Veterans Benefits Information

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Veterans Benefits Information

VA implementing spouse support line

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is implementing a telephone support program to help spouses of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans after a pilot telephone support program showed significant reduction in stress for the spouses. The spouse telephone support program, which is part of VA’s Caregiver Support Program, builds spouses’ ability to cope with the challenges that reintegration to civilian society can bring, helps them serve as a pillar of support for returning veterans, and eases the transition for families after deployments. Spouses in the pilot program reported decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, with an increase in social support. Local caregiver support coordinators are available to assist veterans and their caregivers in understanding and applying for VA’s many caregiver benefits. VA also has a website, www.caregiver.va.gov, with general information on spouse telephone support and other caregiver support programs available.

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Chicago-area nonprofits share $141,000 in grants from Veterans Cash scratch-off lottery ticket sales - More than $9 million awarded since 2006

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CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) today announces $141,069 in grants from the Illinois Lottery’s Veterans Cash scratch-off ticket sales. The funds will help three Chicago-area nonprofits deliver supportive programs to local veterans.

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Consolidated Post Reports available soon

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The Consolidated Post Report (CPR) was established in 1975 in order to assist departments in the documentation of the various activities a specific post has done during the twelve-month reporting period June 1, through May 31. The Consolidated Post Report may be the most important document your post will complete this year. Your post’s information, combined with that of other posts, is used when the national commander and others testify on Capitol Hill on behalf of all veterans. Each post has a story to tell, and when we speak collectively our strength is magnified. In January the blank CPR forms will be mailed to department headquarters for distribution to posts. A fillable PDF version of the form will be available at www.legion.org in March for post use. When using the paper form, send the original and one copy to your department headquarters by the date they specify. Keep the third copy for post records. You can also complete and submit your CPR information from myLegion.org using the online form. Make sure you have all your information ready, then simply sign-on and look for Consolidated Post Report under the “Post and Department” options. After completing the form, click on the “Submit” button to send the report to National Headquarters; a copy will automatically be sent to your department headquarters, as well. The online CPR form will be made available each year after the blank forms are distributed to the departments. Online submission will be available at myLegion.org through July 1, the cutoff date for receipt of forms at National Headquarters. The following is the letter from National Commander Fang A. Wong and his CPR Challenge sent to all department headquarters October 10, 2011: This past year we awarded seven plaques on stage in Minneapolis and mailed nine certificates to those department commanders who increased their Consolidated Post Report (CPR) reporting. We achieved a 60 percent reporting rate after counting all the CPRs we received. My challenge to you is to increase your response rate to at least 75 percent or reach a higher rate then you achieved in 2011. When I testified to Congress last month, I was only able to report the figures I had on hand from 8,334 posts. In a day when we have to fight for all we can from Congress, whether it is funding for the VA system, military pay for our troops or direct benefits for our local communities, it is imperative that we speak as one voice. The best, and at times most influential, way we can do that is when our posts let National Headquarters know what they are doing in their respective communities. If we had 75 percent participation from all our posts, the amount of influence we would have at the state and national levels would be greatly enhanced. In order to encourage increased reporting, I have instituted the following challenges and recognition to department leadership: • Plaque at National Convention for 95 percent-100 percent reporting • Certificates mailed for those that are over 75 percent reporting and show an increase in their response rate from 2011 • Publish Department Commander’s picture in The American Legion Dispatch for those in the 100 percent Club and 95 percent-99 percent Club In January 2012 the blank CPR forms will be mailed to your Department Headquarters for distribution to your respective posts. Enough will be provided for each post, plus 10 percent extra. Also, the Microsoft Word and Adobe pdf versions of the form will be provided for your posts to use, and will be available from the National web site. Additionally, if a post is utilizing the mylegion.org, they can submit their CPR directly through that method. If for some reason you may need more forms, or have questions, please contact David Elmore at (317) 630-1376 and he will assist you. I encourage you to convince your posts to submit a completed CPR form and send to Department Headquarters as soon as they become available. Remember, only posts submitting CPRs with information being reported will be accepted. Do not submit blank reports. All forms must be at National no later than July 6, 2012 for posting to the system. I need your help to increase the response rates so your great work in our communities is reflected appropriately. Thanks again and let’s do it together. Sincerely, Fang A. Wong, National Commander

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Murray to Question VA Officials on Unacceptable Waiting Lines for Mental Health Care

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(Washington, D.C.) – On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing focusing on the long wait for mental health care at some VA facilities across the country. The hearing, which comes at a time when as many as 18 veterans are committing suicide each day, will be a chance for Senator Murray to question the VA on a survey she requested of mental health providers that showed that in many areas of the country wait times far exceeded the VA’s mandated 14 day window.  The survey also showed that 70 percent of providers said they did not have adequate staff or space to meet the mental health care needs of the veterans and 46 percent said the lack of off-hour appointments prevented veterans from accessing care.
NOTE: For access to the survey Senator Murray requested to see how your local VA providers performed contact the Murray press office at the number above.

WHO: Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray 
          Mary Schohn, PhD, Director, Mental Health Operations, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs
          Michelle Washington, PhD, Coordinator, PTSD Services and Evidence Based Psychotherapy, Wilmington, Delaware VA Medical Center, Representing the American Federation of Government Employees
          Charles W. Hoge, MD, Col. U.S. Army (Ret.)
          Barbara Van Dahlen, PhD, Founder and President, Give an Hour
          John Roberts, Executive Vice President, Mental Health and Warrior Engagement, Wounded Warrior Project
 
WHAT:“VA Mental Health Care: Addressing Wait Times and Access to Care"

WHEN:          Wednesday, November 30, 2011
                        10:00 AM EST/7:00 AM PST


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Where connections are made

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North Texas folks are serious about welcoming home America’s military heroes. Thousands of volunteer well-wishers have assembled at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport during the past seven years to greet troops returning from Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. Every day, more than 100 military heroes pass through Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on their way home for two weeks of rest and recuperation from deployment to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. DFW has assisted more than 1 million military men and women in transit since the first R&R flight arrived in November 2004. Army Lt. Col. Patrick McAfee, commander of the Army’s Dallas/Fort Worth Personnel Assistance Point since 2005, says the “Welcome a Hero” program couldn’t be better situated than in the heart of Texas at one of the nation’s busiest airports, surrounded by patriotic Americans. “I’m amazed every morning at the number of folks that line the pathway of returning troops,” McAfee says. “They are loud and proud. They are enthusiastic and sincere in their greetings. The Welcome Home A Hero program here at DFW is nothing short of inspiring. I can’t wait to get to work every morning.” Participants greeting the returning troops range from corporate executives to youth groups. Schools, civic organizations, churches and regular individuals also join in the greeting of troops in transit. “Elementary school children arrive with hand-painted signs,” McAfee said. “ Folks from The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other veterans service organizations are frequently in attendance waving small American flags and extending a hand to their active-duty counterparts. Folks run the gamut. Former President George Bush and his wife Laura were here last year to welcome home surprised troops.” The program would not be possible without the support of DFW and the North Texas Commission, McAfee said. “We are delighted to assist DFW International Airport with its greeting program for the troops returning for R&R,” said Mabrie Jackson, president and CEO of the North Texas Commission. “This is truly a regional effort of patriotic citizens wanting to show their support for our troops.” The airport has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for office space for the R&R and USO program and waived more than $1 million in landing fees. DFW is one of only two R & R programs at airports in the United States; Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport is also part of the program. “DFW International Airport has been honored to receive the troops coming home,” said Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW. “We have been motivated to help these fine men and women in every way we can since July 2004 and have been coordinating with the other groups involved to ensure that volunteers can do what they do best. The ‘Welcome Home A Hero’ mission is second to none.”

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