How to Win a U.S. Flag Actually Made in the U.S.A.

UPDATE May 31, 2014: Due to multiple submission errors awaiting response/correction, the winner and all Memorial photos will be announced and shared on Flag Day (June 14, 2014).


 

American Flag from Gettysburg Flag WorksAs Memorial Day approaches, we all think about two things: America’s Veterans killed in action and the American Flag.

On Memorial Day 2014, I would like to help honor all veterans (those who survived as well as those killed in action) and give everyone a chance to win a free “Made in the U.S.A.” 5′ x 8′ outdoor American flag.

All you need to do is submit a photo of you or a family member alongside your favorite veteran (living or deceased) and you’ll be entered for a chance to win.

Here’s the How & Why:

Many of us hold a special veteran very close in our hearts, and those of us who do, also appreciate the importance of flying America’s flag.  Almost every active duty service member and veteran in this country would obviously prefer flying an American Flag that was actually made in the U.S.A.

One U.S.-based flag maker has decided to team up with vfwlady.com to encourage your help for a very special Memorial Day blog post.  My goal is to make my Memorial Day 2014 blog post the biggest Veterans & Family “memorial” photo album ever published.

Thanks to the folks at Gettysburg Flag Works, I get to encourage widespread photo submissions by offering a highly sought after patriotic item to one lucky winner. That’s because Gettysburg Flag Works has donated one of their very own 5′ x 8′ Outdoor American Flags as a grand prize, shipped to the winner directly from their New York home.

What could be better than honoring a veteran & maybe winning a FREE FLAG??

Here are the Photo Submission Rules:

  1. The photo submitted must be of yourself or a family member alongside (yours or their) favorite special veteran.  Please try to find photos with that veteran in uniform if possible..(but not required :)
  2. You must agree to the publication of this photo (to include your first name, veteran’s name & branch of service) in a Memorial Day post on vfwlady.com
  3. You must submit your photo entry by May 19, 2014

If you’re okay with these terms, then follow this link to submit your entry.

I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOUR PHOTOS, America!  And BIG THANKS to Gettysburg Flag Works for their generous assistance.  Need a new American Flag? Consider buying a Flag that’s “Made in America” from the patriotic folks at Gettysburg Flag Works!

Gettysburg Flag Works

 

 

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committe Clears Putting Veterans Funding First Act

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The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee cleared several  bills that will improve access to healthcare and shield veterans from any budget or shutdown uncertainly that may occur in the future.  The senate version of The Putting Veterans Funding First Act (S. 932) was cleared and sent for consideration on November 19th.  The bill will fund all VA programs a year in advance.

Currently, only VA medical care accounts are provided an advance appropriation.  The House cleared a similar bill (H.R. 913) in August which calls for advance funding beginning with the 2016 budget.  The House version currently has a 74% chance of being enacted. The Senate’s version currently has 40% chance of being enacted.

The Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013 – Authorizes the provision of advance appropriations for the following discretionary (under current law, medical care) accounts of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):
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Other bills cleared by the Senate include:

S. 1604 Veterans Health Care Eligibility Expansion and Enhancement Act of 2013

  • Expands the period of eligibility to enroll in VA healthcare for Post 9/11 combat veterans to include Guard and Reserves from 5 to 10 years. It also simplifies VA method in determining eligibility based on income thus allowing more veterans to enroll in VA.

S. 1593 Servicemember Housing Protection Act of 2013

  • Extends protections for service members with regards to sales contracts, mortgage penalties and provides further improvements under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act or SCRA. All of the bills now move to the Senate floor for debate.

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Smile Veterans…VA Extends Optional Dental Coverage

Health Benefits    VA Dental Insurance Program  VADIP

 

 

 

VA has partnered with Delta Dental and MetLife to allow eligible Veterans, plus family members receiving care under the Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA), to purchase affordable dental insurance.  Applications are now being accepted, and coverage for this new dental insurance will begin Jan. 1, 2014.

Coverage will be available to veterans and eligible family members throughout the United States and its territories.

More than 8 million Veterans who are currently enrolled in VA health care can now choose to purchase one of the offered dental plans. This three-year pilot program is designed for Veterans with no dental coverage, or those eligible for VA dental care who would like to purchase additional coverage.

Participation will not affect entitlement to VA dental services and treatment. Historically VA’s free dental services have gone to Veterans with dental problems connected to a medical condition that’s officially certified as “service connected.”  Free dental services will continue for those Veterans.

Also eligible for the new benefits are nearly 400,000 spouses and dependent children who are reimbursed for most medical expenses under VA’s CHAMPVA program.  Generally, CHAMPVA participants are spouses, survivors or dependent children of Veterans officially rated as “permanently and totally” disabled by a service-connected condition.

There are no eligibility limitations based on service-connected disability rating or enrollment priority assignment.

Dental services under the new program vary by plan and include diagnostic, preventive, surgical, emergency and endodontic/restorative treatment. Enrollment in the VA Dental Insurance Plan (VADIP) is voluntary.  Participants are responsible for all premiums, which range from $8.65 to $52.90 per month for individual plans.  Copayments and other charges may apply.

People interested in participating may complete an application online through either

VADIP

Government Chooses Foreign Aid Payments over America’s Veterans and Grieving Families

VFW Disgusted with Elected Leadership and Steps in to Help Military Families

Military Aid Groups Step Up to Help Military FamiliesWASHINGTON (October 9, 2013) — The nation’s oldest and largest war veterans’ organization is disgusted with the partisan bickering and government paralysis caused by a White House and Congress who will not budge from their ideological extremes in order to properly take care of America’s true heroes.

“Monday’s news that the government will not transport or make a death assistance payment to grieving military families was the last straw. It is absolutely appalling and nothing short of a travesty that elected officials continue to receive paychecks and benefits while not providing for those who deserve it most,” said William A. Thien, the national commander of almost 2 million members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliaries.

Since the shutdown started, 17 servicemen and women have been killed in combat. Normally their families would receive $100,000 from the military within 36 hours to help pay for immediate needs. But now, those payments are not going out and, like everything else associated with this shutdown, they’ve gotten caught up in a partisan feud.

Military death benefits enable grieving family members to travel to Dover Air Force Base to greet their loved one’s flag-draped casket returning from overseas. The money also helps them pay for the funeral.

“Because of failed leadership, we have 56 closed Department of Veterans Affairs regional offices, 7,000 furloughed employees, and more than 4 million disabled veterans and survivors who were told next month’s disability or survivor benefits check will be delayed,” he said. “We also have a hypocritical National Park Service that closes our nation’s war memorials to veterans and a federal government that continues to make foreign aid payments while our own national security is threatened because Congress has failed to pass a defense budget or put an end to the sequester.

“This is totally unacceptable and disgraceful that our elected leaders in Washington would allow this to happen,” said Thien. “We need leadership, not more rhetoric, and if the government is unable to take care of veterans, then the government should quit creating us,” he said. “And should another military family crisis arise like yesterday’s failure, I can guarantee the VFW will provide whatever financial assistance necessary to those families.”

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ABOUT THE VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization composed of combat veterans and eligible military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation’s largest organization of war veterans and it is also the oldest major veterans’ organization. With nearly 2 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in more than 7,000 Posts worldwide, “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS.” The VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs worldwide. For more information or to join, visit their website at http://www.vfw.org.

Boy Died to Give Us Our Freedom

New Caregiver Resource Directory for Warrior and Veteran Caregivers

Warrior Care BlogThe Defense Department’s Office of Warrior Care has compiled a Caregiver Resource Directory specifically for the caregivers of recovering service members.

The comprehensive directory contains general contact information for more than 300 supportive government and non-profit organizations.

Much of the directory’s information is also helpful to seasoned Veteran Caregivers, extended wounded warrior family members, and concerned veterans help groups across the U.S. who are in need of informational resources.

Caregiver Resource Directory

Click Here to Download/print or bookmark the Caregiver Resource Directory

If you are a Wounded Warrior or Warrior Caregiver, read their most recent posts:  

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VA Announces Electronic Submission of Veterans’ Disability Claims

VA Activates Digital Claims Process in 2013

VA TransformationA new online application from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) enables disability compensation claims to be processed faster in a more end-to-end electronic environment, and VA is urging Veterans and their Veterans Service Organization (VSO) representatives to make full use of its capabilities to receive speedier decisions and reduce the backlog of claims.  Read the: VA Claims Transformation Plan

The availability of the joint VA-Department of Defense Web portal eBenefits, which now integrates with the new internal Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) electronic claims processing system, marks a major milestone in VA’s transformation from paper claims records to a fully digital operating environment, one of the keys to VA’s goal to eliminate the disability claims backlog by the end of 2015. VBMS has now been fielded at all 56 Regional Offices across the country, ahead of schedule.

VA will continue to upgrade and improve VBMS based on user feedback, and add features and tools that make it faster and easier to process claims. Instead of filling out and mailing paper forms to VA, Veterans can now use eBenefits to enter claim information online using a step-by-step, interview-style application, with pre-populated data fields and drop-down menus similar to popular tax preparation software.

“There are so many advantages to making this move from paper to digital – for both Veterans and VA” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “Veterans can now file their claims online through eBenefits like they might do their taxes online.”

By filing electronically, any compensation benefits that are awarded will be effective back to the date the Veteran started entering their claim information in eBenefits.  From that initial claim establishment date, each Veteran has up to a year to gather all necessary records and hit “submit” to preserve their original date of claim.

eBenefits allows Veterans to upload digital images of records and evidence to support their claims, bypassing the need to physically mail in personal records and wait for confirmation of receipt. VA is advising Veterans to gather and submit all relevant medical records and file a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) in eBenefits, which entails entering all available evidence at the time the claim is submitted and verifying to VA that they have no more evidence to submit. Veterans filing an FDC will receive priority processing over the traditional claims process.   VA can typically process FDCs in half the time it takes for a traditionally filed claim, and there is no risk to Veterans in filing an FDC.  If VA finds that there is a piece of relevant evidence that was not submitted by the Veteran, but is needed for a rating decision (like private medical records), claims processors will work to obtain that evidence on the Veteran’s behalf and process the claim in the traditional way.

Once logged into eBenefits, Veterans can also choose to have an accredited VSO representative assist with their claim submission by filing an electronic power of attorney form.  Using a companion portal, the chosen VSO representative, with proper authorization, will be able to see the contents of a Veteran’s claim, track its status, and add additional information when needed. A Veteran and his representative can even work a claim simultaneously while both are logged into the system, enabling VSOs to assist more Veterans in their homes or even remotely.

VA will still accept claims in paper form, though processing may take longer than for an electronically-submitted claim.  As of this summer, VA scans all new paper claims and uploads them into VBMS so they too can be processed electronically, though without many of the benefits provided when Veterans initiate the process in eBenefitssuch as guided questions that help ensure complete and accurate information and the immediate receipt of information without having to wait for the scanning and processing of paper documents. In addition to filing claims online, registered eBenefits users can track their claim status and access information on a variety of other benefits, like pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.

A free Premium eBenefits account is required to file claims electronically. The quickest and most convenient method of establishing a free premium eBenefits account is to complete the remote verification process through the eBenefits home page, or use DoD’s common access card (CAC) to register for and/or upgrade to a free premium account.  Veterans can also establish an account by telephone at 1-800-827-1000, option 7, if they are in receipt of VA benefits via direct deposit, or by visiting a VA regional office or TRICARE Service Center (if they are a military retiree). For the location of the nearest VA regional office, visit www.va.gov and search the VA regional benefits office locator.

While compensation claims are pending, eligible Veterans are able to receive healthcare and other benefits from VA.  Veterans who have served in recent conflicts are eligible for 5 years of free healthcare from VA. Currently, over 55% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are using VA healthcare, a rate of utilization greater than previous generations of Veterans.

This is the latest effort in support of the Secretary’s plan to eliminate the backlog. On May 15, VA announced that it is mandating overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices through the end of fiscal year 2013 to help eliminate the backlog, with continued emphasis on high-priority claims for homeless Veterans, those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and Veterans filing Fully Developed Claims.

In April, VA announced an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have waited one year or longer.   On April 19, VA began prioritizing claims decisions for Veterans who have been waiting the longest by providing decisions based on evidence currently in hand that allow eligible Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits quickly while waiting for their final eligibility decision.

For more information about VA benefits, go to http://www.benefits.va.gov.  For more information on VA’s Transformation, go to http://benefits.va.gov/transformation.

 

VA Seeks Veterans Comments for Burn Pit Registry Assessment Questionnaire

Burn PitSEC. 201 of the Dignified Burial and Veterans Benefits Improvement Act required the VA to establish a burn-pit registry by January of 2014.

To better ascertain and monitor the health effects of the exposure of members of the Armed Forces to toxic airborne chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), have announced an opportunity for public comment on the proposed collection of certain information by the agency.

Federal Register

Under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995, Federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed new collection, and allow 60 days for public comment in response to the notice.

Now is your chance to get in on the discussion and be heard….

Submit a Comment

The comment period for the  Open Burn Pit Registry Airborne Hazard Self-Assessment Questionnaire ends 08/05/13

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