May 2016 Newsletter

Michael O'Day
By Michael O'Day May 4, 2016 18:49

Next Meeting:  May 23, 2016 at 7:00 P.M.                                                                  Issue: May 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:

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.


This is my last message to you as president.  I want to thank all of you for your support over the last few years and I sincerely wish that you give your continued support to our new president, Don Betz.  I want to congratulate Don and the other new officers and Board members and wish them all the success in the world.  I also want to thank the outgoing officers: Tony Mortillaro, Charlie Garner, John Mitchell and Debbie Musolino for their service and all of their hard work in the past years.


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.


VA Undersecretary Announces New Measures to Improve Health Care Access
Under Secretary for Health (Dr.) David J. Shulkin announced the measures the Department of Veterans Affairs is taking to improve veterans’ health care access. One new initiative, MyVA Access, represents a major shift for VA by putting veterans more in control of how they receive their health care.  It is a top priority for VA’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

MyVA Access is a declaration from VHA employees to the veterans they care for; it is a call to action and the reaffirmation of the core mission to provide quality care to veterans, and to offer that care as soon as possible to veterans how and where they desire to receive that care. The initiative ensures that the entire VA health care system is engaged in the transformation of VA into a Veteran-centered service organization, incorporating aspirational goals such as same day access to mental health and primary care services for veterans when it is medically necessary.

At present, 34 VA facilities offer same-day appointments, and as a practicing physician, VA is hoping to be able to offer same day appointments when it is medically necessary at all of its medical centers by the end of 2016. In addition, a new smart phone app, Veteran Appointment Request App, was introduced.  This app allows veterans to view, schedule and cancel primary care and mental health appointments as well as track the status of the appointment request and review upcoming appointments.  It is currently available in 10 locations and has received positive feedback from the vast majority of veterans using the app.  VA expects to make the app available to all veterans by early 2017.

Other efforts underway include a website enhancement that will allow veterans to check wait times in real time where ever they live – this includes new and existing patients and a new, easy-to-use scheduling software program.  The new program is being piloted in 10 sites and is expected to reduce scheduling errors and enhance VA’s ability to measure and track supply, demand and usage

Tricare: Nurse Advice Line for Older Adults

Are you an older adult?  If so, you can call the TRICARE Nurse Advice Line (NAL) 24 hours a day.  When you call the NAL, a registered nurse will help you assess if you can handle your health concern with self-care or if you need to see a medical professional.  The NAL can also help you find a doctor and schedule next-day appointments at military hospitals and clinics when available.  To access the NAL dial 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273) and select option 1. For more information on the Nurse Advice Line.`

2017 Military Construction-VA Spending Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced its fiscal 2017 Military Construction-VA spending bill Thursday by a 30-0 vote, with an amendment that would allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in States where it is legal.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) would also prohibit funds in the bill from being used to interfere with veterans participating in State-approved medical marijuana programs.

“We shouldn’t discriminate against veterans just because they’re seeking care at a VA facility,” Daines said of his amendment before it was adopted by the committee on a 20-10 vote. “Veterans should not be denied access to a medicine that can help alleviate their condition, and doctors must be able to discuss and recommend all treatments.” said Michael Collins, deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs, in a statement.  “They have served this country, and shouldn’t be discriminated against.”

The provision was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last year but ultimately wasn’t included in fiscal 2016 omnibus after a similar amendment was rejected on the House floor.


 Fund Raisers

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

September 17th – Olde Point Golf & CC, Hampstead, NC

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

November 5th – Sam’s Club

 Minority Affairs

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


May 30th – memorial Day at the Cemetery,

Market St., Wilmington

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


Debbie Musolino’s term as Chapter rep has expired.  After an election on Monday, April 25, 2016, Nary Skov is the new AVVA Chapter rep.


JJ is starting a new fashion trend.

You never know what you are going to see or hear at the office.  Stop by and join us for a few laughs.

Naval Rank Recognition

If you are like me you have a hard time recognizing naval ranks.  Here is a primer on how to do it:

Admiral – Leaps tall buildings with a single bound, is more powerful than a locomotive, is faster than a speeding bullet, walks on water amid typhoons, reviews policy with God.

Captain – Leaps short buildings with a single bound, is more powerful than a switch engine, is just as fast as a speeding bullet, walks on water if sea is calm, talks to God.

Commander – Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds, is almost as powerful as a switch engine, is faster than a speeding BB, walks on water in indoor swimming pool, talks to God only if a special request chit is approved.

Lt. Commander – Barely clears a Quonset hut, loses tug-of-war with switch engine, can fire a speeding bullet, swims well, is occasionally addressed by God.

Lieutenant – Makes high marks trying to leap buildings, is run over by the locomotive, can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting self-injury, dog paddles, talks to animals.

Lieutenant JG – Runs into buildings, recognizes locomotives two out of three times, is not issued ammunition, can stay afloat if properly instructed in the Mae-West, talks to bulkheads.

Ensign – Falls over doorstep trying to enter building, says look at the Choo-Choo, wets himself, plays in the mud puddles, mumbles to himself.

Chief – Lifts buildings and walks under them, kicks locomotives off the tracks, catches speeding bullets in his teeth and eats them, freezes water with a single glance, makes policy and enforces it. HE IS GOD.


This month we celebrate Memorial Day, or if you are old like me, you may still remember it as Decoration Day.  Traditionally this day of remembrance was celebrated on May 30 but in June 1968 the day was moved to the last Monday in May in order to give all of us a three day weekend.  Here is the rub, for me anyway, instead of a day to remember our fallen military it has become: the unofficial start of summer; a reason to have family BBQ’s; and sales galore at stores, auto dealers etc., and the reason for celebrating the day gets lost in all of the activities.

We Veterans know all about the reason why we celebrate the day – honor our fallen comrades. So this month, take some time to sit down with your kids and grandkids and give them a little education as to what the holiday really means.  Yes, it is great to have the BBQ’s, sales and fun at the beach but you will be doing your family a service to let them know what the holiday really means.


Happy Birthday to all.

Raymond Horwath           2nd

James Vaughn                   5th

Glover Stanford                6th

Robert Garrison                17th

Jack Vereen                       17th

Thomas Lawson                19th

Samuel Colman                 20th

William Baker                    22nd

Paul Thompson                 24th

Willard Whiteman            27th

Harold George                  27th

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


VVA 885 is Having a Golf tournament

On September 17th, VVA 885 is having a golf tournament at Olde Point Golf & CC in Hampstead (full details are in the flyer on the last page of this newsletter).  The purpose of the tournament is to raise funds for the Chapter’s Veterans Outreach Program.  We are just getting this off the ground so if you would like to help please contact Mike O’Day at 910-398-8635 or via email at  Currently we are in the process of lining up sponsors for individual holes and/or for the entire event; we are also looking for golfers too.  If you know of anyone interested in any capacity please have them contact Mike.

April’s Fund Raisers and Parade

We had two fund raisers and one parade in April.  For the Azalea festival we had a parade on April 9th and fund raisers on the 9th and 10th.  The parade was a little hectic in getting all the many participating groups lined up in their proper spot but it all worked out and the parade went off on time and actually looked pretty good.  Chapter 885 was represented by 3 vehicles: Tony Mortillaro’s vintage truck and two trailers one of which carried the troops.

It was very heart-warming to hear all of the cheers and also to see so many people stand and applaud as we went by.  As for the two day fund raiser it was an interesting experience as we fought a losing battle with the wind on Saturday.  At one point the wind lifted the tent up and broke the frame and we had to shut down early in the afternoon and also had to replace the tent.  It wasn’t just us as many tents went airborne that day; down the road money was in the air as one group’s money bucket also went airborne.  With our brand new tent up on Sunday, mother-nature cooperated by not sending any wind our way.  Over the two days we did alright, we sold some of our items and took in some donations.

On the 17th our fund raiser was at Harris Teeters in Mayfaire and we did quite well selling our wares and collecting donations.  It is always heart-warming to see people give generously and we get to hear some interesting stories along the way.  One generous gift was very thoughtful and delicious as well; one woman had 4 pizzas (from Brooklyn Pizza) delivered to our tent for our lunch.  I can’t promise pizzas at every fund raiser but I can promise that you will have a good time and a lot of laughs.  If you haven’t participated in one of our fund raisers yet, please do so in the future, who knows you might like it.

DD-214’s Are Now Online

The following information is courtesy of Redcatcher Association, Inc. (Redcatcher – 199th Light Infantry Brigade). It’s official; DD-214’s are now online.  The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC has provided the following website for veterans to gain access to their DD-214’s online: or try This may be particularly helpful when a veteran needs a copy of his DD-214 for employment purposes.  NPRC is working to make it easier for veterans with computer access to obtain copies of documents from their military files.

Many veterans and the next of kin of deceased former military members may now use a new online military personnel records system to request documents.  Other individuals with a need for documents must still complete the Standard Form 180, which can be downloaded from the online web site.

Because the requester will be asked to supply all information essential for NPRC to process the request, delays that normally occur when NPRC has to ask veterans for additional information will be minimized.  The new web-based application was designed to provide better service on these requests by eliminating the records centers mailroom and processing time.  Please pass this information on to former military personnel you may know and/or their dependents.

Presentation of a plaque to the Chapter

At the Monday, April 25, 2016, Chapter meeting, the Chapter was presented with a plaque by Gary Anderson, Vice-President of the Patriot Honor Guards of North Carolina.  The plaque was in recognition of the Chapter’s donation last year that helped bring the traveling wall to Oak Island, NC last July.

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.


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 rule making 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.




Veterans Outreach Fundraiser

Help us help our fellow veterans of all wars!

At Olde Point Golf & CC

513 Country Club Drive

Hampstead, North Carolina


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Shotgun Start: 9:00 am

(Please sign in by 8:00 am)

Captains Choice


$65.00 per player / $260.00 per Team of Four

Continental breakfast, lunch and beverages provided.


Bring cash for donations and raffles.  Awards for 1st and 2nd place teams, longest drive, closest to pin and more.


Please make checks payable to:    VVA Chapter 885       PO Box 4582, Wilmington, NC 28403


Questions: call – Mike O’Day at 910-398-8635


Michael O'Day
By Michael O'Day May 4, 2016 18:49
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