Vet to Vet:
Help from the VA?
Also: Please be aware of scams, and it's cold outside
By Bob Gutsche, VietNow National VA Chairman
Hi, I'm from the VA, and I'm here to help
Last year Congress passed Public Law 111-163, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Service Act. The intent of this legislation was to provide support and assistance to those who were providing care and assistance to our brave wounded warriors who have returned home and need considerable rehabilitation from their war injuries.
Congress set a deadline for implementation of this act by no later than January 30, 2011. So what's the problem? Secretary Shinseki and his staff have failed to implement the legislation, and have restricted those who need it most from being provided with the stipend and respite-care relief that they so sorely need. Many who are caring for our wounded warriors have been forced to leave their jobs or decrease the number of hours they work, in order to provide this much-needed care.
It has reached the point that members of Congress have initiated a letter to the President asking him to direct the VA to implement this program within 60 days, and to ensure that the VA is in compliance with all rules set down in this public law.
We hope this will get the attention of Secretary Shinseki and his staff, and get them to stop dragging their feet at the expense of those who have sacrificed so much.
Beware of scams
Why is it that when people decide to run a scam they so often direct the scam at the elderly and at veterans?
One thing we all need to be careful of is companies that try to trick us by using a business name that sounds like an official U.S. government office. A favorite trick of scammers is to use a business name that sounds very much like it's associated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
These businesses may contact you, using their official-sounding name, in order to gather your personal information, which later can be used for financial fraud, identity theft, etc.
Veterans should be especially careful of organizations that promise to help with VA claims. If you ever have any doubt about anyone who asks for your personal information, or offers to help with a VA claim, do not respond to the e-mail or to the letter. If you are contacted by phone, hang up. Then, before going any further, contact a local veterans-
assistance officer, or contact the VA directly to get the facts.
Above all, never give out your personal information unless you are 100 percent sure of who you are dealing with.
It's cold outside
Recently, VietNow was made aware of a specific need for our wounded warriors in Afghanistan. The hospital at Bagram Air Base, in Afghanistan, had a situation that was not acceptable. It was noted that when our wounded were transported to the base from outside the wire, their clothing was cut off and discarded during the process of treating their wounds. When they were treated at the hospital and transferred to Germany, or back to the United States, more often than not they did not have warm clothing to put on.
This situation was noticed by a chaplain, and he asked one of our members there, if VietNow could help out with sweat pants and sweat shirts for the warriors to wear when transferred.
In true VietNow fashion, the response was overwhelming, as our members took the lead, and collected and sent to the hospital large quantities of these needed items. So, for now, our warriors will be kept comfortable while going forward for additional care.
This brings to mind the question: If we can fight a war with some of the most sophisticated weapons on Earth, why can't we provide the basics for our troops?
Which brings to mind the issue of pillows, but that is for another time.
After over 20 years in the U.S. Navy, National VA Chairman, Bob Gutsche worked as a counselor in the VA system for many years.
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