Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Stopping bullying takes understanding, involvement

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Whether it’s physical or verbal, face-to-face or online, bullying can have lasting effects as children grow older. But with the help of parents, educators, and experts, this type of harassment can be addressed – or possibly even stopped.

According to Stop Bullying, an anti-bullying campaign overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, when adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior, they send the message that it’s not acceptable, and research shows this can stop it over time.

“We do know the impact on children who are bullied,” said U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Amy Park, who leads the Mobile Health Clinical Integration team at the Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch under the Clinical Support Division. “They experience social withdrawal and increased depression and anxiety as a result of having been subjected to various forms of bullying in school and in social settings.”

According to Stop Bullying, there are many warning signs that may indicate someone is being bullied, such as unexplained injuries, difficulty sleeping, as well as loss of interest in school, sudden loss of friends, and self-destructive behavior (including talking about suicide).

A 2012 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey on school crime and safety found that students report only about 40 percent of all bullying incidents to an adult, which may be due to feelings of helplessness or social isolation, fear of backlash or rejection from peers, or feelings of humiliation.

Park noted that bullying others and being bullied are not mutually exclusive. Children who bully others, she said, may get into physical or verbal fights, hang out with friends who bully others, demonstrate increasingly aggressive behavior, get into frequent trouble at school, or refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

According to Military OneSource, children who bully others are disliked by their non-aggressive peers and, as a result, may hang out with other aggressive children – which may worsen the bullying behavior. Such children may also perform poorly in school, and may continue their aggressive behavior as adults. 

Parents of children who are bullied should validate their child’s pain and experience of being negatively singled out by peers, said Park. They should also advocate for their child by engaging with school staff, teachers, and others in the child’s support system.

“I think our children are so much more sophisticated in the different forms of bullying, particularly these days with use of social media,” said Park, who encourages parents to talk to their children about what’s going on in their lives and understand not only what impacts them, but also the stressors they face throughout the day. “Parents are an integral part of problem-solving and helping their kids adaptively cope as issues arise. Involvement is critical.”

Kelly Blasko, a psychologist and the Military Kids Connect program lead at Connected Health for the DHA, said bullying is a form of abuse and can impact children’s ability to handle new situations and create friendships. This can be especially true among military children.

“They’re moving all the time, so they’re often the new kid on the block, and if they’re consistently bullied, that could really impact their mood, their willingness to engage in school,” said Blasko, adding that they might show more psychosomatic symptoms or pretend to be sick in order to avoid school. “In the long run, (bullying) can have long-term effects on their ability to form healthy relationships and to perform well academically.”

While no one-size-fits-all plan to address bullying exists, Military OneSource recommends adults create a strategy for monitoring a child to determine what triggers bullying behavior. It also recommends working with schools to set up programs to address bullying and provide examples of positive behavior and problem-solving techniques. Additional resources to help parents, educators, and children prevent or address bullying – including cyberbullying – are available from Military OneSource and Stop Bullying.

“Bullying is stressful for children and the people who care about them, and we need to be able to provide resources to help,” said Blasko. “Military families give so much to the overall mission of our Armed Forces. It’s the responsibility of all – parents, educators, peers – to help military children feel safe, accepted, and supported.”

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New course aims to reduce military hearing loss

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The Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE), in collaboration with the Army Game Studio and subject matter experts from all service branches, developed an interactive course to ensure service members receive hearing loss prevention training earlier and throughout their careers. 

Called the Hearing Education and Readiness (HEAR) course, the standardized training informs service members about the risks of exposure to hazardous noise, the negative impacts of noise-induced hearing loss, and effective strategies to help reduce the risk.  The training also outlines regulations and standards for service members and DoD civilians enrolled in a Hearing Conservation Program as determined by their service branch.

Tinnitus and hearing loss have remained among the top disabilities of veterans leaving the service, calling for more comprehensive and frequent education to increase awareness of the risk within the military community. In 2017, the Veterans Benefits Administration reported there were 1.6 million and 1.1 million veterans receiving disability compensation in Fiscal Year 2016 for tinnitus and hearing loss, respectively.

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The Road Home report available

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The American Legion’s TBI/PTSD Committee and the National Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission recently released The Road Home, a report of developments in treatment and therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury among veterans.

The booklet rounds out three reports from the Legion’s National VA&R Commission completed this summer, including a white-paper report on veteran suicide and the annual System Worth Saving document that details best practices and areas in need of improvement at several VA health-care facilities around the country.

To view the reports online, visit these links:

The Road Home

System Worth Saving

Veteran Suicide White Paper Report

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American Legion Assistant Director testifies on veterans’ burial rights

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Assistant Director for Discharge Upgrade Claims in the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division for The American Legion, Greg Nembhard, testified Sept. 5 before the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on protecting honorable burials, family members and benefits earned by veterans.

H.R. 4312, The Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act, will ensure the Secretary of Veterans Affairs allows the display of battlefield crosses in national cemeteries.

The Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial is comprised of a helmet, inverted rifle, boots, and dog tags. Currently, the law authorized cemeteries to display the Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross. However, new guidance from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has led to the removal of memorials featuring actual or realistic replicas of weapons, which has resulted in the removal of some monuments.

“The American Legion seeks to protect these sacred symbols and supports legislation preventing the removal of battlefield crosses in national cemeteries,” said Nembhard.

Through American Legion Resolution No. 11: Support and Defend Veteran and Military Memorials, the Legion supports and defends veteran and military memorials displaying symbols and wording historically associated with religious expression.

H.R. 6409, the Honoring Veterans’ Families Act, will authorize the Secretary to provide inscription for spouses and children on certain headstones and markers furnished by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Current law does not allow the VA to add information about spouses and/or children to the gravestone or marker of a veteran buried with a government-furnished headstone or marker in a non-VA cemetery,” Nembhard said. “This practical legislation ensures these family members receive the same honor customarily practiced in modern society.”

The Honoring Veterans’ Families Act will modify current law by allowing VA to add inscriptions on a veteran’s headstone or marker for their spouse and children. The Legion supports this act through American Legion Resolution No. 377: Support for Veterans Quality of Life.

H.R. 6420 will permit the Secretary of VA to establish a grant program to conduct cemetery research and produce educational materials for the Veterans Legacy Program. The Veterans Legacy Program is a partnership between NCA and academic institutions which researches the lives of veterans interred in NCA cemeteries.

“The research illuminates the life of those buried in NCA cemeteries, honoring their contributions to the country and their communities,” Nembhard testified. “VLP makes information available to the public through informative materials such as interactive maps to educate visitors.

“We support legislation aimed at ensuring the stories of veterans are never forgotten, and the Veterans Legacy Program is a great step forward in that initiative,” he concluded.

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Multi-county membership effort headed to Oklahoma

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Department of Oklahoma Legionnaires and American Legion national staff will conduct a multi-county district revitalization and veterans outreach effort Sept. 13-14 in Bristow, Okla. Wartime veterans in and around Creek, Lincoln, Okfuskee, Pottawatomie, Hughes, Coal, Pontotoc, and Seminole counties are invited to attend to learn about Legion programs and get veterans benefits assistance.

The effort will take place from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m both days at Klingensmith-Long Post 126, 132 W 8th St., Bristow.

A veterans service officer will be available both days to assist with Department of Veterans Affairs-related issues and other veterans benefits questions.

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Did you know?

The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at