Agent Orange

It is November and everything is changing. The leaves are almost through changing colors, the weather is turning colder and it is getting darker sooner. Now that I have you thinking dismal, I want to tell you all about our last Town Hall Meeting in Alexandria Virginia for Rolling Thunder. I had done a NJ State meeting for them in the Spring and was asked if I thought we could put one on for them at their national Conference in November. Naturally I said yes and figured if worse came to worse, no one would show up and the meeting would be short. By the time of the meeting, a lot of interest had risen and others offered help to do the meeting with myself and Mokie Porter. As you all know, Rolling Thunder’s main objective is the full accounting of our POW and MIA from Vietnam. Because of this, Grant Coates, chair of the Veterans Initiative Program volunteered to help and then there was Marsha Four, (National VP) who had the great idea of a table for the VI and membership which she volunteered to help at.

I had no idea of what to expect and the weather wasn’t cooperating either. We arrived on the cold windy and rainy afternoon and I thought we were in for it. As I walked into the hotel, it was like the clouds parted and the sun came out. I was greeted by the people of the hotel who could not do enough for us and then the president of Rolling Thunder, Gary Scheffmeyer came up to me and greeted us also.  We went over the plans for the meeting and our table location with the people running the event. They were very helpful and they told us that while the meeting was going on, the table would be brought to the location of the meeting so attendees could stop by and get information.

Mokie and her staff had assembled some three hundred packets with information and an additional couple of hundred Agent Orange Self Help Guides were brought just in case. Jim Porter, Mokie’s husband was drafted unto delivering the supplies, the staff and then running two videos. Then he even filmed the Town Hall Meeting. Between, Jim, Grant Marsha, Sharon and Mokie, we had a very elite group to handle whatever could come our way.

I started the conversation with information about Agent Orange and the two Videos that Jim showed laid the historic and disturbing facts about Agent Orange. We all took turns in speaking and in order to get the group to open up, both Marsha and myself told our family stories about our progeny. We then tried to get the attendees to tell their stories and at first, there were no takers. Then we asked for questions. It seemed like they were all in a trance and first thought they didn’t believe a word we said. Then one by one questions started coming forward and then others from Rolling Thunder started telling their stories.

Evidently we stirred something deep inside the Rolling Thunder membership that had not been brought to light before. We later learned that many said they felt like they were hit in the face with a board. We also found out that we were the first ever to be allowed to go over the one hour limit allotted for our session. Although many have been blaming themselves all these years for their children’s illnesses. they never really connected our exposure to Agent Orange to their children. I can tell you all that that has now changed. We went beyond the one hour time limit allotted for us by about forty minutes and were told that our session was to important to stop. All of our literature was taken home. We were thanked over and over again for the information and were invited back again next year to their conference.

Today I received an email from their Government Affairs head, (Tom Bender)  and in it gave the many POW/MIA bills in both the House and Senate along with their recommendation for their membership to push their representatives to back these issues. The thing that surprised me was their push for the extension and continuation of the 1991 Agent Orange Act and also the push for S-1602 for the Agent Orange screening, testing and treatment of our progeny and those of all veterans exposed to toxic substances. This bill needs to be pushed out of committee and also needs the House to adopt it along with the rest of the Senate.

I also want to tell you all about Sharon Hobbs who also gave up her Saturday and I believe Friday too, to help out and answer questions about Agent Orange and its legislation. I have been told that we have gained at least ten new members, one AVVA member who wants to help by becoming a Service Officer and we have been alerted that Rolling Thunder wants to get involved with the Town Hall meetings and their Alabama chapter has contacted us so we will certainly let our state council presidents know so we can optimize the Town Hall meetings as much as possible.

Herb Worthington
National Chair
Agent Orange/Dioxin & Other Toxic Substances Committee Vietnam Veterans of America

Veterans Hiring Guide

First, we are excited to share with you an updated Veterans Hiring Guide, available at https://www.vetsuccess.va.gov/public/employers.html. The guide provides a central location for tools and business incentives. Our goal is to help employers find job-seeking Veterans or assist with ongoing efforts with Veteran hiring programs. We have also included key resources for employers seeking to attract military spouses. We have worked this closely with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to reach employers, and model strong public/private partnerships. We gathered input from the Departments of Defense, Labor and Education. This guide is a great refresh of a 2012 hiring guide developed and published by the White House Business Council, but includes many more resources (especially VA’s) for private sector employers interested in hiring Veterans.

Additionally, the Department of Labor recently released Public Service Announcement videos to provide transitioning military service members and Veterans information about education, training, and employment opportunities available as well as encouraging employers to hire Veterans. The PSAs, which feature Marine and Navy Veteran Montel Williams and Marine veteran R. Lee Ermey, run approximately 30 seconds each. They can also be great resources for many organization’s social media outlets. The Department of Labor has over 2,000 American Job Centers they are encouraging Veterans to leverage in their job search.

We hope you find this information useful and thank you for your continued efforts in helping Veterans find the employment they deserve.

Note: We apologize in advance if we are unable to respond directly to your questions.

Please Remember:

1. If you would like to review prior messages sent through this listserv, click http://benefits.va.gov/vow/economic_opportunity.htm.

2. If you would like to research, find, access, and, in time, manage your VA benefits and personal information please visit and/or register athttps://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal.

3. If you are seeking employment in the federal government, particularly the VA, our VA for Vets high-tech tools, and resources can help. Visit online athttp://vaforvets.va.gov/Pages/default.aspx .

4. If you would like to contact us about your VA education benefits:

i. You can send us a secure email that will usually be answered within 48 hours or less. You can also search for answers to frequently asked questions and register to be notified of any updates to the information. This contact method is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can also be utilized worldwide. Click here to enter the “Ask A Question” site or here to review our frequently asked questions.

ii. You can call 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). This line only accepts calls from 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM central time Monday – Friday, though you are able to schedule a call back from a Customer Service Representative.

VA Approves $8.8 Million in Grants to Provide Transportation and Renovated Housing for Homeless Veterans

WASHINGTON (Nov. 12, 2013) — The Department of Veterans Affairs has approved $8.8 million in grants to fund 164 projects in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to rehabilitate currently operational transitional housing projects and acquire vans to facilitate the transportation needs of homeless Veterans.

“President Obama has made eliminating Veterans’ homelessness a national priority,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

“We want every Veteran who faces homelessness to know that VA is here to help.  The Grant and Per Diem Program provides significant assistance to those who need it.”

The grants awarded through the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program are for currently operational grantees, who will use this funding to rehabilitate their current project locations to enhance safety, security and privacy for the homeless Veterans they serve. Additionally, funding for these organizations to acquire vans will assist homeless Veterans with transportation to medical appointments and employment opportunities, as well as enable grantees to conduct outreach within their communities.

GPD helps close gaps in available housing for the nation’s most vulnerable homeless Veterans, including men and women with children, Indian tribal populations, and Veterans with substance use and mental health issues.

Community-based programs funded by GPD provide homeless Veterans with support services and housing.  GPD grants are offered annually as funding is available by VA’s homeless Veterans programs.

Lisa Pape, National Director of Homeless Programs, which oversees GPD, said, “These grant awards are a reinvestment in the community that will strengthen community services around the country so that homeless Veterans have access to safe and secure housing and receive quality support and services.

“The 2013 GPD grant awards represent an ongoing commitment to VA’s community partners. These awards will make community-based GPD facilities safer and secure, ensuring that our community partners continue to provide excellent mental health support, employment assistance and job training with the essential component of housing,” Pape added. “Whether it is aid in overcoming substance use or finding a job, a community helping hand is exactly what these Veterans need to lead a better quality of life.”

Since 2009, homelessness among Veteran has decreased more than 17 percent.

As part of President Obama’s and Shinseki’s five-year plan to eliminate Veteran homelessness by 2015, VA has committed over $1 billion in fiscal year 2014 to strengthen programs that prevent and treat the many issues that can lead to Veteran homelessness.

More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at www.va.gov/homeless<http://www.va.gov/homeless>. ;

Details about the GPD Program are online at www.va.gov/homeless/GPD.asp<http://www.va.gov/homeless/GPD.asp>;.

To help a homeless Veteran or Veteran at risk of homelessness, refer them to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, 1-877-4AID-VET, or direct them to www.va.gov/homeless<http://www.va.gov/homeless>. ;

The hotline connects homeless Veterans, Veterans at risk of becoming homeless and their families with the VA services and benefits they have earned.

Medicare Advantage Plan

Hi Friends Who Are Medicare Recipients:
You should consider signing up with the Medicare Advantage Plan I currently represent. You pay no additional premium over and above the Part B payments you are making right now.

The benefits of this plan includes the following:

Hospital Care:    $0 annual service category deductible. $0 co-pay. Plan covers 60 lifetime reserve days. $0 co-pay lifetime reserve day. Except in an emergency, your doctor must tell the plan that you are going to be admitted to the hospital

Home Health Care: $0 co-pay for Medicare-covered home health visits

Doctor Office Visits: $0  co-pay for each Medicare covered primary care doctor visit. $0 co-pay for each Medicare covered specialist visit

Health Maintenance: Free membership in the YMCA

The plan also includes drug coverage , vision, routine dental check-ups, acupuncture, hearing services etc.

My Boss is here from Oahu to educate all my friends and clients about this plan today and Wednesday. Please come to our meetings at the Deacon Joe Borges Meeting Room at the St. Anthony Church Center today from 2-4PM and Wednesday from 10AM-12Noon or call me at 357-6676 to make an appointment.  You have until Dec. 7th to make your selection of that Medicare Advantage Plan you want to be covered by starting 1/1/14.

Statement from VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki on the Passing of Chairman Bill Young

WASHINGTON – “With the passing of Chairman Bill Young, our Nation’s Veterans, Servicemembers, their families, and our Survivors have lost a true friend and champion in the Congress.

“Throughout his decades of public service, Chairman Young was steadfast in his commitment to those who have worn the uniforms of our Nation. Many a Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve found him walking the halls of our military hospitals, embodying Abraham Lincoln’s charge, ‘… to care for [those] who shall have borne the battle and for [their families].’

“We, at VA, are grateful for Chairman Young’s commitment and his leadership and express deepest condolences to his family.”