In Their Honor

May 23, 2014 | By CAP Action War Room

Progressive Policies For Veterans This Memorial Day
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.    CREDIT: Shawn Davis

Memorial Day is a time for relaxation, but also for reflection and remembrance. The day is first and foremost about honoring American service members who are no longer with us. But there are also steps we can take to help improve the lives of the 10 million current vets and the many military families. So before you take off for the long weekend, take a few minutes to read our list of some progressive policies to help veterans:

  1. Support Vets Looking For Work. Veterans have suffered from Congressional Republicans’ refusal to extend emergency unemployment benefits. There are roughly 163,000 unemployed post-9/11 vets and more than 600,000 unemployed veterans overall. Those who volunteered to protect our nation oversees but can’t find a job back at home deserve more support from our elected officials.
  2. Give 1 Million Veterans A Raise. Of the roughly 10 million veterans in the United States today, one in ten — that’s 1 million vets — would get a boost in wages if we raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. Almost two-thirds of these veterans are over the age of 40. Nobody should be paid wages so low that working full-time can still leave them in poverty, and that includes many former members of our Armed Forces.
  3. Help Keep Veterans Out Of Poverty. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a powerful anti-hunger and anti-poverty tool. But it’s been the subject of persistent attacks from some Republicans in Congress, who voted last year to cut $40 billion and push 4 to 6 million people from the program. SNAP has never been more needed for service members: there are 900,000 veterans who rely on the benefits in any given month, and military families’ reliance on the program hit a record high last year.
  4. Expand Health Care To Low-Income Residents. There are over a quarter million uninsured veterans in states that are currently refusing to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. That’s just wrong. (While many people assume that all veterans have health benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs, as of 2013 only two-thirds were eligible and just one-third were enrolled).
  5. Implement The Common Core. The average military family moves to six different states, and each state offers a separate set of academic standards for military children to follow. When relocating to one state, a child may be way ahead of her grade level; in another, she might be far behind. Having a high-quality, unified set of standards like the Common Core State Standards provide will help military families with transitions and ensure our nation’s economy and military remain strong.
  6. Expand Background Checks For Gun Buyers. Veterans are some of our nation’s foremost experts on guns, what they can do in the hands of trained, responsible people, and how they can be used in the hands of those who want to do us harm. The massive loopholes in our gun background check system allow criminals, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people to easily access guns. Expanding background checks to all gun sales goes hand in hand with strengthening our second amendment by helping keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
  7. Pass The Employment Non-Discrimination Act. There are over one million LGBT veterans and almost 50,000 more currently serving. Since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, members of the military can serve with honesty and integrity and without the fear of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the same fair treatment does not exist in the civilian sector. ENDA would go a long way to solve that problem and could also also significantly curtail high rates of veteran unemployment.

BOTTOM LINE: As a nation, we should pride ourselves on doing everything we can to make sure that citizens who sacrifice to protect our security and freedom are able to live healthy and secure lives back home. These are just a few of the many steps that we should take to get to that point for veterans, and create a more prosperous country for everyone.

PS: The allegations of long wait times and secret waiting lists at the Phoenix VA hospital is a serious concern and must be addressed immediately. But we must also not lose sight of the VA system’s successes, as well as its steady improvement in recent years. Here are key facts to know.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

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It’s Time for Voters to Take Out the Senatorial Trash

— by Vickie Rock, Humboldt Dems Secretary and proud Navy Veteran

Today, S1982 came up for a vote in the Senate. S1982 is the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.  S1982 amends federal veterans provisions revising or adding provisions concerning medical services and other benefits provided to veterans and/or their dependents through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the following areas:

  • survivor and dependent matters, including benefits for children of certain veterans born with spina bifida;
  • education matters, including the approval of courses for purposes of the All-Volunteer Force and the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance programs;
  • the expansion and extension of certain health care benefits, including immunizations, chiropractic care, treatment for traumatic brain injury, and wellness promotion;
  • health care administration, including extension of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Professional Scholarship Program, and
  • complementary and alternative medicine;
  • mental health care, including an education program and peer support program for family members and caregivers of veterans with mental health disorders;
  • dental care eligibility and expansion, including a program of education to promote dental health in veterans;
  • health care related to sexual trauma, including appropriate counseling and treatment and a screening mechanism to detect incidents of domestic abuse;
  • reproductive treatment and services, including fertility counseling as well as adoption assistance for severely wounded veterans;
  • major medical facility leases;
  • veterans’ employment training and related services;
  • veterans’ employment, including within the federal government and as first responders;
  • career transition services;
  • employment and reemployment rights of members of the Armed Forces after active duty service;
  • small business matters, including contracting and subcontracting participation goals with federal departments and agencies;
  • administrative matters, including regional support centers for Veterans Integrated Service Networks;
  • the revision of claims based on military sexual trauma as well as claims for dependency and indemnity compensation;
  • jurisdictional matters, including with respect to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims;
  • the revision of certain rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, including protections with respect to the expiration of professional licenses, a prohibition on the denial of credit or the termination of residential leases due to military service, and the temporary protection of surviving spouses under mortgage foreclosures; and
  • outreach and miscellaneous matters, including: (1) repeal of the provision of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 that reduces the cost-of-living adjustment to the retirement pay of members of the Armed Forces under age 62, and (2) the accounting for discretionary accounts designated for overseas contingency operations/global war on terrorism.

When the bill came up for a vote, we witnessed pure unadulterated partisanship run amok as 41 reprehensible members of the REPUBLIBAN displayed their disdain, not support, for our troops and voted against passage of S1982:

Alexander (R-TN) . Ayotte (R-NH) . Barrasso (R-WY) . Blunt (R-MO) . Boozman (R-AR) . Burr (R-NC) . Chambliss (R-GA) . Coats (R-IN) . Coburn (R-OK) . Cochran (R-MS) . Collins (R-ME) . Corker (R-TN) . Cornyn (R-TX) . Crapo (R-ID) . Cruz (R-TX) . Enzi (R-WY) . Fischer (R-NE) . Flake (R-AZ) . Graham (R-SC) . Grassley (R-IA) . Hatch (R-UT) . Hoeven (R-ND) . Inhofe (R-OK) . Isakson (R-GA) . Johanns (R-NE) . Johnson (R-WI) . Kirk (R-IL) . Lee (R-UT) . McCain (R-AZ) . McConnell (R-KY) . Paul (R-KY) . Portman (R-OH) . Risch (R-ID) . Roberts (R-KS) . Rubio (R-FL) . Scott (R-SC) . Sessions (R-AL) . Shelby (R-AL) . Thune (R-SD) . Toomey (R-PA) . Vitter (R-LA)

It’s one thing to shut down our Government because they don’t want to pay the bills that they authorized and that they had already incurred.  It’s another thing entirely when they send our children to unwarranted wars and then refuse to provide necessary funding to support healthcare for the injuries of war incurred, PTSD, sexual trauma, traumatic brain injuries, et.al.  Our troops should never be thrown out with the trash like these Tartufes did today.  This is an election year.  It’s time for voters across this nation to take out the Senatorial trash.

March ROVER Outreach Schedule for Rural Vets Announced

Veterans and family members can make an appointment to meet with a Veterans Service Officer to discuss their benefits and PRE- SCHEDULED APPOINTMENTS ARE SUGGESTED. Walk-in appointments are welcome, but can only be seen as time permits.

“Appointments at some recent locations have filled up prior to the date,” says program supervisor, Scott Fincher. “With help from the community, the word has been getting out and we really encourage veterans or family members to consider making an appointment in advance.”

To schedule an advanced appointment, contact Pamela (775) 688-1653 or Barbara at (775) 321-4880. Veterans are advised to bring a copy of their DD-214 discharge document, current VA paperwork, medical information and banking account information. If the claim involves dependents, bring birth certificates, current and prior marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and social security numbers.

The ROVER Program is funded by donations to the Veterans Gift Account that is supported by the Nevada Veterans License Plate Program. With mission-focused employees, NDVS is responsible for the administration of two State Veterans Memorial Cemeteries, a State Veterans Home, and a State-wide Veterans Service Officer program. NOVS is instrumental in connecting Nevada’s veterans and their families with benefits and assistance from both the State and Federal government. For more information, call (866) 630-VETS or visit http://www.veterans.nv.gov

Charles Pullen, Public Information Officer pio.ndvs@veterans.nv.gov
775.848.1665

TUESDAY,  3/4/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Yerington Senior Center
117 Tilson Way
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

TUESDAY,  3/4/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Mesquite Veterans Center
840 Hafen Lane
9:30 AM – 2:30 PM

WEDNESDAY,  3/5/2014 – (Already FULL)
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Battle Mountain Civic Center
625 S Broad Street
10:00 AM –2:00 PM

Thursday, 3/6/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Hawthorne American Legion Post #19
755 Sierra Way
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Thursday, 3/6/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Beatty Town Office
100 A Avenue S
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

TUESDAY,  3/11/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Dayton Senior Center
320 Old Dayton Valley Rd
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Wednesday, 3/12/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Elko Job Fair – National Guard Armory
1375 13th Street
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Thursday-Friday, 3/13-14/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Winnemucca Armory
735 W Fourth St
Thursday:  1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Friday:  10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Tuesday-Wednesday,  3/18-19/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Austin Court House
122 Main Street
Tuesday:   1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Wednesday:   8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Tuesday-Wednesday,  3/18-19/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Ely Library
950 Campton Street
Tuesday:   1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Wednesday:   8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Thursday,  3/20/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Tonopah Health and Human Services
1120 Globe Mallow Lane
9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Thursday,  3/20/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Mesquite Veterans Center – VVA
840 Hafen Lane
9:30 AM – 2:30 PM

Tuesday,  3/25/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Pre-Scheduled Appointments Only — NO Walk-ins at this outreach
Gardnerville-Douglas County Senior Center
2300 Meadow Lane
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Wednesday,  3/26/2014
DOWNLOAD FLYER
Carson City Senior Center
911 Beverly Drive
10:00 AM –2:00 PM    

Udall, Heller Introduce Bill to Improve Health Care for Rural Veterans

Rural Veterans Improvement Act would improve access to care by expanding transportation options, recruiting and retaining doctors, and prioritizing improvements at rural clinics

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced a bill to address some of the biggest barriers to health care for veterans in rural communities.

More than 6 million veterans, including a third of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, live in rural communities. But as many as half of those veterans may be going without care from the VA. Rural veterans too often struggle to access quality care because it isn’t available locally. For some, traveling to and from an appointment can take all day. Veterans who can’t drive must rely on neighbors or volunteers to get to appointments, and many simply go without adequate care.

Udall and Heller’s “Rural Veterans Improvement Act” takes a four-pronged approach to improve and help veterans access care by:

  • Enhancing mental health care options by allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to work with non-VA mental health providers in rural communities.
  • Building on the VA’s transportation program to ensure more veterans living in rural areas have a way to get to doctors’ appointments.
  • Creating programs and incentives to attract and retain doctors and nurses to rural VA health care facilities.
  • Requiring the VA to conduct a full assessment of its community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) to determine what improvements are needed and prioritize those projects.

“I’ve met with veterans across New Mexico, some of whom have to drive four hours or more to get to a VA hospital. Many rural veterans are also frustrated with the lack of health care options and the frequent turnover among staff at their local clinics. Rural veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from TBI and PTSD also often don’t have adequate access to mental health care in their communities,” Udall said. “I’m pleased to join Senator Heller in introducing this bipartisan bill to help address these challenges and enable veterans to get better quality and access to care where and when they need it.”

“Our brave men and women have sacrificed a great deal to safeguard our freedoms, and it is imperative that Congress meets their needs, no matter where they live. By guaranteeing availability of mental health professionals, increasing access to efficient transportation options, and enhancing our rural VA facilities, we can ensure rural veterans receive the same level of care that veterans in urban areas receive. It is an honor to partner with Senator Udall in a bipartisan effort to provide veterans with the benefits they earned,” said Heller.

More detail on the bill’s provisions follows:

Mental Health Care Enhancement: Too many veterans are suffering from PTSD, TBI, and other service connected mental health issues without access to the care that they deserve. Veterans who are not able to access adequate mental health care are also at a higher risk of committing suicide. Many veterans do not respond to traditional forms of therapy for their service connected disability and options for alternative and complementary medicine are not widely available to veterans living in rural and highly rural areas. This bill address this gap in care by:

  • Making fee-for-service available to veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, or other service connected mental health issues under certain conditions where treatment at a clinic serving rural veterans is not available or where treatment options such as complementary or alternative medicine, including traditional Native American healing methods are not available.

Improving Transportation in Rural Areas: For a veteran living in rural areas, getting to appointments at larger VHA medical facilities for more than basic care can be a major logistical challenge. Older veterans who are unable to travel without support may put off needed treatments because of the distance. The bill attempts to address this issue by building on the current grant program to support veterans in highly rural areas. It:

  • Authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a grant program to provide options to provide innovative transportation options to veterans in rural areas.
  • Does not require matching funds for grants up to $100,000 max.

Retaining and Training Health Care Professionals: Rural and highly rural veterans struggle with high turnover among the doctors and staff at rural clinics. This bill addresses the issue of staff retention by:

  • Creating a pilot program that would offer financial incentives to reduce turnover among rural clinic staff.
  • Working with university medical programs to create curriculum for rural health care training to better prepare doctors and nurses for work in rural communities.
  • Streamlining the hiring of military medical professionals into the Veterans Health Care system.

Rural Veterans Affairs Facilities Improvement: To help prioritize repairs and expansions, the bill would require a full assessment of VA CBOCs. With tight budgets, this will help save money and improve care for vets.

  • The bill also requires a report to Congress on the feasibility and advisability of expanding Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers or Polytrauma Network sites, which treat victims of multiple traumatic injuries, such as serious head injuries and burns.

NOVS ROVER Program Opens September with Visits to Winnemucca and Lovelock

The Nevada Office of Veterans Services (NOVS) Veterans Outreach “ROVER” Program will visit Winnemucca and Pershing Community Center in Lovelock.  Those visits will allow veterans and family members to meet with a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) and learn about benefits and services they may be eligible for which they may be unaware.

“We continue to ask local businesses, city officials and anyone willing to help us spread the word, to post a flyer [Winnemucca Flyer, Lovelock Flyer] at their location or download and email the flyer to their personal network,” says Executive Director, Kat Miller.

To download; go to the NOVS ROVER page at http://www.veterans.nv.gov/rover.html to find the ROVER schedule and scroll down to the date of the event.

  • Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 3 – 9 am – 4 pm …. Winnemucca Armory – 735 West Fourth Street
  • Wednesday – SEPTEMBER 4 – 10 am – 2 pm …. Lovelock, Pershing Community Center – 820 6th Street

Veterans and family members can make an appointment to meet with a Veterans Service Officer to discuss their benefits and PRE- SCHEDULED APPOINTMENTS ARE SUGGESTED. Walk-in appointments are welcome, but can only be seen as time permits.

“Appointments at some recent locations have filled up prior to the date,” says program supervisor, Scott Fincher. “With help from the community, the word has been getting out and we really encourage veterans or family members to consider making an appointment in advance.”

To schedule an advanced appointment, contact Pamela (775) 688-1653 ext 6 or Barbara at (775) 321-4880. Veterans are advised to bring a copy of their DD-214 discharge document, current VA paperwork, medical information and banking account information.  If the claim involves dependants, bring birth certificates, current and prior marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and social security numbers.

The ROVER Program is funded by donations to the Veterans Gift Account that is supported by the Nevada Veterans License Plate Program. With mission-focused employees, NOVS is responsible for the administration of two State Veterans Memorial Cemeteries, a State Veterans Home, and a State-wide Veterans Service Officer program. NOVS is instrumental in connecting Nevada’s veterans and their families with benefits and assistance from both the State and Federal government. For more information, call (866) 630-VETS or visit www.veterans.nv.gov<http://www.veterans.nv.gov/>.

###

Charles Pullen, Public Information Officer Nevada Office of Veterans Services
775.848.1665
pio.novs@veterans.nv.gov<mailto:pio.novs@veterans.nv.gov>
Serving America’s Heroes.
http://www.veterans.nv.gov<http://www.veterans.nv.gov/>

House GOP-led Social Security Cmtee Proposing to Cut Benefits for Current Seniors, Veterans and the Disabled!

Draft legislative language released by the House Social Security Subcommittee last night would cut benefits for millions of middle-class and poor Americans still struggling in this economy by adopting a new formula to calculate cost of living adjustments.  Read more about the specifics in this DailyKos article.

Horsford Co-Sponsors Legislation Giving Greater Mental Health Access To Veterans

Washington, DC – Today, Representative Steven Horsford (NV-4) co-sponsored the bipartisan Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act, which was introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17). Currently, veterans face a five-year window in which they must seek treatment for mental illnesses before losing their higher priority status. This legislation would eliminate the five-year window and allow veterans to seek treatment for service-connected mental illnesses, regardless of when their conditions manifest themselves.

“We must renew our commitment to provide the men and women who have served our country in uniform with the healthcare services they deserve,” said Horsford. “The Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act would ensure the services and treatments that are available to recently discharged veterans are available to all who have served in combat. This bill maintains the role of the VA to treat service-related disorders and allows its healthcare professionals to diagnose mental disorders and illnesses according to established procedures.”

Currently, the VA offers healthcare treatment and services to our nation’s veterans who suffer from service-related physical or mental disabilities. While the diagnosis of physical injuries typically is made before or shortly after separation from the military, mental illnesses may not manifest themselves until years later. Serious mental health issues like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were virtually undiagnosed in veterans of previous wars, having only been added by the to the American Psychiatric Association to the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) nosologic classification scheme in 1980. As the United States military and the VA continue to improve treatment for those who have served, there remains a gap for veterans struggling with mental illnesses that this legislation seeks to address.

Heller, Tester Introduce Measure to Protect Honor of Military Service

‘Stolen Valor’ Act makes it a crime to profit from lying about military service

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are joining forces to uphold the honor of military service with the introduction of the Stolen Valor Act in the United States Senate. This legislation makes it a federal crime to lie about receiving a military decoration or medal, like the Medal of Honor, in order to profit or benefit financially.

“Our military men and women continue to put themselves in harm’s way to protect American interests abroad. Congress must do all that it can to preserve the integrity of the decorations and medals awarded to those who have served our country. I’m grateful to Representative Heck for his leadership on this issue, and look forward to working with Senator Tester to pass this legislation into law,” said Senator Dean Heller.

“Courageous military heroes earn awards like the Medal of Honor with their actions on the battlefield,” Tester said.  “Lying about military service is dishonorable and an insult to the brave men and women of our armed forces.  I’ll keep pressing to make sure we only honor our true American heroes.”

Representative Joe Heck (NV-3) introduced counterpart legislation in the House of Representatives on January 15, 2013.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled a previous version of the bill unconstitutional due to concerns it infringed on free speech.  Tester and Heller specifically rewrote the measure to address the court’s concerns about Constitutionality.

Tester is also pushing the Defense Department to develop a comprehensive database for military awards like medals, citations, and ribbons.  Tester says better record keeping will prevent the improper awarding of service awards.

Click here for a PDF  copy of the Stolen Valor Act.

Defense Secretary Lifted Ban on Women in Combat

“The Pentagon announced an end to the ban on women in combat, finally allowing our military to fully benefit from the talents of women who want to serve and defend our great nation. When we as a nation lift restrictions and allow people to serve based on their performance, we benefit from it. That was true when President Truman desegregated the military, allowing African-Americans to serve as equals. It was true when President Obama ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing our gay and lesbian service members to serve openly. And it is true now for women.  As a Veteran who saw combat action, I know firsthand that America’s daughters are just as capable of defending liberty as her sons.  Allowing our women in uniform to serve fully is a win for our nation. ”  — Rep. Tammy Duckworth

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/310586-1

 

NV Veterans Council Being Formed

Nevada veterans are invited to participate in an upcoming round table discussion with President Obama. Those who are selected will serve as a member of the Nevada Veterans Council and be able to address any subject such as: Homeland Security; Defense; TRICARE, V.A., Medicare, Education; Housing…any subject concerning our Troops, Veterans or Military Families. This opportunity is open to all Honorably Discharged Veterans and Military Families currently residing in Nevada (and registered to vote in any Nevada County). If you are interested in this opportunity and would like to become a member, please email or call the following information to Johnathan Abbinett:

 Name: (Last Name, First Name, M.I.)
 Primary Telephone Number:
 Secondary Telephone Number:
 E-Mail Address:
 Postal Address:
 Branch of Service:
 Entry Date: (Month/Year)
 ETS Date: (Month/Year)
 Discharge Status: (Honorable/Retired/Disabled)
 Send to:
 Johnathan L. Abbinett, Chair
 Nevada Veterans & Military Families Council
 Email: jlabbinett@cox.net
 Phone: (702) 220-9303