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In This Issue May 1, 2012

VVA National Officer Interviewed on AL Television re: Personality Disorder Discharges

Soldier Missing From Vietnam War Identified

VVA E-Advocacy Legislative Action Network

A Lawn Care Pesticide Threatens Health and is Poised to Get Worse

President Issues Executive Order to Protect Student Veterans

Welcome Home, Maryland: A Look at Agent Orange Today

The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP)

Adding Family Therapists and Mental Health Counselors

Update:  Sequestration and Veterans Benefits

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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

WAFF Special News Report - Video

VVA National Officer Interviewed on AL Television
re: Personality Disorder Discharges


[ watch the video ]

It's one of the invisible wounds of war: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's been documented and diagnosed in past wars, but is it being under-diagnosed in our current returning warriors?

The Vietnam Veterans of America believe so and they filed a federal lawsuit to gather information to back up their suspicions. They believe these vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are returning from the battlefield with scars no one could see, but are mislabeled as having a personality disorder instead of PTSD. Personality Disorder discharge does not come with benefits, but PTSD does.

While not literal, the VVA believes many of those who served in recent combat may be facing a form of "dishonorable" discharge.

Right now, all branches of service are under fire and are re-evaluating how they diagnose PTSD thanks to some devoted veterans from VVA.

Dr. Wayne Reynolds spent a year on the battlefield, but it seemed like a lifetime.

From 1968-1969, Reynolds was with the 95th Evacuation and 22nd Surgical Hospitals as a medevac medic. He saw bloodshed he can't describe. He returned stateside with medical and mental health issues that took years for doctors to pinpoint and treat.

[ read entire article ]

DPMO Press Release

Soldier Missing From Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced April 27, 2012 that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Capt. Charles R. Barnes, 27, of Philadelphia, Pa., will be buried May 2, in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. On March 16, 1969, Barnes and four other service members departed Qui Nhon Airfields bound for Da Nang and Phu Bai, in a U-21A Ute aircraft. As they approached Da Nang, they encountered low clouds and poor visibility. Communications with the aircraft were lost, and they did not land as scheduled. Immediate search efforts were limited due to hazardous weather conditions, and all five men were list as missing in action.

From 1986-1989, unidentified human remains were turned over to the U.S. from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) in several different instances. None of the remains were identified given the limits of the technology of the time.

[ read entire press release ]

VVA Action E-Mail List

VVA E-Advocacy Legislative Action Network

Vietnam Veterans of America's Government Relations Department would like you to join our new Legislative Action-E List. Register for this new e-mail service by visiting VVA's web page legislative action center site at: http://capwiz.com/vva/home and sign up for VVA's Action E-List.

The new site will enable you to become a part of the legislative process, keeping you informed of VVA issues so that you can respond to legislative alerts and receive updates regarding key votes from your House and Senate representatives.

By signing up with MegaVote, you will also be able to receive weekly email updates of your representatives' congressional voting record.

Go to the VVA http://capwiz.com/vva/home to sign up for VVA's Action E-list and MegaVote.

2,4-D Weed Killer Update

A Lawn Care Pesticide Threatens Health and is Poised to Get Worse

A World War II-era weed killer, 2,4-D, is one of the top three largest selling pesticides in North America today, despite dozens of scientific studies that link this pesticide to lymphoma, cell damage, hormonal disruption, and reproductive problems. Once a chief ingredient in Agent Orange, 46 million pounds of 2,4-D are still used every year in the United States alone, applied to lawns, playgrounds, golf courses, and millions of acres of agricultural land. 2,4-D contaminates our air and water and finds its way into our homes, tracked in by shoes and pet paws. The application of toxic 2,4-D will dramatically increase if new genetically modified (GMO) corn and soybean crops are approved, putting thousands more Americans at risk. Vietnam Veterans of America opposes this action until such time as an environmental impact study is performed and believes that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should restrict use of 2,4-D and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) should not allow new "2,4-D Ready" crops on the market until then. To see VVA's letter, click here.

Alan Oates on YouTube: A look at Agent Orange Today

Welcome Home, Maryland:
Our Children and Future Generations

[ click here to view the video on YouTube ]

VVA Press Release

President Issues Executive Order to Protect Student Veterans

(Washington, D.C.) "Vietnam Veterans of America is proud to have played an integral role in convincing The White House to issue an Executive Order today, aiming to protect veterans from being targeted for recruitment by for-profit colleges," said John Rowan, VVA National President. "The President's action will add new protections for veterans and military families swindled or misled by schools seeking their federal education benefits, and it will reduce fraudulent or deceptive marketing to the military and veterans, giving student veterans a better gauge of what schools and technical programs really cost. The order will limit institutions and their recruiters with a history of poor behavior from military bases, and it will require that current and former troops be given more information before signing up for programs, as well as require schools to provide financial-aid options," added Rowan.

[ read entire press release ]

VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011

The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP)

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 was passed and signed into law last November in an effort to reduce Veteran unemployment. Included in this new law is the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) for unemployed 35 to 60 year old Veterans, which will begin on July 1, 2012. This program is jointly administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor (DOL).  VRAP offers 12 months of training assistance to 99,000 unemployed veterans who are at least 35 years old but no older than 60. Eligible participants will receive up to 12 months of training assistance at the full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program (currently $1,473 per month). DOL will offer employment assistance to every veteran who participates or applies to the VRAP program. On-line applications will begin on May 15, 2012. You can learn more about VRAP here, Detailed information on VOW and VRAP is also available at www.benefits.va.gov/VOW.

Expanded Mental Health Services

Adding Family Therapists and Mental Health Counselors

Following an announcement two weeks ago of adding 1,900 mental-health staff nationwide, the Department of Veterans Affairs has expanded its mental-health services to include professionals from two additional healthcare fields: marriage and family therapists (MFT) and licensed professional mental-health counselors (LPMHC). 

The two fields will be included in the hiring of an additional 1,900 mental-health staff nationwide, which VA announced two weeks ago. Recruitment and hiring will be done at the local level. The new professionals will provide mental-health diagnostic and psychosocial treatment services for veterans and their families, in coordination with existing mental-health professionals at VA's medical centers, community-based outpatient clinics, and Vet Centers.

Veteran Benefits Update

Update: Sequestration and Veterans Benefits

Sequestration, or across-the-board-cuts in the Federal budget, was mandated by the bipartisan Budget Control Act in August 2011. This is slated to kick in on January 2, 2013, unless Congress stops it.  Here is the latest:

VA programs and pensions:  Per the 2010 PAYGO law (which mandated that all spending increases or tax cuts be "paid for" or offset, so as not to increase the deficit), all VA programs and VA pensions were exempt from the sequestration process.  OMB, the White House budget office, announced last week that there would be no cuts to any VA programs or VA pensions under the sequestration process.  This announcement was made to clarify what had been a possible glitch in the law.

Military pensions are also exempt from sequestration.  However, military pensions are expected to take a major cut if the budget that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year becomes law.  Military pensions, among other programs, are funded under an account in the Federal budget known as the "Function 600" account. The House-passed Republican budget makes huge cuts there--$380 billion below current law.  Of the $380 billion, $133.5 billion are cuts to food stamps; $112 billion are cuts to federal employee pensions; and the remainder, less explicitly detailed, is expected to include up to $134.5 billion in cuts to military pensions.

TRICARE in general is NOT exempt from sequestration; however, TRICARE for those over age 65 is exempt from sequestration.

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