Vol. 4, Issue 2: Nov-Dec 2020
Beginning on Veterans Day, November 11, 2020, Gold Star Families and U.S. military veterans receive free access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national parks, wildlife refuges, and forests.
This includes free access to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other sites managed by the Department of the Interior commencing on Veterans Day. Lands and waters managed by the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are also participating in the program. "With the utmost respect and gratitude, we are granting Veterans and Gold Star Families free access to the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect starting this Veterans Day and every single day thereafter," said Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. More info here: https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/veterans-and-gold-star-families-free-access.htm
A list of the 28 National Parks in California is available here: https://www.nps.gov/state/ca/index.htm
Presumptive benefits are for those illnesses and symptoms which the VA presumes to be service related. The list of illnesses and symptoms available for military benefits is always under review and expanding. This is so important for both the VRC volunteer and the veteran in the library to understand. A veteran may well have applied for benefits based on a medical conditions some years or even months ago and been denied, however Veteran Affairs may have added benefits in the meantime. It includes dozens of illnesses including medically unexplained chronic disabilities. A good resource is available here, and we highly recommend that you print copies for your VRC: https://www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/factsheets/serviceconnected/presumption.pdf
The Agent Orange Registry exam is a free evaluation from which Veterans can learn about possible health problems related to their military service. Participants receive a health exam, including an exposure and medical history, a physical exam, and laboratory tests if needed.
The VA presumes the following diseases to be service-connected for Veterans exposed to Agent Orange:
Even if veterans are healthy, they should enroll and learn about their possible benefits. Veterans should connect with their local CVSO to begin the process or start here: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/benefits/registry-exam.asp
Atomic Veterans exposed to ionizing radiation and who experienced one of the following may have their illnesses declared presumptive:
Gulf War Veterans who:
For more information, start here: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/radiation/benefits/registry-exam.asp
POWs imprisoned for any length of time, and suffering from psychosis, any anxiety state, dysthymic disorder, heart disease or hypertensive vascular disease, stroke and the residual effects, organic residuals of frostbite, or posttraumatic osteoarthritis, may be considered for benefits based on presumptive illness.
POWs imprisoned for at least 30 days and suffering from beriberi, chronic dysentery, helminthiasis, malnutrition (including optic atrophy), pellagra may be considered for benefits based on presumptive illness.
All POWs are advised to talk with their local area CVSO. More information is available here: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/former-pows/
"A recent court order could give up to 15,000 Vietnam veterans previously denied disability benefits an average of $28,000 in backdated payouts, but federal officials could still yet try to appeal the ruling in coming weeks.
Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for Northern California ruled in favor of thousands of “blue water” Navy veterans and their survivors who had charged they are being wrongly denied benefits as part of a deal reached by Congress last year.
Under that plan, the Department of Veterans Affairs was required to grant presumptive benefit status for chemical defoliant exposure to veterans who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam during that war. Advocates for years had lamented that VA required direct proof of exposure that was difficult to obtain decades after veterans' tours on ships." -- Military Time, Nov 16, 2020
Sometimes veterans will indicate that they are unable to try to requalify for presumptive illnesses due to "bad" discharge papers. We will go in-depth to find out how this area of the VA is also advancing to the benefit of veterans everywhere with the latest on discharge upgrades.
Keep Your Wits About You Through the Holidays - Join CalVet Women Veterans for some mindfulness practices that will help reduce stress and anxiety, just in time for the holidays.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM PST
Register here: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ehe99n1z5d750314&llr=ga8vqpfab
Mindful Arts & Crafts Fun for the Whole Family - Join CalVet Women Veterans for a special session on mindfulness that will be fun for all ages. Bring your entire household to the computer, especially the kids, for a fun art activity. All you need is a piece of paper and your favorite coloring crayons, pencil, or pen.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM PST
Register here: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ehe99n9kad1ebabd&llr=ga8vqpfab
Welcome to another information-rich newsletter! We appreciate that there has been a lot of information to digest in the last series of newsletters. Please ensure that your VRC volunteers have a copy for their reference, either digital or paper.
We also encourage you to share this with the following: your LINC, your supervisor and director, your local military collaborative, your veteran Grab and Go kits.
As always, we welcome your comments, ideas for articles as well as any events or success stories that you want to share. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org by early January for consideration in the next newsletter.
©2019-20 2020-2021 Veterans Connect @ the Library. All rights reserved. This project is supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services or the California State Library, and no official endorsement by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services or the California State Library should be inferred. Grant Number 40-9055.