Veterans’ GOODNEWS for Oct. 30

Veterans’ GOODNEWS for Oct. 30

Good news for veteransBill to fund VA a year ahead would protect veterans from government shutdowns (Military Times)
When Congress returns next month, the Senate will vote on legislation to provide all Veterans Affairs Department funding a full year in advance, preventing government shutdowns or budget gridlock from interrupting veterans services. In a letter sent out Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called a vote on the measure “the right thing for our veterans.” He promised the Senate will take up the issue in November, though he did not offer any specific timeline for a vote. The Putting Veterans First Act is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. Similar legislation is pending in the House. Both measures would authorize appropriations a year in advance for all VA discretionary accounts, including construction, the VA inspector general’s office, and general operating expenses.

New method shows progress for veterans with PTSD (KPRC-Houston)
“If it’s not treated, PTSD can go on for decades,” said Dr. Karin Thompson, the PTSD program director at Debakey VA Medical Center. She said 10 years ago PTSD was thought of as a disorder people couldn’t recover from. But treatments in recent years have shifted from support based to therapy based and yielded better results. “What we know now is that people can actually get better from PTSD if we give them the treatments that we know works,” Thompson said. One of the treatments involves prolonged exposure therapy, where veterans are put in environments meant to trigger the stress points that lead to their PTSD. “It was an issue for me to smell certain things, to go to certain restaurants, so prolonged exposure puts you in that situation,” Marine veteran Vince Bryant said. “You might think, you know, why put you in a situation you don’t want to deal with? Well, guess what? That’s more of a reason to put you in it because you never overcame it the first time.” As a result of a combination of treatments, Bryant now works at Debakey as a peer support specialist. He helps other veterans recover from PTSD. Mental health professionals — along with Bryant and his family — are embracing the new treatments as a way to save our veterans.

The last thing veterans need is student loan debt (Nation Swell)
A common misconception is that any veteran who wants a college education can finance it through G.I. Bill. But sadly, this isn’t so. Both the old version and the new, post 9/11 one exclude certain education expenses and neither applies to student loan debt accrued before servicemen and women entered the military. So the Chicago-based nonprofit Leave No Veteran Behind is offering a “Retroactive Scholarship” that has already helped 10 veterans pay off their student loan debt and get back on track toward productive post-military lives. Every year, Leave No Veteran Behind’s scholarship committee meets to review applications. They give priority to veterans suffering hardships — including unemployment and medical difficulties. The committee selects several and pays their outstanding student loan debt off in full. In exchange for paying off student loan debts, Leave No Veteran Behind also asks the vets to commit to 100 to 400 hours of community service “that leverages their military skills, civilian education and lack of indebtedness to help solve the most pressing issues facing their communities,” according to the nonprofit’s website.

Korean War veteran’s issue with flying U.S. flag is resolved (WTHR-Indianapolis)
A dispute between an Indiana Korean War veteran and his neighborhood’s homeowner’s association has been resolved. The dispute stemmed from American and Missing In Action flags in Robert and Judy Willits’ front yard. Last month, the Fieldstone Homeowners Association sent a letter to the couple saying they were in violation of the covenants and restrictions of the neighborhood. The association offered to fly the MIA flag from the community flagpole and said Willits could hang the American flag from a bracket above the garage. The other option: keep the flag where it is and pay a $500 fine to cover legal fees. Robert Willits refused to take down the flags, but also refused to pay the fine. The Willits received a phone call from their attorney Tuesday night informing them the lawyer had received a letter from the homeowner association’s attorney saying the couple can keep the flagpole and that an anonymous donation covered any legal fees associated with the case. The association said the couple can keep the flag without penalty, as long as they own the home. If they move, it must come down.

Army vet, fiance turn wedding into fundraiser for wounded warriors (KDKA-Pittsburgh)
A Beaver County, Pa., Army veteran and his fiancé share a love of motorcycles, and a deep respect for America’s wounded warriors. The couple will get hitched Halloween night at the Xlerator Bar and Grill in Beaver Falls. Jesse Mercure popped the question to Donna Matters a couple weeks ago. Though it’s billed as a Hallo-wedding, Donna says it’s also a fundraiser for a foundation that benefits wounded veterans in the tri-state area. “Twenty-five dollars to get in the door,” she said. “And it all goes to ‘It’s About the Warrior.’ And we told everybody we do not want presents.” The foundation benefits wounded warriors in the tri-state area. “Since I retired from the Army, I try to do what I can to raise awareness, support vets, working with charities,” Jesse says. “So, to me, this is just a way to have a big life event, but have it benefit somebody that needs it.”