Welcome To The Veterans Corner.

VFW testifies on VA wait times

Last week, VFW National Legislative Service Director Patrick Murray testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health regarding patient wait times and the VA’s payment process during the COVID-19 pandemic. Murray joined the VFW Independent Budget partners, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans, to convey concerns about incorrect billing and canceled appointments. “In uncertain times such as these, communication is paramount,” said Murray. “Our members need more information now more than ever from the VA regarding rescheduled appointments in order to ease some of the burden veterans are experiencing right now.” Recent implementation of the VA MISSION Act of 2018 has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the VFW and our independent budget partners urge the VA to keep communicating with its patients during these difficult times.

VA caregiver expansion launched

On Thursday, the first phase of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) went live on the VA’s website. PCAFC offers education and training, access to health care insurance, mental health counseling, financial stipends and respite care, among other benefits for caregivers who care for an eligible veteran. As part of the VA MISSION Act of 2018, PCAFC will expand in two phases. The first phase is for caregivers of veterans who were injured in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975. The second phase is for those injured in the line of duty between May 7, 1975, and Sept. 10, 2001, which go into effect on Oct. 1, 2020.

VA can assist veterans resolve community care debts

VA’s Office of Community Care (OCC) contact center can help veterans fix issues with credit reports or debt collection actions that are the result of an authorized VA community care claim. Once a veteran contacts VA’s OCC contact center, with their information regarding debt collection, staff will work one-on-one with the veteran to research and resolve collection-specific issues. Contact the VA Office of Community Care.

Complete the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry

All veterans who served in eligible locations should include their information in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pits Registry. Participation in the registry is very important as it will allow the VA to track burn pit exposure and draw inferences regarding associated adverse health effects. Exposure to burn pits may be associated with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Recently, the VA stated that veterans with underlying respiratory conditions may be at greater risk for developing complications related to COVID-19. Service members and veterans who have already signed up for the registry should make sure that their contact information, phone number, address and email are up to date.

POW/MIA update

— Air Force Maj. Paul A. Avolese, 35, was a radar navigator assigned to the 4133rd Bombardment Wing. That day, he was part of the crew of a B-52D Stratofortress bomber conducting a bombing mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to a target in Vietnam. During a maneuver over the South China Sea, Avolese’s bomber collided with another B-52, causing both aircraft to fall into the sea. Interment services are pending

— Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Howard E. Miller, 22, of San Mateo, California, was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Miller will be buried Nov. 6, 2020, in his hometown.

— Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Alton W. Whitson, 22, of Seattle, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Whitson will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, in October 2021.

—Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. John P. Langan, 18, of Columbus, Nebraska, was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Langan will be buried in Platte Center, Nebraska. The date has yet to be determined.

—Army Sgt. Jesse “Johnnie” D. Hill, 20, of Highland Park, Michigan, was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. Hill will be buried in Holly, Michigan. The date has yet to be determined.

— Navy Fireman 1st Class Louis J. Tushla, 25, of Atkinson, Nebraska, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried July 17, 2021, in his hometown.

— Navy Hospital Apprentice 1st Class John M. Mulick, 21, of Elma, Iowa, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. The date and location for Mulick’s burial have yet to be decided by the family.

Till next week praying for all.

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