ROLLING THUNDER WISCONSIN CHAPTER 3

​​​​​I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it's marked by the blood of those who died defending it.

The Veteran’s Creed

1 — I am an American Veteran

2 — I proudly served my country

3 — I live the values I learned in the military

4 — I continue to serve my community, my country and my fellow veterans

5 — I maintain my physical and mental discipline

6 — I continue to lead and improve

7 — I make a difference

8 — I honor and remember my fallen comrades



VETERANS ASSISTANCE AND INFORMATION


Federal Government Launches New and Improved National Resource Directory for Military and Veteran Communities

Comprehensive Web site provides quick and easy access to thousands of resources nationwide  

Washington, DC – The U.S. Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs, as part of their continued commitment to our Nation’s Service Members, Veterans, and their families, launched  a new and improved National Resource Directory (www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov).

This free online tool provides access to thousands of services, programs and resources at the national, state and community level.  The Web site has a fresh look with many key features that include an improved search engine, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) news feeds, subscriptions to e-mail updates, and new subject areas such as “Homeless Assistance.”

The National Resource Directory is designed to serve a broad base of users including Wounded Warriors, Service members Veterans, their families and caregivers.  In addition, it provides a useful tool for supporting service providers, such as Recovery Care Coordinators, Federal Recovery Coordinators, health care providers and case managers at Veterans Service Organizations.

 “(The National Resource Directory) is wonderful,” says Cara Hammer, an Army Veteran who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  “I’ve been using it pretty regularly.  It is very comprehensive and fool proof – I love it.”

The new features allow the Military and Veteran community to identify and stay informed about the thousands of resources that are available to them as well as browse for information they may not have known about it the past. Additionally, a faster, more accurate search engine provides the tools to sort results by subject area, audience and government or non-government resources to ensure users locate exactly what they want, without having to sort through thousands of links themselves.

For more than a year, the National Resource Directory has provided Wounded Warriors, transitioning Service Members and Veterans, and those who support them with quick and easy access to resources they need.  Resources on the National Resource Directory are vetted and must meet the participation policy standards before being added.  This ensures that all the posted resources are relevant and from reputable sources.

The new National Resource Directory is simple, easy-to-navigate and even more relevant to the needs of the Wounded Warrior, Veteran and caregiver communities.  It also contains “In the News” and “Spotlight” features to highlight important news and updates. To tell friends and family about the new National Resource Directory, use the “Bookmark and Share” function to post updates on more than 200 social media networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

To learn more about the National Resource Directory’s new features, and to explore the thousands of resources provided, visit the Web site at www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov.

VA’s Suicide Prevention Program Adds Chat Service

New Service Expands Online Access for Veterans

WASHINGTON – The Suicide Prevention campaign of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is expanding its outreach to all Veterans by piloting an online, one-to-one “chat service” for Veterans who prefer reaching out for assistance using the Internet.

Called “Veterans Chat,” the new service enables Veterans, their families and friends to go online where they can anonymously chat with a trained VA counselor.  If a “chatter” is determined to be in a crisis, the counselor can take immediate steps to transfer the person to the VA Suicide Prevention Hotline, where further counseling and referral services are provided and crisis intervention steps can be taken.

“This online feature is intended to reach out to all Veterans who may or may not be enrolled in the VA health care system and provide them with online access to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” said Dr. Gerald Cross, VA’s Acting Under Secretary for Health. “It is meant to provide Veterans with an anonymous way to access VA’s suicide prevention services.”

Veterans, family members or friends can access Veterans Chat through the suicide prevention Web site (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org).  There is a Veterans tab on the left-hand side of the website that will take them directly to Veteran resource information.  On this page, they can see the Hotline number (1-800-273-TALK), and click on the Veterans Chat tab on the right side of the Web page to enter.

Veterans retain anonymity by entering whatever names they choose once they enter the one-on-one chat.  They are then joined by a counselor who is trained to provide information and respond to the requests and concerns of the caller.

If the counselor decides the caller is in a crisis, the counselor will encourage the Veteran to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline, where a trained suicide prevention counselor will determine whether crisis intervention techniques are required.

The pilot program, which has been in operation since July 3, has already had positive results.  In one instance, the online counselor determined that a Veteran in the chat required immediate assistance.  The counselor convinced the Veteran to provide the counselor with a home telephone number and then remained in the chat room with the Veteran while the hotline staff called the number and talked to the Veteran’s mother.  The hotline counselor worked with the Veteran’s mother to convince the Veteran to be admitted to a medical facility for further treatment.

“The chat line is not intended to be a crisis response line,” said Dr. Janet Kemp, VA’s National Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the VA medical center in Canandaigua, N.Y., where VA’s trained counselors staff the chat line from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.  VA’s suicide prevention hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven day a week.

“Chat responders are trained in an intervention method specifically developed for the chat line to assist people with emotional distress and concerns,” Kemp said. “We have procedures they can use to transfer chatters in crisis to the hotline for more immediate assistance.”

Both Veterans Chat and the VA’s Suicide Prevention Hotline have been established under the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which was established through collaboration between VA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Since becoming operational in July 2007, VA’s Suicide Prevention Hotline has received more than 150,000 calls, resulting in 4,000 rescues. 

 
VA DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION BENEFITS

DEPENDENCY AND INDEMNITY COMPENSATION (DIC):   DIC is a monthly tax free benefit paid by the Veterans administration to eligible survivors of a:

• Military service member who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training; or

• Veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease; or

• Veteran whose death resulted from a non service-related injury or disease, and who was receiving, or was entitled to receive, VA Compensation for service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling for at least 10 years immediately before death, OR since the veteran's release from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death, OR for at least one year before death if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999.

Those eligible to receive benefits are:

1.  Surviving spouses meeting the following criteria:

• Validly married the veteran before 1 JAN 57; or

• Was married to a service member who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training; or

• Married the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the veteran's death began or was aggravated; or

• Was married to the veteran for at least one year; or

• Had a child with the veteran, and cohabited with the veteran continuously until the veteran's death or, if separated, was not at fault for the separation, and is not currently remarried. However, a surviving spouse who remarries on or after 16 DEC 03, and on or after attaining age 57, is entitled to continue to receive DIC.

2.  Surviving child(ren) who are not included on the surviving spouse's DIC and are unmarried and under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school, or a helpless adult meeting specific criteria.  Criteria requirements for helpless adult children can be obtained by calling 1-800-827-1000.

3.  Surviving parent(s) may be eligible for an income-based benefit.  When countable income exceeds the limit set by law, no benefit is payable.  Eligible parents must report all sources of income to VA; for example, gross wages, retirement annuity, insurance proceeds or annuity, interest, and dividends.  The spouse's income must also be included if living with a spouse.  A spouse may be the other parent of the deceased veteran, or from remarriage.  The 2009 income limit for a sole surviving parent, or one of two parents not living with a spouse is $13,456.  For a sole surviving parent living with a spouse, or one of two parents living with a spouse it is $18,087.  Payment rates are reduced based on the countable income of the parent or parents: Income limits change annually.

     Those eligible for DIC are also eligible for Health Care (CHAMPVA), Federal Employment Preference, Home Loan Guaranty, and Survivors' & Dependents' Educational Assistance. Under current law a spouse's Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP) annuity is reduced by any DIC amount received.  Bills have been submitted in Congress for the last 4 years to eliminate this deduction without success.  The 2009 bill is H.R. 775. The basic monthly rate of DIC changes annually with COLA adjustments. There can be no decrease in the amount. For 2009 it is $1,154 for an eligible surviving spouse. The rate is increased for each dependent child, and also if the surviving spouse is housebound or in need of aid and attendance. Add $246 if at the time of the veteran's death, the veteran was in receipt of or entitled to receive compensation for a service-connected disability rated totally disabling (including a rating based on individual unemployability) for a continuous period of at least 8 years immediately preceding death and the surviving spouse was married to the veteran for those same 8 years.  VA also adds a transitional benefit of $286 to the surviving spouse's monthly DIC if there are children under age 18.  The amount is based on a family unit, not individual children.  For benefit rate tables, including those for children alone and parents, refer tohttp://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates or call 1-800-827-1000.  To apply for DIC claimants should complete VA Form 21-534 Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child. Veterans in receipt of VA disability compensation are encouraged to brief their spouses on how DIC would apply to them to ensure there are no false expectations in their estate planning.  [Source:www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefits/factsheet  12 Jan 09 ++]

           
 Its official, DD-214's are NOW Online. 

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) has provided the following website forveterans to gain access to their DD-214's online: http://vetrecs.archives.gov/    

This may be particularly helpful when a veteran needs a copy of his DD-214 for employment purposes.  NPRC is working to make it easier for veterans with computers and Internet access to obtain copies of documents from their military files.  Military veterans and the next of kin of deceased former military members may now use a new online military personnel records system to request documents.  Other individuals with a need for documents must still complete the Standard Form 180, which can be downloaded from the online web site. Because the requester will be asked to supply all information essential for NPRC to process the request, delays that normally occur when NPRC has to ask veterans for additional information will be minimized. 

The new web-based application was designed to provide better service on these requests by eliminating the records centers mailroom and processing time. 

 The website www.willsforvets.com  is dedicated to assisting U.S. veterans in their estate planning.   



​All Afflicted Veterans Deserve Assistance


A common goal of Vietnam veterans struggling with afflictions linked to Agent Orange but excluded from government benefits is to get what they deserve before their ailments kill them. Visit the website of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association and you will find an “in memoriam” list of veterans who didn’t make it. These are ex-soldiers who risked their lives for our country, and suffered because of exposure to a toxin dispersed by our country, but were denied help by our country. Arbitrarily, the federal government has limited benefits to veterans who served on land in Vietnam or on its inland waterways. Soldiers stationed on board ships along Vietnam’s coast, who were also exposed to Agent Orange through the ships’ drinking water, have been shut out. Bills now being pushed by Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in the Senate and Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., in the House could right this longstanding wrong. The bills should be passed soon, while some of these veterans are still alive to collect the benefits they are due. Too many have already perished with payment pending. They were forced to deal on their own with serious diseases such as leukemia and diabetes that have been tied to Agent Orange exposure. Gillibrand and Gibson have been pushing for years to have the eligibility for Agent Orange benefits extended to blue water veterans. Pushing them has been the Blue Water Navy group and Military-Veterans Advocacy, national organizations that both have sparkplug and indefatigable force of nature Susie Belanger in leadership positions. Belanger lives in Wilton and is the wife of a Navy veteran. She is one of thousands of spouses and children of blue water Vietnam veterans also hurt by their arbitrary exclusion from benefits. In 2011, this newspaper wrote about one such blue water veteran and his wife, Charles and Dolores Cooley of Fort Edward, whose benefits had been cut off by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Cooleys were draining their savings and in danger of losing their house. Because of the publicity in The Post-Star, the Department of Veterans Affairs reviewed Cooley’s case and restored his benefits at a higher level. It also gave the Cooleys a large lump sum payment to compensate for benefits that were wrongly withheld. But helping only veterans whose stories land on the front page is neither fair nor sensible. The federal government must acknowledge that sailors on ships in the seas around Vietnam also faced exposure. The ships drew drinking water from the sea, processing it through desalinization systems that concentrated the toxin in Agent Orange. Australia, which sent ships to Vietnam as an ally of the U.S., has recognized the danger from on-board water systems. Australia compensates its blue water veterans suffering from diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure. For years, Agent Orange was emblematic of the tendency of the U.S. military to use up its soldiers and throw them away. After years of resisting, the government finally recognized that many thousands of soldiers had been poisoned by the dioxin in Agent Orange and deserved help. That help should be extended to all the veterans who were exposed. Gillibrand, a Democrat, and Gibson, a Republican, are showing the way with their bipartisan effort. Everyone in Congress should line up behind them, because we can afford to provide these veterans with benefits, and we are obligated to do so. Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star‘s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Terry Coomes, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran and citizen representative Jerri Lynn Cook.