Vet sleep survey: Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the veterans wellness firm VetAdvisor are teaming up to see if they can help returning veterans get a little more rest. The groups have launched a new national sleep survey of veterans, looking for ways to battle problems like insomnia or excessive fatigue. The goal of the research is to better map the most common struggles among past and current servicemembers, and find solutions to the sleeplessness. Dan Frank, CEO of VetAdvisor, said they hope to get at least 5,000 participants to complete the online survey. The consulting firm works with corporate human resources on ways to recruit and retain veterans into the workplace, and he said better knowledge of the problems they face could lead to better treatment options. “One aim of the survey is to determine if coaching were available would they seek it out,” he said. “We want to take that information to demonstrate approaches to extend the reach of both VA and active duty preventative care services.” Previous research has found that sleep troubles are common in returning combat veterans, even among those who aren’t dealing with other serious conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or brain injuries.
Dr. Michael Smith, director of the university’s Center for Behavior and Health, said the online survey is aimed at determining the multiple potential causes of sleep disturbances in veterans and troops, and understanding whether stigmas or bureaucracy might discourage those sufferers from seeking help. Questions include whether those surveyed would be open to the idea of a sleep coach, someone who helps track rest patterns and can act as a counselor in finding solutions. Sleep coaches are either veterans or non-veterans who have been trained to work with veterans and active duty military personnel on their sleep issues. Like an athletic or life coach, a sleep coach works with individuals to identify areas of concern and to develop a plan of action, milestones, and desired outcomes. Sleep coaches observe progress, determine evolving needs, and proactively send alerts and encouragement in order to help veterans overcome barriers to better sleep. Participants have the option of selecting face to face, Chat, Email, Phone, or SMS (texting) when working with a sleep coach. For more information or to participate , visit the study’s web site at http://www.vetsleep.org. [Source: Stars & Stripes | Leo Shane | 10 Dec 2012 ++]
Social Security Compassionate Allowances: Social Security has an obligation to provide benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so serious that their conditions obviously meet disability standards. Compassionate Allowances (CAL) are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate Allowances allow Social Security to target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly. Compassionate Allowances is not a separate program from the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs.
CAL conditions are selected using information received at public outreach hearings, comments received from the Social Security and Disability Determination Services communities, counsel of medical and scientific experts, and our research with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Also, we consider which conditions are most likely to meet our current definition of disability. Commissioner Astrue has held seven Compassionate Allowances public outreach hearings. The hearings were on rare diseases, cancers, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disease and multiple organ transplants and autoimmune diseases. On DEC 6Commissioner Astrue held an event in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the milestone of reaching 200 Compassionate Allowances conditions. These conditions involve cancers and neurological and other rare diseases affecting adults and children. A listing of each of the now 200 along with a description of the condition and any alternate names it may have can be found at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm.
Being diagnosed with a CAL condition does not provide additional money above what an individual is eligible for under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability programs. CAL simply speeds up the receipt of a decision on the claim. There is no special application or form that is unique to the CAL initiative. Individuals with a CAL condition apply for benefits using the standard SSA process for filing claims for SSDI, SSI, or both SSDI and SSI benefits. SSA will expedite the applications of those with a CAL condition. Applications for disability may be filed online, in the local field office, or by calling 1-800-772-1213. To learn how to apply for disability benefits refer to http://www.ssa.gov/dibplan/dapply.htm. Individuals with CAL conditions may receive a decision on their claim in a matter of weeks instead of months or years. It can vary depending on several factors, but primarily on:
• How quickly we obtain medical evidence from a doctor or other medical source;
• Whether a medical examination is necessary in order to obtain evidence to support the claim; and
• If the claim is randomly selected for quality assurance review of the decision.
[Source: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances/ Dec 2012]
NDAA 2013 update: The Senate has passed their version of the National Defense Authorization Act (S.3254) 98-0. The bill had 381 amendments submitted to it. One of them incorporated the measure into H.R. 4310. The bill does not contain any TRICARE fee or pharmacy co-payment increases which were a part of the House-passed version. It also did not contain any provision to eliminate the SBP-DIC offset which was defeated by a budget point of order nor any provision to eliminate the Tricare pharmacy copay increases. The House and Senate now meet in conference to iron out differences in the bills. Some of the items in the final Senate bill include:
• Requiring DOD to report on changes to TRICARE Prime coverage areas. (SA.2969)
• Revised Stolen Valor Act — making it a federal crime to falsify military decorations for personal gain. (SA.3144)
• A comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention program within DOD. (SA.3099)
• Improvements in the transition process for active duty.
• Requiring the Pentagon to study the adequacy of reintegration mechanisms for Guard and Reserve members returning from deployment. (SA.2960)
• CRSC payments to combat—disabled retirees forced into medical retirement.
• Requiring DOD to provide Congress a comprehensive policy on sexual harassment and to keep copies of restricted reports on sexual assaults on file for 50 years.
• Authorization to transfer $45 million from the Defense Department operations and maintenance account to provide funding for applied behavior analysis, or ABA, treatment for military personnel’s children with autism when ordered by a doctor. (SA.3058)
• Requiring the VA to provide Congress a plan to partner with state and local entities to reduce the VA disability claims backlog. (SA.3158)
• A sense of the Senate stating retiree health care benefits have been earned through twenty or more years of arduous military service. (SA.3030)
• Requiring states to ensure training received by a veteran while on active duty is taken into consideration when granting certain certifications and licenses. (SA.3291)
• Strengthening predatory lending protections for active duty service members. (SA.3302)
• Extending increased BAH rates until Jan. 1, 2014. (SA.2948)
• extends active duty leave rollover until September 30, 2015. (SA.2949)
The conference committee is set to begin working out differences early next week with a final bill expected to be voted on before Christmas. For more information on the bill and the roll call vote, refer to http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=2&vote=00221 [Source: VFW Washington Weekly 7 Dec 2012]
VA presumptive TBI diseases: The Department of Veterans Affairs is publishing a proposed regulation in the Federal Register that would change its rules to add five diagnosable illnesses which are secondary to service-connected Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). “We must always decide Veterans’ disability claims based on the best science available, and we will,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. “Veterans who endure health problems deserve timely decisions based on solid evidence that ensure they receive benefits earned through their service to the country.” VA proposes to add a new subsection to its adjudication regulation by revising 38 CFR 3.310 to state that if a Veteran who has a service-connected TBI also has one of the five illnesses, then the illness will be considered service connected as secondary to the TBI. Service connection under the proposed rule depends in part upon the severity of the TBI (mild, moderate, or severe) and the period of time between the injury and onset of the secondary illness. However, the proposed rule also clarifies that it does not preclude a Veteran from establishing direct service connection even if those time and severity standards are not met. It also defines the terms mild, moderate, and severe, consistent with Department of Defense (DoD) guidelines. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted over the next 60 days. A final regulation will be published after consideration of all comments received.
VA’s decision is based on a report by the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine (IOM), “Gulf War and Health, Volume 7: Long-Term Consequences of TBI.” In its report, the IOM’s Committee on Gulf War and Health concluded that “sufficient evidence of a causal relationship” (the IOM’s highest evidentiary standard ) existed between moderate or severe levels of TBI and:
• Diagnosed unprovoked seizures;
• Dementias (which VA understands to include Presenile dementia of the Alzheimer type and post-traumatic dementia);
• Depression (which also was associated with mild TBI); and
• Diseases of hormone deficiency that may result from hypothalamo-pituitary changes.
Specific information about the Defense and Veteran Brain Injury Center is available at http://www.dvbic.org/. Information about Gulf War and VA’s services and programs are available at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/hazardous_exposures.asp. [Source: VA Press Release 7 Dec 2012]
Vet housing update: The American Legion is strongly encouraging Congress to pass the HAVEN Act, a bill that would amend the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to authorize funding to nonprofit organizations that can help veterans repair, rehabilitate and modify their homes. S.3614 is set for a vote in the Senate 6 DEC; a companion bill was approved by the House of Representatives in September. The act is supported by The American Legion through Resolution 21, passed during the Fall National Executive Committee Meetings in October. “The American Legion supports the HAVEN Act because it would allow the public and private sectors to collaborate to assist veterans with housing services that are currently not fully met,” said Mark Walker, deputy director of the Legion’s Economic Division. “It’s imperative that Congress make the bill law before the current lame-duck session of Congress ends.”
If the HAVEN Act becomes law, it would amend the NDAA - Congress’ annual act that specifies the budget for DoD - to include funding for nonprofit organizations that help veterans maintain their homes. Specifically, the measure would create a Department of Housing and Urban Development pilot program to give grants to nonprofit organizations - like Habitat For Humanity and Rebuilding Together - to rehabilitate and modify homes of low-income veterans and veterans with disabilities. Under the bill, the nonprofit organizations that receive funding would be encouraged to collaborate with veterans organizations like The American Legion to locate veterans and provide them the assistance they need with their homes. The housing pilot program also would help augment existing programs like VA’s Specially Adaptive Housing program and housing assistance programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nonprofit organizations could pool their resources with these federal housing-assistance programs and affect a larger population of veterans who need assistance with their homes.
With much of the Eastern Seaboard still cleaning up after Superstorm Sandy, the need for housing assistance is dire. The HAVEN Act, if passed, would be a significant help to veterans whose homes were either lost or damaged by the storm. “The pilot program becomes an important template for meeting future needs of the veteran community,” Walker said. “Our government can’t do it all. It could use the help of nonprofit organizations with a proven track record of helping veterans.” [Source: AL Online Update 6 Dec 2012]
Flags: The American Legion Post 70 has on hand American flags, all of the military service flags, POW/MIA flags, and S.C. State flags. Contact a member of Post 70 to purchase flags; the cost is $5.
American Legion post 70: Meeting at 1800 on the third Tuesday of the month. For more information please contact Thomas Crisp at 940-2793.
American Legion post 24, of Newberry, meeting is on the second Tuesday of the month at 1830. The American Legion auxiliary – unit 24 meet the same day at 3 p.m. at Post 24.