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Archive for the 'Veterans Interest' Category

DOD VET BETRAYAL CLAIM September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 14th September 2008

In a letter sent to members of Congress in early SEP, the directors of two major veterans’ groups say the Pentagon’s personnel chief has intentionally withheld benefits from wounded service members. “We need your immediate assistance to help end the Defense Department’s deliberate, systemic betrayal of every brave American who [dons] the uniform and stands in harm’s way,” states the letter, signed by David Gorman, executive director of Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “Sadly, the 2007 Walter Reed scandal, which resulted mostly from poor oversight and inadequate leadership, pales in comparison to what we view as the deliberate manipulation of the law” by David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and his deputies, the letter states.

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MILITARY STOLEN VALOR UPDATE September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 14th September 2008

Former Army serviceman Randall Moneymaker was sentenced to three years in prison 5 SEP for embellishing a brief military career into that of a decorated combat veteran. Moneymaker is part of the growing problem of “phony war heroes,” across the nation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig “Jake” Jacobsen said. “As the wars drag on in this country, you have more and more wannabes” who make claims of sacrifices never suffered and medals never earned, Jacobsen said. Unlike other imposters who seek only bragging rights or political gain, Moneymaker was motivated mostly by greed, the government contended — making his false claims to collect more than $18,000 in disability and military benefits. Moneymaker was sentenced by Judge James Turk following a March trial in U.S. District Court in Roanoke. After hearing testimony that Moneymaker made up tales of firefights, Ranger missions and hundreds of parachute jumps, a jury convicted him of six charges of fraud and theft. “I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” Moneymaker told the judge, apologizing to his family, his country, his fellow soldiers and “anyone else that I’ve done wrong.”

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VET JOBS UPDATE September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 14th September 2008

The Internal Revenue Service has met its goal of hiring a minimum of 1,000 additional veterans in fiscal 2008. With three weeks to go before the fiscal year ends on 30SEP, IRS officials said they had hired 1,052 veterans. “We are not going to stop there,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a statement. “We will continue to recruit from this talented pool of people who already have demonstrated their leadership, work ethic and dedication.” To hire the veterans, the IRS worked with major advocacy groups like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Blinded Veterans of America and Paralyzed Veterans of America. The IRS also worked with the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department, which have veteran’s employment programs.

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VA VOTER REGISTRATION BAN UPDATE September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 14th September 2008

The Department of Veterans Affairs said 8 SEP that it would no longer ban voter registration drives among veterans living at federally run nursing homes, shelters for the homeless and rehabilitation centers across the country.” Back in May, the VA “said such drives would violate the prohibition on political activity by federal employees and would be disruptive. The reversal came after months of pressure from state election officials, voting rights groups and federal lawmakers who said that such drives made it easier for veterans to take part in the political process.” In a press release, VA Secretary James Peake commented on the reversal, saying his agency “has always been committed to helping veterans exercise their constitutional right to vote.” The Department will welcome state and local election officials and non-partisan groups to its hospitals and outpatient clinics to assist VA officials in registering voters at VA facilities. Such assistance, however, must be coordinated by those facilities in order to avoid disruptions to patient care. The policy requires that information about the right of VA patients to register and vote, and other patients’ rights, be posted in every VA hospital, and that all VA patients be provided a copy of these rights when they are admitted to a VA facility.

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WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 14th September 2008

More than nine decades after driving ambulances on the battlefields of Europe, 107-year-old Frank Woodruff Buckles is the nation’s last known survivor of World War I. Now he’s also become the face of an ambitious campaign to erect a national memorial honoring the 4.6 million Americans who endured “the war to end all wars.” Buckles was the celebrity participant at a news conference 9 SEP to unveil plans for a National World War I Memorial on Washington’s National Mall. It would be midway between memorials already there to World War II and the Korean War. Planners envision refurbishing and expanding an existing memorial that President Herbert Hoover dedicated in 1931 to honor World War I veterans from the District of Columbia. That circular open-air Doric structure, ravaged by time and neglect, is tucked among trees at the southern edge of the Mall and often is ignored or overlooked by tourists. It was named as one of Washington’s most endangered places in 2003 and 2006.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) has introduced the Frank Buckles World War I Memorial Act to renovate the memorial and rededicate it as a national shrine in 2018, when America observes the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. Buckles said the 21st-century commitment was needed to make the memorial “what it should be” by honoring all who’d gone before him. “I just feel there should be some recognition,” he said. Buckles was born in 1901 in Harrison County, Mo. He lied about his age to enlist, telling a skeptical recruiter that Missouri didn’t keep birth records when he was born. He was dispatched to England, then France, where he served as an ambulance driver. After the armistice, he delivered German POWs back to their home country. Buckles spent the next 20 years as a merchant seaman before he was entangled in another world war. He was working in the Philippines in 1941 and was captured by the Japanese shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He spent the next three and a half years in Japanese prison camps. After World War II, he returned to the United States, married and settled down on a 33-acre West Virginia farm, where he still lives. His wife died in 1999.

The D.C. Preservation League and a newly formed World War I Memorial Foundation will take the lead in planning, designing and raising money. Refurbishing the monument is expected to cost just under $1 million but planners said it was too early to project a total cost. The circular memorial, composed of Vermont marble, was intended as a bandstand for memorial concerts to World War I participants. It stands on a 4-foot-high circular marble platform around which are inscribed the names of the 499 Washington residents who died in the war. Planners said they hoped to pay for much of the work through private donations. One priority, they said, will be to preserve and improve the existing monument as a “place of peace and reflection” without trying to rival or surpass the scope of more opulent monuments such as the World War II Memorial. [Source: McClatchy Newspapers Dave Montgomery article 9 Sep 08 ++]

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Embassy and Military Outreach Angeles City on September 30, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 8th September 2008

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

U.S. Embassy representatives from the American Citizen Services, Non-Immigrant Visa, and Immigrant Visa Units of the Consular Section; Social Security Administration; and the Joint US Military Assistance Group will be in:

ANGELES CITY

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
12:00 n.n. to 3:00 p.m.
Hilltop Function Room
Mimosa Golf & Country Club-Monte Vista Villa
Mimosa Leisure Estate, Clarkfield
Angeles City, Pampanga
American Citizen Services personnel will answer questions and:

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GI BILL UPDATE August 29, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 29th August 2008

1. Who is eligible for the Post 9-11 GI Bill? Service men and women who have active duty service of at least 90 days since Sept. 10, 2001 qualify for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Benefits range from 100% for 36 months cumulative service to 40% for 90 days service.

2. Are military retirees and National Guard/Reserve servicemembers eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill? Yes, if they have post-Sept. 10, 2001 federal active duty service of at least 90 days.

3. Can currently serving members transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to family members? Those who qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, have six years or more of service, and agree to extend their service for four years may be eligible to transfer their benefits to a spouse and/or dependent children subject to DoD regulations. Only currently serving members who agree to reenlist/extend after August 1, 2009 will be eligible. DoD may adjust the service criteria for Post-9/11 GI Bill transferability. Critical skill criteria no longer apply to the transferability program.

4. Will veterans, including military retirees, be permitted to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to dependents? No. Post-9/11 GI Bill transferability is a force management tool that works just like a reenlistment bonus.

5. Are Service Academy/ROTC Scholarship commissioned officers eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill? Officers from these commissioning sources can qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. But, time spent satisfying their initial active duty service obligation does not count towards the service necessary to qualify for the benefits.

6. How does the Post-9/11 GI Bill compare to the current Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)? The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays benefits based on active duty service performed after Sept. 10, 2001. Benefits are tailored to a veteran’s specific school and location. MGIB benefits, on the other hand, are elective upon enlistment and require a $1,200 payroll reduction. MGIB rates are based on the enlistment contract and the course load taken regardless of the institution’s tuition/fees and location.

[Source: MOAA Leg Up 15 Aug 08 ++]

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COLA 2009 UPDATE August 29, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 29th August 2008

In a story posted earlier this month, 2009 COLA was listed at 2.8%. That was dated information provided by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and not reflective of the impact on inflation the oil crises has generated this year. The first bad news item is inflation jumped 0.5% for the month of July. The higher cost of living is primarily the result of the ripple effect (on food and other items) because of the high price of oil. The good news is that federal and postal retirees under the old CSRS retirement system, retired military people and folks who get Social Security payments are now due a JAN 08 cost of living adjustment of 6.2%. Last month the 2008 COLA had hit the 5.7% level. The second round of bad news involves retired Americans who don’t get a federal or military retirement benefit. Most of them don’t qualify for any kind of pension from their former employer. Of those that do get a pension, the rise in living costs has no effect on that benefit. The overwhelming majority of those pensions were frozen at the time of retirement.

How much the January federal-military-Social Security COLA be depends on how much living costs rise (or not) this month and again in September. The COLA is based on the change in the Consumer Price Index from the third quarter of the current year (2008) over the CPI level for the third quarter of the previous year. In this case 2007. That means if the CPI holds steady for August and September the COLA payment will be 6.2%. If the CPI goes up either or both months the COLA will increase accordingly. If the CPI should decline the COLA will be adjusted according. Meaning it could, in theory, be less than 6.2%. But there would still be an increase. If you would like to run the numbers for yourself, check out this explanation from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees NARFE website www.narfe.org/departments/leg/guest/articles.cfm?ID=942 . It also gives the projected COLA increase for employees retired under the FECA program. [Source: Mike Causey’s Federal Report 15 Aug 08 ++]

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VA SAH UPDATE August 29, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 29th August 2008

A change in the law will increase the amount of grants available to seriously injured veterans seeking to modify their homes to accommodate their injuries. Prior to the change, eligible veterans and servicemembers could receive special adaptive housing grants of $10,000 or $50,000 from VA only once. Now they may use the benefit up to three times, so long as the total grants stay within specified limits outlined in the law. VA has averaged about 1,000 adaptive housing grant applications per year during the last 10 years, providing more than $650 million in grants to about 34,000 seriously disabled veterans since the benefit began in 1948. Eligible for the benefit are those with specific service-connected disabilities entitling them to VA compensation for a “permanent and total disability.” They may receive a grant to construct an adapted home or to modify an existing one to meet their special needs. VA has three types of adapted housing grants available:

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GI BILL UPDATE August 29, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 29th August 2008

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is launching a national outreach program to help veterans prepare for the big increase in GI Bill education benefits that takes effect next year. This includes an online calculator at www.gibill2008.org that gives veterans an idea of how much money they will receive when the Post-9/11 GI Bill takes full effect on 1 AUG 09, with full tuition for people attending four-year public institutions, plus a monthly living expense and annual book allowance. Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA executive director, says the Web site should help answer basic questions about the new program, which has spawned a fair amount of confusion because the details underwent many changes before the final plan was enacted. A 20% increase in GI Bill benefits that took effect this past 1 AUG was just a small first step under the new plan. Full tuition payments, the living stipend, book allowance and other changes will not take effect until next summer so that the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs have time to plan for the big increases. [Source: AirForceTimes Rick Maze article 20 Aug 08 ++]

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