Seminole Co. Veterans News

vet header

August 2017 Monthly Veterans’ Newsletter

 This Veterans Newsletter is compiled and provided by the Seminole County Veteran’s Services Office.  Its intent is to keep Seminole County Veterans informed about their rights, benefits, and news of interest.  It is non-political and, except where noted, all articles are excerpted from outside sources.  Local events honoring/supporting Veterans will be included as made available.  You are encouraged to provide feedback and recommendations, as this is your Newsletter.  Together with my small Team, I hope you find it both valuable and interesting.     

 Ed Burford, Seminole County Veterans Services Officer

  1. The Hershey Company Offers Free Military Care Packages
  2. Coming Soon: Hearing Aids for Retirees’ Dependents
  3. Senate Face Fight to Increase TRICARE Fees
  4. Tricare Users Must Approve Mail-Order Drug Prescription Renewals
  5. House Votes Unanimously to Extend VA Choice Program for 6 Months
  6. VA Tests Mobile App
  7. New Mexico VA Denied 90% Of Gulf War Illness Claims
  8. President, VA Announce Telehealth Initiatives
  9. VA Report: Vets In Private Care Are At Higher Risk For Opioid Addiction
  10. Eligibility for Veterans Choice
  11. New PTSD and Stress Guidelines
  12. VA Launches Suicide Prevention Effort
  13. Trump Signs $3.9 Billion VA Funding Bill To Avert Crisis For Choice Program
  14. Free Childcare for VA Appointments?
  15. VA Debuts Appointment App
  16. TRICARE Expands Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment
  17. You asked, MOAA answered: How will TRICARE’s new enrollment rules work?
  18. Upcoming Tricare Change Could Hurt Families
  19. Committee Conducts Hearing on Gulf War Illness Claims
  20. Respite Care for Caregivers
  21. Top 10 Military Photos of the Week
  22. VA Considers Additional Agent Orange Ailments
  23. Court Deals Major Blow to Veterans Suing Over Burn Pits
  24. ‘They Called Me Doc’: The Newest Medal Of Honor Recipient Tells His Story Of Heroism In Vietnam
  25. Bill Would Expand Mental Health Care for ‘Bad Paper’ Vets
  26. Vets Get the Full Attention of Lawmakers
  27. Army Historical Foundation
  28. Top 16 Apps MOAA July 28th, 2017
  29. Making the Most of Job Fairs
  30. Online Network Connects Veterans and Spouses with Professionals
  31. A Look at Education
  32. Congress Just Made Huge Changes to the GI Bill. Here’s What Matters Most for Veterans
  33. Congress Passes New Forever GI Bill
  34. New GI Bill Legislation Heads to President
  35. Trump signed the ‘Forever GI Bill.’ Here are 11 things you should know


1.      The Hershey Company Offers Free Military Care Packages, UPDATED FEBRUARY 2017, The Hershey Company has been supporting U.S. troops for decades, and has sent thousands of cases of candy to active military servicemen and servicewomen who are serving overseas. To request a care package for a serviceman or servicewoman who is serving overseas- Read more.


2.      Coming Soon: Hearing Aids for Retirees’ Dependents MOAA, July 21, 2017, A provision in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act gave DoD permission to provide hearing aids, at government cost, to dependents of military retirees.  This is great news for retired beneficiaries, who are already eligible for hearing aids through the Retiree At-Cost Hearing Aid Program, popularly known as RACHAP.  Now retiree dependents are eligible to use this program too.  Key features of the program:   Read more.

3.      Senate Face Fight to Increase TRICARE Fees | Week of August 14, 2017, Senators propose that TRICARE beneficiaries pay higher co-pays for drug prescriptions not filled on base.  Read more.


4.    Tricare Users Must Approve Mail-Order Drug Prescription Renewals | 16 Aug 2017 | Receiving prescription drugs through Tricare‘s mail-order system will soon require an extra step for users, thanks to an upcoming change in the system’s refill order policy.  Read more.


5.      House Votes Unanimously to Extend VA Choice Program for 6 Months | Week of July 31, 2017, After failing in the first try earlier last week, the House unanimously passed a $3.9 billion bill Friday to extend the Veterans Choice Program on private care for six months. The 419-0 vote on the emergency spending measure came after the Senate worked out a deal with House negotiators to add an amendment to the bill on the leasing of 28 new VA facilities in 17 states to overcome the objections of the veterans service organizations (VSOs).  Read more.


6.      VA Tests Mobile App | Week of July 31, 2017, The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is testing a new system called the Genetic Diagnostic Testing App (GDx). Both the provider and veteran versions of the app, as well as extensive training materials, will be available on the VA App Store:   Read more.


7.      New Mexico VA Denied 90% Of Gulf War Illness Claims  Task & Purpose via Albuquerque Journal, on August 13, 2017  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Albuquerque office denied 592 of 640 Gulf War illness claims it received in fiscal year 2015, the latest year for which data are available, giving it the ninth-lowest approval rate in the VA complex.  A June report from the Government Accountability Office found that approval rates throughout the VA complex for claims relating to Gulf War illness, or GWI, are one-third as high as for other disabling conditions.  Read more.


8.      President, VA Announce Telehealth Initiatives | Week of August 14, 2017, President Trump and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dr. David Shulkin have announced three initiatives that will expand access to health care for veterans across the country. Using telehealth technology and mobile applications, VA will connect with more veterans to provide services where they live.   Read more.


9.      VA Report: Vets In Private Care Are At Higher Risk For Opioid Addiction  Task & Purpose, August 1, 2017, As the Senate today deliberated on an emergency funding bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ premier private-health program, a new government report is warning of “a significant risk” of addiction and health complications for veterans who are prescribed opioid prescriptions outside the VA.  Read more.


10.  Eligibility for Veterans Choice | Week of July 31, 2017, To be eligible for the Veterans Choice program (VCP), you must be enrolled in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and must also meet at least one of the following criteria:  (Ed sends – You must be preapproved!!Read more.


11.  New PTSD and Stress Guidelines Issued | Week of July 31, 2017, A panel of experts from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) has developed the latest guideline for managing PTSD and acute stress disorder. The 2017 Clinical Practice Guideline (PDF) includes the most effective treatments for PTSD, rated both for the quality of the clinical studies and the strength of the recommendations.  Read more.


12.  VA Launches Suicide Prevention Effort | Week of July 24, 2017, The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is launching an initiative called ‘Reach Vet’ to help prevent suicides and be more responsive to the mental health needs of patients. The new program was launched at the Bay Pines VA Health Care System in April, 2017. The program identifies the top one percent of veterans at risk just by reviewing the health records of veterans. These names are provided to the clinicians so they can reengage the veterans or enhance their care so they can reduce the risk of suicide.  Read more.


13.  Trump Signs $3.9 Billion VA Funding Bill To Avert Crisis For Choice Program Task & Purpose via Stars and Stripes, August 13, 2017President Donald Trump on Aug. 12 signed a $3.9 billion funding deal for the Department of Veterans Affairs that will shore up the nearly bankrupt Veterans Choice Program and allow the VA to open 28 new clinics and implement new hiring programs.  Read more.


14.  Free Childcare for VA Appointments? | Week of August 14, 2017, If you’re a veteran family who is lucky enough to use one of a handful of VA hospitals around the country, you’ve had access for a few years to drop-in childcare during VA appointments. Not only does that mean your veterans can be on kid-duty and attend his or her medical appointments, but it removes a barrier to you attending, too. Now a proposal included in recently passed VA legislation would vastly expand that child care program to not only all VA locations, but also give the VA the ability to reimburse for childcare instead of having it on site.  Ed sends – Not available in all locations.  Read more.


15.  VA Debuts Appointment App | Week of August 14, 2017, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dr. David Shulkin has announced the nationwide roll-out of an application to make it easier to scheduled or change appointments with VA. The Veteran Appointment Request app (VAR) is an application that makes it possible for veterans to use their smartphone, tablet or computer to schedule or modify appointments at VA facilities.  Read more.


16.  TRICARE Expands Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment | Week of July 31, 2017, TRICARE has expanded mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services, adding intensive outpatient programs and expanding options for opioid treatment. There are no limits for the number of times beneficiaries can get SUD treatment, smoking cessation counseling and outpatient treatment per week. Also, lower copayments and cost-shares continue from last year.  Read more.


17.  You asked, MOAA answered: How will TRICARE’s new enrollment rules work? MOAA, July 26, 2017, Starting in November, many TRICARE users will have about six weeks to select and enroll in the health care plan they want to use in 2018. This is a new process for TRICARE users and means that troops, retirees, and their families will need to be more proactive when electing their health care coverage.  Read more.


18.  Upcoming Tricare Change Could Hurt Families | Week of July 31, 2017, A short sentence buried in a series of major Tricare reforms passed by Congress in 2016, set to roll out late this year, is causing alarm among military family advocates. They worry that the measure will block Tricare beneficiaries from accessing the healthcare they need.  Read more.


19.  Committee Conducts Hearing on Gulf War Illness Claims | Week of July 24, 2017, Zachary Hearn, deputy director of claims for The American Legion’s National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division, recently testified on the VA’s processing of Gulf War Illness claims during a joint hearing on Capitol Hill. A Government Accounting Office (GAO) report and the Legion’s findings paint a bleak picture of the development and adjudication of Gulf War-related claims. Medical providers have optional training, in which only 10 percent participate, and Veterans Benefits Administration personnel complain of a lack of adequate training on the subject, Read more.


20.  Respite Care for Caregivers | Week of July 24, 2017, As a caregiver, to be strong for your veteran you must first be strong. Respite care is an occasional way to take a break from your caregiving duties and relax, renew your energy, and avoid caregiver burnout. Veterans who require a caregiver may be eligible for up to 30 days of respite care each year. This care can be offered in your home, at a VA community living center, at a VA-contracted community residential care facility, or at an adult day health care center. To see if you are eligible – Read more.


21.  Top 10 Military Photos of the Week | Week of July 24, 2017, This week’s most striking military photos feature Warthogs, the Thunderbirds, a Super Stallion, and a tribute to a late Navy man.  Read more.


22.  VA Considers Additional Agent Orange Ailments | Week of August 07, 2017, VA Secretary David J. Shulkin will decide “on or before” Nov. 1 whether to add to the list of medical conditions the Department of Veteran Affairs presumes are associated to Agent Orange or other herbicides sprayed during the Vietnam War, a department spokesman said Tuesday in response to our enquiry. Ailments under review as possible adds to the presumptive diseases list include bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson-like symptoms without diagnosis of that particular disease. But hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke also might be embraced, or ignored, as part of the current review.    Read more.


23.  Court Deals Major Blow to Veterans Suing Over Burn Pits | 5 Aug 2017 | A federal judge has dismissed a major lawsuit against a defense contractor by veterans and their family members, over burn pit operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that plaintiffs said caused them chronic and sometimes deadly respiratory diseases and cancer.  Read more.


24.  ‘They Called Me Doc’: The Newest Medal Of Honor Recipient Tells His Story Of Heroism In Vietnam  Task & Purpose, August 1, 2017, In May 1969, Spc. James McCloughan survived a 48-hour massacre — and never stopped fighting to save 10 members of his unit.  It’s been nearly 50 years since McCloughan, an Army medic who served with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment during the Vietnam War, and President Donald Trump on July 31 presented him with the military’s most prestigious award: The Medal of Honor. Read more.


25.  Bill Would Expand Mental Health Care for ‘Bad Paper’ Vets | Week of July 24, 2017, Although the VA has been offering mental health care since early this month to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges, a bill working its way through Congress would put the agency’s new policy into law. The proposal would also require the VA to expand the care beyond its current “emergency” coverage to long term, non-urgent issues.  Read more.


26.  Vets Get the Full Attention of Lawmakers MOAA, August 18, 2017, While it has been difficult to get major legislation through Congress, that hasn’t been the case with some important veterans’ bills that have found their way to Pennsylvania Avenue for the president to sign.  In fact, it has been a banner year for veterans as Congress quickly moved legislation through the process in an unusually bipartisan and bicameral way while other important legislation, like the defense bill and other federal measures, stalled.  Read more.


27.  Army Historical Foundation Task & Purpose August 15, 2017,  If you’re a currently serving Soldier in the U.S. Army or a proud Army veteran, we hope your story will be included in the National Museum of the U.S. Army. Just create an account and add your details to the Registry of the American Soldier. This free, online database will be the largest public record of Army Soldiers’ service, to be preserved for generations to come in the National Museum of the U.S. Army.  Ensure that your Army legacy is honored and remembered.
You also don’t have to have served in the Army to get involved. Service members from other branches and civilians can participate in this exciting project as well.  Read more.


28.  Top 16 Apps MOAA July 28th, 2017 What makes a good app? Tony Hatala, a former Marine Corps pilot currently earning dual master’s degrees in business administration and public policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, has some thoughts.  “A good app should have an intuitive interface that requires no training to use,” Hatala says. “Additionally, the user should be able to get the information they need with a minimal number of clicks.”  Hatala cocreated an app called Base Directory, which helps servicemembers find important phone numbers related to U.S. military installations worldwide. For more information on Base Directory and other essential apps spanning topics from career development to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keep reading.  Read more.


29.  Making the Most of Job Fairs | Week of July 31, 2017, If you take time to properly prepare for job fairs, they can be very beneficial to your overall job search strategy. Here are several tips:  Read more.


30.  Online Network Connects Veterans and Spouses with Professionals | Week of August 14, 2017, Veterati allows business professionals to directly connect with veterans and military spouses. The network is intended for transitioning veterans and spouses looking for advice, guidance and answers to common questions related to employment, education and entrepreneurship, as well as businesspeople looking to give back to the military community. The service is free,  Read more.


31.  A Look at Education | Week of July 31, 2017, Many military veterans returning home do not have a degree yet, but do have invaluable experience from their time served. How can a veteran apply what they already learned toward a degree, to gain a meaningful career for life after military service? Research from experts at Online College Plan shows that veterans may be uniquely qualified for a variety of degree types. Veterans should check into their education benefits to determine if they qualify for scholarships, benefits or loan programs.  Read more.


32.  Congress Just Made Huge Changes to the GI Bill. Here’s What Matters Most for Veterans Money, Aug 03, 2017, In a rare moment of unity, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., just passed a major expansion to the education benefits for U.S. military veterans.  The bill, called the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017, flew through both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the span of three weeks, passing both by unanimous votes. Read more.


33.  Congress Passes New Forever GI Bill, | Week of August 07, 2017, The House and Senate quickly passed a bill to correct inequities under the Post-9/11 GI Billand boost or restore education benefits for thousands of veterans and select groups of dependents and survivors. Those who stand to gain from GI Bill reforms moving toward enactment include: victims of for-profit colleges that have closed; Reserve and Guard members activated under “12304b orders” which don’t trigger GI Bill eligibility; Purple Heart recipients whose wounds resulted in shorter tours and reduced GI Bill benefits, and survivors who qualify for GI Bill Fry Scholarships. The bill is now headed to the President for signature.  Read more.


34.  New GI Bill Legislation Heads to President | Week of August 14, 2017 , The new ‘Forever GI Bill’ is going to President Donald Trump to be signed into law. The bill ends the 15-year limit veterans had to use their education benefits, and corrects a Pentagon deployment authorization that has kept thousands of National Guardsmen and reservists from accumulating earned education benefits. It will also restore benefits to veterans whose schools abruptly close.  Read more.


35.  Trump signed the ‘Forever GI Bill.’ Here are 11 things you should know, Military Times, August 17th 2017, President Trump has just put his signature on a new law that will bring significant changes to education benefits for service members, veterans and their families.  The legislation known as the “Forever GI Bill” garnered strong bipartisan support in Congress, passing unanimously in both the House and Senate.  Read more.


Newsletter from your local Seminole County Veterans’ Services Office Staff.


Thank you for your service to our Country!


It Takes the Strength of a Warrior to Ask for Help

The journey after military service can be a difficult one. If you are Veteran in crisis or know of one who is, please call the VA’s 24/7 Suicide Prevention Line at

1–800–273–TALK (8255)

to speak with a trained counselor, or find a Crisis Center near you.


Become a Sunshine Chapter Individual or Corporate Member Today! Sign Up Now!