Monday, March 31, 2008

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

Are you an employer who wants a little help figuring out how to support your staff who are in the Guard or Reserve?

Or are you, perhaps, a member of the Guard or Reserve whose service might cause problems with your job?

Either way, check out Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). It's an agency of the Department of Defense Ombudsman Services Program that hosts a lot of resources for free.

ESGR-provided information might head off problems before they arise. And ESGR helps informally mediate disputes arising under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) between employers and their Guard and Reserve employees.

  • The USERRA Complaint Request Form is for Guard & Reserve members who are experiencing civilian employment problems related to military service. It can also be used to request information and ask questions related to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA): Learn More Here
  • Request for Ombudsman support by calling 1-800-336-4590
  • Employers can sign the Statement of Support and receive recognition
  • See many more ESGR resources:

Many problems can be avoided by just talking it over in advance. And employers who do the right thing should get the proper recognition. Try ESGR!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

VA Homeless Providers 'PER DIEM ONLY' Grants

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced about $12 million is available as "per diem only" grants to help programs that help homeless veterans, under the VA Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program.

This Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA), published in the February 15, 2008, edition of the Federal Register, is for eligible programs that have not previously applied for or received per diem in connection with a grant.

Learn more, then act:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act

Troops who are discharged for injuries they've sustained in combat can be required to refund part of their enlistment bonuses.

Several bills have been introduced to address this insanity, including H.R. 3793 - Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act, H.R. 3793, The Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act of 2007, and/or H.R. 4750, The Tax Relief and Fulfilling Our Obligation to Patriotic Soldiers Act of 2007.

You can

Monday, March 24, 2008

VA Hampering Veterans from Voting

Many veterans live at VA facilities. Some of these (such as some disabled veterans) find it hard to go away from the facilities to register to vote.

But incredibly, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that voter registration groups are not allowed to register veterans on the grounds of VA facilities.

You read that right: Veterans who were wounded in the fight to protect our democracy are hampered from participating in our democracy. The reason? According to Preminger v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (2007), voter registration is a partisan activity that the VA can ban.

U.S. senators Feinstein Kerry are urging Veterans Affairs Secretary James B. Peake to change this policy, and ensure that all veterans in VA facilities can register to vote. See March 7, 2008 letter.

Kudos to Veterans for Common Sense for publicizing this shame here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Swords to Plowshares as a model

"War causes wounds and suffering that last beyond the battlefield. Swords to Plowshares’ mission is to heal the wounds, to restore dignity, hope, and self-sufficiency to all veterans in need, and to significantly reduce homelessness and poverty among veterans."

Per its website:
"Swords to Plowshares is a community-based, not-for-profit organization that provides counseling and case management, employment and training, housing, and legal assistance to more than 1500 homeless and low-income veterans annually in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. We promote and protect the rights of veterans through advocacy, public education, and partnerships with local, state, and national entities."

The Swords to Plowshares model of veterans helping veterans might be replicated in communities across our nation. IT has an interesting page of links
including a sub-page focussing on legal issues

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Military Survivor Benefits Page

"The primary survivor benefit applicable to survivors of retirees (and, in some situations, active duty members) is the Uniformed Services Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). The Reserves have a related plan called the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RC-SBP). Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs under special circumstances."

Learn More:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Military Law Taskforce of the National Lawyers Guild

The National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force assists those working on military law issues as well as military law counselors working directly with GIs. It trains and mentors counselors and beginning military law attorneys in all aspects of military law through training materials and direct communication. It updates changes in military law and policy.

Home page:

Or skip to its Information for Servicemembers and Families page:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Five Years of VA Health Care for Combat Veterans

VA PRESS RELEASE: February 26, 2008

"WASHINGTON – Military veterans who served in combat since Nov. 11, 1998, including veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, are now eligible for five years of free medical care for most conditions from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This measure increases a two-year limit that has been in effect nearly a decade.

“By their service and their sacrifice, America’s newest combat veterans have earned this special eligibility period for VA’s world-class health care,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake.

The five-year deadline has no effect upon veterans with medical conditions related to their military service. Veterans may apply at any time after their discharge from the military -- even decades later -- for medical care for service-connected health problems.

The new provision, part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 signed by President Bush on Jan. 28, 2008, applies to care in a VA hospital, outpatient clinic or nursing home. It also extends VA dental benefits -- previously limited to 90 days after discharge for most veterans -- to 180 days.

Combat veterans who were discharged between Nov. 11, 1998 and Jan. 16, 2003, and who never took advantage of VA’s health care system, have until Jan. 27, 2011 to qualify for free VA health care.

The five-year window is also open to activated Reservists and members of the National Guard, if they served in a theater of combat operations after Nov. 11, 1998 and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

Veterans who take advantage of this five-year window to receive VA health care can continue to receive care after five years, although they may have to pay copayments for medical problems unrelated to their military service. Copayments range from $8 for a 30-day supply of prescription medicine to $1,024 for the first 90 days of inpatient care each year."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Research That Charity

...can be difficult. You want to direct your charitable work (including pro bono) and dollars into those that are effective. Sad to say, there are reports of fake charities using veterans as just another come-on. On the other hand, a charity with high administrative costs may just need your hands-on assistance to turn itself around. Do the research and help wisely.

Here's a few suggestions. And, please, send be feedback on the usefulness of the below so I can provide better information!

Sites that help evaluate charities:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Predatory lending information....

...a tongue-in-cheek site (I hope!) about Predatory Lending includes a few pages of information related to its impact on military personnel.

You can, for example, locate predatory lenders near military bases:

Friday, March 14, 2008

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

Got a homeless client or friend? Here's some help on getting started ... a checklist and procedure, courtesy of National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Veterans with PTSD - Intake Form for Class Action Case

According to the website set up for a class-action suit in support of veterans with PTSD:

"If you are a U.S. veteran who has a pending claim based on PTSD, please fill out and submit the form below. We will contact you as quickly as we can."

Friday, March 7, 2008

National Gulf War Resource Center referrals

The National Gulf War Resource Center says that (in conjunction with the Gulf War Veterans Resource Pages) it handles thousands of referrals for veterans seeking assistance and information about Gulf War related illnesses.

It does not provide case management services but has volunteers to help identify resources. You may wish to contact them if you are seeking out resources, or if you provide a resource that they should know about.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New GI Bill on Capitol Hill?

Senators Webb, Hagel, Lautenberg and Warner Introduce Improved Version of S.22

"....A bipartisan coalition of Senators including Jim Webb (D-VA), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) reintroduced the bill. They also announced Senator John Warner (R-VA) as one of four lead co-sponsors of the legislation. Senator Warner is a World War II and Korean War veteran and beneficiary of the original GI bill. He joins 32 other Senators in support of S.22.

The House companion bill (H.R. 2702) was introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and currently has 96 cosponsors.

"Our country's newest generation of veterans deserves a World War II-style GI Bill, and today's reintroduction of S.22 is a major step toward achieving that," said Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). "IAVA is grateful to Senators Webb, Hagel, Lautenberg and Warner, themselves combat veterans and GI Bill beneficiaries, for their leadership on this critical issue. We've seen great momentum behind a new GI Bill, and we urge Congress to act quickly to pass this crucial legislation this year.",com_/Itemid,67/option,content/task,view/id,2698/