTSD and substance-abuse disorder.
• VA and DoD research studies are lacking for new, innovative and non-pharmacological treatments, such as virtual reality therapy, HBOT and other complementary/alternative medicine therapies.
• DoD and VA have no fast-track mechanisms for employing innovative or novel therapies in a standardized way.
The report recommended that:
1. Congress should provide oversight and funding to VA and DoD for innovative TBI and PTSD research currently used in the private sector.
2. Congress should increase DoD and VA budgets to improve the research, screening, diagnosis and treatment of TBI and PTSD, and to develop joint offices for research collaboration.
3. DoD and VA need to accelerate their research efforts to properly diagnose and develop evidence-based treatments for TBI and PTSD.
4. Servicemembers and veterans suffering from TBI and PTSD should not be prescribed medications that are not FDA-approved; those participating in research studies should give their consent and be provided with the disclosure of any negative effects associated with the treatment.
In his testimony before a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs committees on Sept. 10, American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger said the ad hoc committee "worked closely with mental health experts, physicians, DoD, VA, and veterans suffering from these conditions," and found that "current PTSD and TBI screening and identification procedures are inadequate, and existing treatment programs are lacking."
 
The "War Within" report is being distributed to members of Congress, the Obama Administration, VA officials, and the American Legion's membership. The report can be downloaded from the Legion's website. (http://legion.org/documents/legion/pdf/american-legion-war-within.pdf)
 
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Contact: Marty Callaghan, 202-263-5758/202-251-8644; mcallaghan@legion.org.
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

American Legion News Release: National Commander Testifies Before Congress

American Legion National Commander Testifies Before Congress
WASHINGTON (September 11, 2013) -- While testifying before members of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said the most important part of serving the country's largest wartime veterans organization "is that I will spend the coming year personally meeting with veterans and military personnel throughout the country and around the world. I will see their faces. I will hear their voices. I will bring back their messages, and I will share their concerns with you."
During his Sept. 10 testimony in Washington, D.C., Dellinger said that many of America's veterans will ask him how The American Legion plans to improve their lives. "And, inevitably, they also will ask me what Congress and VA are doing to improve their lives as well. We all have work to do, in order to provide satisfactory answers," Dellinger said.
A large part of that work will be reaching out to more veterans, informing them about the benefits they have earned through their service, and getting them enrolled into the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system. Dellinger cited a VA survey that found about half of America's 22.5 million veterans are using government benefits available to them. Worse yet, the survey also showed that almost 60 percent of veterans had little or no idea that they may be eligible for VA benefits.
 
"I am hopeful that a newly announced information outreach campaign by VA will dramatically improve awareness among veterans and their families, and I enthusiastically offer The American Legion's support to help spread the word," Dellinger said.
As for the VA benefits claims backlog, Dellinger said the Legion is "optimistic that recent efforts to move beyond an outdated, paper-based processing system will help the secretary reach his goal of eliminating the backlog of undecided claims. But, unfortunately, accuracy remains a serious problem."
 
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has vowed to process benefits claims with an accuracy rate of 98 percent, however, research conducted by the Legion at VA regional offices indicate that a near-perfect accuracy rate remains a distant goal. VA's internal reporting system places the rate in the 80th percentile. The Legion's Regional Office Action Review teams are finding even greater error rates, which Dellinger said is "unacceptable. And again, we all share in the obligation to correct the problem."
Dellinger noted that each year the Legion's 2,600 service officers and accredited representatives assist veterans free of charge with more than 540,000 disability claims and another 164,000 death benefit claims. They too have been processing substantially more fully developed claims (FDCs), which move through the VA system much faster because they require no further documentation.
To help VA and Congress to define and execute a solution to the backlog, Dellinger suggested that claims accuracy could be improved by modifying a VA work-credit system "that rewards processors for the raw quantity of claims they complete in a given span of time, regardless of accuracy.... The American Legion would like to see the work-credit system reformed to measure processor performance, based on the number of claims completed without errors, and in a timely manner."
Dellinger moved on to addressing the automatic budget cuts from sequestration, reminding Congress that the Legion has "not received adequate reassurance that our nation's military retirees and active-duty personnel are protected from the cuts. The specter of reduced services and increased rates for TRICARE haunts our nation's military retirees. A weaker military health-care system is not the solution to our nation's budget problems.
"The message we want you to carry to the Armed Services committees and to DoD couldn't be more clear – military retirees are veterans, too, so leave retiree benefits and TRICARE alone."
Dellinger's final topic of discussion was on the Legion's ad hoc committee on traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since 2010, the ad hoc committee has worked closely with mental health experts, physicians, DoD, VA and veterans suffering from TBI/PTSD to produce findings and recommendations that can be found in the national commander's written testimony accessible at www.legion.org.
The Legion's TBI/PTSD ad hoc committee found that current PTSD and TBI screening and identification procedures are inadequate and existing treatment programs are lacking. "The committee recommends congressional funding and oversight, increased research and acceptance of a policy that those afflicted with PTSD or TBI be prescribed evidence-based treatments, and that only FDA-approved medications are used," Dellinger said.
The committee will continue to work toward advancing knowledge and understanding of these wartime signature wounds in effort to provide DoD, VA and Congress with evidence-based recommendations.
"Our challenge is great, and it is complicated," Dellinger concluded. "As it has for nearly a century, The American Legion stands ready to take it on, working in collaboration with Congress, VA, the White House and the veterans of our nation. To all who have sworn with their lives to protect and defend our nation, we owe the fulfillment of our shared and sacred obligation."
 
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Media contacts: Marty Callaghan:202-263-5758/202-215-8644, mcallaghan@legion.org or Craig Roberts 202-263-2982 / 202-406-0887. A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr.Dellinger is available at www.legion.org.
 
 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Veteran Events & Announcements 9/5 to 9/12

Listed below are the events I have for the next 7 days here in the Metro Detroit area. Visit the Legion 328 website to download any flyer for these future events.  http://www.legionpost328.org/events.html  

You can get a monthly view of events by going to:
http://www.michiganveteranresources.com/Events.aspx

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

"Golf Outings" In the next several weeks there are numerous golf outings that support various veteran causes. If you are a golfer this is your chance to get in a few holes, meet new people, and help a veteran to boot. See regular listing below for more details on each event. Remember, hole-in-one buys!

  1. "Saturday, September 7, 2013" The GM CCA Veterans Affinity Group is assisting Piquette Square with a Golf Outing at The Jewel in Grand Blanc
  2. "Sunday, September 22, 2013" Madison Hgts VFW Post 9507 hosting their 1st golf tournament at the Selfridge Golf Course in Harrison Twp.

"Shrine Circus" I normally would not mention an event that has gone by, but I felt that a great Thank You was owed to Mr. Marty Levine for arranging for veterans to attend the Shrine Circus on the 29th. His hard work allowed many veterans, including this writer, and a number of homeless veterans from the MVF, to attend. I have spoken to several veterans that did attend and they loved every minute of it. So Marty, Thank You.

EVENTS

"Saturday, September 7, 2013" The GM CCA Veterans Affinity Group is assisting Piquette Square with a Golf Outing at The Jewel in Grand Blanc, with a shotgun start at 9AM. For more information contact Don at GM at 810-333-1314 or see attached flyer.

"Saturday, September 7, 2013" American Legion Post 364 is hosting its 12th annual Hog Heaven event at their post, located at 3001 S Telegraph, Dearborn, from Noon to 1AM. Entry fee is $5 and have a chance to win a 2013 Harley Davisdon FLHX Street Glide. Live band, DJ, etc. Dinner is $7 per person. For more information see their website or attached flyer.

"Saturday, September 7, 2013" American Legion Riders Post 108 is holding a "Let's Ride for Fallen Heroes" with registration starting at 9:30AM at their post, located at 130 E Drahner Rd, Oxford. Ride starts at Noon and returns at 4:30PM. Cost is $25 per rider, $10 per passenger. For more information call 248-413-9650, email them, or see attached flyer.

"Sunday, September 8, 2013" The Detroit Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen is hosting free airplane rides for youths from 8 to 17 years old at Detroit City Airport, from 10AM to 2PM, weather permitting. This is part of their Young Eagles Rally.

"Wednesday, September 11, 2013 (NEW)" The Piquette Square Veterans Task Force is inviting everyone to their 2nd annual Patriot Day observance at their location, 6221 Brush, Detroit, starting at 6PM. For more information contact Chery at 313-297-1377 or see attached flyer.

"Thursday, September 12, 2013" Michigan Value Veterans is hosting a Hiring How-To Conference from 7AM to 4PM at Macomb Community College-South Campus, 14500 E 12 Mile, Warren. If your a company and want to hire veterans you will learn everything you need to know. To register visit their website or see attached flyer.

And from our friends at the VFW:
  1. September 6th, Friday - VFW 2645 Southfield - 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. "FRIDAY FISH FRY". COD Fish Dinner $8, CATFISH or PERCH Dinner $7.50, CHICKEN FINGER Dinner $7.50, JUMBO SHRIMP Dinner $9, WING DINGS & FRIES $7, COMBO Dinners $9.50, SANDWICHES $5, POUND CAKE per slice $1.50.  Sides include French-Fries, Cole Slaw, Spaghetti, and Macaroni & Cheese.  Extra Sides $1.50.  Extra Fish $2.50.  Dine In or Take Out.  Call Ahead for Quicker Service (248) 350-3529.  Come out, bring your Friends, and Enjoy a Great Meal.   OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!  Parking in rear of Post.  Post 2645 is located at 24222 W. 9 Mile Road, just West of Telegraph in Southfield.
11. September 6th, Friday 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. – VFW 1370 Pontiac – "Burger's- $4 w/ fries $5, Devil Dog- $3 w/ fries $4; bacon wrapped "Koegel" hot dog, beans, fresco cheese, and all the fixings including devil sauce, Steak Burrito - $4; steak, rice, bean, pico de gallo, and cheese - 2 pounder! $6, Boot Camp Burrito Challenge - 3 pound version of the regular steak burrito, loaded in devil sauce and extremely spicy.  1 out of 3 contestants have been able to complete the Ghost Chili Burrito challenge so far, the first to do it was a fellow U.S. Marine, Tom LaForge.  $12 or free if you complete the challenge within 45 minutes.   This is an open challenge, so any member or guest is welcome to try.  WARNING: it is extremely spicy.  To get a good look at the difficulty feel free to pull it up on YouTube under VFW 1370 1st Annual Boot camp Burrito Challenge."  VFW 1370 is located at 791 Mae Court in Pontiac 48340.  Phone (248) 858-9501.
12.  September 6th, Friday 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. – VFW 9507 Madison Heights.  KARAOKE IN THE CLUBROOM!"  No Cover Charge!  VFW 9507 Madison Heights is located at 630 E. 11 Mile Road in Madison Heights 48071.
13.  September 6th, Friday 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. – VFW 2358 Roseville.  "Bingo with Linked – Progressive Jackpots".  Doors Open at 4:30 p.m.  Bingo starts at 6:30 p.m.  VFW 2358 is located 25671 Gratiot in Roseville, just ½ block South of Frazho.  Phone number is (586) 771-0173.  OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
14.  September 7th, Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – VFW 9507 Madison Heights – "ANNUAL CORN ROAST".  The Ladies Auxiliary is sponsoring their Annual Corn Roast.  The Corn Roast includes Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Awesome Side Dishes and of course CORN.  All for Just $8 per person.  OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!  Please invite your Family & Friends.  VFW Madison Heights is located at 630 E. 11 Mile Road in Madison Heights 48071.
15.  September 8th, Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 12 Noon – VFW 2269 Wixom – "ALL YOU CAN EAT BREAKFEAST".  Includes Eggs to Order, Biscuits & Gravy, Pancakes, Patriot Toast, Bacon, Sausage, Hash Browns, fruit, fruit juices and coffee.  $7.50 for Adults, $3.00 for Children 5 – 10 Years, Free for Children  Under 5.  Post 2269 is located at 2652 Loon Lake Road in Wixom 48393. Phone (248) 624-9742.
16.  September 8th, Sunday 6:15 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. – VFW 4156 White Lake – "PROGRESSIVE BINGO".  OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!  VFW 4156 is located at 321 Union Lake Road in White Lake 4
--   Tim Wirkus  Volunteer  Southfield Veterans' Commission  southfieldvets@prodigy.net  www.southfieldvets.org

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

American Legion on Syria: Proceed with Caution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
 
The American Legion on Syria: proceed with caution
 
WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 -- The leader of the nation's largest veterans' service organization, The American Legion, is urging Congress to consider national interests carefully before deciding whether or not to take military action against Syria.
"While we have not addressed the Syrian situation as such," said Daniel M. Dellinger, newly elected national commander of the 2.3 million member Legion, "we commend Congress for its due diligence under its Constitutional authority. The American Legion also urges Congress and President Obama to be guided in their decisions by principles outlined in our organization's relevant resolutions. That is, American national interests should be clearly identified and defined before military action is taken."   
A vote is expected as early as next week by members of the U.S. House and Senate on the issue. In the meantime, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be conducting its first hearing on Syria today with Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey are scheduled to testify.
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Contacts: Craig Roberts (202) 263-2982, c: (202)406-0887; Marty Callaghan, (202) 263-5758, c: (202)215-8644.