1611 Virginia Ave., Ste 212, Box 406, North Bend , Oregon 97459 Hours: 10am-2pm Monday-Friday desk@sovoservesvets.org 541-756-8718 (Office) 541-756-8758 (Fax)

When measuring resilience, the type of trauma suffered matters

From YaleNews
by Kendall Teare

In previous studies of resilience in people, researchers have rarely differentiated in their analysis between the types of traumatic events experienced by individuals. However, the type of trauma undergone seems to be a significant predictor of how someone will fare long-term, according to a new study by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. Additionally, the team found that reactions to various types of trauma differs greatly by gender.
This paper was published online in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.
Researchers assessed data examining trauma exposure, deployment experiences, and resilience in a subsample of veterans who participated in a large, three-phase longitudinal study examining gender differences in health outcomes and healthcare utilization among veterans who served in support of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“When we first analyzed the data without accounting for the type of trauma experienced, it looked as though veteran men were overall more resilient than women following military discharge,” said Galina Portnoy, associate research scientist at Yale, psychologist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, and lead author of the study. “But I work with women veterans every day, and I suspected this wasn’t the whole story.”
Read More Here

This Federal Program Wipes Away Disabled Vets’ Student Debt

From Military Times RebootCamp Newsletter
by Natalie Gross

Nearly 42,000 disabled veterans are eligible to have their federal student loan debt dismissed.
But only about 18 percent of them have gotten their loans dismissed, according to the Department of Education. And making matters worse, around 25,000 disabled veterans have already defaulted on their student loans.
Veterans who have a total and permanent service-connected disability or receive disability benefits at the 100-percent level are eligible for the loan forgiveness program, called Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, or TPD. This loan forgiveness can also apply to federal student loans that disabled veterans take out for their children.
Read More Here

New Consumer Mental Health Advocacy Council Being Formed

Do you receive mental health services from the VA?  Do you wish it was easier to connect with services? Do you like making a difference?
A new Veteran’s Mental Health Advocacy Council is being formed for advocacy, education, outreach, and empowerment. The council includes veteran consumers, families, and allies along with Veterans Service Organizations, community partners, and Roseburg VA Health Care System Staff.
The Council will be run by and for veterans assisted by a VA staff liaison.  The Council will be focused on solutions to gaps, problems, and issues that are identified.  The Council will operate with a commitment to collaboration to improve services and access to services to all veterans.
If you are interested in being a founding member, the final organizational meeting will be held on January 7 from 11-12:30 at RVAHCS, Building 2, Room B101. Anyone using, or qualifying, for VA Mental Health Services and family members are urged to become involved. For more information contact jessica.lloyd.rogers@gmail.com or keith.lewis2@va.gov.

 

 

Higher Dementia Risk for Certain Female Veterans

In an article written for U.S.News & World Report, health reporter Maureen Salamon reports that women veterans experience risk factors in the military that may lead to thinking and memory problems later in life.
Salamon is reporting on a study of more than 100,000 older women veterans done by Dr. Kristine Yaffe, San Francisco VA Medical Center.
Quoting from the article:
“Yaffe and her team focused on just over 109,000 female veterans (average age 69), none of whom had dementia at the study’s start. About 20,400 had depression only, while nearly 1,400 had PTSD only, and close to 500 had traumatic brain injury only. Among those included in the study, more than 5,000 had more than one of the three conditions; nearly 82,000 women had none.
Over an average follow-up period of four years, 4 percent of the women developed dementia. But women with PTSD, depression or traumatic brain injury were between 50 and 80 percent more likely to develop dementia than women without these conditions, the researchers found.
For women veterans who had more than one of the three risk factors, the risk of dementia doubled.”
To read more, click on Certain Female Vets May Face Higher Dementia Risk

 

Post 911 GI Bill Update

reposted from va.gov

Because of continued information technology difficulties with implementing sections 107 and 501 of the Harry W. Colmery Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (Forever GI Bill), both of which change the way monthly housing allowance payments are calculated, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has directed Under Secretary for Benefits Paul R. Lawrence to take the following action
Effective Dec. 1, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) will reset its implementation efforts for sections 107 and 501 of the law to give the department the time, contracting support and resources necessary to develop the capability to process Spring 2020 enrollments in accordance with the law by Dec. 1, 2019.
This includes soliciting bids from contractors for support in the areas of program integration, systems implementation, and software development.
During this time, VBA will pay monthly housing allowance rates for the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the current academic year uncapped Department of Defense (DoD) Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) rates.
For many students, this DoD BAH rate will be equal to or higher than their current payment.
VBA will also correct retroactively any underpayments.
If a student was overpaid due to the change in law or because of VBA’s challenges in implementing the law, the student will not be held liable for the debt.
Also, for the current academic year (2018-2019), VBA will pay housing allowances based on the location of a school’s main campus, rather than the physical location of the student.
This interim policy will terminate by Dec. 1, 2019, upon implementation of a fully developed IT solution for sections 107 and 501 of the law.
Finally, VBA will define a training site as a “campus” when the following conditions are true: the physical site of the training is either owned or leased by the school, and the school has ownership or control over the student’s classroom instruction or the faculty conducting the instruction. This approach reduces the administrative burden for schools and students from VBA’s initial interpretation of the law.
As these changes are implemented, VBA will remain in continuous contact with Veterans, Congress, Veterans Service Organizations and other stakeholders to ensure everyone is informed and knows what to expect.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should beneficiaries do now?
Students can benefit from planning ahead of time, enrolling early, staying in contact with their School Certifying Officials, and avoiding changes in their schedules once enrolled.
If students do drop/add hours, they should immediately contact their School Certifying Official to mitigate potential overpayment.
Students can expect payments to be in line with normal processing times and VA will continue to pay students based on the location of the institution’s main campus.
VA will provide beneficiaries with housing benefits at the current academic year uncapped DoD BAH rate for an E-5 with dependents.
VA made this decision because it allows the department to update the housing rates, and is in line with what most students should be receiving each month. VA will not inconvenience any student by collecting any overpayments.
The anticipated workload for the spring is normal, and VA is positioned to complete the work within its timeliness standards.
What should schools do now?
School Certifying Officials can submit enrollment documents as early as 6-months in advance, and we are encouraging certifying officials to submit enrollment documents as soon as they are available.
VA will not require schools to resubmit enrollments for terms that started prior to the IT solution.
What is VA doing to communicate these changes to students and schools?
VA will be communicating these changes with a multi-faceted approach:
VBA is sending an email to student Veterans
The Post-9/11 GI Bill and VBA social media accounts will be publishing links to this update and FAQ for its more than 650,000 combined followers
VBA is notifying the 35,000+ School Certifying Officials and higher education leadership teams, as well as the state approving agencies and national school associations.
Why didn’t VA update the rates in August?
Initially, VA scheduled the annual updates for release at the same time as the IT solution for the Sections 107 and 501 of the Colmery Act. Since the IT solution deployment did not occur at that time, VA did not update the rates in August.
What is the difference between the 2017 and 2018 housing rates?
On average, approximately one percent.
How did the housing rates change?
Prior to the passage of the Colmery Act, Post-9/11 GI Bill MHA payments were based on the DoD BAH rates for an E-5 with dependents at the location of the main campus of the school. DoD assesses BAH rates every January 1, and reports them to VA; VA then calculates the VA rate (typically about one percent higher than the DoD rates effective August 1 of the same year).
Section 501 of the Colmery Act removes the exemption and aligns MHA with DoD’s BAH. However, VA is delaying implementation of this provision until Spring 2020.
What types of claims are affected?
All Post-9/11 GI Bill claims associated with a housing allowance will be impacted by these changes.
What is VA doing to avoid/mitigate the peak enrollment delays that occurred in Fall 2018?
For the Fall 2018 term, VA asked schools to hold enrollments that would have been affected by the implementation of Section 107. When VA asked schools to submit those enrollments in July, it caused a significant increase in the pending workload and took approximately eight weeks to return to typical processing times.
VA is asking schools to submit enrollments as soon as possible for the Spring 2019 term. The anticipated workload for the Spring is normal, and VA is positioned to complete the work within its timeliness standards.
Will VA provide students with any assistance if I have a hardship?
If a student experiences financial hardship due to a delay in payment, we ask that they contact the Education Call Center at 888-442-4551 between 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday-Friday. VA will expedite any hardship request.
For more information, visit the GI Bill website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/.

VA is single largest provider of HIV care in the US

December 1 is World AIDS Day. VA joins our federal partners in recognizing this day and taking time to reflect on the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, how well we diagnose and care for people with HIV, and our continued efforts to prevent HIV among those most vulnerable.
VA is the single largest provider of HIV care in the US, serving over 30,000 Veterans with HIV across the country. VA is committed to each step in the HIV care continuum from testing and diagnosis, to linkage to care, and treatment and prevention. Community and federal partners play a critical in extending the care we can provide to our Veterans with HIV.
With over 43% of all Veterans in care tested for HIV, VA is committed to ensuring all Veterans continue to have access to testing and high-quality HIV care at diagnosis.
VA is committed to testing and high-quality HIV care.
VA is also committed to HIV prevention by continuing to strongly promote Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that can help prevent HIV for those who are negative but at risk for HIV.
In 2018, VA is also focusing on increasing awareness and action on HIV treatment as prevention (TasP) or Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U).
If a person with HIV is on HIV medications (antiretroviral therapy, or ART) with a consistently undetectable HIV viral load, the HIV virus cannot be transmitted to a sex partner. “Undetectable” means that the level of HIV in a person’s blood is so low that it doesn’t show up on a blood test.
If the virus is undetectable, the person with HIV cannot pass the virus on to others through sex. This is critical to preventing new cases of HIV. At VA, we are working to make sure that people diagnosed with HIV are started on treatment right away and stay on treatment.
You can ask your VA provider about PrEP, and you can ask them for a prescription for condoms at your next visit. With your help in taking preventative measures, we can reduce the number of new HIV infections and work to make sure Veterans in VA care with HIV are receiving the very best treatment available.
Learn more about prevention on the VA’s HIV/AIDS Website.

Written by Elizabeth Maguire, MSW,  the communications lead for the HIV, Hepatitis and Related Conditions Programs.

Oregon’s Women Veterans Still Underserved, Lack Resources

Elizabeth Estabrooks, Oregon Women Veterans coordinator came to Coos County to visit with members of the newly formed Women Veterans of the Oregon Coast.
She took time out to talk with Lauren Negrete of KCBY about the lack of resources for women veterans. These include mammograms, OBGYN, and mental health care among other services.
She also spoke of the 85 percent increase in suicides among women veterans.
For a look at the interview, click here.

First Tribal Veteran Service Office Established in Warm Springs

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this week that will enable the tribal government to establish the state’s first-ever tribal veteran service office.
Once established, the tribal veteran service office will operate similar to a county veteran service office, providing direct services to tribal veterans under ODVA’s power of attorney. Like all county veteran service officers, the tribal veteran service officers will be trained and certified through ODVA.
“This MOU will enable veterans to receive increased access to services and benefits on the reservation by trusted tribal representatives who are more culturally sensitive,”
This is the first state-tribal partnership of this kind in Oregon’s history.
“This is something we’ve been working toward for many years,” ODVA Acting Director Mitch Sparks said. “The reason we have veteran service offices in each county is that we recognize each county has their own unique challenges, resources, and culture, and we believe veterans are best served in and through their own communities. The same is true, and even more so, for our tribal veterans.
“We believe this new partnership will allow tribal veteran service officers in Warm Springs to provide the same level of service as any county veteran service officer while advocating for their own people.”
Terry Bentley, Pacific District tribal government specialist with the VA Office of Tribal Government Relations, said her agency was excited about the new partnership.
“This MOU will enable veterans to receive increased access to services and benefits on the reservation by trusted tribal representatives who are more culturally sensitive,” she said.
The announcement was also well-received by Oregon’s elected officials.
“As the daughter of a veteran, I know first-hand how critical the needs are for our service men and women, and their families,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said. “I am absolutely thrilled about this new partnership that ensures the veterans of the Warm Springs Tribe will be able to access the vital services and benefits they’ve earned.”
“The memorandum of understanding represents a major accomplishment for veterans everywhere,” said Rep. Paul Evans, chair of the House Interim Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness. “This approach will be the first of what I hope will be many such partnerships empowering tribal veteran service officers and yielding tremendous benefit to Native American military families and veterans.”

VA and U.S. Digital Service Launch New Web Tool to Help Veterans Track their Benefits Appeals

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S Digital Service announced their launch of an improved Appeals Status tool to increase transparency and enable Veterans to track the progress of their benefits claims appeals.

“It’s important that our Veterans have the opportunity to track their appeals process in a timely and efficient manner,” said VA Secretary David Shulkin. “For the first time ever, Veterans can see their place on the Board of Veterans’ Appeals’ docket, including the number of appeals that are ahead of them.”

The tool, which went live March 21 on VA’s Vets.gov website, will allow Veterans to access detailed information about the status of their benefits appeals and will include alerts about needed actions, as well as estimates of how long each step of the process takes.

Some Veterans who have previewed the new tool said it had given them hope and helped them understand that the process might take longer than expected.

Oregon veteran who secured first military headstone for same-sex spouse dies at 71

It’s been five years since retired Air Force Lt. Col. Linda Campbell buried the ashes of her wife, Nancy Lynchild, at Willamette National Cemetery just southeast of Portland.
It was just after the military dropped the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy” that prohibited its gay, lesbian and bisexual members from serving openly but before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right.

And it was the first time a U.S. veteran had secured a burial plot for her same-sex spouse at a military cemetery.
Soon, Linda will join Lynchild in the plot she lobbied the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to grant her partner of 22 years. The Air Force veteran has died at 71, according to a Campbell family release.  Read more at OregonLive