Thursday, December 30, 2010

DAV Stand Up For Veterans Update, December 30, 2010

Stand Up For Veterans Update

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December 30, 2010

Advance Appropriations Protects VA Health Care From CR Problems

Dozens of federal programs are in "budgetary limbo" according to a report in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, due to "Congress' passage of temporary funding in lieu of a budget for the year..." The federal government has been operating under continuing resolutions since October 1, the start of fiscal year 2011, creating severe financial difficulties for many agencies and programs facing flat and uncertain budgets. However, thanks to Congress' approval of advance appropriations last year, the VA health care system was unaffected by Congress' failure to enact the FY 2011 budget on time or reliance on short term funding measures.

Brings Spotlight on Newest Homeless Veterans

The growing number and plight of homeless Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans was featured in a segment of the ABC News This Week show on Sunday. Citing an estimate that there are 9,000 homeless veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, ABC reported that, "...the Department of Veterans Affairs believes the number of homeless could be higher as a result of combat stress, brain injuries from IEDs, repeated deployments, and rising use of drugs and alcohol." The report also cited the tight economy and high unemployment as contributing to the challenges facing the newest generation of returning war veterans.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

VA: Christmas Message to Veterans

A Christmas Message

From Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki

WASHINGTON (Dec. 22, 2010)-- The second year of our declared
independence found General George Washington's Continental Army encamped
at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  In the week before Christmas of 1777,
more than 12,000 poorly-clothed, hungry and near-frozen American
soldiers were huddled against a brutal winter, enduring the numbing cold
as disease ravaged their ranks.  As many as 2,000 of them did not
survive Valley Forge.

General Washington wrote that, "unless some great and capital change
suddenly takes place. . . this Army must inevitably. . . starve,
dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner
they can."

Despite these bleak conditions, the fighting men of the Continental Army
lifted their own spirits, located much needed supplies and took to
training with determined vigor. They honed their basic fighting skills,
learned new tactics, preserved their dwindling strength and disciplined
themselves for the difficult campaign that would follow.  It was an act
of sublime courage and determination.  Six months later, the Continental
Army marched out of Valley Forge fit and ready, stronger and more
cohesive as a fighting force, and went on to seize American

Since that winter, American patriots in an unbroken line have found
themselves on duty during the holiday season each year.  Our freedom and
security as a nation has required it.  So as Americans and their
families gather to celebrate these holidays, let us remember the men and
women, who sacrifice so much for our privileges, comforts and
well-being.  They are away from their own families, standing watch for
us on freedom's distant frontiers.  We salute their valor, past and
present, and we pray for them and our Veterans, who have so selflessly
given us the gifts we enjoy this holiday season, as we have every season
since 1775.

I offer my warmest best wishes for a blessed and joyous holiday to all
our serving military, our Veterans, all of their families, the survivors
of the fallen, and the members of our Veterans Affairs family, who are
privileged to serve them.  May God bless each and every one of you, and
may God continue to bless this wonderful country of ours.  Merry

Saturday, December 18, 2010

FY11 VA, DoD Funding Remains Unclear

Written by Anthony Hardie, DAV-Wis. Special Assistant

(davwi.blogspot.com)The U.S. House of Representatives today voted to fund the federal government into next week, buying time for the current lame duck Congress to seek a compromise effort to decide FY11 funding for the entire federal government.

At stake are all twelve FY11 appropriations bills – including the Defense (DoD), and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MILCON-VA) bills -- which both houses of Congress have been seeking to roll into a single bill. 

The House has already passed a Continuing Resolution (CR), which, if passed by the U.S. Senate would fund the federal government at current FY10 levels.

Meanwhile, the Senate has been working on a separate, omnibus appropriations bill.   However, Senate Republicans have been successful in using a variety of delaying tactics that to date have prevented the Senate from passing even a single FY11 spending bill.

At particular stake for veterans are the VA spending bill and key measures, including Congressionally directed military medical health research, in the DoD spending bill. 

The current Congress ends on January 3, 2011, when the House majority will shift to Republican control.  The Democrats’ control of the Senate will be retained, albeit with a smaller majority than is currently held.

According to The Hill, one of two leading Capitol Hill daily newspapers, House Republicans want to roll federal spending back to FY08 levels. 

The New York Times used even stronger language, calling the current impasse a “collapse” into “partisan chaos.” 

According to the Times, “Aides said that behind closed doors, White House officials and some Democratic lawmakers were still trying to strike a deal to finance the government through September. But the officials said it was much more likely that government financing would be extended only into February or March.”

With all the twists and turns in Congress over the last week, the ultimate outcome is anyone’s guess.



THE HILL: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to Become History

Senate votes 65-31 to repeal ban on gays serving openly in the military

Written by Alexander Bolton and Roxana Tiron, The Hill

(Washington, DC – The Hill) - The Clinton-era policy banning gays from serving openly in the military will soon be history after the Senate voted Saturday afternoon to repeal it.
Eight Republican senators joined almost the entire Senate Democratic conference to approve by a vote of 65 to 31 a measure repealing the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

GOP Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) were expected to vote yes. Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), John Ensign (Nev.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and George Voinovich (Ohio) were late surprises.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) was absent.

The vote hands President Obama his second major victory of the lame-duck session of Congress after lawmakers approved an $858 billion package of tax relief and unemployment benefits.

“Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend,” Obama said in a statement.

“By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay,” Obama said. “And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.”

The Senate voted 63 to 33 earlier in the day to end a Republican filibuster of the bill. Burr and Ensign supported the filibuster but later defected to vote yes for final passage.

Obama pledged to repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell” during the 2008 campaign and came under heavy pressure from gay-rights advocacy groups to end discrimination against gays in the military.

Obama held off on pushing Congress to approve a repeal until recent months as he focused on passing healthcare reform and improving the economy.

The president told reporters at a press conference shortly after the mid-term election he hoped lawmakers would approve the repeal during the lame-duck session.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Obama’s opponent in the 2008 presidential election, blasted the president for pushing a major policy between the midterm election and the Republican takeover of the House next year.

“Here we are about six weeks after an election that repudiated the agenda of the other side, we are jamming — or trying to jam major issues through the Senate of the United States because they know they can’t get it done beginning next Jan. 5,” McCain said.

Repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” appeared in doubt earlier this fall when Senate Republicans twice voted to block defense authorization legislation that included the measure.

Collins was the only Republican to vote to advance the defense bill with a repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” when it came to the floor Dec. 9.
The repeal gained new life, however, after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) announced he would separate the repeal from the broader defense bill and advance it as a free-standing measure.

The effort to allow gays to serve openly in the military is not over, however.

The repeal measure requires the president and the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to send a certification to Congress declaring they have considered the recommendations contained in the Pentagon Working Group report on repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell."

They must also certify that the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to implement the repeal and that those policies are consistent with military standards for readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.
Supporters estimate it affects more than 60,000 military personnel.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” a policy established under former President Bill Clinton, will not be repealed until 60 days after Obama submits the certification to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed the study and pressed Congress to pass the repeal to avoid having courts resolve the issue.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, called on Gates to suspend all investigations and disciplinary action against gay service members while the implementation of the new policy is pending.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) endorsed Savis’s request at a press conference Tuesday.

Democratic leaders have clinched a big victory for gay-rights activists with only a few days to spare. If Congress had not passed the repeal before the end of the year, it would have had little chance of success next year when Republicans will control the House.

Reid applauded the accomplishment.

“Repealing ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is the right thing to do and if that were the only argument that would be enough but there’s more than that,” Reid told reporters. “Repealing this policy will make our military stronger. Someone said this is not the time to repeal this policy and they’re right. It should have been done yesterday.”

SOURCE:  The Hill, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/134373-senate-votes-65-31-to-repeal-ban-on-gays-serving-openly-in-the-military

New Wis. Senator, Congressmen Name Key Staff

Editor’s Note:  Below are short articles on key staff hires for Wisconsin’s newest U.S. Senator and two Congressman.

Republican Ron Johnson defeated U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.).  Sean Duffy succeeds Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI-07), who is retiring at the end of the current 111th Congress that ends on January 3, 2011.  Reid Ribble defeated Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI-08) in the November 2nd general election.

-A. H.


Wisconsin Sen.-elect Ron Johnson chief of staff will be Don Kent

U.S. Sen.-elect Ron Johnson has chosen an experienced Washington employee as his chief of staff.

Don Kent worked for five years in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His responsibilities included helping department officials prepare for Senate confirmations. He also served as the principal legislative adviser to then-Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Johnson says Kent's experience will be valuable in helping him establish his office.

Johnson, a Republican, defeated three-term incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold last month.

— The Associated Press

SOURCE:  http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20101206/GPG0101/12060494/Wisconsin-Sen-elect-Ron-Johnson-chief-of-staff-will-be-Don-Kent



Congressman-elect Sean Duffy has announced two key staff hires for his 7th Congressional District office.

Matt Seaholm will serve as Duffy's chief of staff. Seaholm most recently served as Duffy's campaign manager and transition director. Previously, he worked in Madison as a policy adviser for Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau.

Duffy also announced the hire of Dave Anderson as his district director. Anderson currently serves in the same capacity for Congressman Tom Petri, R-Fond Du Lac, of the 6th District. Anderson previously was deputy state director for Sen. Bob Kasten, as well as the northern representative for former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

SOURCE:   http://www.marshfieldnewsherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201012180357/SPJ0101/12180489




Representative-Elect Reid Ribble Announces Committee Assignments and New Staff Hires

-Assigned to Budget and Agriculture Committees; Chief of Staff, District Chief of Staff And Communications Positions Filled -

Green Bay - The transition office for Wisconsin-8 Representative-Elect Reid Ribble today released three staff hires for the official office as well as the incoming member's committee assignments for the next legislative session.

Representative-elect Ribble will serve on the Budget Committee and the Agriculture Committee when he takes office on January 5th 2011.
"Given the needs of our district and nation at this moment, I can't think of two better committees on which to serve," said Ribble. "The Agriculture Committee allows me to assist our diverse farming, timber and dairy base here in the district. And, of course, the Budget Committee provides the unique opportunity and challenge to get our massive spending under control at this critical time in our nation's history."

Representative-elect Ribble also announced the hiring of three senior staff members for his official office.

McKay Daniels will serve as the Washington, DC Chief of Staff, Rick Sense as the District Chief of Staff and Brandon Moody will serve as Communications Director.

"I'm excited about each of these three hires. Each brings a unique perspective and wealth of talent to our team," Ribble said. "We're ready to get to work for the people of Wisconsin."

Short bios of each hire can be found below.

Additional Information on the Budget Committee can be found here: http://budget.house.gov/singlepages.aspx?NewsID=1797

Additional Information on the Agriculture Committee can be found here: http://agriculture.house.gov/singlepages.aspx?NewsID=25&LSBID=23|64|65

Chief of Staff, McKay Daniels - With nearly fifteen years of managerial, political, and public policy experience McKay Daniels brings a diverse background to the position of Chief of Staff.  Currently a partner with Ryan Erwin and Associates -- a political and government affairs firm -- McKay oversaw the 2010 Ribble election campaign. Prior to joining Ryan Erwin and Associates, McKay served as Executive Director of both the Nevada and California Republican Parties where he supervised all aspects of the organizations' activities. Previously he also served as Director of Operations for the California Republican Party where he was responsible for the twenty-five-person organization's day-to-day operations and management of the annual budget exceeding $30 million. Throughout his career McKay has also been engaged in public policy efforts. In 2007 McKay served as Senior Policy Advisor to Nevada Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki where he focused on economic development, renewable energy, and business issues.

District Chief of Staff, Rick Sense.  Rick Sense brings to the District Chief of Staff position local knowledge and wide experience. Sense has spent the last three years at Community First Credit Union, headquartered in Appleton as Senior Vice President of Planning, Government and Community Relations.  During his nearly 20 years with Community First he served in many capacities from communications to public policy.  A native of Wisconsin's Eighth Congressional District, Sense has also served as the Director of Development at Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin.

Brandon Moody, Communications Director.Brandon served as Campaign Manager for Ribble for Congress, 2010. He is formerly a Vice President in the domestic division of Marsh Copsey + Associates, a political media and communications firm based in Washington, DC. Moody has worked directly as a staff member, manager and consultant on dozens of campaigns at the legislative, congressional, and statewide level for a decade. He brings a wide-array of communications-related experience to the job. In addition to his domestic work, he spent several months in the Middle East in 2008, working on communications and democracy-building projects for clients.

SOURCE:  Campaign Email

DAV National: Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act Passes Congress, Sent to President

S. 3447 Passed House and Sent to President

Thank You for Your Action and Support!

S. 3447, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, passed the House and was sent to the President on December 16, 2010. We have been working with both chambers of Congress to improve the Post 9/11 GI Bill, particularly in making a housing stipend available to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) participants. It is largely due to your efforts that this bill was passed during this Congress.

This bill will expand and improve upon the Post 9/11 GI Bill that went into effect last year and it will simplify and improve benefits in a fiscally responsible way. Specifically, the Act will enable veterans to now use their benefit for vocational and on-the-job training, expand eligibility for the benefit to National Guardsmen who are activated for domestic assistance, provide Active Duty troops with additional assistance to purchase books, and provide severely injured veterans and their caregivers with additional time to use their benefits. Section 205 of S. 3447 would allow veterans with service-connected disabilities that participate in a program of vocational rehabilitation under chapter 31 of title 38, United States Code, who are also entitled to Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits, to choose whether to receive the monthly housing stipend payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill or a monthly subsistence allowance. This bill is in accordance with DAV Resolution No. 099, passed at our most recent National Convention.

As always, DAV thanks you for your advocacy on behalf of sick and disabled veterans.

--Lisa Bogle, Legislative Staff, DAV, Washington, DC

Friday, December 17, 2010

Help for veterans in criminal justice system

Written by:  STEPHANIE JONES stephanie.jones@journaltimes.com, Racine JournalTimes.com

Posted: Friday, November 19, 2010 6:18 am | (5) Comments

RACINE - In misdemeanor court, Judge John Jude has seen Iraq and Afghanistan veterans stand before him for sentencing.

Some were there for drinking and driving. Others were there for domestic abuse, said Jude, a Racine County Circuit Court judge.

With more and more soldiers returning from active combat, Jude said he is worried the number of soldiers in the criminal justice system will increase and he wants to make sure the courts are on the front end to help the soldiers, he said.

Especially if they are dealing with substance abuse issues, he wants to make sure they are getting the resources they need to prevent them from returning to the courtroom, he said. First, that requires identifying people who are veterans, he said. He said sometimes a person's veteran status comes up at sentencing, but not all the time.

There are resources out there for veterans that are not available for others, he said.

To help start working on the issue, Jude said he is meeting with other judges and attorneys in early December to talk about their experiences with veterans in the system.

"It is an issue we want to talk about," Jude said.

He said the substance abuse he has heard about with others is more than marijuana. It's cocaine and heroin, he said.

Besides meeting with judges and attorneys, Jude has put out a call for assistance to the county's volunteer center to find mentors who may be able to help soldiers who are struggling with substance abuse.

At this point Jude said he is not sure of how extensive the issue is. But he is working to learn more to provide assistance where it can be provided.



SOURCE:  http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/article_2f48103a-f3d7-11df-9f59-001cc4c002e0.html

Surgeries halted at Milwaukee VA Medical Center

Procedures moved from Zablocki following complaint by employee about sterilization

Written by Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Dec. 14, 2010 | (45) Comments

The Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center [in Milwaukee] stopped doing medical procedures more than a week ago after an employee raised concerns about the sterilization of medical equipment.

VA officials would not provide details on the concerns that prompted the decision. But they stressed that the move on Dec. 6 was precautionary.

"There was not gross deviation from the procedures that we've identified," said Michael Erdmann, the chief of staff at the medical center and a professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "But because we wanted to err on the side of patient safety, we made the very difficult decision to stand down everything."

About 20 patients have had surgeries or procedures done at Froedtert Hospital or other hospitals since Dec. 6.

The surgeons and other doctors at the VA generally also work at Froedtert Hospital. Carolyn Bellin, a spokeswoman for Froedtert, said the referrals have not caused any problems.

"We're glad to help out," she said.

The Zablocki VA and its clinics treat about 55,000 veterans a year, and the medical center generally has about 140 patients in its acute care unit.

The medical center is beginning to perform some procedures but doesn't expect its operating rooms to reopen until next week.

The medical center is sterilizing and processing thousands of pieces of equipment, a task that takes a minimum of three to four hours for the simplest device or tool. Each piece of equipment has to be inspected, cleaned and repackaged.

More than 400 types of equipment are reprocessed at the medical center, ranging from tools used for dental procedures to endoscopy scopes to a device for placing an artificial heart valve. Each has a specific procedure, and some run for pages.

"Every indication right now is we were following the procedures," said Gary Kunich, a VA spokesman.

The VA department that sterilizes and reprocesses medical equipment has gone through 16 inspections, some for just specific equipment, by hospital staff and the national VA system since July, Kunich said.

Kunich and Erdmann would not disclose the question raised about the hospital's procedures. But Erdmann acknowledged it was a drastic step.

"It took courage," he said. "But when you believe in patient safety and quality of care, it was the only decision to make."


SOURCE:  http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/111852444.html

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Increase Approved for Disabled Vets’ Mobility Grants

by Lauren Sanders on December 15, 2010

Veteran Mobility Grant(VABenefitBlog.com) - In December of 2011, the VA will increase the one-time vehicle grant from $11,000 to $18,000 allowing disabled veterans in need of a handicap accessible van, mobility van, or wheelchair van greater purchasing power.

Any disabled veteran who has been given a power or manual wheelchair by the VA and require a vehicle for their mobility equipment may apply for Disabled Veterans grants. Disabled Veteran grants and programs available to qualified veterans include:

One-time Vehicle Grant

The one-time vehicle grant may be used towards the purchase of a vehicle needed to transport a veteran’s mobility equipment. Vehicles may also be converted to house a wheelchair lift and/or a lowered floor handicap accessible ramp with the help of the vehicle mobility equipment grants.

Automobile Adaptive Equipment Program

The program teaches disabled veterans with service-related injuries to enter, exit, and operate a motor vehicle by providing the necessary equipment and training. Disabled veterans may enter the program after receiving an automobile grant, and after the completion of Driver’s Training with an approved driver’s evaluator. Even veterans who do not meet the criteria needed to operate a vehicle, due to the loss of or loss of the use of a limb or alkalosis of a hip or knee, may still receive the equipment needed to enter and exit a vehicle.

Home Modification Grants

The VA provides home modification grants up to $60,000 to eligible disabled veterans to help with the costs of making a home more accessible. Home Improvement & Structural Alterations grants are also available in the amounts of $1,200 for veterans with non-service related disabilities, and $4,100 for veterans with service related disabilities.  HISA grants may be used to make improvements or alterations to a home to provide greater accessibility, and are generally used for wheelchair ramps, railings, lowered countertops, widened doorways, and handicap accessible bathrooms.

In addition to vehicle and home modification grants, disabled veterans may also be eligible to receive manual and powered wheelchairs, durable medical equipment, and patient lifts. Disabled veterans should contact their local VA office for more information about the benefits they may be eligible for which may make life more accessible.

Photo thanks to Karl Johnson under creative common license on Flickr.

Improvement of Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Allowances Needed Take Action!

DAV National:  Please Contact Your Representative Today!

We have been working with both chambers of Congress to improve the Post 9/11 GI Bill, particularly in making a housing stipend available to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) participants. As a result of our efforts, the U.S. Senate passed S. 3447, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010.

Disabled veterans need your help to get this legislation passed into law this year. DAV has testified in support of certain provisions of this bill. Resolutions adopted by our membership emphasize the need to provide veterans greater assistance under the VR&E program in Chapter 31 as contrasted to those participating in the post-9/11 educational assistance program under chapter 33. Section 205 of S. 3447 would allow veterans with service-connected disabilities that participate in a program of vocational rehabilitation under chapter 31 of title 38, United States Code, who are also entitled to Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits, to choose whether to receive the monthly housing stipend payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill or a monthly subsistence allowance.

DAV urges you to call on your Representative and request they take up the provisions of S. 3447 before Congress adjourns later this week, most likely on December 18. Please call your Representative or send a prepared e-mail today. Please emphasize the urgency of these provisions for disabled veterans.

As always, DAV thanks you for your advocacy on behalf of sick and disabled veterans.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


An organization called Veterans Affairs Services (VAS) is providing
benefit and general information on VA and gathering personal information
on veterans.

This organization is not affiliated with VA in any way.

VAS may be gaining access to military personnel through their close
resemblance to the VA name and seal.  Our Legal Counsel has requested
that we coordinate with DoD to inform military installations,
particularly mobilization sites, of this group and their lack of
affiliation or endorsement by VA to provide any services.

Michael G. Daugherty
Staff Attorney
Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of General Counsel (022G2)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Agency Plans Due for Implementing President Obama’s Executive Order on Hiring and Retaining People with Disabilities in the Federal Government


President Obama signing the new Executive Order

On July 26, 2010 President Obama signed the Executive Order on Employment of People with Disabilities in the Federal Government to mark the historic 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to increase the hiring of people with disabilities by 100,000 over the next 5 years.

Agencies had 120 days to develop a plan that will detail how they intend to accomplish their part of the goal.

People with disabilities seeking employment are encouraged to apply for positions through USAJOBS or by sending your resume directly to the agency with a job opening for which you would like to apply.

If you want to send your resume directly to a Federal agency, contact that agency's Selective Placement Program Coordinator (SPPC). A list of SPPCs' by agency can be found here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

VA: Exposure Assessment for Troops Exposed to Burn Pits

Open-air burn pits have operated widely at military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many returning Veterans are concerned about their exposure to smoke from burning trash and human waste.

Learn about:

Exposure to Smoke from Burn Pits

Man throwing trash into a burn pit

Photo by U.S. Department of Defense

Smoke produced by the burn may spread a variety of pollutants through the air that blows into working and living areas.

These toxins can include dioxin, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, hexachlorobenzene, and ash.

The make-up of the smoke depends on what is being burned, which is not consistent from one burn pit to another, or from one time period to another at the same burn pit.

Health effects depend on a number of factors, such as the kind of waste being burned, individual susceptibility, duration of exposure, air flow patterns, and closeness to the pit.

You may be at greater risk if you burned waste at the pit compared to those were only in the vicinity of the smoke.


Possible Health Effects

Exposure to toxins may affect the skin, eyes, respiration, kidneys, liver, nervous system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, peripheral nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract.

Most of the irritation related to solid waste burning exposure is temporary and resolves once the exposure is gone. These include:

  • Eye irritation and burning
  • Coughing and throat irritation
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Skin itching and rashes


Type of Waste Burned

Waste products in burn pits include, but are not limited to:

  • Chemicals
  • Paint
  • Medical and human waste
  • Metal/aluminum cans
  • Munitions and other unexploded ordnance
  • Petroleum and lubricant products
  • Plastics and styrofoam
  • Rubber
  • Wood
  • Discarded food


VA’s Request for Health Effects Study

At the request of VA, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine began an 18-month study in November 2009 to determine the long-term health effects of exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The study will compare the health of 30,000 combat Veterans deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000 non-deployed Veterans. The report is due out by summer of 2011.


Exposure Assessment for Veterans

At this time, research has not shown long-term adverse effects from exposure to the burn pits, but VA takes this issue seriously. You may find out more about your exposure by getting an exposure assessment offered by VA's War Related Illness and Injury Study Centers.

The War Related Illness and Injury Study Centers (WRIISCs) provide clinical expertise for Veterans with deployment health concerns or difficult-to-diagnose illnesses. WRIISCs are in three locations: Washington, DC, East Orange, NJ, and Palo Alto, CA.  For an appointment at a WRIISC, a VA primary care doctor must make a referral. Learn how to get a referral to a WRIISC.


VA Benefits

Veterans who were exposed to toxins released by burn pits during military service may be eligible for:


More Information on Burn Pits


SOURCE: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/burnpits/index.asp

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Personalized Veterans Health Benefits Handbook Planned for Fall 2011

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is piloting new, personalized Veterans Health Benefits Handbooks.  The handbooks are tailored to provide enrolled Veterans with the most relevant health benefits information based on their own specific eligibility.  In essence, each handbook will be written for the individual Veteran. 

“These handbooks will give Veterans everything they need to know and leave out everything that doesn’t apply to them,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Our Veterans will now have a comprehensive, easy to understand roadmap to the medical benefits they earned with their service.” 

In addition to highlighting each Veteran’s specific health benefits, the handbook also provides contact information for the Veteran’s preferred local facility, ways to schedule personal appointments, guidelines for communicating treatment needs and an explanation of the Veteran’s responsibilities, such as copayments when applicable.

“Enhancing access isn’t just about expanding the kinds of services VA provides. It also includes making sure we do everything we can to ensure Veterans have a clear understanding of the benefits available to them so they can make full use of the services they have earned,” Shinseki said.

The new handbooks will initially be available only to certain Veterans in Cleveland and Washington, D.C., areas.  Following the pilot phase, full implementation is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2011 for across the county.

For additional information, go to www.va.gov/healtheligibility or call VA’s toll-free number at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

Marine Veterans Stationed at Camp Lejeune: Register for Drinking Water Notifications

If you were stationed or worked at Camp Lejeune before 1987, you may have been exposed to dangerous contaminants in the drinking water supply.

To register for water testing notifications, read about previous studies and receive more information, visit the Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water website.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Council on Veterans Programs Set to Craft Governing Rules

Posted by Anthony Hardie, DAV-WI Representative to the Council on Veterans Programs

(DAV-WI) - In a step by the Wisconsin Council on Veterans Programs (COVP) that shows its growing recognition of its independence from the Board of Veterans Affairs it advises, an ad hoc committee of the COVP will meet in Madison on Friday to hash out comprehensive new governing rules for itself.

Currently, the COVP is governed by just two paragraphs in the governing rules of the Board of Veterans Affairs -- once seen as the COVP’s parent body -- and a page-and-a-half-“Protocol” document enacted by the COVP in February.

The comprehensive rule-writing effort was initiated by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Department of Wisconsin.  At the COVP’s October meeting in Rhinelander, the COVP voted to create a seven-member ad hoc committee to review DAV’s 21-page proposal and work to integrate it and the “Protocol” into a new document to provide comprehensive bylaws and rules for the COVP.

The DAV’s proposed draft is divided into the following thirteen articles: 

ARTICLE I – Principal Office

ARTICLE II – Members

ARTICLE III – Officers

ARTICLE IV – Meetings & Minutes

ARTICLE V – Committees & Subcommittees

ARTICLE VI – Advising the Board and the Department

ARTICLE VII – Reports, Studies & Recommendations

ARTICLE VIII – Educational Materials


ARTICLE X – Public Availability & Accessibility

ARTICLE XI – Amendments

ARTICLE XII – Custodian of Records & Department Designated Staff Person

ARTICLE XIII – Miscellaneous

The COVP has publicly announced a meeting of the ad hoc committee at 10 a.m. this Friday November 19, 2010 at the WDVA central office, 8th floor Board room, 30 W. Mifflin St., in Madison, Wis.  The meeting is open to the public with an opportunity for public comment.

Members of the ad hoc committee include the following COVP members: 

  1. Russ Alsteen – Navy Club
  2. Roger Fetterly – Military Officers Association of America (MOAA); COVP Vice-Chair
  3. Paul Fine – Army Navy Union; COVP Secretary
  4. Mark Grams – Marine Corps League
  5. Anthony HardieDisabled American Veterans (DAV)
  6. Charles Roloff – The American Legion; COVP Chair
  7. Tim Thiers – AMVETS

The DAV’s draft proposed rules for the COVP are below.

DAV - Draft COVP Rules and Bylaws -

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day Message from the National Commander: “Celebrate and Remember”


National Commander Roberto Barrera

2010-2011 National Commander
Wallace E. Tyson

The holiday season is a time of joy, for celebration of family, a time to give thanks for all with which we are blessed. I wish you and your family the very best through this special time and into the new year.

As we know, there are many who will not have the opportunity to partake in the merriment of these holidays. Hundreds of thousands of America’s finest are serving in some of the most dangerous places around the globe, sacrificing their time with family and friends to protect our freedom and way of life.

It is never easy to serve in desolate outposts throughout the world, but it is especially difficult during the holidays. Emails, letters and phone calls are no substitute for the joy of being with family in the warmth and love of a home.

There are others still who no longer serve in uniform but sacrifice daily due to injuries or illnesses sustained in our nation’s defense. Many will spend this holiday season in a hospital, a nursing facility or at home but bedridden.

I ask that you set aside time to remember and honor those who are forsaking their holidays so others do not have to. The United States owes them all a debt of a gratitude that cannot be fully repaid.

Enjoy the holidays and our freedom to worship as we choose. But again, give thanks that we are stronger and safer because of those who are hunting for the enemy in the freezing mountains of Afghanistan and under the desert skies of Iraq.

As we ring in 2011, please keep in mind that a new Congress will soon begin work critically important to us all. We must all stand together to ensure that the change that comes will benefit our veterans.

The new year will bring greater opportunity to fulfill our mission of building better lives for disabled veterans and their families.

While we have lately enjoyed great success legislatively, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done to ensure every disabled veteran and family member receives the care and benefits earned through service and sacrifice. We must continue leading the way in shaping the change our nation is undergoing.

It is my sincere wish that you and your families have the most joyous holidays possible. I wish you all the blessings of the season. And I know you can be counted as we stand up for veterans in the new year.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Article

Workforce Flexibility Promotes Employment of People with Disabilities

Robin Shaffert

Robin Shaffert

Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility of the AAPD

As we look back on October's celebrations of National Work and Family Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, advocates for increasing workforce flexibility and advocates for improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities should recognize the progress we have made. To a far greater extent than a year ago, it is generally agreed today that creating a flexible workplace benefits all employees, but it especially benefits employees with disabilities.

We need to also recognize how far we still have to go to achieve the promise of equal employment opportunity for people with disabilities. A review of data from the American Community Survey presented in the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium 2010, released this week, shows that the percentage of people with disabilities who are employed, 35.3%, is less than half of the percentage of people without disabilities who are employed, 74.3%. Similarly, the unemployment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for September 2010 reveal the difficulty that jobseekers with disabilities face today. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities stands at 14.8%, which is staggering even when compared to the far too high 9.0% unemployment rate for people without disabilities.

Recognition of the potential for workplace flexibility to play a role in increasing employment of people with disabilities can be seen this year not only in the work of advocates and the voluntary measures taken by employers, but also in the actions of three agencies of the Department of Labor. The missions of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), and the Women's Bureau will all be furthered by promoting increased workforce flexibility. OFCCP is responsible for enforcing, for the benefit of job seekers and wage earners, the contractual promise of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity required of those who do business with the Federal government. ODEP is charged with providing national leadership on disability employment policy. The Women's Bureau safeguards the interests of working women, advocates for their equality and economic security, and promotes quality work environments.

Let's look first at what OFCCP has done this year. In July 2010, while we were celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, OFCCP initiated a regulatory proceeding to modernize the affirmative action regulations for the hiring, retention, and advancement of people with disabilities by federal contractors. OFCCP issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking comment on eighteen listed items, including as item number 9, "To what extent does workplace flexibility, including flexibility in work schedules, as well as job-protected leave, impact recruitment and retention of individuals with disabilities?"

Many of the over 200 comments filed in response to the ANPRM addressed the importance of workplace flexibility. In the comments filed by the American Association of People with Disabilities, we enumerated a number of ways that workforce flexibility can help federal contractors attract, retain, and advance workers with disabilities. In addition to discussing the importance of providing for changes in the standard hours and place of work, we emphasized that federal contractors should pay particular attention to the needs of low wage and hourly workers for flexibility. As we argued, opportunities for meaningful input into schedules (including the ability to decline overtime), advance notice of scheduled hours, and consistency in the number of hours worked can be essential to low wage and hourly workers with disabilities. Lack of input regarding the hours worked, notice in scheduling, or fluctuations in the number of hours for which an employee is scheduled may make it impossible for workers to attend medical appointments, schedule transportation, and attend to other disability-related needs. We also argued that contractors that provide paid and unpaid job-protected leave in excess of that required by law will have an advantage in recruiting qualified candidates with disabilities. Further, we noted that providing job-protected leave promotes retention by allowing experienced employees to return to their jobs rather than encouraging termination when an employee requires more leave than the statutory maximum.

We are optimistic that when OFCCP issues the Final Rule regulating affirmative action for people with disabilities, the rule will recognize the important benefits of a wide range of workforce flexibility options for people with disabilities and will call on federal contractors to make workforce flexibility an aspect of their affirmative action plans.

Let's look next at what ODEP and the Women's Bureau have been doing. On August 9, 2010, the two agencies entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to cooperate in their efforts to expand and promote the understanding and use of workplace flexibility strategies for employees with complex needs, including people with disabilities. In addition to planning a one-day Workplace Flexibility Roundtable Forum focused on flexibility for people with disabilities, the two agencies are creating a roadmap of actions to expand the understanding of, and access to, best practices in workplace flexibility.

We hope that ODEP and the Women's Bureau will explore and promote a wide range of practices to increase workforce flexibility for people with disabilities and for all workers. Flexibility in scheduling (including part-time options) and flexibility in the place of work (including telecommuting) are helping many workers achieve the balance that they need to become or remain productive employees. And, there is room for improvement in and expansion of those practices. We also need to explore more fully the importance of predictability in scheduling and the options for expanded paid and unpaid leave in order to address the needs for flexibility of an even broader group of workers. Let's see how much progress we can make by October 2011.

SOURCE:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robin-shaffert/workforce-flexibility-pro_b_776158.html

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dr. Phillips, DoD Presenter at DAV Fall Conference, Responds to Veteran Interest in PTSD Clinical Trials

-----Original Message-----
From: Phillips, James B Dr DoD Af US USA MEDCOM CDMRP
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 2:40 PM
Subject: RE: Help from the DAV Fall Conference (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE


Nice hearing from you and I enjoyed meeting you and many others veterans
at the conference.  I just returned to work after being out earlier this
week.  I have talked to a couple of folks in my office and I don't
believe my office is funding clinical trials for PTSD in Wisconsin close
to you. However I found some clinical trials through my search on

I mentioned the website http://www.clinicaltrials.gov when we spoke and
I just did a search for condition "PTSD" in "Wisconsin."  I found 4
trials actively recruiting patients.  I have listed them below and I
recommend that you go the website I mention above and search yourself.
If you are willing to travel to Illinois, Michigan or other states then
you can search those states as well.  My office is funding PTSD clinical
trials but they are not in Wisconsin.

Let me know if you have more questions or if I can help you navigate the
clinical trials website.  Feel free to call my office too.

Best regards, "JB" Phillips, Ph.D.

Science Officer
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs
U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command
1077 Patchel Street, Fort Detrick, MD 21702
TEL 301-619-7071 FAX 301-619-7796

1) Prazosin and Combat Trauma PTSD (PACT)
William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison
Madison, Wisconsin, United States, 53705
Contact: Eileen Ahearn, MD     608-280-7015     Eileen.Ahearn@va.gov

2) Enhancing Equitable and Effective (E-3) Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD) Disability Assessment (E-3 PTSD)
Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, 53295-1000
Contact: Mitzi Dearborn, PhD     414-384-2000 ext 41674

3) Comparison of Videoconference and Face-to-Face Delivery of Cognitive
Processing Therapy for PTSD
Wm. S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital Recruiting
Madison, Wisconsin, United States, 53705
Contact: Yanmin A Li, MBBS     608-263-4290
Contact: Lori Wollet, R.N     608-262-6855
Principal Investigator: Tracey L Smith, Ph.D.

Comparison of Videoconference and Face-to-Face Delivery of Cognitive
Processing Therapy for PTSD
Edward J. Hines Jr. Veterans Hospital, Cares Research Foundation
Hines, Illinois, United States, 60141
Contact: Kristen Lamp, MA, LPC     708-202-8387 ext 24761
Sub-Investigator: Kelly P Maieritsch, Ph.D.

4) Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury or
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (NBIRR-1)
Lifeforce Therapies Recruiting
Plymouth, Minnesota, United States, 55447
Contact     763-694-7000

Fox Valley Wellness Center Active, (not recruiting patients)
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, United States, 54935

Thursday, September 30, 2010

DAV to Bring Defense Medical Research Program to Appleton

Aims include bringing more federal military medical research to Wisconsin

(Green Bay, Wis.) - The Disabled American Veterans Department of Wisconsin (DAV-WI) will kick off its Fall Conference in Appleton, Wis. with a bang. The first presentation, which is open to the public, will be by James Phillips, Ph.D., grant award manager for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP: cdmrp.army.mil). The CDMRP focuses on finding and funding the best medical research for program areas determined by Congress each year that include physical and mental injuries and diseases.

“We hope that bringing this key Defense medical research program to Appleton will help our veterans and our state, including bringing more federal military medical research and funding to Wisconsin,” said DAV State Commander John Hoeft of Omro, Wis.

Wisconsin has approximately 427,000 veterans, including more than 53,500 service-disabled veterans,[i] who are served by 18 community based VA outpatient clinics, four Vet Centers, and three VA medical centers and hospitals in Wisconsin[ii] and more in neighboring states. VA-Madison and VA-Milwaukee both have strong medical research partnerships with nearby research institutions. Wisconsin ranks 42nd out of 50 states in bringing in federal dollars.[iii]

Dr. Phillips’ presentation, which is expected to be attended by a panel including the directors of all three Wisconsin VA medical centers and hospitals, will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, October 15, 2010 in Appleton, Wis., in the Empire Room at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel on 333 W. College Ave. Dr. Phillips will give an overview and background of CDMRP, including unique features and partnerships.

As an example of one of the funded CDMRP programs, which also include psychological health (including post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, ALS, and numerous cancers, Dr. Phillips will discuss the CDMRP’s Gulf War Illness Research Program funding history, project highlights, and key strategies.

Immediately following the presentation until about noon, Dr. Phillips will be further available in a breakout room for a Q&A with scientists, clinicians, potentially interested medical researchers, and potentially interested consumer reviewers about any of the CDMRP’s programs.

Over the last 18 years, the CDMRP has managed approximately over $5.4 billion – including $626.4 million in FY09 alone – in targeted Congressional appropriations for nearly 9,000 medical research grant awards aimed to prevent, control, and cure targeted diseases.[iv]


CDMRP relies on scientists, clinicians, and other medical researchers from public and private institutions to submit research proposals for possible funding. Researchers also participate in the peer review process.

Scientists and Consumers are fully integrated in the CDMRP, and Consumer patients, survivors, family members and advocates play a pivotal role in all aspects of the review process. The nearly 1,200 Consumers[v] who have participated with CDMRP add perspective, passion, and a sense of urgency that ensures the human dimension is incorporated in all program aspects. Interested consumers are also invited to attend the Appleton presentation, and do not have to be current or former military service members.

Congress has not yet determined next year’s CDMRP funding. This year, CDMRP’s medical research programs include the following:

  1. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  2. Autism
  3. Bone Marrow Failure
  4. Breast Cancer
  5. Genetic Studies of Food Allergies
  6. Gulf War Illness
  7. Lung Cancer (Funding Opportunities currently available)
  8. Multiple Sclerosis
  9. Neurofibromatosis
  10. Ovarian Cancer
  11. Peer Reviewed Cancer (Funding Opportunities currently available)
  12. Peer Reviewed Medical
  13. Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic (Funding Opportunities currently available)
  14. Prostate Cancer
  15. Psychological Health/Traumatic Brain Injury
  16. Spinal Cord Injury (Funding Opportunities currently available)
  17. Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

WHO: DAV’s Appleton presentation is open to the public and will be valuable to medical researchers with an interest in researching – and military veterans and other potential Consumer reviewers affected by – the health conditions funded for research through the CDMRP. Current and prospective public officials may also be interested in attending to learn more about this key federal defense medical research powerhouse and how it can help current and former military servicemembers and Wisconsin-based researchers and research organizations and entities.



[i] State of Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs: www.WisVets.com/data

[ii] U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/fac_list_by_state.cfm?State=WI&dnum=All&isflash=0

[iii] U.S. Census Bureau, "Federal Aid to States for Fiscal Year 2007,” published September 2008; Table 422, Statistical Abstract of the United States 2010. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/rankings.html

[iv], v Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, U.S. Medical & Materiel Command, U.S. Department of Defense, “Annual Report: September 30, 2009.” http://cdmrp.army.mil/pubs/annreports/annual_reports.shtml

VA Releases Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force Report


In August 2009, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki directed a comprehensive review of the Department’s approach and practices in meeting the needs of Veterans of the 1990 – 1991 Gulf War.

The September 29, 2010 final report on that review is now available.



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DAV News Release - DAV Says No to Privatizing VA Health Care

WASHINGTON – Veterans health care has become a popular target for politicians and pundits alike who say veterans could receive better service in the private sector if hospitals operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (www.VA.gov) were closed.

“The realities are that the private sector would not want to enroll the typical VA patient, who is often elderly, has multiple disabilities or is chronically ill,” said Wallace Tyson, the National Commander of the 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans (www.DAV.org).

“Unquestionably, the VA does much better at providing those kinds of veteran-specific services than anyone in the private sector,” Commander Tyson said. “Instead of clamoring to dismantle the VA medical system and expel this nation’s defenders, the wiser policy would be to strengthen this invaluable national resource.

Veterans’ injuries and illnesses are the direct result of their service in this nation’s armed forces. Many simply cannot afford to pay for medical care. For them, the VA is their only health care safety net. Health care in the private, for-profit sector would cost the tax payers substantially more for VA health care, the DAV estimates.

“Moreover, VA health care is clearly the best anywhere and has been so deemed by numerous private entities,” said Commander Tyson, a service-connected disabled veteran.

The VA provides a wide range of specialized care tailored to meet the unique needs of veterans. Spinal cord injury medicine, blind rehabilitation, amputee programs, advanced rehabilitation, prosthetics, post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, mental health services and long-term care are at the very heart of the VA health care system.

  “Let us protect and improve the veterans health care system,” Commander Tyson said. “This country could not afford to lose the hospitals and scores of clinics, nursing homes and other facilities that care for America’s proud veterans. In purely material terms, we can ill afford the lose the more than 200,000 dedicated health care professionals and support staff providing high-quality care and contributing to the economic stability of communities across the country.”

The 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, represents this nation’s disabled veterans. It is dedicated to a single purpose: building better lives for our nation’s disabled veterans and their families. For more information, visit the organization online at dav.org or facebook.com/TheDAV.

DAV National: Home Adaptation Grants Eligibility Expanded

Jason Pepper
Veterans like Jason Pepper, who lost his eyes in combat in Iraq, and his wife Heather, could benefit from special home adaptation grants.

The VA adopted a final rule effective Oct. 25 that will expand eligibility for specially adapted housing and special home adaptation grants for permanently and totally disabled veterans and armed service members.

The new rule makes both types of grants available to those who suffered extensive burns limiting movement of two or more limbs or at least one limb and the trunk. It also makes special home adaptation grants available to permanently and totally disabled veterans and service members who lose or lose use of both hands, those with severe burns and those with inhalation injuries.

“The new regulations will allow our most severely disabled veterans and service members to obtain the adaptive house and home adaptations necessary for them to continue to live normal lives in their own homes,” said Washington Headquarters Executive Director David W. Gorman. “The rules are mostly the result of congressional changes in the law over the past few years, but it will mean our veterans will be able to live better lives in homes adapted for their disabilities.”

The rule would allow special adapted house grants of as much as 50 percent of the cost of a new home up to approximately $64,000 for permanently and totally disabled veterans with burns that limit their range of motion in two or more limbs or one limb and the trunk of the body.
It also adds members of the armed services on active duty to be eligible for both types of grants.

Special home adaptation grants of as much as approximately $13,000 would be available to permanently and totally disabled veterans with the loss or loss of use of both hands, deep burns that limit motion and residuals of an inhalation injury including, but not limited to, pulmonary fibrosis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“The regulation allowing active duty service members to obtain the grants shows the wisdom of allowing these permanently and totally disabled service members to proceed to build or modify homes while they are still in the service,” Gorman said. “It means that when they are released from military care they can move immediately into their specially adapted home.”

“The inclusion of inhalation injuries that are permanent and total disabilities could open the door for veterans suffering from respiratory injuries associated with events during the Gulf War and those suffering permanent and total disability caused by injuries from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.

“We feel the changes in this final rule are good for this special class of veterans who have sacrificed for our nation,” said Gorman. “We cannot ask our veterans to make the sacrifices that leave them unable to function in their own home. The VA has made some very wise decisions on behalf of our veterans.”

Source:  http://www.dav.org/news/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=323

DAV National: Compensation Rate Increase Hoax

Many DAV members have been contacting National Service Officers across the country regarding rumored legislation that would significantly increase disability compensation.

Please be advised that no legislation has been introduced that would double compensation for 100 percent service-connected disabled veterans or would quadruple compensation for veterans rated 10 percent or significantly increase the other ratings.

H.R. 4667, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2010, was introduced to increase, effective as of December 1, 2010, the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans, and for other purposes. The increase is based on the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), if any, that would be provided to Social Security recipients.

Please advise oher DAV members that the rumored increase is a hoax and that the COLA increase, if any, will be announced as soon as it is known. As always, thank you for your hard work and dedication to America’s service-connected disabled veterans and their families.

Source:  http://www.dav.org/news/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=324

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

President Obama's Message to Post 9/11 “Stop loss” Veterans on Retroactive Pay

The White House

Let’s get the word out!  Tens of thousands veterans whose service in Iraq or Afghanistan was involuntarily extended or retirement was suspended due to ‘stop loss’ are not applying for retroactive pay to which they are entitled, and the deadline is October 21! Under legislation President Obama signed into law last year, servicemen and women whose service was extended due to ‘stop loss’ are eligible for $500 per month in retroactive pay for each month their service was extended. 

Download Video: mp4 (26MB) | mp3 (3MB)

If you were affected by stop-loss during your time serving our Nation in the Military or if you know someone that may have, please get them to www.defense.gov/stoploss for more information, or to submit a claim.  Over the past several months, the Department of Defense has been reaching out to service members, veterans and beneficiaries through direct mail, veteran service organizations, and the media.   The deadline is fast approaching and no one should be missed.  President Obama, the Defense Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Congress know you have earned this pay but the initiative to claim what amounts to an average of $3,700 starts with you.

As a team committed to improving the lives of veterans, military families, the wounded, and families of the fallen, we are intensifying our efforts to remind all who meet eligibility requirements to submit a claim for the benefit available to them.  Today, President Obama’s video address will be distributed across America to leave no stone unturned and no service member or their family unaware. 

This back pay is just one way this administration is keeping its promise to our service members, veterans and their families:

  • President Obama has provided one of the largest funding increases in decades to help create a 21st century VA that provides our veterans better health care, better services, and better support, including in rural communities.  
  • We’ve eliminated inpatient, outpatient and prescription co-pays for the catastrophically disabled, which today account for historically large percentage of our veterans coming home from war. 
  • We’re breaking the back of benefit claims backlog so vets don’t have to wait years for the benefits they need, and are continuing to work to improve and modernize VA’s delivery of services.  
  • We’re helping our veterans transition back to civilian life by helping them get jobs and sending our veterans to college through the post-9/11 GI Bill, which has already helped more than 300,000 veterans or a member of their family pursue their dream of a college education. 
  • And, we’re providing unprecedented resources to treat the wounds of today’s wars -- traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder – and to provide additional resources to help family members and caregivers who put their own lives on hold to care for their loved one. 
  • Finally, the Administration is making it easier for those suffering from PTSD  to qualify for VA benefits.  A veteran can now establish a claim based on his or her own testimony of events that caused PTSD without the requirement of corroborating evidence -- no matter what war you served in.

As you read this blog or watch the President’s video, realize that you are part of the solution, you can help ensure our All Volunteer Force understands they are a national treasure, you can tell a veteran thank you for their service, and now you may even help them find an unexpected treasure of retroactive stop-loss special pay.

Michael Harasimowicz, Director for Personnel and Readiness, National Security Staff

Thursday, September 2, 2010

DAV Applauds Service Connection for New Illnesses Linked to Agent Orange

WASHINGTON—The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) commends Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki for his leadership in pursuing a final regulation granting presumptive service connection for three new diseases resulting from exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

The rule, published Aug. 31, adds Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease to the list of presumptive service-connected illnesses and expands the presumption for leukemia to include chronic B cell leukemia, such as hairy cell leukemia.

“Secretary Shinseki has portrayed determination and leadership in pursuing the final regulation based on the latest evidence from a 2008 independent study by the Institute of Medicine concerning health problems associated with exposure to herbicides, like Agent Orange,” said DAV Washington Headquarters Executive Director David W. Gorman. “We anticipate the VA will begin making decisions on claims for these conditions when the rule takes effect in 60 days.”

The DAV is urging Vietnam veterans with these three diseases to submit their claims for compensation as soon as possible. “In anticipation of the regulatory change, DAV’s highly trained professional National Service Officers began filing claims for veterans with these disabilities since last October,” Gorman said. “We encourage those who feel they may have a claim to contact their nearest DAV National Service Office to begin the claims process.”

Veterans who served in Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, are presumed by VA to have been exposed to harmful herbicides. If they suffer from any of the three diseases, it is presumed that the illnesses are service connected, and they will be eligible for compensation and VA health care. The VA estimates that more than 150,000 veterans will submit claims in the next 12 to 18 months and 90,000 previously denied claims, including death claims, will be reviewed for possible entitlement to service connection.

“Vietnam veterans with these illnesses will have an easier time obtaining their earned compensation and health care thanks to the new presumptive service connection rule,” said Gorman. “Our nation’s Vietnam veterans served with honor and distinction, and have suffered significantly from their exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. The DAV thanks Secretary Shinseki for his dedication to ensuring that their sacrifice is remembered.”

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

DAV Applauds Service Connection for New Illnesses Linked to Agent Orange

Agent Orange
Agent Orange is a defoliant used by U.S. military forces in Vietnam known to cause several chronic illnesses to servicemembers who encountered it.

WASHINGTON — The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) commends Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki for his leadership in pursuing a final regulation granting presumptive service connection for three new diseases resulting from exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

The rule, published Aug. 31, adds Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease to the list of presumptive service-connected illnesses and expands the presumption for leukemia to include chronic B cell leukemia, such as hairy cell leukemia.

“Secretary Shinseki has portrayed determination and leadership in pursuing the final regulation based on the latest evidence from a 2008 independent study by the Institute of Medicine concerning health problems associated with exposure to herbicides, like Agent Orange,” said DAV Washington Headquarters Executive Director David W. Gorman. “We anticipate the VA will begin making decisions on claims for these conditions when the rule takes effect in 60 days.”

The DAV is urging Vietnam veterans with these three diseases to submit their claims for compensation as soon as possible. “In anticipation of the regulatory change, DAV’s highly trained professional National Service Officers began filing claims for veterans with these disabilities since last October,” Gorman said. “We encourage those who feel they may have a claim to contact their nearest DAV National Service Office to begin the claims process.”

Veterans who served in Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, are presumed by VA to have been exposed to harmful herbicides. If they suffer from any of the three diseases, it is presumed that the illnesses are service connected, and they will be eligible for compensation and VA health care. The VA estimates that more than 150,000 veterans will submit claims in the next 12 to 18 months and 90,000 previously denied claims, including death claims, will be reviewed for possible entitlement to service connection.

“Vietnam veterans with these illnesses will have an easier time obtaining their earned compensation and health care thanks to the new presumptive service connection rule,” said Gorman. “Our nation’s Vietnam veterans served with honor and distinction, and have suffered significantly from their exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. The DAV thanks Secretary Shinseki for his dedication to ensuring that their sacrifice is remembered.”

The 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, represents this nation’s disabled veterans. It is dedicated to a single purpose: building better lives for our nation’s disabled veterans and their families. For more information, visit the organization’s Web site www.dav.org.

For more information, link to: VA Publishes New Agent Orange Regulation

Source:  http://www.dav.org/news/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=317

Monday, August 2, 2010

Full Text of the Remarks of the President of the United States at DAV’s National Convention

Remarks of President Barack Obama at the National Convention of the Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta, Georgia on Monday, August 2, 2010

Good morning. Thank you Commander Barrera for your kind introduction and your lifetime of service - in the Marines in Vietnam and as a tireless advocate for your fellow disabled veterans. Thank you Bobby.

I want to thank your great leadership team for welcoming me today - Chairman Ray Dempsey; incoming commander Wally Tyson; national adjutant Art Wilson; Judy Hezlep of the D-A-V Auxiliary; and your Executive Director in Washington, Dave Gorman. And I’m pleased to be joined by a decorated Vietnam veteran, wounded warrior and a lifetime member of the D-A-V - my outstanding Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki.

Disabled American Veterans, I valued your advice and counsel when I was a senator, when I co-sponsored the Post-9/11 GI Bill. You were one of the first veterans organizations that I called upon when I began my presidential campaign.

And as President, it’s been my pleasure to welcome you to the White House - to make sure America is serving our veterans as well as you’ve served us; and, most recently, to sign advanced appropriations into law so that veterans health care will never again be held hostage to the budget battles of Washington

There’s another visit I won’t forget. I was in the Oval Office expecting a visit from the D-A-V. And in comes Bobby carrying a baseball bat. Now, it’s not every day that somebody gets past the Secret Service while wielding a baseball bat. I think you heard about this. Turns out it was a genuine Louisville Slugger - a thank you for going to bat for our veterans on advanced appropriations.

So I’m grateful for that symbol of our partnership, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve achieved together.

In the life of our nation, not every generation has been summoned to defend our country in its hour of need. But every generation to answer that call has done so with honor and courage.

Among you are members of that generation that saved the world from fascism. I was honored to stand with our World War II veterans at Normandy last year for the anniversary of D-Day. And this year, as we mark the 65th anniversary of our victory in that war, we once again salute our veterans of the Second World War.

Others among you faced a brutal foe on a cold Korean peninsula. This year, as we mark the 60th anniversary that conflict, I will be proud to travel to the Republic of Korea in November to pay tribute to our veterans of the Korean War.

Many of you served in the jungles of Vietnam. You also served with honor, but were often shunned when you came home. That was a national disgrace, and it must never happen again. That’s s why we’re making sure our veterans from today’s wars are shown the respect and dignity that they deserve.

And whether you served in the Gulf to free a captive Kuwait, fought in the streets of Mogadishu or stopped an ethnic slaughter in the Balkans, you too are part of an unbroken line of service stretching across two centuries.

For you, coming home was the beginning of another battle - the battle to recover. You fought to stand again, to walk again, to work again. You fought for each other - and for the benefits and treatment you had earned. And you became leaders in our communities, companies and country, including a former Vietnam vet and senator, Max Cleland, who reminded us that America’s disabled veterans are "strong at the broken places."
Today, your legacy of service is carried on by a new generation of Americans. Some stepped forward in a time of peace, not foreseeing years of combat.

Others stepped forward in this time of war, knowing they could be sent into harm’s way. For the past nine years, in Afghanistan and Iraq, they have borne the burdens of war. They - and their families - have faced the greatest test in the history of our all-volunteer force - serving tour after tour, year after year. Through their extraordinary service they have written their own chapters in the American story, and by any measure have earned their place among the greatest of generations.

Now, one of those chapters is nearing an end. As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. And I made it clear that by August 31, 2010 America’s combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing - as promised, on schedule.

Already, we have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases.

We’re moving out millions of pieces of equipment in one of the largest logistics operations that we’ve seen in decades. By the end of this month, we’ll have brought more than 90,000 of our troops home from Iraq since I took office - more than 90,000.

Today - even as terrorists try to derail Iraq’s progress - because of the sacrifices of our troops and their Iraqi partners, violence in Iraq continues to be near the lowest it’s been in years. And next month, we will change our military mission from combat to supporting and training Iraqi security forces. In fact, in many parts of the country, Iraqis have already taken the lead for security.

As agreed to with the Iraqi government, we will maintain a transitional force until we remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of next year.

During this period, our forces will have a focused mission - supporting and training Iraqi forces, partnering with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions, and protecting our civilian and military efforts. These are dangerous tasks. And there are still those with bombs and bullets who will try to stop Iraq’s progress. The hard truth is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq.

But make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing - from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats. And as we mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq, a grateful America must pay tribute to all who served there.

For our nation has had vigorous debates about the Iraq War. There are patriots who supported going to war, and patriots who opposed it.

But there has never been any daylight between us when it comes to supporting the more than one million Americans in uniform have served in Iraq - far more than any conflict since Vietnam.

These men and women from across our country have done more than meet the challenges of this young century. Through their extraordinary courage, confidence and commitment, these troops and veterans have proven themselves as a new generation of American leaders. While our country has sometimes been divided, they have fought together as one. While other individuals and institutions have shirked responsibility, they have welcomed it. And while it is easy to be daunted by overwhelming challenges, the generation that has served in Iraq has overcome every test before them.

They took to the skies and sped across deserts in the initial charge into Baghdad. And today we’re joined by an infantryman who was there as part of the 101st Airborne Division - Sergeant Nicholas Bernardi.

When invasion gave way to insurgency, our troops persevered, block by block, city by city, from Baghdad to Fallujah. As a driver in a transportation company, this soldier endured constant attacks but never waivered in his mission - and we thank Sergeant Dan Knabe.

And when terrorists and militias plunged Iraq into sectarian war, our troops adapted and adjusted - restoring order and effectively defeating al Qaeda in Iraq on the battlefield. And among those who served in those pivotal days was a scout with the 1st Cavalry Division - Specialist Matt Seidl.

For each of these men and women there are countless others. And we honor them all. Our young enlisted troops and non commissioned officers who are the backbone of our military. The National Guardsmen and Reservists who served in unprecedented deployments. And more women tested by combat than in any war in American history, including a Marine here today - Sergeant Patricia Ruiz.

And we salute the families back home. They too have sacrificed in this war. That is why my wife Michelle - and the Vice President’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden - have made it their mission to make sure America takes care of our remarkable military families, including our veterans.

Now, this summer, tens of thousands of our troops in Iraq are coming home. Last week, Vice President Biden was at Fort Drum to help welcome back members of the legendary 10th Mountain Division. Families are being reunited at bases across the country, from Fort Bragg in North Carolina to Fort Riley in Kansas to Fort Lewis in Washington.

In this season of homecomings, every American can show their gratitude to our patriots who served in Iraq.

As we do, we are humbled by the profound sacrifice that has been rendered. Each of the veterans I have mentioned carries with them the wounds of this war. And as a nation, we will honor forever all who gave their lives in service in Iraq. Soldiers. Sailors. Airmen. Marines. Coast Guardsmen. Active. Guard. Reserve.

But even as we end the war in Iraq, even as we welcome home of so many of our troops, others are stilled deployed in Afghanistan.

Let us never forget - it was Afghanistan where al Qaeda plotted and trained to murder 3,000 innocent people on 9/11. It is Afghanistan and the tribal regions of Pakistan where terrorists have launched other attacks against us and our allies. And if Afghanistan were to be engulfed by an even wide insurgency, al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates would have even more space to plan their next attack. And as President of the United States, I refuse to let that happen.

That is why, after years in which the situation had deteriorated in Afghanistan, I announced a new strategy last December - a military effort to break the Taliban’s momentum and train Afghan forces so they can take the lead for security; a civilian effort to promote good governance and development that improves the lives of the Afghan people; and deeper cooperation with Pakistan to root out terrorists on both sides of the border.
We face huge challenges in Afghanistan. But it’s important that the American people know that we are making progress and we’re focused on goals that are clear and achievable.

On the military front, nearly all the additional forces that I ordered to Afghanistan are now in place. Along with our Afghan and international partners, we’re going on the offensive against the Taliban - targeting their leaders, challenging them in regions where they’d had free reign, and training Afghan National Security Forces.

And today our thoughts are prayers are with all our troops risking their lives for our safety in Afghanistan.

On the civilian front, we’re insisting on greater accountability, and the Afghan government has taken concrete steps to foster development; to combat corruption; and to put forward a reintegration plan that allows Afghans to lay down their arms.

In Pakistan, we’ve seen the government begin to take the fight to violent extremists within its borders. Major blows have been struck against al Qaeda and its leadership.

Because in this region and beyond, we will tolerate no safe for al Qaeda and their extremist allies. We will disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately defeat al Qaeda. And we will give our troops the resources and equipment to get the job done and keep our country safe.

At the same time, every American who has ever worn the uniform must also know this - your country is going to take care of you when you come home. Our nation’s commitment to our veterans - to you and your families - is a sacred trust. And to me and my administration, upholding that trust is a moral obligation.

That’s why I’ve charged Secretary Shinseki with building a 21st century VA. That includes one of the largest percentage increases to the VA budget in the past 30 years. Yes, we will cut the deficit, and I’ve proposed a freeze on discretionary domestic spending. But what I haven’t frozen is the spending we need to keep our military strong, our country safe and our veterans secure. So we’re making an historic commitment to our veterans.

For about 200,000 Vietnam vets who may have been exposed to Agent Orange and who now suffer from three chronic diseases, we’re making it easier for you to get the health care and benefits you need. And for our Gulf War veterans, we’ve declared that nine infectious diseases are now presumed to be related to your service in Desert Storm.

For our disabled veterans, we’ve eliminated co-pays for those of you who are catastrophically disabled.

We’ve kept our promise on concurrent receipt by proposing legislation that would allow severely disabled retirees to receive your military retired pay and your VA disability benefits. It’s the right thing to do.

We’ve dramatically increased funding for veterans health care across the board. That includes improving care for rural veterans and women veterans. For those half-million vets who had lost their eligibility - our Priority 8 veterans - we’re restoring your access to VA health care.

And since the rumors continue to fly, let me say it as clearly as I can. The historic health care reform legislation that I signed into law does not - I repeat, does not - change your veterans benefits. The VA health care and benefits that you know and trust are safe, and that includes prosthetics for our disabled veterans.

Thanks to advanced appropriations, the days of delayed funding for veterans medical care are over. And just as those delays were unacceptable, so too are long delays in the claims process.

So we’re working hard to create a single lifetime electronic record that our troops and veterans can keep for life.

Today, I can announce that for the first time ever, veterans will be able to go to the VA website, click a simple "blue button" and download or print your personnel health records so you have them when you need them and can share them with your doctors outside the VA. That’s happening, this fall.

We’re hiring thousands of new claims processors to break the backlog once and for all.

And to make sure the backlog doesn’t come back, we’re reforming the claims process itself, with new information technologies and paperless systems.

As a result of the innovation competition that I announced last summer, our dedicated VA employees suggested more than 10,000 new ways to cut through the red tape and bureaucracy. And we’re already putting dozens of these innovative ideas into action. Additionally, we’re enabling more veterans to check the status of their claims on-line and from their cell phone.

As a next step, we’re opening this competition to entrepreneurs and academics so the best minds in America can help us develop the best technologies to serve our vets, including those of you with multiple traumatic injuries. And we’re going to keep at this until we meet our commitment to cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, and deliver your benefits sooner. This is a priority, and we’re going to get it done.
We’re making progress in ending homelessness among our veterans. Today, on any given night, there are about 20,000 fewer veterans on the streets. But we’re not going to be satisfied until every veteran who has fought for America has a home in America.

Finally, we’re keeping faith with our newest veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. We’re offering more of the support and counseling they need to transition back to civilian life. That includes funding the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which is already helping more than 300,000 veterans and family members pursue their dream of a college education.

For veterans trying to find work in a very tough economy, we’re helping with job training and placement. I’ve directed the federal government to make it a priority to hire more veterans, including disabled veterans. And every business in America needs to know - our vets have the training, they’ve got the skills, and they’re ready to work. Our country is stronger when we tap the incredible talents of our veterans.

For those coming home injured, we’re continuing to direct unprecedented support to our wounded warriors in uniform - more treatment centers, more case managers and delivering the absolute best care available. For those who can, we want to help them get back to where they want to be - with their units. And that includes service members with a disability, who still have so much to offer our military.

We’re directing unprecedented resources to treating the signature wounds of today’s wars - Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I recently signed into law the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. It not only improves treatment for T-B-I and P-T-S-D, it gives new support to many of the caregivers who put their lives on hold to care for their loved one.

As so many of you know, P-T-S-D is a pain like no other - the nightmares that keep coming back, the rage that strikes suddenly, the hopelessness that has led too many of our troops and veterans to take their own lives. Today, I want to say to anyone who is struggling - do not suffer in silence. It’s not a sign of weakness to reach out for support; it is a sign of strength. Your country needs you. And we are here to help you stand tall again.

We’re making major investments in awareness, outreach and suicide prevention; hiring more mental health professionals; and improving care and treatment. For those of you suffering from P-T-S-D, we’re making it a whole lot easier to qualify for VA benefits. From now on, if a VA doctor confirms a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress, that’s enough - no matter what war you served in.

These are the commitments my administration has made. This is the sacred trust we have pledged to uphold - to you and all who serve, including a truly inspiring American, Staff Sergeant Cory Remsburg. He was at Bethesda during one of my visits to see our wounded warriors. As I walked into his room, I saw a picture on the wall - a picture of the two of us together. It turns out I had met Cory before, back at the D-Day anniversary in Normandy. A proud Army Ranger, he had joined in a reenactment of that historic paratrooper jump.

Soon after, Cory served on his 10th deployment since 9/11 - that’s right, his 10th. And that’s when an I-E-D nearly took his life. The traumatic brain injury was severe. Cory was in a coma for months, and it seemed possible that he might never wake up. But then something happened. His doctors can’t explain it. His parents call it a miracle. Cory opened one of his eyes. A few weeks later, he moved a leg, then an arm.
Now, there at Bethesda, we were meeting again. Cory still couldn’t speak. But he looked me in the eye. He lifted his arm and shook my hand firmly.

And when I asked how he was feeling, he held up his hand, pulled his fingers together and gave a solid thumbs up.

Today, Cory is at a VA hospital in Florida. With the support of his family and VA staff, he’s working hard every day to regain his strength. He’s learning to speak again. And he’s grateful for the visits he’s received from friends and supporters - including the Disabled American Veterans.
Cory is only 27 years old. He knows he has a long and hard road ahead. But he pushes on, and he’s determined to get back to his fellow Rangers. And when someone at the hospital said, "Cory, you’re going to walk out of here someday," he said "No, I’m going to run out of here."
Staff Sergeant Cory Remsburg, Disabled American Veterans - you are the very essence of America, the values that sustain us a people, and the virtues our nation needs most right now.

The resilience that, in the face of great loss, lets us pick ourselves up and keep pushing on.

The sense of purpose that tells us to carry on, not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard, even when the odds seem overwhelming.
The confidence that our destiny is never written for us, it is written by us.

And the faith - that fundamental American faith - that there are brighter days ahead; and that we not will not simply endure, we will emerge from our tests and trials even stronger than before.

That is your story. That is America’s story. And I’m proud to stand with you as we write the next proud chapter in the life of the country we love.
God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.