January 2017 Newsletter

Michael O'Day
By Michael O'Day January 5, 2017 22:56

Next Meeting:  January 23, 2017 at 7:00 P.M.                                                                   Issue: January 2017

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)

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

President:  Don Betz

1st Vice president:  Larry Farmer

2nd Vice President:  K. C. Jones

Treasurer:  Bob Doleman

Secretary:  Michael O’Day

Sergeant at Arms:  Thurmond Bethea

Service Officer:  Tony Musolino

Chaplain:  Abdul Shareef

AVVA Chapter Representative: James Bryant

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

 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

“Top of the New Year’ to Chapter 885 VVA & AVVA! I’m bullish for our Chapter in 2017!! We have many opportunities before us and signification outreach to continue to extend to the veteran community. Our membership has increased close to 10% since last summer and the national membership levels are rising as well! We continue to have a strong visibility in the community in which the community is responding to.  The turnout for wreaths at the national cemetery on Saturday December 17th was very impressive.

The New Hanover County Veterans Council announced at its meeting on December 15th that the 2017 Azalea Festival parade will honor veterans by having all veteran units leading off the parade with a planned “flyover” of military aircraft.  So we need to be planning a large turnout of Chapter 885 members!

I continue to receive complaints about the Wave bus at the VA clinic.  At the December 15th meeting of the Wave board, the union acknowledged the bus driver does not actually have to stop if there is no one at the bus stop, however they indicated the driver will be directed to stop and pause to look for passengers.  So for any of our members volunteering at the clinic please pass the word for people to be prepared to move out to meet the bus as the driver does have a schedule to maintain.

Let’s continue to be there for each other and make 2017 rewarding!

Don

PS There will be NO fee for veterans to be in the Azalea Festival parade this year!

 CHAPLAIN’S REPORT

VVA members may the spirit of Yuletide greetings, peace and goodwill flow with and stay with you as you go forward into the New Year of 2017.  I wish great and many blessings to you and family of all that will bring happiness in your lives.  As we continue to eat and enjoy the many fruits of this beautiful earth let us reflect and pray that we never go to bed on a full stomach knowing that our neighbor is hungry.  And as you have shared with others this during this special season, let’s try to remember that the needs are many and the needs are daily. Help a vet and family whenever we can.

“All gave some. Some gave all”

Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.

VVA 885, Chaplain Abdul Rahman Shareef

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

 The below information is courtesy of Tony Musolino.  Tony’s personal comments are in blue.

VA to Eliminate 7 Compensable Disabilities
I think that this is important info and should be made widespread. This is a heads up bit of information and appears that the VA is already in the process of taking action on it we have all of 2017 to get the word out – but let’s not pass up the opportunity to let those now covered under these conditions to be prepared for it.  If the VA changes its mind fine – if not we will have done what we need to do – pass the info on.

On December 12, 2016 the VA announced that they may eliminate 7 compensable disabilities.

Not all service-connected medical conditions and injuries are incurred or exacerbated in the performance of military duties. For example, a qualifying injury can occur when a service member was at home or on leave, and a qualifying medical condition, such as multiple sclerosis, can develop independently of a service member’s military duties.

In 2015, VA paid 716,000 veterans a total of $3.7 billion, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, to compensate for seven of the medical conditions that, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), military service is unlikely to cause or aggravate.

Those conditions are:

Arteriosclerotic heart disease,

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,

Crohn’s disease,

Hemorrhoids,

Multiple sclerosis,

Osteoarthritis, and

Uterine fibroids.

Beginning in January 2018, this option would cease veterans’ disability compensation for those seven medical conditions GAO identified.

Under the option, veterans now receiving compensation for those conditions would have their compensation reduced or eliminated, and veterans who applied for compensation for those conditions in the future would not be eligible for it.

An argument in support of this option is that it would make the disability compensation system for military veterans more comparable to civilian systems. Few civilian employers offer long-term disability benefits, and among those that do, benefits do not typically compensate individuals for all medical problems that developed during employment.

An argument against this option is that military service is not like a civilian job; instead, it confers unique benefits to society and imposes extraordinary risks on service members. By that logic, the pay and benefits that service members receive should reflect the hardships of military life, including compensating veterans who become disabled in any way during their military service.

Tricare Reform

Source:  U.S. Congressional Budget Office

TRICARE reforms proposed over the last year had included a parade of fee increases, many of which put the greatest burden on military retirees.  But after months of negotiations, lawmakers produced a toned-down set of reforms that focuses change on the incoming military force instead of those who entered service under current health care plans.

For those currently in the TRICARE system, including TRICARE Reserve Select and TRICARE for Life users, reform focuses primarily on program title change, back end management and limited expansions. For example, the law eliminates the “TRICARE Standard” and “TRICARE Extra” options, swapping them out with the newly minted “TRICARE Select.” But for those who serve before 2018, nothing about the cost structure under the new plan differs from what users pay today under Standard or Extra.

Under expansions in the legislation, TRICARE Prime users will be able to access civilian-based urgent care without prior authorization, a program that is currently capped at two visits per year. Military treatment facilities also will expand their primary care business hours and implement a standard appointment scheduling system across all services and facilities nationwide while increasing the number of available appointments.

The legislation also allows the Defense Department to sell durable medical equipment, such as hearing aids, to beneficiaries at cost.  Currently, TRICARE does not cover hearing aids for retirees.

Although Tricare did not authorize hearing aids, you could buy them – at military cost – through the Hospital Audiology Section.

Congress Reaches National Defense Authorization Act Agreement
In December, Congress finally reached an agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2017.  The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the bill before they leave for the weekend.  The President earlier had said he might veto the bill if it contains some of the provisions it does.

In the health care arena, I am pleased to see the rejection of higher copays for prescription medicines.

The three current choices Prime, Standard and Extra will change. Prime which will remain, but Standard and Extra will be merged into one called Select.

One unpleasant feature of the new TRICARE will be that active duty family members and retirees, who join the services after 2017, would face a new annual enrollment fee and fixed dollar co-pays that will be part of Prime or Select.

As far as I can determine TRICARE for Life is unaffected.

Probably the most significant reforms will shift responsibility for running military clinics and hospitals from Army, Navy and Air Force to the Defense Health Agency, a consolidation to streamline redundant bureaucracies and standardized best practices and procedures across the health care system.

The bill also seeks to improve access to care by eliminating a requirement that patients be referred for outside urgent care, and by mandating that on-base urgent care be available through 11 p.m. daily.

While there are many details to be worked out, it is obvious that TRICARE will be undergoing massive changes and you need to be aware of how they may affect you and your family.
The NDAA also pushes  a final solution to the SBP/DIC issue down the road, the bill extends through May 2018 the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance of $310 a month payable to 62,000 surviving spouses who see their Survivor Benefit Plan payments reduced dollar for dollar by their VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

As I have said before what this is taking the insurance policy Survivor Benefits Plan that many of us who have retired from the military paid into so that our spouses would receive a portion of our retirement pay on our death and combining it with a program that is an entitlement – Dependency and Indemnity Compensation – from the Veterans Administration offered to those veterans with 100% disability so that our spouses have an income after the loss of our being present. Those in Congress seem to believe that these two programs are the same – I do not know how to convince them that SBP is a paid insurance plan and the other an entitlement – two different programs. It seems that no one in Congress wants to admit this and they keep pushing it down the road thus denying our surviving spouses the benefits we paid for and those to which we are entitled. This new section under the NDAA extends this to 2018 during which time we are going to have to work with our legislators to get it corrected.

UPCOMING EVENTS

January 16 – Martin Luther King Parade, Wilmington

AVVA

Nothing to report.

HUMOR IN UNIFORM

On some air bases the Air Force is on one side of the field and civilian aircraft use the other side of the field with the control tower in the middle.

One day the tower received a call from an aircraft asking, “What time is it?” The tower responded, “Who is calling?” The aircraft replied, “What difference does it make?”  The tower replied “It makes a lot of difference.  If it is an American Airlines flight it is 3 o’clock.  If it is an Army aircraft, it is 1500 hours.  If it is a Navy aircraft, it is 6 bells. If it is a Marine Corps aircraft, the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 3.  If it is an Air Force plane, it’s Thursday afternoon and 120 minutes to “Happy Hour.”

EDITORS COMMENTS

Most months I have no idea what to write about and then something happens that gives me a germ of an idea.  A current family situation has reminded me of how important the status of our health is, both mental and physical.

As we get older it is easy to dismiss certain aches and pains to the aging factor.  Sometimes those aches and pains can seem overwhelming and prevent us from doing things that we used to do.  Let us all resolve to take better care of ourselves.  Get up off the couch and do some form of exercise or just simply take a walk.  Make sure you drink plenty of liquids, the healthy kind; it is amazing how easily it is to become dehydrated at our ages and the effects can be devastating.  Don’t forget to exercise your brain too, a daily crossword puzzle or something similar can do wonders for mental health or simply have a conversation or two with others or stay connected via the internet.  Just do something to keep the brain active, don’t just vegetate in front of the TV.  Don’t forget regular check-ups with your doctor.

Hopefully, if we can follow the above advice we can all have a Happy and Healthy New Year.

THIS MONTH’S BIRTHDAYS

Tiney Corbett                    2nd

Donald Wofford               10th

William Baker                    10th

Norman Melton                14th

Debbie Musolino              18th

Gerald Excell                      19th

Mary Craddock                 23rd

Connie Casteen                 25th

Robert Pavlik                     26th

Happy Birthday to all.

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

 OTHER NEWS

Chapter Membership

VVA National has gotten their act together and we are now able to get up to date roster information online.  As of December 31, 2016, total VVA membership stands at 194 members.

This is an increase of approximately 30 members in 2016 which is a significant increase.  This increase did not happen all by itself and many members participated in spreading the word about 885.  At fundraisers members were active in speaking with the public and others spread the word as they went about their daily lives.  So thanks to all and let’s keep up the good work spreading the word and let’s hit that magic 200 number and then push on from there.

Toys 4 Tots and Angel Tree

The Chapter participated in two programs that collected toys to be distributed to children during the holidays; the two programs were Toys 4 Tots and Angel Tree.

The Chapter collected well over 100 toys for the children in the Toys 4 Tots program.  Under Angel Tree we adopted 8 specific children and made those holiday wishes come true by collecting toys, clothing and three bicycles.  Before the toys were picked up for distribution our office was starting to look like a toy store.

VVA and AVVA members are to be congratulated for their generous donations in order to make a few children have a happier holiday than they might otherwise have had.

Collections for the Homeless

The generosity of Chapter members was not limited to just the children.  Members also collected items to be distributed to the homeless.  We collected socks, hats, gloves, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, razors, shaving cream, deodorant, combs and brushes.

All in all we (VVA and AVVA) collected enough items to fill 50 backpacks. The backpacks were given to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and the Wilmington Police Department for distribution.

Visits to Area Nursing Homes

December was a busy month for Chapter members.  In addition to collecting for the children and the homeless, Chapter members found time to visit a couple of area nursing homes.  VVA and AVVA members spent some time with the vets at two nursing homes and distributed caps and lap blankets.   The blankets were made by Henrietta Frye aka “the cookie lady.”  A big thank you to all of you that participated in the visits.  Going forward we hope that this will be an ongoing project throughout the year and not solely limited to the holiday season.

Christmas Party

On December 9, the Chapter held its annual Christmas Party.  This year the party was held at the Scottish Rites Temple on 16th Street and was catered by Middle of the Island Catering.

We had approximately 70 people attend the party and from the feedback that we received everyone had a good time.  The food was great and the highlight of the day was the “Know your Chapter member” game that Althea Mitchell created.  Turns out we don’t know as much about individual members as some of us thought.  Well done Althea.

During the party the Chapter handed out recognition awards to 38 members, both VVA and AVVA, for their service to the Chapter.  38 certificates and money clips were given to members from both VVA and AVVA.  These awards were given because these members made a big contribution to the Chapter through: their work in the office; volunteering at fund raisers; towing the trailer to various events; and through their work for and at the golf tournament.

Pictures from the party have already been shared by an email to Chapter members on December 15 and here are a few more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael O'Day
By Michael O'Day January 5, 2017 22:56
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V V A Chaper 885

801 Princess Street

Wilmington, NC 248401

Office Hours:

Tuesday - Thrusday 9:00am to 1:00pm

910-762-4288


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