VA and Warrior Care Network Collaboration

The Brain Trust is an annual event bringing the top minds in treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and head trauma together with collaborators from professional sports, private industry, innovators, scientists, caregivers and Veterans.

The areas of focus this year include collaborative research, technological and sports innovations. The group’s aim is to identify solutions in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration of victims of head trauma. The VA and Warrior Care Network will both participate in the 2017 Brain Trust in Boston.

Warrior Care Network and VA Collaboration

The Wounded Warrior Project and the VA have been successfully collaborating on programs, policies, and benefits since WWP began 14 years ago. Their most recent collaboration is designed to enhance a wounded warrior’s journey through the Warrior Care Network and has been much more successful than originally expected.

 

The VA refers warriors needing treatment to the Warrior Care Network. One of the four participating care facilities listed above accepts the warrior for care. When the AMC believes the warrior is ready to cope on his/her own, they are transitioned back to the VA for continuing care. There is no charge to the warrior for any treatment by the Warrior Care Network.

The big elephant in the room is why should we need a Warrior Care Network at all? Why isn’t the VA taking care of our wounded warriors? The answer to that question comes down to sheer numbers.

It is estimated that 500,000 Veterans are currently struggling with PTSD and another 300,000 have suffered at least one traumatic brain injury. Numbers like this add up to a national healthcare crisis that will take cooperation between the VA, DoD, for-profit and nonprofit groups, and philanthropists all working together to heal those affected by war.

Status of the Public-Private Collaboration

Over 15 months, the Warrior Care Network has treated over 1,000 wounded veterans and members of their families.

In addition to treatment at one of the four AMCs, the Warrior Care Network established two- and three-week residential Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) using a cohort structure. During an IOP, warriors are given an average of 77 hours of therapy. They are taught skills for coping at home. The secondary benefit of the cohort format is warriors form bonds with other veterans in their cohort that last beyond the IOP.

Do you know someone you think could benefit from this program? Contact the VA or the Wounded Warrior Project for additional information.

 

Introducing Florida4Warriors

I met (via telephone) the President and Founder of this group when I worked as a volunteer for The American Red Cross and we were working a hurricane in northern Florida. Tamara called the hurricane call center to volunteer a group of veterans who lived all around the state to help clean up debris, tarp roofs, or whatever people needed. At the time, I had four disabled veteran families whose homes were flooded, and after hearing the mission of this group, I knew those four families were the ones I hoped they could help first!

It was the first time since working with The Red Cross that anyone who was not a Red Cross volunteer had called me to ask how they could help. How refreshing, especially since this group is made up of disabled veterans themselves, but here they were asking how they could help others.

Mission Statement of Florida4Warriors

Following is the mission statement from the Florida4Warriors Facebook page:

To provide support for all veterans – enlisted, guard and reservists – of all branches in the state of Florida. We will:

  • Provide that support through activities and events that use comradery, laughter, and fellowship to build bonds of brotherhood and support.
  • We will work with other groups, local resources, and the community to assist in the understanding and integrating of Veterans into the civilian world, while providing support for Veterans who are struggling with numerous obstacles that life presents, homelessness, and PTSD.
  • We will guide the civilian and Veteran community to help Veterans never leave a brother or sister behind.

If you like outdoor events, this group is for you! They sponsor approximately 10 Silkies Rucks per year to honor the fallen and bring all Florida veterans together in a spirit of fun and friendship. You may come to your first hike alone, but you’ll leave with lifelong bonds of friendship.

In addition to hikes, Florida4Warriors sponsors fishing trips, camping trips, opportunities for spouses and families to participate, and presentations by speakers from many veteran support agencies. If a vet is in emotional distress, the group rallies around to hold him or her up. If they need housing or employment assistance, help is a phone call away.

If the 20+ statewide activities planned by Florida4Warriors are not enough, many cities across the state have representatives who organize local events for their member veterans as well.

Currently, Florida4Warriors could use financial support to support their work. All of their major events are free to member Veterans so no one is left behind because of financial need. They are also looking for land on which to build tiny homes or some other form of short-term housing assistance for homeless vets. If you can help, please visit their GoFundMe page or contact Tamara Sugar, Founder and President of Florida4Warriors.

There is no question that this group is setting the bar for veteran groups across the country. If you would like more information on how you could start a similar group in your state, Tamara is willing to help. Give her a call and let her share her passion with you. I guarantee — you’ll be hooked!

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If you are a Florida veteran and would like more information on Florida4Warriors, please visit their Facebook page. You will find a solid group of warriors like yourself who will leave no one behind.

 

Asbestos Exposure While in the U.S. Armed Forces

I worked for 35 years in the civil litigation world where U.S. companies are accused of hiding evidence and refusing to take responsibility for the health and safety of their employees, and I can say those accusations have been proven true in some cases. There was definitely a desire to cover up for financial gain.

Let me qualify this paragraph that these comments are my opinion only and not those of Legacy Beyond Valor. But as I have been researching the web for Agent Orange, Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune, and now Asbestos exposure, I see a government that is being completely open and accepts responsibility where they have learned their personnel have fallen ill and need medical assistance. If you go to the link I provide in the next paragraph, and if you follow the links on that page to other pages, you will see that the VA describes how they got into using asbestos products, where they were used, and how they have now come to realize they were dangerous to those who worked with them. Not only no cover-up, but instead statements of regret and acceptance of responsibility.

I am not going to repeat the enormous detail given on the VA website regarding Asbestos exposure. Instead, I highly recommend you go to the site and read in detail how open they are regarding who was exposed and what they plan to do for them. I am going to simply point veterans who have come down with mesothelioma or cancer to the following links where they can file a claim and begin receiving assistance.

Eligibility

Occupations

Did you serve in any of the following occupations?

  • Mining,
  • Milling,
  • Shipyard work,
  • Insulation work,
  • Demolition of old buildings,
  • Carpentry and construction,
  • Manufacturing and installation of products such as flooring, roofing, cement sheet, pipe products, or
  • Servicing of friction products such as clutch facings and brake linings.

Did you serve in Iraq or any other Middle Eastern country?

Conditions

  • You must be a Veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • You must have been exposed to asbestos while in military service.
  • You must have a disease or disability related to the asbestos exposure that occurred in military service.

Evidence Requirements

  • Your military record must show you actually served where Asbestos exposure is known to have occurred; such as the Middle East.
  • You must have served in one of the specialties the VA has identified (see the list above, but do not assume it is all-inclusive).
  • You must claim and have evidence of a medical diagnosis of a disease or disability known to be related to asbestos.
  • Your military record must connect your service to one of the known exposures.

How to Apply

  • Apply online using the eBenefits portal, OR
  • Work with an accredited representative or agent, OR
  • Go to a VA regional office and have a VA employee assist you. You can find your regional office on our Facility Locator page
  • For more information on how to apply and for tips on making sure your claim is ready to be processed by VA, visit our How to Apply

Learn more about health risks related to asbestos exposure from the VA Office of Public Health. If you are concerned about health problems associated with exposure to asbestos during your military service, talk to your health care provider or local VA Environmental Health Coordinator. If you are a Veteran, but are not enrolled in the VA health care system, you can find out if you qualify for VA health care.

Did you serve at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987?

Then you’ll want to read this!

It has been officially determined that people who worked or lived at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 may have been exposed to contaminated drinking water. You can read more about the specifics of the chemical contamination at this link.

Available Compensation

Presumptive Service Connection

As of 2017, the following eight diseases have been declared to have a presumptive service connection for Veterans, Reservists, and National Guard members living or working at Camp Lejeune during the affected dates:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

It has been determined that enough scientific and medical evidence exists to support the creation of presumptions for these illnesses.

The Final Rule Regarding Presumptive Service Connection

You can read the final rule released by the VA on January 13, 2017, at this link. It will become effective either 60 days following publication in the Federal Register, or after conclusion of the 60-day Congressional Review, whichever is later.

Nonpresumptive Cases

If you suffer from another condition that you believe may have resulted from exposure to chemicals at Camp LeJeune, you can still file a claim. The only difference is no presumption that your illness was caused by your service-related exposure to contaminated water. The VA will consider the documentation you submit and make a determination on a one-by-one basis.

Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

The 2012 Camp Lejeune health care law provides cost-free health care to Veterans who served at least 30 days of active duty at Camp Lejeune from January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1987.

Qualifying health conditions include:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Female infertility
  • Scleroderma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Miscarriage
  • Neurobehavioral effects

If you are eligible for coverage for any of these 15 conditions under the 2012 Camp Lejeune health care law, all medical services, including co-pays, will be at no cost to you.

Family member health care reimbursement

If your family lived at Camp Lejeune with you during the period outlined above, they may also be eligible for reimbursement for the same 15 covered health conditions. Unfortunately, the VA will only pay the costs paid by you after all insurance coverage has paid its share.

How to apply for assistance

Apply online or call 1-877-222-8387.

Inform VA staff that you served on active duty at Camp Lejeune
for at least 30 days during the covered time period.

For more detailed information on the application process, click here.

What type of evidence can I submit with my family application?

  • Marriage license or birth certificate showing your relationship to a Veteran who served at Camp Lejeune during the covered period.
  • Proof you lived on the base for 30 days or more between Aug. 1, 1953 and Dec. 31, 1987 (i.e., copies of orders or base housing records).
  • Evidence you paid health care expenses for a covered condition respective to the following date ranges:
    • If you lived on Camp Lejeune between January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1987, then you can be reimbursed for care that you received on or after August 6, 2012.
    • If you lived on Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1956, then you can be reimbursed for care that you received on or after December 16, 2014.

If you cannot submit evidence to support your claim, the VA will examine its internal sources and the Department of Defense (DoD) to support your application. This may take longer to complete a review of your application.