Friday, February 28, 2014

DC: Hot issues Affecting Veterans

The American Legion Washington DC Office
HOT ISSUES
Wednesday, February  26th, 2014
 
ACTIONS –
 
  • On Monday, February 24 Legislative staff met with representatives from the construction company building the Denver VAMC to discuss construction challenges and solutions.
 
  • On February 24, Legislative Director Louis Celli was interviewed on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). He commented on DOD Secretary Chuck Hagel’s request to reduce US armed forces to levels rivaling those of the pre-World War II military. Mr. Celli said that any military cuts are always perceived as weakness. "Terrorists are going to look at a reduction in military force as a win for them and a possible opportunity to gain the upper hand," he said.
 
  • On February 25 Legislative staff attended a press conference and rally on the House side of Capitol Hill to pass H.R. 813, the Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013. This measure – introduced by House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (FL) – would extend advance appropriations to all VA discretionary programs, services and benefits.
 
  • On February 26, Legislative staff attended an oversight hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, chaired by Rep. John Culberson (TX). The hearing was devoted to quality of life issues in the military. Witnesses included: Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael D. Stevens; Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Michael P. Barrett; and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody
 
  • On February 26, Legislative staff will meet with staff members of Rep. Derek Kilmer’s (WA) office to discuss legislation that would encourage large businesses to hire veterans
  • On February 26, Legislative staff attended a hearing entitled “American Energy Jobs: Opportunities for Veterans” in the Longworth House Office Building. The hearing focused on job opportunities resulting from the construction of the Keystone Pipeline.
 
  • On February 27, Legislative staff will meet with staff members of the office of Sen. Michael Bennet (CO) to discuss a proposed OJT program and S. 1216.
 
  • On February 27, Legislative staff will meet with Askia Suruma, minority staff director of the House Ways and Means Committee, to discuss H.R. 3395, the VOW to Hire Heroes Extension Act, which contains a Veteran Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
 
  • On February 27, Legislative staff will meet with Ryan Huff, House Ways and Means Committee majority staff assistant – together with members of the VFW – to continue discussions on H.R. 3395.
 
  • On February 24, the Veterans Employment & Education Division (VEED) staff met with Representatives Mac Thornberry (TX), Vice Chair of HASC, Jeff Miller (FL), HASC member and Chairman of HVAC, and Randy Forbes (VA), HASC member, staff to discuss the usage of military tuition assistance (TA) towards professional credentials that will decrease the amount of Unemployment Compensation for EX-Service members (UCX) and/or Extended Benefits (EB) being spend out of the respective services budget, which was estimated in FY 12 to be around $1.7 billion. By extending the usage of TA to the service branches, it will allow for the services to use TA as continuing force enhancer, which is key to better job and performance and readiness.
 
  • On February 25, VEED staff met with KC Choi, Veterans Program Director, Citi Salutes, regarding participation in employment and small business development events during the Washington, DC Conference.
 
 
  • On Tuesday, February 25, VEED staff attended the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) meeting. The meeting included discussion and updates on DC's plan on eliminating homelessness (including veterans) and other related issues.  DC housed (from August 2013 – November 2013) 207 homeless veterans (96 of them were chronically homeless). DC has also decreased its time of identifying homeless veterans and getting them into housing from 111 days on average to 57 days now.
 
  • On February 26, VEED staff met with the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) to discuss legislative and policy issues regarding veteran homelessness.
 
  • On February 26, VEED staff attended the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event titled, Defense budget priorities for 2015 and beyond: A conversation with Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox, to hear about the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget submission, as well as how the Pentagon is preparing to make difficult choices regarding forces structure, readiness, and modernization to achieve a balanced, capable force for the future.
 
  • On February 26, VEED staff is meeting with Representative Derek Kilmer’s office to discuss Kilmer’s veteran’s employment bill.
 
  • On February 27, VEED staff is meeting with Senator Michael Bennet’s office to discuss improvements to VA’s on-the-job (OJT) program.
 
  • On February 27, VEED staff is meeting with House Ways and Means Committee (majority and minority staff) regarding insertion of Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) into a possible extender bill. 
 
  • On February 27, VEED staff will be meeting with Jeff Greenwald, Executive Director, Institute of Hazardous Materials Management, to discuss provisions within Section 542 of the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that recognizes credentials as a way to correlate skills and training for veterans looking to enter and obtain credentials in Certified Hazardous materials Managers, Certified Hazardous Materials Practitioner and Hazardous Materials Manger-in-training programs, as well as Personal Certification Bodies (PCB).
 
  • On February 28, VEED staff is meeting with staff from the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (Subcommittee on Highways and Transit) regarding the introduction of Representative Michael Fitzpatrick’s H.R. 2906, Fairness to Veteran’s Act. If enacted it would amend MAP-21 to revise the requirement that 10 percent of the award of contracts for federal-aid highway, federal public transportation, and highway safety research and development programs be set-aside for small business concerns owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Requires the set-aside to include veteran-owned small business concerns.
 
  • On February 17, 2014, The American Legion’s System Worth Saving Task Force conducted a Town Hall Meeting at 7 PM American Legion Battle Mountain Post 71 at 1045 Jennings Avenue in Hot Springs, SD for veterans to discuss the VA Black Hills Healthcare System. Over 100 veterans, their spouses, congressional representatives and local officials were in attendance. 
 
  • From February 18-20, 2014, The American Legion’s System Worth Saving Task Force conducted a site visit of the VA Black Hills Healthcare System in Hot Springs, SD. During the visit, the Task Force discussed the proposed reconfiguration of services at the Hot Springs VAMC and Secretary Shinseki’s January 7, 2014 announcement to move forward with an Environmental Impact Statement.
    
  • The Social Security Administration announced a new initiative to expedite disability claims for veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total (P&T).  Under the new process, Social Security will treat these veterans’ applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions, similar to the way the agency currently handles disability claims from Wounded Warriors. The program begins March 17.
 
  • On February 18, 2014, a VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report uncovered unsanitary conditions at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven, Connecticut. The OIG found that cleanliness of the Operating Room (OR) could not be assured due to inadequate staff resources, incomplete and inconsistent Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), poor supervision and training of EMS staff, and lack of oversight. OIG also found that safeguards were inadequate for ensuring patient and employee safety when infectious patients requiring special precautions were scheduled for OR procedures concurrently with noninfectious patients.
The OIG recommended that the Facility Director strengthen SOPs for OR cleaning and develop and implement policies and procedures to address management of infectious patients, HVAC preventive maintenance, and insect control in the OR. OIG recommended that the Facility Director reassess EMS staffing needs in the OR, assign personnel requisite to the workload, and ensure that EMS staff and supervisors receive training on OR environment of care requirements. Additionally, OIG recommended that the Facility Director implement procedures to monitor the OR environment of care and to address identified deficiencies.   
The American Legion will follow-up with the VA Connecticut Healthcare System to ensure that the OIG’s recommendations are being fully implemented.
 
  • On February 20, 2014, William Montague, former director of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, plead guilty to multiple federal charges in a bribery case. The charges against Montague involved him taking bribes in exchange for influencing VA decisions on more than $1 billion in contracts. Montague has agreed to pay more than $390,000 in restitution and forfeiture. Montague was director of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center from 1995 to 2010.
The American Legion’s System Worth Saving Task Force will visit the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center from March 10-13, 2014 to follow-up on the quality of healthcare offered to veterans, as well as the past, present, and future of Cleveland’s care to veterans.
  • A recent report published by the Daily Caller and later reported on FOX News indicated Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) personnel destroyed records in an effort to reduce the backlog of VA medical appointment is the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System.  After reviewing the available information, it appears that VA was not destroying records; in fact, VA released a statement stating that the medical records would have been included in the electronic health record system and would have been unable to be destroyed.
Available information suggests that for patients failing to appear for medical appointments or did not respond to appointment requests, the information pertaining to the appointments was removed from the system.  It was reported this case was occurring in a radiology unit; clinical chiefs indicated that requests outstanding over a year may be irrelevant as a veteran’s condition may have changed and would warrant further instruction from the veteran’s primary care provider.  Recognizing that radiology is a specialty that is often directed by requests provided by the primary care provider, this would appear to be a reasonable response.
The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division will continue to closely monitor this incident.  As it currently stands, it does not appear that malicious acts were taken by VA employees; it appears the acts taken were designed to organize “active” and “inactive” requests.
 
  • On February 21, 2014, after an audit conducted by VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), it was reported that the VA is taking weeks to provide or repair hearing aids for its patients, leaving hearing-impaired veterans at risk in the latest failure by the agency charged with caring for America’s war heroes. The Washington Times article states that “the VA has promised to provide hearing aids within five days, but the agency’s inspector general found that the average wait time was between 17 and 24 days.”
The American Legion spoke with OIG on Monday, February 24, 2014 and found that the five day standard was specifically for hearing aids to be repaired, not issued as written in the Washington Times article. According to OIG, the VA does not currently have a specific standard for when hearing aids are supposed to be issued. The American Legion will reach out to VA’s appropriate leadership to discuss an appropriate standard on when hearing aids should be issued.
 
  • On February 21, 2014, the VA announced the rollout of new healthcare identification cards for millions of U.S. veterans who seek care from VA providers. Unlike previous ID cards, the new Veteran Health Identification Cards (VHICs) no longer display veterans’ Social Security numbers and birthdates. Nor is that information contained in the cards’ magnetic stripe or barcode.
Due to previous issues with the old Veterans Identification Cards (VICs), the VA halted the distribution of ID cards in September 2013, and The American Legion will have the opportunity to discuss when veterans can expect to receive the new VHICs with VA’s Chief Business Office at the Veterans Service Organization Liaison Meeting on Tuesday, February 25, 2014.
 
  • On February 19, 2014, it was reported that Michael Anderson, a veteran buried in violation of a federal law that should have prevented him from receiving the honor of being buried in a National Cemetery, was disinterred from Fort Custer National Cemetery near Battle Creek, Michigan. Anderson killed Alicia Dawn Koehl, and wounded three people on May 30, 2012 before taking his own life. The family of Ms. Koehl turned to Senator Dan Coats, who appealed to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki before introducing the Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act. This bill authorized the VA to disinter Anderson’s remains and those of any other veterans who committed capital offenses, was passed and signed into law on December 20, 2013.
 
 
  • VA Claims backlog according to February 17, 2014 Monday Morning Workload Report:
677,464 claims pending (397,851) have exceeded been pending over 125 days)
Average days a claim is pending:  168.3 days
Accuracy of adjudications:  89.1% (3-month period)
Total number of appeals:  271,067
 
Hearings as February 26, 2014:
 
  • February 26, 2014.  HVAC, Subcommittee on Health will conduct an oversight hearing entitled, “VA Accountability:  Assessing Actions Taken in Response to Subcommittee Oversight.”
 
  • February 26, 2014. Senate Armed Services Committee, Personnel Subcommittee will be conducting an open session on the relationships between military sexual assault, posttraumatic stress disorder and suicide, and on Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs medical treatment and management of victims of sexual trauma.
 
  • February 27, 2014. Hearing of the Economic Opportunity Subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs (HVAC EO) entitled, “VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program: Further Performance and Workload Management Improvements Needed.” 
 
  • March 5, 2014.  House Veterans' Affairs Committee and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee will hold a joint hearing to receive the legislative presentation of Veterans of Foreign Wars.
 
  • March 6, 2014.  House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a joint hearing to receive the legislative presentations of Veterans Organizations:  BVA, JWV, MOPH, AMVETS, TREA, MOAA, VVA, NGUAS and NASDVA.
 
  • March 12, 2014.  House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a joint hearing to receive the legislative presentations of Veterans Organizations:  PVA, IAVA, GSW, WWP, FRA, AFSA, NCAO, AXPOW.
 
  • March 13, 2014.  HVAC, Full Committee, “U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2015.”
 
  • March 25, 2014.  SAC-MILCON-VA FY15 Budget Hearing.
 
  • March 25, 2014.  SVAC, Full Committee, “U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2015.”
 
  • March 26, 2014.  House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a joint hearing to receive the legislative presentations of The American Legion.
 
  • March 27, 2014.  HAC-MILCON-VA FY15 Budget Hearing.
 
 
 
Daniel S. Wheeler
National Adjutant
 
 
 

Veteran Events & Announcements 2/27/2014 to 3/6/2014

Listed below are the events I have for the next 7 days here in the Metro Detroit area.  I have also attached my latest event listing which has 5 new items on it.  You can also go to 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.michiganvetera

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

"Women Supporting Women Vets" WSWV is hosting an online eBay auction to raise money to erect a Livingston County's Veterans Memorial for female veterans. This is an opportunity to clean your attic of items and help raise money for this group. See attached flyer on how you can contribute items to this event.

"Operation Hand Salute" AT & T Global Supplier Diversity is hosting a program to assist veteran owned businesses mentoring, education, and opportunities to expand your business. This program will start is late April but you must register prior to April 1st to get into this free program. See flyer for complete details.

"New VA Medical Card (Important)" The new VA Medical Card is ready to be reissued. As a reminder the old card you may have has a security privacy violation, and for some of you who may remain to have to old paper card, you need to get a new one, the security violation if you recall is that the current medical card can be seen by an camera with your social security number on it, which violates privacy and the HIPPA The requirements to have this reissued is: (1) have the old card available (2) two sets of picture ID (1) drivers license (2) government ID (3) CPL/CCW license just too mention a few. (Of course today when I went to the Dingell their machine was broken!)

EVENTS

"Thursday, February 27, 2014" Silent Battles, a faith based group working with our young veterans with PTSD, is hosting a fundraiser at The Lodge, 2812 Orchard Lake Rd, Keego Harbor, all day. 20% of all purchases will be donated to Silent Battles if the attached flyer is used at checkout.

"Saturday, March 1, 2014" Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair will be held at the John Dingell VA Health Center, 4646 John R, Detroit, from 1 to 4PM, with various workshops starting at 9AM. See flyer for more information.

"Saturday, March 1, 2014 (NEW)" Southwest Solutions is working with veterans interested in owning their own house, or those having problems with utility shutoff notices. They will provide counseling and screening with help from the VA at the Westland Public Library, 6123 Central Pkwy from 10AM to 1PM. See flyer for more information.

"Saturday, March 1, 2014" The Michigan Military Technical & Historical Society is hosting a roundtable about Detroit in World War II at thier museum, 16600 Stephens, Eastpoint, starting at 4PM. Admission by donation. See attached flyer for complete details.

"Saturday, March 1, 2014" Lake Orion UAW Local 5960 is teaming us with the VFW to offer an extensive overview of all veterans benefits and have service officers present to assist in in filing VA claims, at their office at 180 E Silverbell Rd, Lake Orion, from 9:30AM till 2PM. The class is 4 Saturdays in March, but attendance at all 4 is not mandatory. A donation of $25 is requested to cover service book, training materials, coffee, etc. Contact Al by phone at 248-377-5555 or email him at the link. See flyer for more information and registration form.

"Wednesday, March 5, 2014" The Southfield Public Library is having another event in their series of women that made a dirrerence in our various wars. Meet Joann Puffer Kotcher, Donut Dolly from Vietnam, and her book about an American Red Cross Girl's War in Vietnam. This free leture will take place in the public meeting room, starting at 6:30PM. See flyer for more information.Neighborhood Legal Services is collaborating with the Veterans Justice Outreach Program and John D. Dingell VA Medical Center to provide a Legal Clinic for homeless Veterans and Veterans at risk of homelessness at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center.

And from our friends at the VFW:
 
  1. February 28th, Friday 3:00 p.m. to Midnight – VFW 9507 Madison Heights – “Burger & Fries for $5.50”.  $.75 for 12 oz. Draft Beer.  $1.75 for 22 oz. Draft Beer.  Karaoke at 9 p.m.  VFW 9507 is located at 630 E. 11 Mile Road in Madison Heights 48071.  Phone (248) 543-2557.
 
11.  February 28th, Friday 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – VFW 1669 Royal Oak – “BURGER & FRIES or ONION RINGS for $5.50”.  Your choice of a Burger & Fries or a Burger & Onion Rings for $5.50.  Happy Hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Karaoke at 9 p.m.  Post 1669 is located at 214 E. 4th Street in Downtown Royal Oak, just 2 blocks East of Main Street.  Phone (248) 541-9846.
 
  1. February 28th, Friday 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – VFW 2645 Southfield.  “FRIDAY NIGHT FISH FRY”.  COD Fish Dinner for $8, CATFISH or PERCH Dinner for $7.50, CHICKEN FINGER Dinner for $7.50, JUMBO SHRIMP Dinner for $9, WING DINGS & FRIES for $7, COMBO Dinners for $9.50, SANDWICHES for $5 and POUND CAKE per slice at $1.50.  Sides include French-Fries, Cole Slaw, Spaghetti, and Macaroni & Cheese.  Extra Sides $1.50.  Extra Fish $2.50.  Beverage is available.  Dine In or Take Out.  Call Ahead for Quicker Service at (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.
 
  1. February 28th, 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.
 
14.  February 28th, Friday 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. – VFW 1146 St. Clair Shores – “KARAOKE IN THE CLUBROOM”.  No Cover Charge!  Bruce Post 1146 is located at 28404 Jefferson (N. or 11 Mile Road) in St. Clair Shores.
 
  1. February 28th, 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.
 
  1. March 1st, Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. – VFW 9021 Warren – “1st Steak Out in 2014”.  VFW 9021 is located at 32100 Ryan Road in Warren 48092.  Just North of Chicago Road or North of 13 Mile Road.  Phone (586) 264-3490.
 
  1. March 2nd, Sunday 6:15 p.m. – VFW 4156 White Lake – “BINGO”.  VFW 4156 is located at 321 Union Lake Road in White Lake 48386.  Phone 248-698-8302.  OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
--   Tim Wirkus  Volunteer  Southfield Veterans' Commission  southfieldvets@prodigy.net  www.southfieldvets.org

American Legion: Senate vote on veterans bill 'inexcusable'

American Legion: Senate vote on veterans bill ‘inexcusable’
 
National commander disappointed Senate fails to put partisanship aside on critical veterans vote
WASHINGTON (Feb. 27, 2014) -- American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger expressed frustration and disappointment with Thursday’s Senate debate that effectively killed S. 1982, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.
The Senate voted 56-41 to waive an extra budget point of order made against the bill – four votes short of what was needed to move the legislation onto a full Senate vote – ending floor consideration of the measure.
“Today, the Senate had a chance to put aside partisan politics and do what was right for the men and women who have sacrificed so much while wearing our nation’s uniform,” Dellinger said. “Instead, we saw the same political gamesmanship that led our federal government to a shutdown last fall. There was a right way to vote and a wrong way to vote today, and 41 senators chose the wrong way. That’s inexcusable.”
In addition to including a full repeal of the military retiree cost-of-living-adjustment reduction recently passed by Congress, S. 1982 also included provisions expanding current caregiver law to involve all generations of veterans; providing advance appropriations to ensure monthly compensation and pension, as well as education payments, are protected from future budget battles; offering in-state tuition protection for recently transitioned veterans, improving access to mental health and treatment for victims of sexual assault in the military, and authorizing construction of more than 20 community-based outpatient clinics to serve veterans in rural and remote communities.
“I don’t know how anyone who voted ‘no’ today can look a veteran in the eye and justify that vote,” Dellinger said. “Our veterans deserve more than what they got today.”
-30-
Media contacts: Indianapolis: Joe March or John Raughter, (317) 630-1253 / (317) 441-8847, Washington:  Marty Callaghan:202-263-5758/202-215-8644 or Craig Roberts: 202-263-2982/202-406-0887.
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Searching for Names of the Last Living Michigan World War II Veterans

Searching for Names of the Last Living Michigan World War II Veterans 
Honoring the Greatest Generation

June 6, 2014 will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day – when 73,000 American troops joined Allied forces in the largest amphibious invasion in world history, leading to a decisive Allied victory marking the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe.

The Lakeshore Lancers Marching Band of Stevensville, Michigan, has been invited to join as an official representative of Michigan in Normandy, France, in June of 2014. The kids will join the American Liberation Victory Parade that will step off on the actual anniversary day, June 6, 2014 in the French village of Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first village to be liberated by American troops.  As part of the commemoration activities, they will also perform at the American Cemetery of Omaha Beach and on the grounds of the French Senate in Paris.

The band will be one of three (maybe four) American bands going to Normandy, and the only one from Michigan. With 160 members, they will be the largest participating band!

During their performances in Normandy, the marching students want to wear a ribbon in honor of each of the last living WWII veterans of Michigan. Upon their return to the United States, these epaulettes will be mailed back to the veterans as a mark of gratitude and appreciation.

We need your help in identifying these last Michigan heroes of World War II!

If you know any of them, please send the name, address, and phone number of these veterans so that we can honor them:
Mrs. Von Koenig, Director of Bands
Lakeshore Public Schools
5771 Cleveland Avenue
Stevensville, MI 49127


A 3-time State Champion, the Lakeshore band already represented the State of Michigan in 2004 at the inauguration of the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. You can find more information about this program and how you can support them on the website www.ddaymichigan.com.

The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 70,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.

Monday, February 24, 2014

ARE YOU A “HAM RADIO” Operator?

ARE YOU A “HAM RADIO” Operator?

The American Legion Amateur Radio Club


The American Legion has a new Amateur Radio Club and they are looking for other Legion Posts who have a Club too.  Here in Michigan the Ravenna American Legion Post #297 has created a Amateur Radio Club and is looking for other clubs in the state. Or are you interested in starting a club?  They can help.

Their club recently showed why they formed when a recent storm moved through the area, the radio club members hit the streets (see pictures) to report damage throughout the area to authorities.   Once the club is established, working with the local disaster preparedness groups they bring a valuable asset to assessing damage or reporting emergencies in the area.
For further information about The American Legion Amateur Radio Club or amateur radio at the Ravenna American Legion Sherman Moore Post #297, please contact Richard Strait, 231-788-6305 or email: RavennaAmericanLegionAmateurRadio@comcast.net -



The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 70,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.

Study confirms air crews' exposure to Agent Orange

Study confirms air crews’ exposure to Agent Orange
The American Legion wants UC-123 air crews to become eligible for VA disability benefits
 
WASHINGTON (Feb. 24, 2014) -- The American Legion has announced its support for extending Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits eligibility to veterans who were exposed to aircraft that had previously sprayed Agent Orange over Vietnam.
The Legion’s support is based on a study published Feb. 21 in the scientific journal Environmental Research: “Post-Vietnam Military Herbicide Exposures in UC-123 Agent Orange Spray Aircraft.” The study reports that environmental testing of such aircraft revealed traces of dioxin levels above Department of Defense (DoD) standards for maximum permissible exposure to poisonous chemicals.
U.S. Air Force and VA policies do not currently recognize “dried residues” of herbicide and dioxin as harmful.
Based on recent surface wipes and airborne concentration tests, occupational health researchers have concluded that inhalation, ingestion, and skin absorption of dioxin and Agent Orange occurred in crews who came in contact with the spray aircraft after the Vietnam War.
“The Legion is committed to ensuring that veterans receive the benefits they deserve,” American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said. “We will work with Congress and the VA to promptly designate C-123K aircraft as Agent Orange exposure sites, thereby qualifying veterans who worked with these planes to be eligible for Agent Orange-related benefits.”
According to Dr. Jeanne Mager Stellman, Professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the study “should provide the evidence needed for post-Vietnam veterans to receive the same health treatment as in-country veterans. They need and deserve it.” Stellman is senior author of the study.
The American Legion and Stellman worked together in the early 1980s to prove that adverse health conditions among Vietnam War veterans was linked to Agent Orange exposure, establishing a link that authorizes VA compensation and health care for those veterans.
In 1983, the Legion sponsored an independent study by Columbia University that established the effects of exposure to Agent Orange on Vietnam War veterans. Congress received the results of the “American Legion-Columbia University Study of Vietnam-era Veterans” in 1989.
The Legion and Stellman have continued to fight for changes that include, in a 2010 decision, ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and B-cell leukemia among conditions presumed to be connected to Agent Orange. The Legion has also fought to expand eligibility beyond those who served only with “boots on the ground” during the Vietnam War, including “blue-water” veterans exposed to the defoliant on U.S. Navy vessels and U.S Air Force crews who handled it.
In August 2012, the Legion passed Resolution 128 to mitigate legal problems for the more than 1,500 veterans who must prove they suffer health problems associated with herbicide exposure.
Click here for a slide show and synopsis of the report.
 
 
 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The IRS Code Section 501 Chapter 19 - Veteran Organizations

Have you every taken the time to read the IRS Code The American Legion is governed by in regard to Tax Issues?  For your reading pleasure see below.

http://www.irs.gov/publications/p557/ch04.html#en_US_2013_publink1000200395

501(c)(19) - Veterans' Organizations
A post or organization of past or present members of the Armed Forces of the United States must file Form 1024 to apply for recognition of exemption from federal income tax. You should follow the general procedures outlined in chapter 1. The organization must also meet the qualifications described in this section.
Examples of groups that qualify for exemption are posts or auxiliaries of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and similar organizations.
To qualify for recognition of exemption, your application should show:
  1. That the post or organization is organized in the United States or any of its possessions,
  2. That at least 75% of the members are past or present members of the U.S. Armed Forces and that at least 97.5% of all members of the organization are past or present members of the U.S. Armed Forces, cadets (including only students in college or university ROTC programs or at armed services academies) or spouses, widows, widowers, ancestors, or lineal descendants of any of those listed here, and
  3. That no part of net earnings inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

In addition to these requirements, a veterans' organization also must be operated exclusively for one or more of the following purposes.
  1. To promote the social welfare of the community (that is, to promote in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community).
  2. To assist disabled and needy war veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their dependents and the widows and orphans of deceased veterans.
  3. To provide entertainment, care, and assistance to hospitalized veterans or members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  4. To carry on programs to perpetuate the memory of deceased veterans and members of the Armed Forces and to comfort their survivors.
  5. To conduct programs for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes.
  6. To sponsor or participate in activities of a patriotic nature.
  7. To provide insurance benefits for its members or dependents of its members or both.
  8. To provide social and recreational activities for its members.

Auxiliary unit.   An auxiliary unit or society of a veterans' organization can apply for recognition of exemption provided that the veterans' organization (parent organization) meets the requirements explained earlier in this section. The auxiliary unit or society must also meet all the following additional requirements.
  1. It is affiliated with, and organized in accordance with, the bylaws and regulations formulated by the parent organization.
  2. At least 75% of its members are either past or present members of the U.S. Armed Forces, spouses of those members, or related to those members within two degrees of kinship (grandparent, brother, sister, and grandchild represent the most distant allowable relationship).
  3. All of its members either are members of the parent organization, spouses of a member of the parent organization, or related to a member of such organization within two degrees of kinship.
  4. No part of its net earnings inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

Trusts or foundations.   Trusts or foundations for a veterans' organization also can apply for recognition of exemption provided that the parent organization meets the requirements explained earlier. The trust or foundation must also meet all the following qualifications.
  1. The trust or foundation is in existence under local law and, if it is organized for charitable purposes, has a dissolution provision similar to charitable organizations. (See Articles of Organization in chapter 3 of this publication.)
  2. The corpus or income cannot be diverted or used other than for:
    1. The funding of a veterans' organization, described in this section,
    2. Religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, or
    3. An insurance set aside.
  3. The trust income is not unreasonably accumulated and, if the trust or foundation is not an insurance set aside, a substantial portion of the income is in fact distributed to the parent organization or for the purposes described in item 2(b).
  4. It is organized exclusively for one or more of the purposes listed earlier in this section that are specifically applicable to the parent organization.


Tax treatment of donations.   Donations to war veterans' organizations are deductible as charitable contributions on the donor's federal income tax return. At least 90% of the organization's membership must consist of war veterans. The term war veterans means persons, whether or not present members of the U.S. Armed Forces, who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during a period of war (including the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, the Persian Gulf war, and later declared wars).              

The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 86,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

VA issues new ID cards

VA issues new ID cards
        WASHINGTON (Feb. 21, 2014) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs is issuing new Veteran Health Identification Cards (VHICs) to about 4 million veterans and family members enrolled in VA’s health-care system.
The new cards provide a more secure means of identification for veterans due to Social Security numbers and dates of birth no longer contained in the card’s magnetic strips or bar codes. Instead, the cards now display an Electronic Data Interchange Personnel Identifier number as the "member ID" on the front of the card and embedded in the magnetic strip. These numbers will be unique to each cardholder.
While The American Legion understands the need to convert to a more secure ID card system, it is urging the department to ensure that no VA enrollee is denied timely access to health care during the card transfer.
According to VA, mailing of the cards "will begin soon. Because we will be reissuing 4 million cards, we ask for your patience during this time." A new VHIC will be automatically mailed to veterans who have the old Veteran Identification Card (VIC).
Last September, VA suspended the issuing of VICs to allow time for changing its systems to read the new card. However, VA has continued taking veterans’ requests for cards – the requests have been put on hold but will be produced and issued as soon as the final system changes are ready.
Enrolled veterans who do not have the old VIC may contact their local VA medical center’s enrollment coordinator to arrange to have their pictures taken for the new cards, or they may request a VHIC at their next VA health-care appointment. Veterans must provide proper identification in order to receive the new cards.
To receive VHICs in a timely manner, veterans enrolled in VA should make sure their mailing addresses are correct. To update or confirm an address with VA, call (877) 222-VETS (8387). If the post office is unable to deliver a VHIC, the card will be returned to VA.
While VA regrets the delay in providing veterans their new cards, the cards are not required to receive VA health care. The VHIC is for identification and check-in at VA appointments. It cannot be used as a credit card or an insurance card, and it does not authorize or pay for care at non-VA facilities.
 

The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 70,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.

Friday, February 21, 2014

More than 2,500 veterans take Legion survey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
More than 2,500 veterans take Legion survey
WASHINGTON (Feb. 21, 2014) -- As of Feb. 20, more than 2,500 veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have participated inThe American Legion’s online survey that seeks to determine the effectiveness of treatments for these two conditions.
During the Legion’s month-long survey, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report on Feb. 13, "Gulf War and Health: Long-Term Effects of Blast Injuries," that examines how blast exposure increases the likelihood of developing TBI, PTSD and other long-term health ailments among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The American Legion welcomed IOM’s report as a much-needed study that will help to determine what research is needed in the area of long-term health problems caused by blast injuries.
Dr. Jeff Greenberg of Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), which helped the Legion develop its current survey, said the IOM report "is a critically important document" with findings that indicate "there is precious little information about the effects of blast exposure over the long term.
"This is unsurprising. Blast exposure is a highly complex phenomena. Findings of the report indicate the need for greater resources to address this health challenge."
Similarly, Greenberg said, the online survey The American Legion and DRC are conducting attempts to address gaps in the scientific understanding of veterans’ health-care experiences who have been exposed to psychological or head trauma.
With the information currently being collected from veterans by the Legion, Greenberg said, "The hope is that this information will lead to a more pronounced understanding of services received, aimed at supporting the goal of improved quality of care and better standardization of care."
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requested IOM to conduct the study and is reviewing the report to determine whether any changes to its health-care policies need to be made.
Recommendations for VA from the report include to:
  • Create a database to link Department of Defense (DoD) records for troops with blast-related injuries to VA health records in order to facilitate long-term health care needs.
  • Create a blast-injury registry to serve as a foundation for long-term studies of blast-exposed veterans.
  • Develop clinical practice guidelines for blast-related injuries other than PTSD and TBI.
  • Encourage health-care providers to ask veterans the question, "Have you been exposed to a blast?"
  • The report also recommends that DoD develop and deploy data-collection technologies that measure blast components and their characteristics in real time.
"In the case of veterans with PTSD and TBI," Greenberg said, "there should be little doubt about the importance of continued research efforts aimed at improving health care, and ultimately long-term health outcomes, for those who have so nobly served this nation. Scientists, practitioners and those who would serve veterans are not at the end of the journey. Rather, there is a long distance to travel."
Long-term health effects from blast injuries include cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular function, substance-abuse disorders, chronic pain, long-term hearing damage, and muscle or bone impairment such as osteo-arthritis.
Since 2001, about 3,000 servicemembers have been killed and 32,000 have been wounded by blasts from improvised explosive devices.
The American Legion created a committee to research treatments for TBI and PTSD that are being used by VA, DoD and the private sector. It issued a report on its findings and recommendations, "The War Within," in September 2013.
The Legion’s current online survey is the latest initiative in its continuing research on treatments and therapies for TBI and PTSD.
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The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 70,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.

Veteran Events & Announcements 2/20 to 2/27

Listed below are the events I have for the next 7 days here in the Metro Detroit area. You can also go to 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!

"Women Supporting Women Vets" WSWV is hosting an online eBay auction to raise money to erect a Livingston County's Veterans Memorial for female veterans. This is an opportunity to clean your attic of items and help raise money for this group. See attached flyer on how you can contribute items to this event.

"Oakland County Parks Adaptive Recreation" Oakland County Parks is providing golf lessons at several parks in May & June for disabled veterans. See the attached flyer for a complete listing of dates, times, and parks involved.

"New VA Medical Card (Important)" The new VA Medical Card is ready to be reissued. As a reminder the old card you may have has a security privacy violation, and for some of you who may remain to have to old paper card, you need to get a new one, the security violation if you recall is that the current medical card can be seen by an camera with your social security number on it, which violates privacy and the HIPPA The requirements to have this reissued is: (1) have the old card available (2) two sets of picture ID (1) drivers license (2) government ID (3) CPL/CCW license just too mention a few. (Of course today when I went to the Dingell their machine was broken!)

EVENTS

"Friday, February 21, 2014" Neighborhood Legal Services is looking to help Veterans with legal issues that are barriers to housing such as child support arrearages, expungements, and tickets. The next scheduled Legal Clinic is February 21 and March 7, 9:00-Noon. It will be held in Room B1290.This event will be held twice a month. There is a limit of 15 participants. Veterans are asked to register by contacting Nanette at 313-576-1000 ext 65537 or Tracy at 313-576-1000 Ext 64727. You may also email Nanette with veteran name and phone. Please see attached flyer. Please feel free to contact Nanette if you have any questions.

"Saturday, February 22, 2014" The Lyon Township Library, 27005 S Milford Rd, S Lyon, is hosting author Bob Linsenman at 1PM with his book Snowblood's Journal, a story about his time in Vietnam and the dogs that were used to help find the enemy. Phil Weitlauf will also be there to discuss the War Dog Cemetery also located in S Lyon. Admission is free. See flyer for more information.

"Saturday, February 22, 2014" St Clair Shores VFW Post 1146 is hosting a Soup Tasting event at their post, 28404 Jefferson, St Clair Shores, starting at 6PM. Have some soup and vote for the best, then follow up with a salad and desert. Admission is $8 and is all you can eat. See flyer for details.

"Saturday, February 22, 2014" Madison Hgts VFW Post 9507 is hosting a Ladies Aux Winter BBQ, from 4 to 8PM, at their post at 630 E. 11 Mile Road in Madison Hgts. This is an all-you-can-eat event for just $8. See flyer for more information.

"Sunday, February 23, 2014" CTK Veteran Ministry is hosting a Bowl-A-Rama to support the Wounded Warrior Project from 1 to 4PM at Collier Lanes in Oxford. Tickets are $20 which includes 2 games of bowling, shoes, pizza, pop, and more. Contact Bob via email for advance tickets. See flyer for more information.

"Monday, February 24, 2014" 2014 will be a big year for us at Suits for Soldiers and E.P.I.C. We are hosting a fundraiser so that together we can purchase a permanent location where we can help people 7 days a week. Join us on February 24, 2014 at 6:30PM in the luxurious Penthouse Club 300 at The Palace of Auburn Hills as the Detroit Pistons take on the Golden State Warriors. Your ticket price includes access to Club 300, all you can eat food, pop, as well as your beer and wine (21+). Ticket prices are $40 cash or check or $43 PayPal. Tickets must be purchased in advance by January 31, 2014 by visiting: Purchase Tickets We will have raffles, 50/50, BeeOrganic.net and sp orts memorabilia as part of the efforts to raise the money needed to purchase a building.

"Thursday, February 27, 2014 (NEW)" Silent Battles, a faith based group working with our young veterans with PTSD, is hosting a fundraiser at The Lodge, 2812 Orchard Lake Rd, Keego Harbor, all day. 20% of all purchases will be donated to Silent Battles if the attached flyer is used at checkout.

And from our friends at the VFW:
  1. February 21st, Friday 3:00 p.m. to Midnight – VFW 9507 Madison Heights – “Burger & Fries for $5.50”.  $.75 for 12 oz. Draft Beer.  $1.75 for 22 oz. Draft Beer.  Karaoke at 9:00 p.m.  VFW 9507 is located at 630 E. 11 Mile Road in Madison Heights 48071.  Phone (248) 543-2557.
 
  1. February 21st, Friday 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., VFW 6802 Richmond – “ALL YOU CAN FISH FRY for $12”.  Includes, Baked Potato or French Fries, Cole Slaw, Roll & Butter, OPEN TO THE PUBLIC! Fruit Salad, Cottage Cheese, Cake and Coffee.   All for Just $10.  Post 6802 is located at 34339 Division in Richmond.  48062.  Phone (586) 727-1436.
 
  1. February 21st, Friday 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – VFW 2645 Southfield.  “FRIDAY NIGHT FISH FRY”.  COD Fish Dinner for $8, CATFISH or PERCH Dinner for $7.50, CHICKEN FINGER Dinner for $7.50, JUMBO SHRIMP Dinner for $9, WING DINGS & FRIES for $7, COMBO Dinners for $9.50, SANDWICHES for $5 and POUND CAKE per slice at $1.50.  Sides include French-Fries, Cole Slaw, Spaghetti, and Macaroni & Cheese.  Extra Sides $1.50.  Extra Fish $2.50.  Beverage is available.  Dine In or Take Out.  Call Ahead for Quicker Service at (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.
 
  1. February 21st, 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.
 
  1. February 22nd, Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – VFW 9507 Madison Heights – “WINTER BARBECUE (Formerly known as the Hoe Down)” – Includes Barbecue Beef, Barbecue Pork, Beans, Potato, Salad, Coleslaw, Pasta Salad and Dessert.  ALL YOU CAN EAT for $8.00!  Sponsored by Ladies Auxiliary VFW 9507.   Post 9507 is located at 630 E. 11 Mile Road in Madison Heights. Phone (248) 543-2557.
 
  1. February 22nd, Saturday 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. – VFW 7573 New Baltimore – “POLISH DINNER”.  Includes Stuffed Cabbage, Pierogies, Fresh/Smoked Kielbasa, Kraut and Apple Pie for Dessert.  $10 in Advance or $11 at the door.  Tickets limited to 100.  Call (586) 725-7100 to Reserve Tickets.  Reserved Tickets must be paid by February 17, 2014.  Post 7573 is located at 35011 23 Mile Road in New Baltimore.  OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
 
  1. February 22nd, Saturday 6:00 p.m. – Bruce Post 1146 St. Clair Shores – “SOUP TASTING/VOTING”.  Soup tasting and Voting will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Followed by “All You Can Eat Soup, Salad & Dessert Bar.  $8 per person.  Door Prizes & 50/50 Drawing.  Clubroom will be open for refreshments.  Any questions, contact Nancy Gaglio at (586) 757-4883.  Bruce Post 1146 is located at 28404 E. Jefferson Avenue in St. Clair Shores.
 
  1. February 23rd, Sunday 6:15 p.m. – VFW 4156 White Lake – “BINGO”.  VFW 4156 is located at 321 Union Lake Road in White Lake 48386.  Phone 248-698-8302. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
--   Tim Wirkus  Volunteer  Southfield Veterans' Commission  southfieldvets@prodigy.net  www.southfieldvets.org