Veterans Affairs

I have been asked by several Brothers about the changes to TRICARE insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The following is a summary of the changes.

 

TRICARE Retiree Dental

Program Changes

 

Effective October 1, 2013, all TRICARE Retirees Dental Program beneficiaries will be required to pay their monthly premiums by Electronic Funds Transfer or through military pay allotments. The ability to pay premiums by check or through an online bill pay system will end in September. Most TRPD enrollees will need to take no action; however, Delta Dental sent letters to all TRPD participants on July 19, 2013 with information on where to submit EFT authorization forms and how to submit an EFT authorization forms and how to send EFT authorization on line at www.trpd.com.

 

TRICARE PHARMACY

UPDATE

 

In February TRICARE started a one-year pilot program requiring TFL beneficiaries to switch to home delivery for name brand maintenance medication refills. During the transition period, the program allowed for two courtesy retail pharmacy fills before being charged full price. Now that change is two months into the program, those who have not converted to home delivery yet may be subject to having to pay full price with their next attempted retail refill. If you are a TFL beneficiary and have not done so already, it is strongly recommended that you switch to home delivery to avoid unnecessary charges.   For more information or to switch, call 1-877-363-1303.

 

FYI: In keeping with its long time policy of supporting the military, Sears not only saves an employee’s position while on active duty but also pays the difference between the military salary and Sears salary. In addition, it maintains health benefits for both the employee and the family while the employee is on active duty. Not many companies have a policy like this. Please keep this in mind when you are doing your Christmas shopping and let them know why you are shopping there.

 

This is a tough time of year to be away from home. Please remember all our military in your prayers. If you know someone on active duty make sure to send them a card. Many parishes maintain a list of parishioners with their addresses.

 

Have a Happy and Holy Christmas and a healthy New Year. God Bless America.

Veterans Affairs

By now you should have your Christmas packages on the way to the troops overseas. If you have not, a Christmas card containing a calling card would be an ideal Christmas present. Please keep them and all our veterans in your prayers.

 

Just 19 words

God our Father, walk through my house and take away all my worries; and please watch over and heal my family and please protect our freedoms and watch over our troops who are defending those freedoms.

Amen

Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year,

God Bless America.

Veterans Affairs

I would like to take this opportunity to thank President Jim Burke for appointing me to this Chair. I will try to keep our members up to date on Veterans Affairs.

Continuing from a previous report on Home Depot; as I reported, Home Depot has been very supportive of our GIs and their families. They provide transfers for a GI and his family members to another store near their new assignment. The company recently launched a new website highlighting its commitment to our GIs and their families www.homedepotmilitary.com and has offered a free Military skills Translator tool for some time now. The tool is designed to translate and match an applicant’s military skills to positions that might offer the best career fit.

THE ROSIE NETWORK
If you are a military spouse or veteran entrepreneur the Rosie Network wants to help you. It is a non-profit funded by military spouses and U.S. Veterans, active, retired or reserve. Starting this September, the Rosie Network at www.TheRosieNetwork.Org will launch a free web-based search tool which will enable the public to easily locate products and services provided by military spouses or Veteran-owned companies.
Please remember all our Veterans in your prayers. God Bless America

Veterans Affairs

This is a follow up to articles that I submitted to the Empire State Hibernian. Several ques-tions have arisen about these topics. I hope this will be helpful to those who need the information. As I have stated in the past, knowledge of Veter-an’s Affairs is a good recruiting tool for County and Division Organizers. If they have current information on the topic, they will be able to recruit some of our returning troops.

E-ZPASS DISABLED VET-ERAN’S PROGRAM
The New York State Thruway Authority offers free, unlimited travel anywhere on the Thruway to certain, qualifying disabled veterans. A disabled veteran who obtains a free-exempt vehicle registration from New York State Department of Motor Vehicles may enroll in the Authority’s disabled veteran non-revenue e-zpass program.
If you have any questions about the program, please contact E-Z Pass operations at 518 471-5848 or visit on the web at www.thruway.ny.gov/ezpass/veterans.html.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that veterans who submit to a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclo-sure can receive $1,500 in relocation assistance. The agency has instructed mortgage servicers to provide the funds to help borrowers cover moving costs or other expenses incurred during the tumultuous process. Borrowers can use the money to cover moving expenses or to simply pay for lodging while they deal with the pending loss of their home.

New Legislation would allow Veterans to use G.I. Bill funds for Franchise Training Pro-grams. The bill is H.R. 3351. It would work in conjunction with S.1540/H.R.2888 and provide funds to help veterans get funding for ownership of a franchise. The bills still have to make their way through the Congress, but they will go a long way in helping returning veterans open up their own businesses. The tax credits would offset start-up costs equal to 25% of franchise fees, up to $100,000.
Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011 increases the rates of VA disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children by 3.6%. This matches the COLA increase military retirees and Social Security recipients will receive.

Looking forward to 2013 and 2014 for those who are on Medicare: The per person Medicare Insurance Premium will increase from the current monthly fee of $96.40 to $104.20 in 2013 and to $247.00 in 2014. This is designed to encourage Veterans who have Tri-Care for Life to leave the program. The plan calls for increases from 30% to 78% in Tri-care annual premiums. After that, the plan will impose five year increases ranging from 94% to 345%, more than 3 times the current levels. (2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka Obama Care)
There is a new bill before con-gress HR4646. If passed (probably not until after the November elections) it would require direct deposit of all SS checks and impose a 1% tax on all bank transactions in and out of accounts including transac-tions between existing accounts. This would apply to any banking institution-banks, credit unions, savings and loan and the like.

HOME OWNERS: as part of the Obama Health Care legislation, anyone who sells their house in 2012 and onward will be subject to a 3.8% sales tax on the transaction. This is the bill they said “pass it and read it later.” Please try to read up on this issue, especially HR4646.

Please keep all our Veterans in your prayers.
God bless America.

Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that veterans who submit to a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure can receive $1,500 in relocation assistance.  The agency has instructed mortgage servicers to provide the funds to help borrowers cover moving costs or other expenses incurred during the tumultuous process.  Borrowers can use the money to cover moving expenses or to simply pay for lodging while they deal with the pending loss of their home.

New Legislation would allow Veterans to use G.I. Bill funds for Franchise Training Programs.  The bill is H.R. 3351.  It would work in conjunction with S.1540/H.R.2888 and provide funds to help veterans get funding for ownership of a franchise.  The bills still have to make their way through the Congress, but they will go a long way in helping returning veterans open up their own businesses.  The tax credits would offset start-up costs equal to 25% of franchise fees, up to $100,000.

Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011 increases the rates of VA disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children by 3.6%.  This matches the COLA increase military retirees and Social Security recipients will receive.

FYI:  For those on active duty and either wounded or injured in the line of duty and because of your condition, are no longer able to perform your assigned duties and now have other duties not prescribed by your MOS, you are entitled to receive Social Security Disability in addition to your pay.  Social Security Disability is retroactive to your date of injury.  You will need all your military health records that reflect the wound or injury along with a letter of documentation from your doctor.   The application is on line at: www.socialsecurity.gov/ to apply for disability or call 1-800-772-1213.

If you know anyone transitioning from the military to civilian life there is a useful website at Adecco.  It is managed by former military and can assist with career services, employer services, and associated needs. They are at www.adeccousa.com.  In addition, the Small Business Administration provides services to Veterans who are looking to open their own businesses.  They provide counseling and training services. You can reach the New York State Program Coordinator, John Narciso, at www.nyvetbiz.com

Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day and an enjoyable parade season. God Bless our troops and God Bless America.

Veterans Affairs – December 2011

Hopefully those of you who have planned to send packages and cards to our GIs overseas already have them in the mail. There is nothing like receiving a package from home. If you do not know anyone overseas I suggest that you make a Christmas contribution to the Wounded Warrior Project. You can mail a check to Wounded Warrior Project, National Processing Center, P.O. Box 758516, Topeka, Ks 66675-8516. You can also make a do-nation to Fisher House at Strat-ton VA Medical Center, 113 Holland Ave., Albany, N.Y. 12208.

Within the next few weeks many of our G.I.’s will be re-turning home from overseas. This will surely be a Merry Christmas for them and their families.

FYI: For those on active duty and either wounded or injured in the line of duty and because of your condition, are no longer able to perform your assigned duties and now have other du-ties not prescribed by your MOS, you are entitled to re-ceive Social Security Disability in addition your pay. Social Security Disability is retroactive to your date of injury. You will need all your military health records that reflect the wound or injury along with a letter of documentation from your doc-tor. The application is on line at:www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfor disability or call 1-800-772-1213.

If you know anyone transition-ing from the military to civilian life there is a useful website at Adecco. It is managed by for-mer military and can assist with career services, employer ser-vices, and associated needs. They are at www.adeccousa.com. In addi-tion, the Small Business Ad-ministration provides services to Veterans who are looking to open their own businesses. They provide counseling and training services. You can reach the New York State Program Coordinator, John Narciso, at www.NYVETBIZ.COM. They are located at Farmingdale State College, 2350 Broadhollow Rd., Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735 or at 631 370-8891.

Have a very happy and Holy Christmas and a healthy New Year.

God Bless our troops and God Bless America.

Veteran’s Affairs – September 2011

Upcoming Changes in the Post9/11 G.I. Bill

Upcoming changes to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill effective August 1, 2011 include paying the actual net cost of all public in-state tuition and fees, rather than basing payments upon the highest in-state tuition and fee rates for every state; capping private and foreign tuition at $17,500 per academic year; and ending payments during certain school breaks, to preserve veterans’ entitlement for future academic semesters.  Also, certain students attending private schools in select states can now continue to receive benefits at the same rate payable during the previous academic year.

Beginning October 1, 2011, eligible individuals will be able to use Post 9/11 G.I. Bill programs such as non-college degrees, on-the-job training and correspondence courses, and they will be eligible to receive a portion of the national monthly housing allowance rate when enrolled in distance learning courses.

The VA is implementing the latest round of changes to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and has already begun processing fall 2011 enrollment certifications.  Outreach by the VA has helped to increase participation by colleges and universities in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps students avoid out-of-pocket costs that may exceed the benefit.  Today more than 2000 schools are participating in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Complete information on the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill is available atwww.gibill.va.gov.  VA’s education information phone number is 1 800 GIBILL-1 or you can log in to the VA

eBenefit Website: www.eBenefits.va.gov.

 

Female Veterans Health Care

Medical Professionals in the VA have gone years without having to treat female patients.  Many, in fact, have never treated a female patient.  That is all changing now that so many women are serving in the military.  The Veterans Affairs Department is now conducting seminars related to treating female patients.

In the past there was limited availability at some VA clinics for gender specific health appointments.  Female veterans had to travel hours to another facility, or the VA had to pick up the bill for them to go to private doctors, if they opted to go at all.  So far the VA has achieved its goal of having a trained designated women’s provider in its 150 medical centers and in at least 60 to 65 per cent of its 900 community based clinics.  Doctors and nurse practitioners by the hundreds are coming to mini residency programs to focus on women’s health issues.

Please keep all our Veterans in your prayers.  God Bless America.

Convention Report

 

Donations to programs supporting our Service Men and Women have been going very well. Many Counties and Divisions have run fundraisers to support the Wounded Warrior Project and, just prior to the holidays, Project Christmas tree. If you or your County and Division have not done so, I strongly urge you to give them your support. The WWP Backpack costs $99 each and contains essential care and comfort items including clothing, toiletries, calling card, CD player and playing cards, all designed to make their hospital stay more comfortable. Checks and other donations can be made to:

Wounded Warrior Project, National Processing Center, P.O. Box 758516,
Topeka, KS 66675-8516

The next project that we suggest you lend your support to is the Fisher House Program. The Fisher House Foundation donates comfortable lodging near-by or on the grounds of major Military medical centers. They enable families to visit loved ones during their time of hospitalization. So far they have provided lodging to some 145,000 families in their time of need. The nearest Fisher House is located at:

Fisher House, Stratton VA Medical Center, 113 Holland Ave., Albany, N.Y.
12208

Information for Veterans

There is a new addition of “Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependants” by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs available. It updates the rates for certain federal payments and outlines a variety of programs and benefits for American Veterans. The booklet is 153 pages and can be downloaded at va.gov/OPA/vadocs/current_benefits.asp. It can be ordered by mail from the US Government Printing Office for a fee of $5. Call 866 512-1800. They accept credit cards.

PRIORITY 8 EXPANSION BEGINS

VA healthcare eligibility rules changed on Monday, June 15, 2009, making it easier for more veterans to enroll in VA’s health care system. This expansion opens VA health care to an additional 266,000 veterans who were previously barred from access to veteran’s facilities. When you visit the new web page yo u will find a calculator to enter your income information, number of dependants, and zip code to determine if your income falls within the new income threshold adjustments.

To check and see if you qualify under the new rules go to the website: www.va.gov/healtheligibility/ You are also encouraged to contact the Health Resources Center at 1-877-222.VETS (8387) if you have further questions.

Freedom Team Salute

Say “Thank You” with a Freedom Team Salute Commendation. Freedom Team Salute is sponsored by the Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff. There is no cost to participate. Anyone can honor a discharged U.S. Army Veteran and those individuals who support Soldiers and the Army missio n. Active Duty Soldiers can honor their parents, spouses, and other supporters. Guard and Reserve Soldiers can honor their parents, spouses, employers and other supporters. Register on line at www.FreedomTeamSalute.com or by mail at U.S.

Army Freedom Salute, P.O. Box 529, Shawnee Mission, KS 66201-9706.

An Interesting Publication for Veterans

Vetjobs Vetern Eagle is a recent publication that contains a great deal of information on benefits for veterans , transitioning military, and their family members. It contains information on free SAT & ACT test prep software, unemployment benefits, the VA Data Theft Class Action Suit, Camp Lejune Water Study, how to re-open claims using the VA’s Missing Document Program, Military related Job- fairs and a brochure on Veteran’s Benefits. You can access this newsletter at: www.info@vetjobs.com.

History of the Pledge of Allegiance

The original Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy. It was first given wide publicity through the official program of the National Public Schools Celebration on Columbus Day which was printed in The Youth’s Companion of Sept. 8, 1892, and at the same time sent out in leaflet form to schools throughout the country. School children first recited the Pledge of Allegiance this way: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” “The flag of the United States replaced the words “my flag” in 1923 because some foreign born people might have in mind the flag of the country of their birth instead of the U. S. flag. A year later, “of America” was added after “United States”.

No form of Pledge received official recognition by Congress until June 22, 1942, when the Pledge was formally included in the U.S. Flag Code. The official name of The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1945. The last change in language came on Flag Day 1954, when Congress passed a law, which added the words ”under God” after “one Nation”. (from an American Legion publication)

Please keep all our Veterans in your prayers. God Bless America. I am yours in our motto,

Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity,
John M. Ryan
Chairman of Veteran’s Affairs

Veterans Report June 2011

This report is a follow up to one I did late last year. It concerns the CAREGIVERS AND VETERANS OMNIBUS HEALTH SERVICES ACT OF 2010. Starting May 9, 2011 the VA’s office of Care Management and Social Work will open up the application process for eligible post 9/11 veterans and service members to designate their Family Caregivers.

Additional services for primary Family Caregivers of eligible post 9/11 veterans and Service members include a stipend, mental health services, and access to health care insurance, if they are not already entitled to care and services under a health care plan. Comprehensive Caregiver training and medical support are other key components of this program. The program builds on the foundation of Caregiver support now provided at VA and reflects what families and clinicians have long known; that Family Caregivers in a home environment can enhance the health and wellbeing of Veterans under VA care.

Starting May 9, 2011 veterans may download a copy of the Family Caregiver program application (VA CG 1010) at www.caregiver.va.gov. The document allows the veteran to designate a primary Family Caregiver and secondary Caregiver if necessary. The VA offers a wide range of Caregiver support services including training, counseling and respite care to ensure that Caregivers have the tools and support they need.

VA programs for Veterans and their Family Caregivers include: InHome and community based care including skilled healthcare. Respite care designed to give the Family Caregiver a break from caring for the Veteran. Education and training programs for the Caregivers. Caregiver support groups including temporary lodging at Fisher House.
The VA provides durable medical equipment for the home.

The Family Caregiver assistance center can be reached at www.myhealth.va.gov.

Please keep our troops and their families in your prayers.
GOD BLESS AMERICA