April 2016 Newsletter

Michael O'Day
By Michael O'Day April 1, 2016 09:59

Next Meeting:  April 25, 2016 at 7:00 P.M.                                                                   Issue: April 2016

Published Monthly – Distributed to all members of VVA and AVVA

Chapter 885*

801 Princess Street

Wilmington, North Carolina

Tel: 910-762-4288

Editor:  Mike O’Day (email: mod199th@yahoo.com)

Publisher:  Mack Mitchell

“Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

President:  Mack Mitchell

1st Vice president:  Tony Mortillaro

2nd Vice President:  Charlie Garner Jr.

Treasurer:  Bob Doleman

Secretary:  Michael O’Day

Sergeant at Arms:  John Mitchell

Service Officer:  Tony Musolino

Chaplain:  Abdul Shareef

AVVA Chapter Representative: Deborah Musolino

               *Chapter 885 is a member of the New Hanover County Veterans Council.

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

It is April and spring has sprung.  I hope you all are enjoying the warmer weather.  April at VVA 885 means it is election time.  Unlike the Republican Party which originally had 17 candidates for President we don’t seem to be attracting very many candidates for any of our elected positions.  Please give some consideration to running for one of our officer positions.  This is your opportunity to make a difference and provide some guidance in how the Chapter is run in the future.

CHAPLAIN’S REPORT

Wishing all a happy April and continued progress for the year 2016.  As we prepare for the upcoming spring work and activity, remember to think and work safe.  Don’t be too proud to wear gloves or eye and ear protection when required.  We only get one pair of each.  Lift with the legs and not the back.  Ask for help if the load gets too heavy.

Offer a prayer for our members who may be sick and/or recovering from surgical procedures.

If you know of a death or illness of a chapter member or their family, please notify our Chaplain, Abdul Shareef, and/or the office so that we may provide support to the family and get the information to Chapter members in a timely manner.

SERVICE OFFICER’S COMMENTS

Women Veterans Summit and Expo

The North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (NCDMVA) announced on Thursday, March 24 that it will hold the second annual North Carolina Women Veterans Summit and Expo on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at the McKimmon Center, North Carolina State University. This year’s event builds on the success of Governor McCrory’s inaugural Women Veterans Summit and Expo, which was held on April 17, 2014, a day proclaimed by Governor McCrory as “Women Veterans Day.”

The theme of this year’s event, which emerges from a collaborative partnership between NCDMVA and NC Vetbiz, is Empower, Educate and Enrich. All women veterans are encouraged to register online at: http://women.nc4vets.com/

Over the last year, Governor McCrory has led several successful veteran educational and employment initiatives, which became law, including providing in-state tuition for all students receiving education benefits through the Montgomery GI-Bill for Active Duty service or the Post 911 GI Bill, and allowing military trained professionals and their spouses to use past experience and training to obtain credit toward certain North Carolina occupational licenses and professional certifications. Governor McCrory is committed to improving opportunities for veterans throughout North Carolina and women veterans, in particular.

Women veterans throughout the state are invited to participate in this exciting event to share their stories, and exchange ideas about business, entrepreneurship, educational and career opportunities, and health and wellness. The event will feature a vendor exhibit, speaking program, and a series of networking and breakout sessions. For additional details about the 2016 NC Women Veterans Summit & Expo please email: NCWomenVets@nc.gov About NC Vet Biz – NC Vet Biz is a non-profit, member-operated association of veteran professionals and business owners, which was established in 2008 to advance veteran entrepreneurship, and to develop and strengthen a veterans’ business network in North Carolina. http://www.ncvetbiz.org/.

Please bring your DD-214 to register for VA Healthcare and My HealtheVet.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Fund Raisers

April 9, 10 – Azalea Festival

April 16th – Harris Teeter, Mayfaire

May 14th – Sam’s Club

May 21st – Rims on the River, Wilmington

June 18th – Blueberry Festival, Burgaw, NC

June 25th – Harris Teeter, Lumina Commons

August 13th – Sam’s Club

October 15, 16 – Autumn with Topsail, Topsail, NC

November 5th – Sam’s Club

Parades

March 12 – St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Wilmington

April 9 – Azalea Festival Parade

Minority Affairs

April 2, 2016 – Juneteenth presents Fun in the Sun – Family Affair at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater located at 1941 Amphitheatre Dr., Wilmington, NC 28401.  Cost is $25.  For more information call:     910-612-0983, 910-617-0649, or 910-880-9414.

April 18, 2016, Abdul Shareef (Chaplain) will give the invocation at the New Hanover Commissioners meeting at 9 AM at the Old Courthouse.

June 18, 2016 – Juneteenth Festival.  Juneteenth commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation and the reunification of families.

Other

Nov 11th – Veterans Day at the Cemetery, Market St. Wilmington, NC

AVVA

The following is provided to us by Debbie Musolino, AVVA Chapter Rep:

On March 28th I received an e-mail that our AVVA National Vice President Cathy Keister had died after a 10 day rapid decline.  She recently had relocated to Myrtle Beach to be close to her daughter.

In July at the VVA National Convention in Springfield, Illinois I had the privilege of meeting Cathy.  I remember talking to her in the hallway before our AVVA meeting of delegates to elect our AVVA National Officers and revise the bylaws.  We all have met someone that for whatever reason leaves an impression on us.  Well Cathy Keister left an impression on me.

When our newsletter editor asked me for this month’s AVVA article my mind kept wandering back to meeting Cathy.  In AVVA National President Sharon Hobb’s announcement that Cathy had died she stated that Cathy’s passion was the repair/remodeling of the “In Memory Plaque”.

The ” ‘In Memory’ program honors Vietnam veterans whose lives were cut short as a result of their service in Vietnam, but are not eligible for inscription on The Wall under Department of Defense guidelines.  In Memory is a way that all Vietnam veterans can be honored on the National Mall.

The plaque that honors these veterans was dedicated as a part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 2004.  It reads:  In Memory of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and later died as a result of their service.  We honor and remember their sacrifice.”

The National Foundation for Veterans & Families (NFVF) was established in 2008 in cooperation with the AVVA.  The purpose is “to …support programs that bring awareness to service-related health issues, to fund veteran-related monument projects, and financially support projects and programs that are designed and created for the betterment of all veterans and their families.”

The “In Memory Plaque” project began in 1999 and has since honored more than 2,500 veterans.  For more information http://www.nfvf.org Cathy Keister was the Foundation Chair.  For this effort alone Ms. Keister will certainly be missed. We honor her memory for a life well lived.

HUMOR IN UNIFORM

Here’s one for the Air Force

Best branch of the US Armed Forces? A Soldier, a Sailor, an Airman and a Marine got into an argument about which branch of the service was The Best. The arguing became so heated the four servicemen failed to see an oncoming truck as they crossed the street. They were hit by the truck and killed instantly. Soon, the four servicemen found themselves at the Pearly gates of Heaven. There, they met Saint Peter and decided that only he could be the ultimate source of truth and honesty. So, the four servicemen asked him, Saint Peter, which branch of the United States Armed Forces is the best? Saint Peter replied, I can’t answer that. However, I will ask God what He thinks the next time I see Him. Meanwhile, thank you for your service on Earth and welcome to Heaven. Sometime later the four servicemen see Saint Peter and remind him of the question they had asked when first entering Heaven and asked Saint Peter if he was able to ask God for the answer to their question.  Suddenly, a sparkling white dove lands on Saint Peter’s shoulder. In the doves beak is a note glistening with gold dust. Saint Peter opens the note, trumpets blare, gold dust drifts into the air, harps play crescendos and Saint Peter begins to read the note aloud to the four servicemen: MEMORANDUM FROM THE DESK OF THE ALMIGHTY TO: All Former Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines SUBJECT: Which Military Service Is the Best 1. All branches of the United States Armed Forces are honorable and noble. 2. Each serves America well and with distinction. 3. Serving in the United States military represents a great honor warranting special respect, tribute, and dedication from your fellow man. 4. Always be proud of that. Warm Regards, GOD, USAF, Ret.

EDITORS COMMENTS

I was wondering what to write for this month’s edition and then this lady wrote it for me.  Below is a letter to the editor published in the Star News on March 14, 2016, written by Sandra Files.  The Marine mentioned in the letter is still a true patriot and Ms. Files just got a new appreciation for patriotism.  It seems that Vietnam veterans are still making a difference.

Glimpse at Patriotism

“Saturday, as I watched the Wilmington St. Patrick’s Day Parade, I sat beside a Vietnam veteran who was proudly wearing his veteran’s cap.  Each time an American flag passed, he slowly stood and saluted.

As the Marine Band passed, he once again stood straight and tall.  With a look of reverence upon his face, he said the lyrics as the band played “The Marine Hymn.”

As the parade progressed, a vehicle with Vietnam veterans stopped in front of him.  This gentleman and one person on the vehicle slowly rose simultaneously, looking each other in the eye, and slowly saluted one another.

It was such an intimate and poignant moment, I felt as though I should look away.  As they gazed into each other’s faces, for one brief moment, I witnessed patriotism at its highest level.”

THIS MONTH’S BIRTHDAYS

Happy Birthday to all.

Owen Martin                     4th                         Judy Williams                     11th

Artie Johnson                    12th                       Margaret Colman             12th

David Mercer                     13th                       Winston Robotham          17th

Thomas Robinson             18th                       Neal Keller                         19th

Eddie Sellars                      20th                       Joseph Sipala                     20th

Bernard Brunson               27th

If you do not see your birthday mentioned here please get in touch with the Chapter Secretary, Mike O’Day.

OTHER NEWS

The Chapter has a new Web Page

The web page has been redesigned.  The web address has remained the same – www.vvachapter885.org but it has an entirely new look.  It has greater capacity to allow us to retain more items and or pictures and also allows us to archive back issues of the Newsletter.  You are encouraged to visit the website and to register your email on the site as the site will automatically email you with any additions to the web page.

Chapter Elections

The Chapter elections for 2016’s slate of officers will be held this month.  It is time to start thinking about taking a more active role in the running of the Chapter. Some of our officers may be stepping down this year and others will be up for re-election.  It is easy to sit back and criticize about what is going on in the Chapter, here is your opportunity to make sure your voice is heard and to help steer the ship.

Trailer

The Chapter has purchased a used enclosed trailer in great condition.  The trailer has the VVA logo on it. The trailer will be used to haul all of our merchandise and equipment to our various fund raisers.  It will also allow us to store the merchandise and equipment in the trailer thereby eliminating the need to haul everything in and out of the office each time we have a fund raiser.

We have already used the trailer for one fund raiser and two parades and people’s reaction as it passes by has been very favorable.

Lifetime Membership Fees

The sale on lifetime memberships, at the end of last year, was not a one shot deal.  VVA National has made it permanent, lifetime memberships are now $100.

Facebook Page

The Chapter has a new Facebook page.  To follow us on Facebook go to VVA Chapter 885, hit like and continue to check in to see what is going on at the Chapter.  The Facebook page is linked to the website as well as the website being linked to Facebook.

Grill

The Chapter has purchased a grill for our future use.  The grill is the same one that was used for the cook-out, in April, as part of the 50th anniversary commemorating the start of the Vietnam War and was also used for the May cook-out for the nurses at the VA facility.  The grill will also be available for rental by individuals or groups at a cost of $55 per day or $75 for two days.  Please contact the office (910-762-4288) for availability.

VA Might Add More “Presumptive” Illnesses for Vietnam Veterans

By August this year many more thousands of Vietnam War veterans, those suffering from bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s-like symptoms and even high blood pressure, could learn they will be eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs health benefits and disability compensation. Or perhaps not.

Difficult months of study lie ahead for a working group of senior scientists and health experts that VA Secretary Bob McDonald convened last week, following release of a 10th and final biennial review of evidence of health problems linked to Agent Orange and other herbicide exposures.

Every review in the series, going back two decades, has been conducted, as Congress mandated, by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a division of the National Academies of Sciences. Its latest review, Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2014, takes into account medical and scientific literature published from Oct. 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2014.

The IOM concludes that the research supports changing the strength of association to herbicide exposure for several ailments. For bladder cancer and hypothyroidism, it found “limited or suggestive” evidence of an association, an upgrade from previous “inadequate or insufficient” evidence.

This latest review looked again at scientific literature on cardiovascular conditions and herbicides. The IOM didn’t upgrade but it did affirm limited and suggestive evidence that hypertension may be linked to herbicides.

This review also considered whether conditions resulting in Parkinson’s-like symptoms, apart from Parkinson’s disease itself, should fall into the same limited or suggestive category of evidence. Yes it should, the IOM concluded, finding “no rational basis” for the current exclusion.

For only the second time, the IOM withdrew an earlier finding of that herbicide exposure may have caused an ailment, in this case spina bifida in children born to Vietnam veterans. For 20 years VA has used a preliminary finding of an association to grant children benefits. The IOM says it no longer believes the evidence merits retaining spina bifida in that category.

On March 9, the same day the IOM briefed senior VA officials on its report, McDonald ordered the VA working group convened to review not only the 1,100-page IOM report but original studies IOM refers to as well as any peer reviews on ailments and herbicides completed since October 2014, which would be research the IOM had considered in its final review.

Dr. Ralph Loren Erickson, chief consultant of post deployment health services for the Veterans Health Administration, is co-chair of the working group. He said the plan is to review carefully all of the studies and the IOM recommendations and then prepare “a response document” to be distributed “throughout our senior leadership, with suggestions and recommendations for action,” before presenting to McDonald for final decisions.

“No question when the [IOM] moves something to a higher category you can bet we will look even more closely at those particular diseases,” Erickson said. “It certainly is not within my purview to make any statement at this point as to how the secretary will decide. In the past there have been things in this (limited or suggestive evidence) category that have become presumptions, and there are things in this category that have not.”

The IOM says “limited or suggestive” means the epidemiological evidence indicates there could be a link between herbicide exposure and increased risk for a health effect. For some ailments, including ischemic heart disease, past VA secretaries used “limited or suggestive evidence” to add diseases to the presumptive list. And yet for others, including hypertension, that same category hasn’t been viewed as enough.

Among provisions of the Agent Orange law Congress allowed to sunset last year was a requirement that the VA secretary take action on IOM recommendations within 60 days. Erickson said the working group hopes to give McDonald what he needs to make decisions on the IOM by late July.

“We feel that if we can move at a pace that gets this all taken care of within about four months, we will be doing well,” he said.

It would be far longer before any veterans or survivors see more or higher disability pay, however. VA rulemaking following a decision to add diseases to the presumptive list involve writing and publishing proposed regulations, collecting and reacting to public comments, and then publishing final regulations, a process that could take more than a year with added delay possible from the change in administrations to occur in January.

Whatever decisions McDonald makes on the IOM recommendations will be “rooted in science” and “evidenced based,” said Erickson.

But doesn’t VA also take account of size of the population affected? For example, hypertension afflicts two-thirds of Americans age 65 and older.

It is true, Erickson said, that Vietnam veterans have moved into their 60s, 70s and 80s and many have chronic diseases of older age.

“Hypertension is one of them,” he said. “And so teasing those things out — [to decide] is it related to this veteran’s age [or] to their being in Vietnam where they were exposed to Agent Orange — sometimes can be difficult.”

Does it finally come down to a judgment call?

“Well, a judgment call based on the evidence,” Erickson said. “The secretary has made it very clear, certainly to me and to others who work on these types of technical working groups; he wants to know what does the science show? What does the evidence show?”

The final decision will be based on “whether the preponderance of the evidence will support a proposal of the new presumption,” Erickson said.

If McDonald does accept IOM recommendations, this review would be the first in six years to result in one or more diseases being added to list of ailments VA presumes are linked to herbicide exposure.

The eligible population would be any veteran who can show they stepped foot in Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, including on ships in Vietnam’s inland waterways, also veterans who served in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone any time from April 1, 1968, to Aug 31, 1971.

VA Announces Community Care Call Center to Help Veterans with Choice Program Billing Issues
Veterans can now work directly with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to resolve debt collection issues resulting from inappropriate or delayed Choice Program billing. In step with MyVA’s efforts to modernize VA’s customer-focused, Veteran-centered services capabilities, a Community Care Call Center has been set up for Veterans experiencing adverse credit reporting or debt collection resulting from inappropriately billed Choice Program claims. Veterans experiencing these problems can call 1-877-881-7618 for assistance.

“As a result of the Veterans Choice Program, community providers have seen thousands of Veterans. We continue to work to make the program more Veteran-friendly,” said Dr. David Shulkin, Under Secretary for Health. “There should be no bureaucratic burden that stands in the way of Veterans getting care.”

The new call center will work to resolve instances of improper Veteran billing and assist community care medical providers with delayed payments.  VA staff are also trained and ready to work with the medical providers to expunge adverse credit reporting on Veterans resulting from delayed payments to providers.VA is urging Veterans to continue working with their VA primary care team to obtain necessary health care services regardless of adverse credit reporting or debt collection activity.

VA acknowledges that delayed payments and inappropriately billed claims are unacceptable and have caused stress for Veterans and providers alike.  The new call center is the first step in addressing these issues.  VA presented The Plan to Consolidate Community Care in October of 2015 that outlines additional solutions to streamline processes and improve timely provider payment.

For more details about the Veterans Choice Program and VA’s progress, visit: www.va.gov/opa/choiceact . Veterans seeking to use the Veterans Choice Program can call1-866-606-8198 to find out more about the program, confirm their eligibility and schedule an appointment.

Combat Veterans Get Telephonic Health Care Application Option

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today, March 16, 2016, that it has amended its enrollment regulations to allow Veterans to complete applications for enrollment in VA health care by telephone without the need for a signed paper application. The change is effective immediately for Combat Veterans and will be effective July 5, 2016, for all Veterans.

This phased implementation accelerates VA’s effort to enroll all Combat Veterans with pending applications as part of its ongoing Veterans Enrollment Rework Project. The VA is working to complete the review and rework of all pending health enrollment records for living and deceased Veterans this summer. Veterans can view the amended regulation on the Federal Register website here.

“This improvement to our Veterans’ experience is one we can implement now, and it’s the right thing to do for Veterans,” said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan D. Gibson, “Enrolling all 31,000 Combat Veterans with pending applications is the top priority in our effort to fix our enrollment system. Our analysis of our current application process convinced me we could enroll Veterans more quickly using this method, particularly Combat Veterans and those who are transitioning from active duty to Veteran status,” Gibson said.

By adding this telephone application option to VA’s regulations, VA will now offer three ways to enroll.  This change provides Veterans an even more convenient way to apply for enrollment, in addition to the paper VA Form 10-10 EZ and online enrollment application process. With publication in the Federal Register today, Combat Veterans and those who are transitioning from active duty to Veteran status,” Gibson said.

When Veterans choose to enroll, VA offers an enhancement to their enrollment experience through “Welcome to VA” (W2VA).  Veterans enrolled since July 1, 2015 have received a personal introduction to VA health care services, programs and resources to help them become more familiar with VA’s services. In addition, VA sends each new enrollee an introductory letter and personalized handbook in the mail. W2VA enhances communication by reaching out to newly enrolled Veterans through personal phone calls upon enrollment, providing assistance with health care inquiries and assisting with their initial appointment at their preferred VA healthcare facility.

For more information, Veterans can contact the Health Eligibility Center Enrollment and Eligibility Division toll free at 1-855-488-8440.

Tricare

According to a January 4 Health.mil posting by TRICARE staff, military pharmacies and TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery will remain the lowest cost pharmacy option for TRICARE beneficiaries when some TRICARE pharmacy copays change in 2016. On Feb 1, 2016, most copays for prescription drugs at Home Delivery and retail network pharmacies will increase slightly. The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires TRICARE to change its prescription copays. All drugs at military pharmacies and generic drugs through Home Delivery are still available at no cost to beneficiaries. Copays for brand-name drugs through Home Delivery increase from $16 to $20, for up to a 90-day supply. At retail pharmacies, generic drug copays go from $8 to $10, and brand name drug copays go from $20 to $24, for up to a 30-day supply. Copays for non-formulary drugs and for drugs at non-network pharmacies will also change.

Beneficiaries can save up to $208 in 2016 for each brand name prescription drug they switch from retail pharmacy to Home Delivery. Home Delivery offers safe and convenient delivery of your prescription drugs right to your mailbox. To see the new TRICARE pharmacy copays, learn more about the TRICARE Pharmacy benefit, or move your prescription to Home Delivery, visit www.tricare.mil/pharmacy.

Concealed Carry Permits

According to the Virginia Attorney General (who has the owner to null reciprocal deals with other states), concealed carry permits from 25 states are revoked and will no longer be recognized in Virginia.  Essentially concealed carry reciprocity agreements are being severed with states deemed to have “weaker” concealed carry requirements as compared to Virginia.  The affected states are:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Virginia’s action becomes effective February 1, 2016 – therefore before you travel to the State of Virginia make sure you leave your concealed (or any) weapon home.

Veterans Discount Program

Tammy Beasley, the New Hanover County (NHC) Register of Deeds, recently announced her office is launching a new Veterans Discount Program and needs local businesses to help.

The registrar for NHC said they will be giving veterans who have recorded their DD 214 (original or certified copy) in NHC a “Thank you for your service” photo ID card.  The card will allow veterans to get discounts at participating businesses in NHC.  “They will be able to go into a business and show them the card and the business will recognize it right away and give them their discount,” said Beasley. She said the goal is to make it simple and easy for veterans to get the discounts they deserve.

The new program is intended to both honor veterans and encourage them to record their DD 214 (discharge papers) in New Hanover County. Veterans won’t be able to get the discount card until their DD 214 is recorded in New Hanover County. If they have lost it, the Register of Deeds office will work with Veterans Services to help them find the documentation and record it. If they already recorded their DD 214, they will be able to come in and get their photo ID made.

Once the DD 214 is recorded, Beasley said no one except for immediate family will be able to look at it for 80 years. It has important information, including a veteran’s social security number, branch and how many years they served. “History for New Hanover County is here. Birth, marriage, death, the military and so much more,” Beasley explained. “Two hundred years down the line, if you want to search your family, you will be able to come and search and find out where they served our country.”

Participating businesses will be given a sign they can display if they want. The participating businesses will also be listed on the Register of Deeds website, and a list will be given to all veterans who come into the Register of Deeds office to get their photo ID made.

On the website businesses will be able to sign up themselves. Anyone encountering difficulties with the website and who wishes to participate should call Tammy Beasley, Registrar, at 910-798-7736 or email her at tbeasley@nhcgov.com.

Veterans were able to start using the cards on Veterans Day, November 11, 2015.

www.veterans.newhanoverdeeds.com is the source of info for the participating businesses in the New Hanover County veterans ID program.

 

Michael O'Day
By Michael O'Day April 1, 2016 09:59
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801 Princess Street

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