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In This Issue April 10, 2012

Extra Social Security Dollars for Military Service

Jack McManus on Operation Ranch Hand
from Town Hall Meeting in Ann Arbor, MI

Double Cheeseburgers and Cigarettes

Updating Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance or Veterans' Group Life Insurance Beneficiary Designations

FDA Panel Supports Lifting of Ban on New Class of  Pain Drugs

SAMHSA Recovery Definition Update

POW-MIA Updates

National Resource Directory

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Special Notice: If you are a veteran in emotional crisis and need help RIGHT NOW, call this toll-free number 1-800-273-8255, available 24/7, and tell them you are a veteran. All calls are confidential.

VA Caregiver Hotline

Social Security Update

Extra Social Security Dollars for Military Service

Since 1957, if you had military service earnings for active duty (including active duty for training), you paid Social Security taxes on those earnings. Since 1988, inactive duty service in the Armed Forces reserves (such as weekend drills) has also been covered by Social Security.

Under certain circumstances, special extra earnings for your military service from 1957 through 2001 can be credited to your record for Social Security purposes. These extra earnings credits may help you qualify for Social Security or increase the amount of your Social Security benefit, according to the Social Security Administration.

Special extra earnings credits are granted for periods of active duty or active duty for training. Special extra earnings credits are not granted for inactive duty training.

If your active military service occurred

  • From 1957 through 1967, the extra credits are added to your record when you apply for Social Security benefits.
  • From 1968 through 2001, you do not need to do anything to receive these extra credits. The credits were automatically added to your record.
  • After 2001, there are no special extra earnings credits for military service.

You are credited with $300 in additional earnings for each calendar quarter in which you received active duty basic pay for active duty military service earnings between 1957 and 1977.

From 1978 through 2001, for every $300 in active duty basic pay, you are credited with an additional $100 in earnings up to a maximum of $1,200 a year. If you enlisted after September 7, 1980, and didn't complete at least 24 months of active duty or your full tour, you may not be able to receive the additional earnings. Check with Social Security for details.

Congress ended this benefit as of January 1, 2002.

Agent Orange Video

Jack McManus on Operation Ranch Hand
from Town Hall Meeting in Ann Arbor, MI

Status of Cancer

Double Cheeseburgers and Cigarettes

Death rates from all cancers combined for men, women, and children continued to decrease in the U.S. between 2004 and 2008, according to the “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer,” published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Among children 19 years old and younger, cancer incidence rates increased 0.6% per year from 2004 through 2008, continuing a trend since 1992. Death rates decreased 1.3% during the same period. Black men and white women had the highest cancer incidence rates and highest cancer death rates during the same period. 

For more than 30 years, excess weight, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet have been considered second only to tobacco use as preventable causes of disease and death in the U.S. But since the 1960s, tobacco use has declined by a third, while obesity rates have doubled. Being overweight and the lack of exercise increase cancer risk.  The following six cancers are linked with being overweight:  breast cancer among post-menopausal women; colorectal cancer; endometrial cancer; esophageal adenocarcinoma; kidney cancer; and pancreatic cancer.

Life Changes. Are Your Records Up to Date?

Updating Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance or Veterans' Group Life Insurance Beneficiary Designations

If you've had a recent life event such as a change in marital status, the addition of a child, or the death of a loved one, then now is a good time to review your Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance or Veterans' Group Life Insurance beneficiary designations. It's the best way to ensure your life insurance benefit is paid to whom you want.

Even if you haven't had a recent life event it's a good idea to review your beneficiaries at least once a year around tax time, your birthday, or other memorable date. And remember, you have the right to name any beneficiary you want and change your beneficiary at any time.

To update your SGLI beneficiary designation, use form SGLV 8286. To update your VGLI beneficiary designation, use form SGLV 8721 or log onto your VGLI Online Account. Access all forms and your VGLI Online Account at www.insurance.va.gov.

FDA's Arthritis Advisory Committee Vote

FDA Panel Supports Lifting of Ban on New Class of  Pain Drugs

According to an article from the Associated Press dated March 13, the FDA's Arthritis Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the FDA resume clinical trials on a class of non-opioid and non-SAID pain killers with a number of safeguards.  The FDA's 21-member panel of arthritis experts voted unanimously that research on the nerve-blocking drugs should continue with safety precautions to protect patients.  Reports of joint failure and bone decay led the agency to halt studies on the drugs in 2010.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

SAMHSA Recovery Definition Update

The federal government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a slightly revised working definition and principles of recovery from a mental disorder, a substance use disorder, or both.  

When SAMHSA first released a working definition in December 2010,  advocates called on the agency to make modifications because it failed to recognize the importance of not using alcohol and other illicit or non-prescribed drugs as part of recovery from addiction. The revised working definition and principles give more emphasis to the role of abstinence in recovery from addictions, and indicates that an individual may be in recovery from a mental disorder, a substance use disorder, or both.  For more information, go to:  http://blog.samhsa.gov/2012/03/23/definition-of-recc

The National League of POW-MIA Families

POW-MIA Updates

AMERICANS IDENTIFIED: There are now 1,672 Americans listed by the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. Most recently listed as accounted-for on the DPMO website was Master Sergeant Arden Hassenger, USAF, OR, MIA in Laos on 12/24/65. His remains were recovered on 2/18/10, and identified 3/5/12. Also listed as identified this month were Lt Col Robert M. Brown, USAF, PA, MIA in North Vietnam on 11/7/72; remains recovered 6/7/95 and identified 12/14/11; Maj Aado Kommendant, USAF, NJ, MIA in South Vietnam, 8/8/66, remains recovered 4/13/10, identified 11/30/11; LTjg William E. Swanson, USNR, MN, KIA in Laos. 4/11/65, remains recovered 7/29/10, identified 1/20/12, and John Sung Yim, Civilian, captured in Cambodia 4/25/75, remains recovered 9/18/07 and identified 11/16/11.

The number of Americans announced as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 911. Another 63 US personnel, recovered post-incident and identified before the end of the war, bring the officially listed total recovered and identified to 974. Of the 1,672 still missing or otherwise unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam's wartime control: Vietnam–1,284 (VN-471, VS-813); Laos–324; Cambodia–57; Peoples Republic of China territorial waters–7; more than 450 were over-water losses.

[ read the full update ]

National Resource Directory

Connecting Wounded Warriors, Service Members, Veterans, Their Families and Caregivers with Those Who Support Them

The National Resource Directory (NRD) is a website that connects wounded warriors, Service Members, Veterans, their families, and caregivers to programs and services that support them.

It provides access to services and resources at the national, state and local levels to support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration. Visitors can find information on a variety of topics including

  • Benefits & Compensation
  • Education & Training
  • Employment
  • Family & Caregiver Support
  • Health
  • Homeless Assistance
  • Housing
  • Transportation & Travel
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Other Services & Resources


[ more information ]

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