“Join the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) in raising awareness about scams and exploitation involving veteran benefits.”
There are nearly 800,000 veterans in Pennsylvania and over half of them are age 60 and older.
Veterans may be eligible for a wide array of benefits from both the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (commonly referred to as the VA). One such benefit is a VA pension.
Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people who are preying on veterans, particularly older veterans, to profit from their desire to apply for the benefits they earned while defending our country and our freedoms.
Free and safe assistance is available to help veterans and their beneficiaries apply for veteran benefits, including VA pension. PDA and DMVA want to team up with you to help raise awareness of this issue in your community. Together we can reduce the likelihood of scams, fraud and exploitation against our veterans and their benefits!
“Editor’s Note: NPR’s Kara Frame made this short documentary film, I Will Go Back Tonight, on the battles with PTSD that her father and his Vietnam War comrades have faced in the decades since they served. On Veterans Day, here’s their story, with an introduction from Kara.”
From “The short documentary film, I Will Go Back Tonight investigates the long-term effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on marital relationships of Vietnam veterans from the United States Army 5th Infantry Unit, the ‘bobcats’.”
by Tara Frame
“I first knew my dad, Tom Frame, was different when I was young, but I didn’t know exactly how. Every year when he marched in our Memorial Day Parade in Doylestown, Pa., I stood on the side of the road waving my tiny American flag with so much pride.
“He was my dad, my veteran.
“As a teenager, I began to learn about his time in Vietnam during the late 1960s. I heard about fallen men, fierce battles and something called post-traumatic stress disorder. I still didn’t fully grasp at that time what my father was living with, and it wasn’t until my late 20s that I was ready to dive into a project about my dad’s PTSD.
“The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 30 percent of all Vietnam veterans have suffered from PTSD, and the effects can last many years.
“When I began this project in 2014, I knew it would give me insight into my dad and his experiences in his early 20s, when he was fighting in Vietnam. I never anticipated the depth of understanding it would offer me into my mother and her life — standing by a veteran with deep-rooted trauma — and the role PTSD has played in their marriage.
“The documentary project follows the lives of my father and several other Vietnam veterans from his Army unit, the 1st Battalion, 5th (Mechanized) Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, who served together.
“The veterans recount a terrible ambush at a rubber plantation in Ben Cui on Aug. 21, 1968. And their wives open up on how PTSD has affected their marriages in the decades since.”
“Did you know? Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.”
Mark Reinstein/Corbis/Getty Images
“Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2021 will occur on Monday, May 31.
“Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.
This Webpage at the Veterans Affairs Website has more history about Memorial Day.
We’ve been announcing this project for several months at the separate Link cross-training meetings — now the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources | Service Area 13 YouTube channel has launched.
You can access it here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZwmzU3Q5WW8SZK4COihQMA
Margie Pizarro will be interviewing Service Area 13 Link partner agencies to learn more about their services and programs in 15 minute ZOOM interviews. Those interviews will be posted at the Link Service Area 13 YouTube channel for everyone to view and share.
If you are a Link partner agency/organization and would like to be a featured interview in this series, let us know.
Call or text: 717.380.9714 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the schedule.
VA and Department of Labor releases high demand occupation list for the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is preparing to launch the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) as part of its continued effort to support Veterans seeking retraining and economic opportunities in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
VA in partnership with the Department of Labor published a list of high-demand occupations. The list is available here and includes healthcare, education, media, engineering, and high tech opportunities.
The new program, part of the American Rescue Plan, will allow qualifying Veterans between the ages of 22 and 67 to receive up to 12 months of tuition and fee and monthly housing allowance payments, based on Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. VA will provide further information soon on how Veterans can apply for this program.
The week of April 4th, VA will release a participation agreement and begin to work with educational institutions interested in participating in VRRAP. VA will require educational institutions to commit to a participation agreement that will outline VRRAP requirements and specify which training programs are covered under VRRAP. Once reviewed and approved by VA, a comprehensive list of VRRAP educational institutions and programs will be published and made available.
For a program of education to qualify for VRRAP, it must meet the following criteria:
- Be approved for GI Bill or VET TEC
- Not lead to a bachelors or graduate degree
- Provide training for a high-demand occupation
The payment model for VRRAP tuition and fees (paid directly to the VRRAP education institution) is milestone based:
- 50% when the Veteran begins the program
- 25% when the Veteran completes the program
- 25% when the Veteran finds employment in the field of study
The program is limited to a maximum of 17,250 participants and up to $386 million.
If you are aware of any GI Bill Beneficiaries who require assistance, please have them contact the Education Call Center at 888-442-4551 between 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Central Time, Monday-Friday to speak with a representative.
“Narrative medicine programs teach doctors and other caregivers ‘sensitive interviewing skills’ and the art of ‘radical listening’ to improve patient care.”
“Waclawa ‘Joanne’ Zak, who now lives in Oxford, Wis., fought in the Polish resistance during World War II. As a teenager, she served as a scout, assessing German troop strength and positions. Later in the war she trained as a nurse and was liberated from a German P.O.W. camp. She told her story as part of the ‘My Life, My Story’ program at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wis.” Credit…Andy Manis for The New York Times
by Richard Schiffman
“The pandemic has been a time of painful social isolation for many. Few places can be as isolating as hospitals, where patients are surrounded by strangers, subject to invasive tests and attached to an assortment of beeping and gurgling machines.
“How can the experience of receiving medical care be made more welcoming? Some say that a sympathetic ear can go a long way in helping patients undergoing the stress of a hospital stay to heal.
“’It is even more important now, when we can’t always see patients’ faces or touch them, to really hear their stories,’ said Dr. Antoinette Rose, an urgent care physician in Mountain View, Calif., who is now working with many patients ill with Covid.
“’This pandemic has forced many caregivers to embrace the human stories that are playing out. They have no choice. They become the “family” at the bedside,’ said Dr. Andre Lijoi, a medical director at York Hospital in Pennsylvania. Doctors, nurses and others assisting in the care of patients ‘need time to slow down, to take a breath, to listen.’
“Both doctors find their inspiration in narrative medicine, a discipline that guides medical practitioners in the art of deeply listening to those who come to them for help.”
Click here to continue reading this article at The New York Times.
“My Life, My Story: Advancing the Veteran Experience” – Veterans Affairs
This week, the Veterans Breakfast Club (VBC) launched its effort to extend its programs to veterans and non-veterans nationwide. Since 2008, the VBC has served mostly the greater Pittsburgh area with weekly local meetings to unite veterans within the community and share their stories. Following the organization’s success and strategic shift to virtual programming last year, the VBC is scaling up to extend its geographic reach.
“To ensure that the living history of U.S. veterans will never be forgotten, Veterans Breakfast Club (VBC) announced today the national expansion of its nonprofit organization. Founded in 2008, VBC is dedicated to creating communities of listening around veterans and their stories to connect, educate, heal and inspire. Through diverse virtual programming, VBC is cultivating the only community of its kind, bringing together veterans, their families and civilians to share, celebrate and preserve veterans’ stories.”
Continue reading all about the Veterans Breakfast Club’s announcement, click here.
“As scams against senior citizens increase in Pennsylvania, state forms task force to help” – Reading Eagle
by Mike Urban
“Brian Long is 77 and knows his age makes him a target for the increasing number of scammers who try to steal from senior citizens.
“They see the elderly as easy prey, he said, and are ruthless enough to come after them.
“Long has learned enough about financial abuse of the elderly that he not only recognizes emails, phone calls and text messages from people attempting to rip him off, but also leads seminars about these crimes on behalf of Berks-Lancaster-Lebanon LINK, an agency that helps the aging and disabled.
“Despite his attempts to help people avoid being victimized, Long has repeatedly heard from seniors who still fell prey to financial schemes, evidence of how devious those scammers can be, he said.
“Long and others who work with the elderly in Berks hope a new state task force can help protect seniors, improve reporting mechanisms and cut down on those crimes by coordinating efforts between agencies.”
Resources for seniors
If you’re a victim, call your local police department or your bank if you notice something wrong with your accounts.
Those with general questions about crimes against seniors can call the Berks County Area Office on Aging at 610-478-6500 or the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources at 800-753-8827.
Pennsylvania also has a statewide Elder Abuse Hotline at 800-490-8505.