Veterans Corner: A review of veteran information
by Jim Vines
(Posted December 29, 2011 08:26 am)
As 2011 winds down, a reminder of the information presented to veterans and their families this past year.
Health benefits, education, scams, training for unemployed vets, service dogs, medal awards, crisis assistance hot lines and identifiable diseases by the VA were a few of the topics covered.
Regulations now enable the VA to enroll certain Priority Group 8 veterans who applied for enrollment and who may have been previously denied enrollment in the VA health-care system because their income exceeded the VA’s income thresholds. These veterans may now qualify if their household income does not exceed the current VA income thresholds by more than 10 percent. For enrollment or eligibility questions, call 877-222-8387.
The VA has released details on the new VOW Act GI Bill benefits, including information on eligibility, application processes, deadlines and limitations. According to the VA, the new program should be available July 1 and will be limited to 99,000 participants. Unemployed veterans between age 35 and 60 may receive up to 12 months of assistance at the full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty program. Like other GI Bill programs, the benefit will be funded through the VA. However, unlike other GI Bill type programs, applications will be submitted through and processed by the Department of Labor.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Consumer Affairs has cautioned the public that an organization by the name Veterans Miracle Network, of Suffolk, Va., has solicited contributions from Virginia citizens for allegedly charitable purposes. The organization might also go by the names “Project Foot” and “Operation Walk America.” As of Dec. 14, and after multiple requests by VDACS, this organization has not filed registration documents as required by law. Contributors are cautioned that their contributions to any of these types of groups may be used for non-charitable purposes. They dress professionally and distribute literature ­ that doesn’t mean they are legitimate. Intersections and large shopping venues, like Walmart, are their target areas across America.
The Department of Labor has announced a new partnership with Microsoft Corp. to provide veterans with vouchers for no-cost training and certifications that can lead to important industry recognized credentials. The voucher program will serve veterans in five communities with the highest number of returning post 9/11 era veterans ­— Seattle, Wash.; San Diego, Calif.; Houston, Texas; northern Virginia; and Jacksonville, Fla. For additional information about this or other initiatives and locations, visit the DOL website,
The VetDogs program was started last year by the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in Smithtown, N.Y. The program provides service dogs for amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan. The dogs help vets with balance and fetching and are taught to react in emergencies. They also serve as companions and friends. The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind has been providing guide dogs, free of charge, to wounded soldiers since it was founded in 1946. For more information, call 866-838-3647.
The U.S. Navy recently updated its policies concerning the awarding of the Purple Heart. Sailors and Marines may be now awarded the Purple Heart for certain mild traumatic brain injuries that were caused by enemy action. If they suffer a loss of consciousness, or had to be given the disposition of “not fit for duty” by a medical officer for a period greater than 48 hours, they are eligible. Purple Hearts awarded for MTBI will continue to meet the historical standards of severity applied to all types of wounds.
The Veterans Administration has continued to update its presumptive list for Vietnam Veterans subjected to Agent Orange on land and those who were blue water participants. Veterans have been given the opportunity to reapply if they were denied initially. Research continues to make sure that ailments affecting veterans today are identified and categorized to help veterans with benefits.
The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1 for veterans, or connect with a responder through an online chat any time, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support. For more information, visit the Veterans Crisis Line website, .
Contact local or state veterans representatives for additional information throughout the year. Locally, contact Lee Downs at 940-325-2998 or Robin Greer at 817-573-4282.