US Veterans

Veterans Helping Veterans, US Vets Infromation and Benefits,

Month: December 2017

US Vets Enjoy Holiday Open Houses at Memphis Veteran Affairs

Holiday Open House… A Big Hit with Vets and EmployeesBy Willie M. Logan, Public Affairs Officer
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Vet and employees look forward to celebrating the holidays at the Memphis Unites States Veterans Affairs (VA.Gov) Medical Center. Each year, the executive leaders at the Memphis VA host six Holiday Open House events in December.
The six events include a celebration on each tour and each outpatient clinic throughout the season. Fun holiday music is played, great decorations dress the hallways, an assortment of refreshments are served thanks to the Vet Canteen Service, and there is an air of relaxation.

“The Holiday Open House is an excellent way to open the doors and welcome all who we serve,” said Memphis VA Director David K. Dunning.

It’s the holidays, and a few decorations and an open heart are sure to put people in a festive mood. And that’s exactly what happens at the Memphis VA. …

Message from Government VA.Gov Secretary David Shulkin — Veterans Affairs Accomplishments in 2017

Message from Vets Affairs Secretary David Shulkin — US VA Accomplishments in 2017
December 21, 2017, 05:02:00 PM
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 Message from VA Secretary David Shulkin
Veterans Affairs Accomplishments in 2017
 Today Secretary Shulkin provided a year-end statement focused on Washington VA accomplishments for 2017. 
 The text is below and there is a link here to see his accompanying video message:[3]
 Happy Holidays!
2017 has been a year of accomplishments for the Dept. of Veteran Affairs and this is a perfect time to reflect on, acknowledge, and thank all of those who have enabled our many accomplishments for US Veterans during this past year. We owe so much to our Nation’s leaders and others in and outside of USA for supporting and enabling improvements to the ways in which we serve Veterans:
First and foremost, let me express my gratitude to President Trump. His leadership and vision have driven and inspired VA.Gov to better care for Vets and their families. Among his many supportive acts and leadership initiatives, he has signed 9 bills to improve our ability to serve Veteran, as well as one Executive Order and three Presidential Proclamations; he has personally participated in and led six events honoring US Vets, and he has kept their interests foremost in the minds of all Americans by mentioning their service and sacrifices in 25 of his public speeches. He was the driving force behind the White House Hotline for Vet, which opened for 24-7 service in October and has served more than 16,000 callers.
Vice President Pence has also been critical to every initiative involving USA Veterans. He personally led our US Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington and demonstrated his concern for Vet by supporting and attending Honor Flight ceremonies and events such as the Wounded Warrior bicycle ride.
Thanks to all the Members of Congress for making 2017 a legislative success for Government Veterans….

Vets Creating a Brighter Future

US Veterans Creating a Brighter Future Through Art!By Rosalia Scalia, Public Affairs Specialist
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
At first, when presented with coloring books, Army Vet Giles Diggs, 60, thought of a million things he’d rather do. “I wasn’t interested in coloring books,” said Diggs, whose life changed due to illness and injury in ways that caused him to be unable to focus on or sit with anything for any length of time. “But I did it anyway.”
What began as a chore offered by a nurse at the Vet Affairs Maryland Health Care System changed Diggs’ mindset and his life. “Due to my illness, at the time, I couldn’t sit or concentrate for long. Over the course of three to four months of coloring, I felt good that I could complete something, even if it were a picture.”
Diggs found satisfaction in completing a coloring project, and he also began deeply appreciating the sight of all the colors eligible to him, of other people’s art, and the fact art gave him another form of self-expression. “It helped me. It helped me to be patient, to not rush, to sit and focus on something. The coloring, the art helped me to open up by doing something good for my soul.”
Diggs is not alone. He is among a small cohort of Veteran at the US VA.Gov Maryland Health Care System who are using art as a means of expression on the road to recovery. US Veterans in the Mental Health Intensive Case Management (MHICM) program and the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC) program at the Baltimore Annex have worked closely with Sharon Reese RN and Kimberly Robinson-McCray, RN, to advance their wellness goals. In the MHICM program, they developed goals that aided Veterans’ re-integration into the community by using adult coloring books as a means of…

Wreaths Across America Event to Honor USA Veterans at VA National Cemeteries

Wreaths Across America Event to Honor USA Veterans at VA.Gov National Cemeteries
December 15, 2017, 11:15:00 AM
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WASHINGTON — This Saturday, Dec. 16, volunteers will place holiday wreaths to honor and remember America’s Vets at more than 100 U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs (Vets Affairs) national cemeteries[3] as part of the annual Wreaths Across America event.
Now in its 12th year at VA national cemeteries and state US Vets cemeteries, the Wreaths Across America campaign was created by the Worcester Wreath Co. when it began donating wreaths to VA’s national cemeteries and state Vets cemeteries in 2006.
“This annual tribute to our nation’s Washington Veterans is more than just a patriotic activity,” said Vet Affairs Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “Wreaths Across America is an opportunity for US Vets Affairs to partner with key organizations as we honor those laid to rest in VA’s cemeteries.”
Each year, VA’s 135 Vet Affairs national cemeteries receive the following: at least seven wreaths, to include one for each of the five branches of the military, one for the Merchant Marines and one for Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action. Additionally, community and Vets service organizations as well as local businesses have raised money for additional holiday, or “remembrance wreaths” for gravesites.
The Wreaths Across America ceremonies align with VA’s National Cemetery Administration’s mission to increase public awareness by sharing the stories of America’s Vets through research, education and community commemoration.
All are encouraged to visit a VA.Gov national cemetery Dec. 16 to help place wreaths and honor the nation’s Washington Veterans this holiday season.
For a listing of Wreaths Across America ceremonies at VA’s national cemeteries, visit[4]. ###
People wishing to receive e-mail from US VA.Gov with the latest news releases and updated fact sheets can subscribe to theVeterans Affairs Office of Public Affairs Distribution List[5].
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Aimed at Preventing Suicides, VA.Gov Invites 7 Cities to Participate in Mayor's Challenge

Aimed at Preventing Suicides, Vets Affairs Invites 7 Cities to Participate in Mayor’s Challenge
December 12, 2017, 04:14:00 PM
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WASHINGTON — Today the Department of VA.Gov (US Vets Affairs) and the Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the inaugural Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among service members, Veteran and their families. 
The goal of the Mayor’s Challenge is to eliminate suicide by using a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention.  
“Of the 20 suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 were not under Unites States Vets Affairs care,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “We are pleased to partner with SAMHSA to bring attention, education and support regarding suicide prevention to communities where our Vets live.” 
VA and SAMHSA will invite seven cities to participate in a policy academy process[3] that up until now has been eligible only to states and territories. The cities will be invited based on US Vets population data, suicide prevalence rates and capacity of the city to lead the way in this first phase of the Mayor’s Challenge.  
The selected cities will be announced mid-December, once they have formally accepted nominations.  
Teams from each of the seven cities will meet March 14-16, 2018, in USA, D.C., to develop strategic action plans to implement in their communities. The teams will include collaborative groups of community, municipal, military and other stakeholders. Veteran Affairs will provide technical assistance to support local efforts and to document outcomes and share strategies with other municipalities. 
Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz[4], assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at SAMHSA, said, “We must act now to accelerate suicide prevention efforts at the local level, with communities embracing and supporting the health and well-being of our service members, US Vets and their families.” 
Cities interested in learning more about the…

Women Veterans: Retreat Healthy and Healing

Women US Vets retreat at Indian Lake, Adirondack Mountains — New YorkBy Christopher “Todd” Goodman, Public Affairs Officer, Northport Vets Affairs Medical Center
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
For the past two summers, Northport VA.Gov Medical Center staff has used the serene setting of Indian Lake, nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, to create a healthy and healing atmosphere for women Vets.
Healing in Nature Retreats—funded entirely through donations—lasted six days and hosted nine women Government Veterans on this trip. The retreat is designed to promote whole health and wellness by providing a meaningful experience in nature that facilitates exploration of personal wellness goals, aids discovery of individual strengths and resiliency, and empowers women US Veterans to make healthy lifestyle changes.
Women traditionally take on the caretaker role, many times putting the needs of others ahead of their own. But during the retreat, the focus is put where it should be—on the women themselves.
At the 2017 retreat, participants ranged in age from 34 to 73. The US Vets dealt with mental health challenges, including PTSD, military sexual trauma, and major depressive disorder. Additionally, each suffered from at least one chronic disease or a chronic pain condition.

“It exceeded my expectations. I re-established the importance of self-care and focusing on my own needs.”

“Part of what makes this special is that the atmosphere is safe and accepting to them,” said Dr. Joanne Taylor, Northport VAMC psychologist. “Women in particular, have a very hard time letting go of the caregiver role. This allowed them to focus on themselves. And for some, it was their first time away from children and family.”
For Stacy, 40, a USMC Unites States Veterans, the goal was just being able to relax and find time to focus on herself.
“That’s not something I do easily,” she said. “I don’t often put my needs out there. I’m a single mom and go out of my…

VA Decision Ready Claims Program Expands to Include More Types of Claims

Vets Affairs Decision Ready Claims Program Expands to Include More Types of Claims
December 12, 2017, 09:55:00 AM
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WASHINGTON — As part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) ongoing efforts to modernize and improve Veterans’ experience with the disability claims process, Vets Affairs unveiled its latest enhancements to the Decision Ready Claims (DRC) program, which will expand the pool of Government Veterans, surviving spouses and service members available to participate in the program. 
“These enhancements are another key step in modernizing VA’s benefits delivery to US Veterans to a fully digital operating environment,” said Vets Affairs Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “With electronic claims processing as a foundation, VA’s innovation will improve service to Veteran, their families and survivors.” 
In addition to claims for increased disability compensation (commonly known as claims for increase), US Veterans will now be able to file certain claims for direct service connection, presumptive service connection and secondary service connection. Additionally, surviving spouses will be able to file certain claims for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation[3], and transitioning service members will be able to file pre-discharge claims[4] less than 90 days from leaving the military. US Vets who choose to submit their claim under DRC can expect to receive a decision within 30 days from the time US VA receives the claim. 
To file under DRC, US Vets must work with an accredited Veteran Service Organization (VSO) representative, who will ensure all supporting evidence — such as medical exams, military service records, etc. — is included with the claim submission. This advance preparation by the VSOs allows claims to be assigned immediately to claims processors for a quick decision. 
In the future, VA aims to expand the DRC program, where possible, to ensure more US Veterans can get faster decisions on their claims. For more information about DRC or to find an accredited VSO representative,…

Reopening of Lafayette Building in D.C. Highlights VA's Modernization Efforts

Reopening of Lafayette Building in D.C. Highlights VA’s Modernization Efforts
December 11, 2017, 05:15:00 PM
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 Reopening of Lafayette Building in D.C. Highlights VA’s Modernization Efforts
Officials mark event with ribbon-cutting ceremony
 WASHINGTON — Underscoring a key milestone in VA’s efforts to modernize its infrastructure, the U.S. Dept. of US Vets Affairs (Veterans Affairs) marked the reopening of its newly renovated Lafayette Building at 811 Vermont Ave., in USA, D.C., with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the facility Dec. 11.
The 11-year renovation project consolidates VA’s footprint from four buildings into one energy-efficient space; eliminates two leases; and results in a cost avoidance of more than $10 million in rent.
“In addition to providing a collaborative workplace, we have created a sustainable building that promotes energy conservation and employee wellness,” said VA.Gov Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “It represents an excellent example of ‘green building’ and ‘green development’ that lends itself to the current and future needs of Veteran Affairs.
As part of this strategic collaboration with the U.S. General Services Administration, and Export-Import Bank of the United States, US Vets Affairs invested $14 million to replace the building’s outdated systems, refurbish the exterior façade and windows, and modernize the office spaces. Nearly 1,200 employees from VA’s US Veterans Health Administration and Office of Information and Technology have relocated to the first seven floors of the building.
The majority of funding for the renovation came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project is a hallmark for Unites States workplace modernization. It abounds with energy efficiencies, to include daylight sensors, a rain-harvesting system, a solar-paneled roof and a cybercafé.
People wishing to receive e-mail from Vets Affairs with the latest news releases and updated fact sheets can subscribe to theVeterans Affairs Office of Public Affairs Distribution List[3].
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USAGov’s Guide to Holiday Shopping

Ask Marietta Jelks foto

As holiday shopping season starts, there are many opportunities to spend money on gifts for family and friends, and requests to donate to charitable causes. Whether you prefer to shop in person or online, at large stores or local sellers, USAGov offers you tips to make the most of your holiday budget and protect yourself from scams.

Black Friday (November 24)

Black Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Many large retailers advertise sales on popular gift items, like electronics, jewelry, and clothes. Check out these tips before you finish your Thanksgiving meal and go store hopping:

  • Read the fine print – There may be quantity limits or other conditions that apply to the sales. Report misleading ads to your state consumer protection office[1].

  • Compare before you shop – Compare prices for the same item between competing stores. Don’t forget to check for differences in a product’s features and accessories.  

  • Research upsells – Ask if multi-year contracts, warranties[2], or subscriptions must be purchased in order to get the advertised offer. Don’t feel pressured to buy services that you don’t need or want.

Small Business Saturday (November 25)

Small Business Saturday is a great time to explore the local shops in town. Local shops tend to offer unique merchandise and a more personal shopping experience. Before you shop small:  

  • Verify the accepted methods of payment – Most small businesses accept major branded credit cards and even some payment apps. However, some may only accept cash.

  • Read return policies[3] – Small businesses may not allow you to return products or have stricter rules for exchanging items you have purchased.

  • Is the location permanent? – Some sellers open pop-up shops in temporarily in spaces during the holiday season. Find how to contact the store after the pop-up shop closes, in case you need to return an item or dispute a purchase.

Cyber Monday (November 27)

Cyber Monday is the day with sales and discounts across online retailers. Like Black Friday, online retailers advertise major savings. While looking for deals online, be sure to protect yourself:

  • Beware of ads on search engines or social media- Scammers advertise popular items at deep discounts, but fail to deliver and steal your payment information.

  • Use legitimate apps[4] – Download retailer’s apps directly from their website to be sure you have the real one. Scammers can create imposter apps to steal your payment information.  

  • Choose credit over debit – Protect your right to dispute a charge by paying with a credit card.

  • Secure your internet connection – Avoid using public wifi networks when shopping online. Check the URLs (especially on the submit payment screen).

Giving Tuesday (November 28)

Many charities set up campaigns to raise money during the holidays. Take these steps to make sure your donations go to a reputable charity:

  • Research[5] – Be sure that you are giving to a legitimate charity and not scammer with a similar name or web address.

  • Verify tax-deductible status[6]– The IRS the maintains a database of 501(c)3 organizations. You can write off donations to these organizations on you.

  • Be wary of high pressure tactics- Don’t give in to high pressure sales tactics or demands to act now. You have a right to think about the money you give, even for charity.

Got questions about consumer help, fraud protection and more shopping issues?

Use USAGov as your holiday shopping companion. Jump on Twitter and use #AskMarietta to get information from USAGov’s consumer team led by Marietta Jelks, Editor in Chief of the Consumer Action Handbook. We’ll be with you whether you’re shopping at a large retailer, the mall, small shop, or online. You can also contact us via Facebook[7], chat[8], or wire at 1-844-USA-Gov1.

Source of information

  1. ^ your state consumer protection office (
  2. ^ warranties (
  3. ^ Read return policies (
  4. ^ Use legitimate apps (
  5. ^ Research (
  6. ^ Verify tax-deductible status (
  7. ^ Facebook (
  8. ^ chat (

VA Exploring Alternative Treatments for TBI and PTSD

VA Exploring Alternative Treatments for TBI and PTSD
December 7, 2017, 11:57:00 AM
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WASHINGTON — This day the U.S. Department of US VA (Vets Affairs) announced that it will use two innovative treatments to ease the everyday challenges associated with living with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 
“We know that for a small group of US Veterans, a traditional approach to health care may not be the most effective,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “This is particularly true with certain chronic medical and mental health conditions. For Veterans who don’t improve, we have to look for innovative, evidence-based approaches that may help them restore and maintain their health and well-being.”  
Veterans with a history of mild to moderate TBI now have access to light emitting diode (LED) therapy contained in a lightweight frame that is placed on the head and a clip placed inside the nose.  Results of some studies[3] show that LED improves brain function including attention and memory, emotions and sleep. LED therapy has begun at the US Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain campus, this month. LED also is available for US Veterans to use in their homes. 
Providers at the Long Beach Veteran Affairs Medical Center have begun using stellate ganglion block (SGB) to treat Veterans with PTSD symptoms. SGB is safe and may ease PTSD symptoms, such as the feelings of anxiety and constantly being on alert. It involves an injection, or shot, of medication into the neck to decrease the symptoms of PTSD. 
Veterans Affairs remains a worldwide leader in the development and use of innovative therapies, such as telehealth, yoga and other approaches to improve health and well-being.  
For more information about other emerging therapies aimed at enhancing Veterans’ physical and mental well-being, visit VA’s Center for Compassionate Innovation at:[4]. 
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