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News for Seneca County Veterans 

Blue Water Navy veterans who Previously filed for Compensation Benefits

A Federal court ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs must pay retroactive benefits for Agent Orange related health problems to Navy veterans who served on ships off Vietnam’s coast. These payments will honor the terms of a 1991 settlement between the VA and veterans.  Blue Water Navy veterans do not need to file new claims to request benefits; veterans who filed Agent Orange related claims in the past will now have those claims automatically reviewed. (Note this is a change from the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act that Congress passed in 2019, which required Blue Water veterans to file a new claim to be considered for benefits.)

Covid Vaccine  

The Department of Veterans Affairs medical clinics and hospitals are reaching out to veterans and scheduling appointments to receive the Covid Vaccine.  If you have not been contacted please be sure to reach out to your primary care provider at the clinic you use

VA Healthcare Co-Pay Suspension

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, includes language that requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to write off all copayments veterans must pay for medical care provided by the agency.

This legislation moves a temporary suspension on those copayments, first put into place by former president Donald Trump in April 2020, to a permanent reprieve that is scheduled to end in September 2021.

Amendment to Dates of In Country Vietnam Service

SEC. 2001. REVISION OF DEFINITION OF VIETNAM ERA FOR PURPOSES OF THE LAWS ADMINISTERED BY THE SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

Section 101(29)(A) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking “February 28, 1961” and inserting “November 1, 1955”.

For veterans who served in the country of Vietnam during this newly established time period it opens eligibility for VA benefits they may not have been eligible for previously.

Please reach out to this office for direction when dealing with claims issues regarding this change as there are VA laws regulating the application of this change.  

Unemployment Fraud

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has been made aware of a high number of fraudulent claims regarding Unemployment Benefits issued through the state of Ohio. Although the Ohio Attorney General cannot make a determination as to the validity of a claim – that must be handled by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) – here are a few simple FAQs to address the situation that we are encouraging you to share with your constituents. 

Q: How do I know if someone has fraudulently filed for Unemployment Benefits in my name?

A: If you have received one or more of the following and you did not file for Unemployment Benefits in 2020, you may have had a fraudulent claim made in your name:

  • A 1099-G tax form.
  • A letter from ODJFS stating that Unemployment Benefits have been applied for in your name.
  • A US Bank ReliaCard for funds you do not recognize or were not expecting.
  • Notification from your employer that ODJFS is inquiring about Unemployment Benefits that you did not apply for.

Q: What should I do if I receive one of the forms/notifications listed above?

A: You should follow these steps, in order:

  1. Contact ODJFS immediately.

You can report identity theft to ODJFS by completing an online form here or by visiting www.Unemployment.Ohio.Gov. You will need to enter personal information such as your Social Security number and your driver’s license number. If you do not have access to the internet, you can call ODJFS at 877-644-6562; please note wait times may be long.

Once you’ve successfully filed your report, ODJFS will send a confirmation email, investigate the claim and issue a correction to the IRS if fraud is determined.

Please note: There is not a mechanism in place for the Ohio Attorney General to contact ODJFS on your behalf to either start or expedite the process.

  1. Check your credit report.

Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228 to do so. A credit report will show all credit-related accounts open in your name, such as mortgages, credit cards and car loans. Credit reports are free through April 2021, and after that date, you are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the main three credit reporting agencies. On your report, look for accounts and inquiries that you do not recognize. If you find anything suspicious, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office (800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov).

  1. Consider placing an Initial Fraud Alert on your credit report.

A fraud alert makes it harder for an identity thief to open credit accounts in your name and lasts for one year. You need to contact only one of the credit agencies listed below to place the alert; the one you contact will share the information with the other two. The agencies are:

There is no charge to place an Initial Fraud Alert.

  1. Consider placing a permanent Security Freeze on your credit report.

A Security Freeze will prevent others from opening credit in your name; such a freeze is free to place and is permanent. (You must pause or end it to open a new account.) Unlike an Initial Fraud Alert, for a Security Freeze, you must contact all three of the credit reporting agencies. Use the contact information listed above to do so.

Q: Can the Ohio Attorney General’s Office resolve my Unemployment Benefits claim?

A: Although the Ohio Attorney General’s Office provides many services to help victims of identity theft, the office cannot resolve Unemployment Benefits claims; only ODJFS can make an eligibility and/or fraud determination. However, if after checking your credit report, you find accounts that do not belong to you, you are encouraged to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit (800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov).

Q: Can the Ohio Attorney General help me with other tax-related issues, such as providing guidance on how to file my taxes in light of receiving a fraudulent 1099-G?

A: The Ohio Attorney General’s Office cannot help with filing taxes, but the following websites may be helpful:

Q: How can I protect myself from identity theft moving forward?

A: There are many ways in which you can protect yourself from further identity theft:

  • Never share personal information with someone who contacts you unexpectedly.
  • Place an Initial Fraud Alert or permanent Security Freeze on your credit reports.
  • Never carry unnecessary personal information, such as your Social Security card, in your wallet or purse.
  • Don’t conduct private business on personal WiFi.
  • Use hard-to-guess passwords, especially for websites in which you have personal information stored. 

Seneca County Veteran of the Year 2020

Charles Giles has been named as the Seneca County Veteran of the Year 2020.  The dinner to be held in his honor was postponed due to Covid.  Charlie will be remembered and honored posthumously on August 12, 2021 at the AmVets in Tiffin Ohio.  A social hour will begin at 5:00 and dinner will be served at 6:00 followed by a short program.  Tickets will be available for purchase at the AmVets.  

Scammers are contacting people claiming to be tracing COVID-19 contacts. While legitimate health agencies, including the Seneca County General Health District are calling people to complete contact tracing, they will never ask for your Social Security or Bank Account information. Do not click on links or respond to texts saying you have been exposed to COVID-19.

SCAMS

With our daily lives becoming almost completely digital, scammers are working overtime trying to steal your personal information!!  Remember that The Social Security Administration, your banking institution, Unemployment and The Department of Veterans Affairs will all send you information by USPS, or an e-mail you have established with them.  They normally don't call on the phone.  Please be aware of any suspicious inquiries regarding your personal information. 

The Social Security Administration will not suspend your social security number (this example is from an actual call my spouse received twice).

When a real financial institution identifies what it believes are suspicious and unauthorized charges on an account, it will text or email the account-holder and ask them to verify the purchases not call on the telephone! If the account-holder says any of the charges are illegitimate, the old card will be immediately canceled and a new one will be issued.  The financial institution has no need to ask for the CV2 security code on the card because it already has the information.

If a caller from the bank tells you they need the CV2 code to freeze the card, you can bet it's a scam.

If you have doubts, hang up and call your bank, the SSA, or the VA directly!

Flag City Honor Flight

We have received word that Flag City Honor Flight hopes to resume transporting veterans to Washington DC later this year if able to do so safely.  Please be sure to submit an application if you would like to travel along with a group of veterans who served just like you to visit the memorials and monuments in your honor.  You may obtain an application online or from our office just give us a call!

Ohio War Orphans Scholarship

The Ohio War Orphans Scholarship Program awards tuition assistance to the children of deceased or severely disabled Ohio veterans who served in the armed forces during a period of declared war or conflict.  To receive War Orphans Scholarship benefits, a student must be enrolled for full-time undergraduate study and pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree at an eligible Ohio college or university. Ohio residency is required. Applicants must be under the age of 25.  Scholarship benefits cover a portion of instructional and general fee charges at two and four-year public institutions and a portion of these charges at eligible private colleges and universities.  The application deadline is May 15th of every year. The deadline for the 2021-2022 academic year is May 15, 2021.  A complete application MUST be received or postmarked by May 15th in order to be considered for the scholarship for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Transportation to VA Medical Appointments

There have been changes made to the transportation schedule for appointments at the VA Medical Center in Ann Arbor.  Beginning on January 1, 2020 transportation will be provided Monday through Friday.  We do ask that every effort be made to make your appointments between the hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm.  This office understands that some of the specialty care clinics will not be able to schedule appointment times in these parameters and those appointments will be addressed by staff on a case by case basis.  Be sure to notify the Transportation Coordinator at least two working days prior to your need of transportation.  Please be patient at this time.

Commissaries, Exchanges and MWR Facilities

According to the Department of Defense, starting Jan. 1, 2020, all service-connected Veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war (POW), and individuals approved and designated as the primary family caregivers of eligible Veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) can use commissaries, exchanges, and morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) retail facilities, in-person and online.

For more information regarding these privileges and access to military installations, visit http://www.militaryonesource.mil/expanding-access

Who is eligible Jan. 1, 2020?

  • Veterans
    • Purple Heart recipients
    • former prisoners of war
    • Veterans with 0-90% service-connected disability ratings

Medal of Honor recipients and Veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings are already eligible under existing DOD policy.

  • Caregivers
    • On Jan. 1, individuals approved and designated as the primary family caregiver of an eligible veteran under the PCAFC will be eligible for these privileges.
    • For information about primary family caregivers in the PCAFC, visit https://www.caregiver.va.gov/.

Required credentials.

  • Veterans
    • On Jan. 1, Veterans eligible solely under this act who are eligible to obtain a Veteran Health Identification Card must use this credential for in-person installation and privilege access. The card must display the Veteran’s eligibility status (i.e., PURPLE HEART, FORMER POW or SERVICE CONNECTED). Apply here:  https://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vhic/index.asp.
    • Veterans eligible solely under this act who are not enrolled in or are not eligible to enroll in VA health care, or who are enrolled in VA health care, but do not possess a Veteran Health Identification Card will not have access to DoD and Coast Guard installations for in-person commissary, exchange, and MWR retail privileges, but will have full access to online exchanges and American Forces Travel.
    • Medal of Honor recipients and Veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings are eligible for DoD credentials under DoD policy.
  • Caregivers
    • Eligible caregivers will receive an eligibility letter from VA’s Office of Community Care.
    • If you are a primary family caregiver under the PCAFC and lose your eligibility letter, please call 1-877-733-7927 to request a replacement.  Please allow two weeks for processing.
       

VA Dental Care

In the office we often hear the question "Why can't I receive dental care through the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system?"  This is the answer;  All Veterans are not eligible for dental services per Title 38 United States Code (U.S.C.) §§1710(c), 1712 and Title 38 Code of Federal Regulation (C.F.R.) 17.160 – 17.166. Eligibility includes, Prisoners of War, Veterans rated 100% service-connected disability, or Veterans who received dental injuries due combat or service trauma.  The good news is if you are not eligible, Veterans enrolled in VA health care may purchase dental insurance at a reduced cost through the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP).  Insurance providers include Met-life and Delta Dental.  Contact your clinic to inquire about enrollment.

Online Exchange shopping authorized for Veterans

Thousands of veterans are eligible to shop online at military exchange websites (started on 11 November 2017) thanks to a policy change by the Defense Department.

The initiative, which was first announced in January 2017, will apply to veterans who have received honorable discharges and can verify their status by using the website VetVerify.org.

After being verified, participants will be eligible to shop tax-free at any of the four sites operated by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service: MyNavyExchange.com, MyMCX.com, ShopCGX.com, and www.ShopMyExchange.com. (However, they will remain ineligible to shop inside physical exchange locations.


Our outreach building

Kuwait Liberation Commemorative Books

Are you a veteran of Desert Storm?  Would you like to have a book honoring your service in Desert Storm?  Please stop by our office and we will happily provide you with one.  If you have never visited our office please be sure to bring a copy of your DD Form 214 with you.

PREPARE YOUR LOVED ONES

Sometimes difficult conversations are very important to have with your loved ones. No one wants to think about it, let alone discuss it, but helping your loved ones to be better prepared for when you die is one of the most important conversations you can have. Ensure your loved ones know where to locate your discharge papers and any insurance policies you may hold.  Talk about your burial wishes and possibly pre-arrange for your burial.  When the day does come, your loved ones will probably not be thinking clearly and this type of preparation could reduce some of the stress during this time for them.  Also, please be sure to instruct them to contact this office to investigate any benefits they might be eligible for based upon your military service.

VA Benefits Assistance - Do Not Pay   

It can be difficult navigating the government bureaucracy to obtain veterans disability and other benefits, but all it should cost you is time, not money.   Recently  veterans, active service members and their families have been encouraged not to pay for assistance to file paperwork that they can get free help with. "Through the years we have seen businesses and individuals who offer ‘free’ help applying for veterans benefits, but in the end they issue a bill under the guise of financial planning or some other service rendered,” Brig. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general, said in a consumer advisory last month. “Understanding and learning about benefits can be challenging at times, and the last thing our veterans and their families need to worry about is an unexpected charge for something that should be provided for free," Carrelli said. Veterans can obtain free help or guidance from County Veterans Service Offices, the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, (ODVS) and service organizations such as the American Legion, VFW and Disabled American Veterans. Disability benefits are among the most well-known benefits offered by the federal government. But there are other benefits as well, some of which can be obtained at the state and local level, such as real estate tax exemption for 100 percent disabled veterans.  We are happy to help you apply for any and all benefits that you may be eligible for.

Camp Lejeune Presumptive Conditions

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) regulations to establish presumptions for the service connection of eight diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are effective as of 14 MAR 2017.  They will begin processing new compensation claims from veterans exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.   “Establishing these presumptions is a demonstration of our commitment to care for those who have served our nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David J. Shulkin.   The presumption of service connection applies to active-duty, reserve and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days (cumulative) between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, and are diagnosed with any of the following conditions: Adult leukemia, Aplastic anemia, and other myelodysplastic syndromes, Bladder cancer, Kidney cancer, Liver cancer, Multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease.    The area included in this presumption is all of Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, including satellite camps and housing areas. This presumption complements the health care already provided for 15 illnesses or conditions as part of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.  The Camp Lejeune Act requires the VA to provide health care to veterans, who served at Camp Lejeune, and to reimburse family members or pay providers for medical expenses for those who resided there for not fewer than 30 days between Aug. 1, 1953 and Dec. 31, 1987.

If you have questions or would like to file a claim for any of the above conditions call our office,  we will be happy to assist you or your family members with the process.

Arlington National Cemetery Eligibility Restriction Proposal

An advisory committee suggests eligibility restrictions as a solution to the cemetery's capacity problems.  Retiree eligibility, active duty requirements, and spatial and fiscal constraints are all topics of discussion for delaying maxing capacity at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. Without eligibility changes, there won’t be space for anyone – let alone those meeting exceptional eligibility standards – within the next few decades. Potential courses of action going forward are taking more solid form. The Arlington National Cemetery Advisory Committee held a public meeting this week to provide an update on burial eligibility recommendations and cemetery capacity forecasts.  The advisory committee is tasked with finding solutions to the rapidly shrinking available space at the cemetery and suggesting ways to prolong the maximum capacity point as far into the future as possible.  Current rules permit anyone with an honorable discharge and with at least one day of active duty service to be interred or in-urned at ANC. That's a less rigid eligibility standard than used for other veteran cemeteries, which can require at least 24 months' service.  One course of action is provision to adopt the 24 months’ active duty requirement.  Other potential courses of actions could include changing of eligibility criteria to include only those service members killed in action and/or recipients of the Medal of Honor, however, if approved, those restrictions would not be implemented for another 10 to 20 years.  The committee intends to do a thorough analysis of possible courses of action, after which a final decision is to be provided to the secretary of the Army. The details of that analysis will come in a future report.  It will be interesting to see what changes are implemented for Arlington National Cemetery.  

The VA operates 135 national cemeteries.  Currently, burial in a VA national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces and veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements, as applicable, and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty under certain circumstances are also eligible for burial, as are service members and former service members who were eligible for retired pay at the time of their death. A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor children, and, under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities, may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran.  VA provides the gravesite, grave liner, opening and closing of the grave, government headstone or marker, U.S. burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate and perpetual care of the gravesite at no cost to the family.

VA Prescription co-pay changes

Effective February 27th, 2017 the co-payment regulations and associated cost for Veterans filling outpatient medications prescribed to treat non-service connected conditions will change, establishing three classes (tiers) of outpatient medications. Each tier will have  fixed co-payment amounts and will only vary depending upon the class of outpatient medication in the tier.   Tier 1- Preferred Generics will cost $5 for a 30-day or less supply.   Tier 2 Non-Preferred Generics will cost $8 for a 30-day or less supply.   Tier 3- Brand Name -$11 for a 30-day or less supply.  Please be sure to check with your provider to ensure that you are being billed appropriately for your prescriptions to avoid any future unexpected debts.

Flag Cases

The Seneca County Veteran Service Commission tries to ensure that spouses of deceased veterans of Seneca County receive a flag case for the burial flag. Cases are not provided to other family members, however cases are available for purchase at various merchants in the area.

VA Debt Billing Policy Update 

Beginning as early as December 20, 2016, Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA) will begin using the Department of the Treasury's Cross-Servicing program to collect unpaid debt on any first party co-payments for non-service connected care. VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) will have 30 days to comply with the technical enhancements required to roll-out the program in their facilities. Communication about the program began last year to encourage Veterans to satisfy their first party delinquent co-payment debt before they are referred to Treasury for collection.   VHA's current process provides Veterans with three monthly billing statements in increments of 30, 60 and 90 days in an attempt to collect first party co-payments. Under the new Cross-Servicing program, first party debts that are not paid after 90 days will automatically transfer to VA's Debt Management Center (DMC) for offset of VBA benefits (if available). If VBA benefits are not available, Veterans will have an additional 30 days to make payment arrangements to satisfy the debt. If arrangements to pay the debt are not made, VHA will automatically refer it at 120 days to the Treasury Cross-Servicing program who issues official notification letters to Veterans. If the letters go unanswered, Treasury will use the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) collect delinquent debt. The Treasury Offset Program (TOP) is used to offset any federal payments to include federal tax refunds, Social Security benefits, military pay, retirement pay, and other federal payments that are not exempt by law.  Please contact our office if you have issues with making co-payments, perhaps your eligibility priority group could be reviewed and changed or a payment plan established.  One thing is certain, the VA will get the money it is owed, so be sure to make co-payments on time to avoid getting behind and creating a problematic situation.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease.  It can lay dormant for years with no signs or symptoms.  It is commonly transmitted by exposure to contaminated blood. Veterans have three times greater risk of having Hepatitis C since exposure could happen during training or in combat.  Good news, there is a new treatment that will cure the disease.  If you are concerned about having been exposed or know you have Hepatitis C please contact your Primary Care Physician.

Ohio Veterans Bonus

The deadline to apply for the Persian Gulf (8/2/1990-3/3/1991) or Iraq (3/19/2003-12/31/2011) bonus has expired.

Veterans or Active Service Members who have not received a Bonus for service after October 7, 2001 (in locations: Anywhere else in the World, or service in Afghanistan) may apply.  An undeleted copy of discharge papers or other documentation for active duty service members, and an Ohio driver’s license will be needed for the application.  Please call our office if you have questions or would like to set an appointment to apply.  You may also visit the Ohio Department of Veterans Services website for more information.

Gulf War Syndrome

The Department of Veterans Affairs has extended the time limit for Gulf War Veterans who are suffering from chronic unexplained multi-symptom illness to file claims for compensation.  The time period was extended from December 31, 2016 to December 31, 2021.  If you or a loved one would like to discuss this topic, please call our office and speak to a service officer.

SUICIDE PREVENTION

Veteran suicide needs to end.  At the same time, it is apparent that the VA Suicide Hotline is being criticized for poorly answered calls in the news.  Please remember that this hotline is only one avenue to help.  Please remember that you can contact Military One Source (800-342-9647) and also your local Vet Center.  For the veterans who reside in Seneca County the nearest Vet Center is in Toledo and the telephone number is (419) 213-7533.  Please remember that if you are at the end of your rope, tell someone that you need help.

Future Seamless Transition

A 2015 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recommended that the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs work together to create a seamless transition for veterans leaving active duty service.  It appears that there is no system capable of supporting the clinical management and operations at the same time due to different IT systems.  A VA electronic record that is fully inter-operable with DOD is years away.  The VA is hopeful that a system might achieve this by mid- 2018 with advancements in IT.  Until this time, veterans should ensure that they obtain a complete copy of healthcare records whether on disc or paper and keep them safe.  

OHIO PROPERTY TAX HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION EXTENDED TO VETS ON IU 

Effective March 23, 2016, the homestead exemption for veterans with total service connected disabilities and their spouses has been extended to those veterans who are being paid at the 100% rate due to individual unemployability.  Veterans must have been discharged under honorable conditions and must provide the Auditor’s office that document along with an official DVA letter specifying their compensation or individual unemployability rating.  We would recommend that any of you who fall into this group contact our office first, and we will make sure you have what you need before you go to the auditor’s office to file for the homestead exemption.

VA BENEFIT OVER-PAYMENTS

VA recently lost a case involving recovery of more than $38,000 from a veteran who was in prison.  The veteran properly notified VA of his situation, several times in fact, during his incarceration.  His compensation payments continued, and it was only after he was released from prison and home with his 4 year old son that VA decided to recoup the money.  The veteran was lucky to locate a veterans attorney, who appealed the decision to recoup the money, provided proof the error was on VA, not the vet.  Unbelievably, VA still tried several times to recoup a debt that occurred because of its own ineptitude.  Finally, the situation was resolved, but now the veteran has legal bills that VA is refusing to pay.  If any of you ever are notified of an over-payment by VA  - call us ASAP!  DO NOT TRY TO DEAL WITH VA on your own!  Chances are, you will lose if you do.  BTW – the head of the VA branch that does over-payments said that the whole situation happened because “VA is swamped”.  Records show that VA improperly pays out $24 million to 2,200 incarcerated veterans annually that then must be recovered.  Seems like there should be an easier way.

 MILITARY RETIREES – HEADS UP

Two things going on right now that affect retirees.  First, know that even if you (and/or your spouse) continue working beyond the age of 65, you MUST sign up for Medicare Part B at age 65 or you will lose TRICARE benefits.  TRICARE benefits end at age 65, and you are converted to TRICARE For Life ONLY if you have Medicare Parts A and B.  So, if you want, keep working, but get hold of Social Security and get signed up for Medicare B at age 65.

Second, there is a new scam going on that affects retirees.  You may receive a letter, allegedly from DFAS in Cleveland, saying the agency is being audited and they want to verify your information.  If you get one of these, bring it to our office immediately – DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS LETTER.  Not sure what somebody is up to here, but don’t play their game.

DONATION SCAMS AGAIN

Not to knock any particular agency or organization - but, be very careful with your donations.  You should NOT be coerced, or subject to forceful solicitation.  You have every right to ask for information regarding their home office locations, points of contact, and annual reports that are required by law and which show where the money has gone.  You are free to donate to whomever you choose - but, you are also free not to donate. 

Our recommendation would be this - keep your donations LOCAL.  The VA Volunteer Services programs at Toledo and Ann Arbor use donations to provide items the VA budget does not cover for patients, both in patient and out patient.  The Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky is another excellent choice for donations, the recreation funds are obtained only from donations, no state monies are used for activities.  And, don't forget our Funeral Details - they could also use donations, as they are constantly replacing uniform items, outfitting new members, replacing equipment, and so on.

 

Bottom line - think about it - doesn't it make sense to donate to an agency that doesn't take a cut of anywhere from 15% to 86% for themselves??  We think it does..........

MILITARY RETIREE ID CARD ISSUE

Retirees and/or dependents who have a military ID card with an "Indefinite" expiration date are being encouraged to have the cards updated at their convenience.  In 2011, DOD ended the practice of having the sponsor SSN on the cards, but did not require replacement of all existing cards, and they are still not requiring replacement, just encouraging you to update your cards.  With identity theft being what it is, this makes sense.  You can get new cards at the 180th Tac Fighter Wing Pass and ID Office in Toledo.  Call them for information at 419-868-4016.  If you prefer you can also get new cards at the ANG base in Mansfield.

AGENT ORANGE CONTAMINATED AIRCRAFT IN CONUS

Recent charges have been made by retired and separated Air Force veterans that the Air Force knew, at least since 1994, of Agent Orange contamination aboard C-123 Provider aircraft flown at Westover AFB Massachusetts and at other bases but never warned aircrew and maintenance personnel of the health risks.

Several former members of the Air Force Reserve who were crewmates in the 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron are being treated for prostate cancer and other conditions linked to Agent Orange. One of the individuals making complaints was dumbfounded when he began checking and found that the first five crewmen he called had prostate cancer or heart disease. The sixth man he tried had died. Since then, he and friends have found  dozens more former Westover reservists who are sick – with prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, peripheral neuropathy and other illnesses connected to exposure to Agent Orange [AO]. In just a few months, they have compiled a list of close to 40 of their fellow pilots, medical technicians, maintenance workers and flight engineers who are sick or have died of such illnesses, many of them from Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Among the documents the veterans cite is a 1994 Air Force report that found one of the airplanes, known as " Patches", was heavily contaminated with dioxins. Tests on other planes showed similar contamination.  In a 2000 legal brief, the General Services Administration argued that the proposed sale of C-123s to a private buyer should be cancelled, stating the planes were extremely hazardous and their release would carry the risk of dioxin contamination to the general public. In a 1996 internal memo, an official in the Air Force Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Directorate of Environmental Law, had expressed similar concerns about the possibly contaminated aircraft being sold to third parties, but said "I do not believe we should alert anyone outside of official channels of this potential problem until we fully determine its extent".

So far, attempts by Westover reservists to claim veterans‘ benefits linked to Agent Orange exposure on C-123s have been fruitless. Records show that some C-123 planes were held in quarantine storage in recent years, and then disposed of by shredding and smelting in 2010. In June 2009, an Agent Orange consultant to the Secretary of Defense had lobbied for the immediate destruction of the planes, in part to avoid attracting media attention to the health claims of stateside veterans.

Obviously, the government is concerned that a whole new class of veterans may claim that their exposure was due to the fact they were members of aircrews or mechanics associated with the contaminated aircraft that returned from Vietnam, a potential problem identified by the government consultant who advocated immediate destruction and total annihilation of all aircraft wreckage. Work crews who prepared one specific C-123 for display in a museum were instructed in a 1994 memo to wear hazardous material suits and respirators but former aircrews, who had flown the aircraft up to that time, had never gotten any such advisories.  Former crewmembers from the unit at Westover recall the strange chemical smell of the C-123s and the stinging in their eyes and mouths – which according to those crewmembers, they noticed only on the C-123's.

  HOT TOPICS

DIRECT DEPOSIT IS MANDATORY NO MORE PAPER CHECKS WILL BE ISSUED!  when filing claims for compensation or pension be sure to have your account information available or bring a VOID check with you.

          Claims Followup - VA does not send our office copies - call us when you hear from them!!!!!!!!!!

          Check our transportation page - PLEASE schedule your VA appointments according to our van schedule if you plan to use the van!  And, please call our transportation number - 419 443 7949 to schedule.

          We ask that you call ahead and schedule an appointment if possible - we will handle walk-ins as much as possible but it is better for all concerned if we can schedule an appointment.  It will probably save you an extra trip!

          When you call our office - you will often get our voice mail.  We do not answer phone calls when we are working with a claimant.  Please understand that we are giving our clients our total attention for the time needed to work their claims.  We will do the same for you when you come into our office.  So, when you get the voice mail, leave us a mesage with your phone number and you will get called back, usually the same day.