Category Archives: Veterans

FREE for all current and former service members: VETERANS HEALING THROUGH CONNECTION couples retreat.

caron veterans

Link Service Area 13 partners launch YouTube channel.

youtube channelWe’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 blllink@mail.com to get on the schedule.

VA and Department of Labor releases high demand occupation list for the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program

va logo

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.

To learn more about the program and for updates, go to our website, or visit our Facebook page.

“Learning to Listen to Patients’ Stories” – The New York Times

“Narrative medicine programs teach doctors and other caregivers ‘sensitive interviewing skills’ and the art of ‘radical listening’ to improve patient care.”

listen to patients stories“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

The Veterans Breakfast Club Goes National

veterans breakfast club

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.

“‘We must do more’ — Defense Secretary orders review of sexual assault prevention efforts” – Task & Purpose

prevent sexual support

by Hayley Britzky

“Newly-confirmed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has given his senior military leaders until Feb. 5 to provide him with a summary of what is and isn’t working in their efforts to combat sexual assault and harassment in the ranks.

“’I know this has been a focus for you and for the Department’s leadership,’ Austin wrote in a memo released on Saturday, the day after he was confirmed by the Senate. ‘I know you have worked this problem for many years. I tried to tackle it myself when I, too, commanded.’

“”We simply must admit the hard truth: we must do more. All of us.’

“Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered senior leaders to tell him what is and isn’t working in their efforts against sexual assault.”

“Austin said in the memo that while President Joe Biden has ordered a 90-day commission to ‘pursue solutions to sexual assault in the military,’ he wanted to move faster.

“He ordered leaders to provide a summary of the accountability measures taken in the last year that ‘show promise,’ along with ‘frank, data-driven assessment of those which do not’ He also asked they focus on what kind of oversight their programs and policies have to ensure they are being ‘executed on the ground and with fidelity.'”

Continue reading this article at Task & Purpose, click here.

“As scams against senior citizens increase in Pennsylvania, state forms task force to help” – Reading Eagle

scams 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.”

re scams


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.

About community living.

“All people, regardless of age or disability, should be able to live independently and participate fully in their communities. Every person should have the right to make choices and to control the decisions in and about their lives. This right to self-determination includes decisions about their homes and work, as well as all the other daily choices most adults make without a second thought.

acl graphic

Why Community Living?

“In survey after survey, when older adults and people with disabilities are asked where they would prefer to live, they say they want to live in their communities, not in institutions. People also are happier and healthier when they live in community settings. 

“Inclusion of older adults and people with disabilities also offers many benefits to  communities themselves. Communities miss out on valuable voices and perspectives when people with disabilities and older adults are left out. They are deprived of co-workers, volunteers, mentors, and friends who offer new ways of thinking about, and navigating, the world. When older adults are excluded, communities lose wisdom collected over many decades, and their connection to history. 

“Community living also happens to be less expensive than other options for most people. Skilled nursing facilities can cost an average of $75,000 a year and public residential facilities for people with disabilities average $225,000 a year. In most cases, these costs are not covered by Medicare or private health insurance. 

“Finally, a series of laws, court decisions, and administrative rules have established community living as a legal right. Most notably, in 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that people with disabilities must receive services in the most integrated settings possible. This landmark decision has been a critical tool in protecting the rights of people with disabilities and older adults alike.”

There’s more here at the Administration for Community Living Website: https://acl.gov/about-community-living


The Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources is an initiative of the Administration for Community Living.

“No More Emotional Support Peacocks As Feds Crack Down On Service Animals On Planes” – NPR

Orlando, emotional support animal, ESA

“Under a new rule issued last week by the Transportation Department, only dogs that meet strict service animal standards will be allowed to fly with passengers. Orlando, emotional support animal, ESA.” (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

by David Schaper

“The days of bringing your emotional support cat, pig or even a miniature horse on a plane may soon be coming to an end. The federal government is enacting a new rule restricting the types of service animals allowed on commercial airline flights, allowing only dogs that meet specific training criteria.

“The new Department of Transportation rule is in response to a growing backlash in recent years to airline passengers trying to bring all kinds of wild and outlandish pets onto planes, including the woman who tried to bring an “emotional support” peacock on board a United Airlines flight in 2018, and the “comfort” turkey that was actually allowed to fly on Delta Airlines back in 2016.

“‘It’s gotten really out of control,’ says Paul Hartshorn, Jr., a flight attendant for American Airlines and spokesperson for the flight attendants’ union there. ‘For years, our members have been dealing with untrained, sometimes wild animals in the aircraft cabin.

“‘For the most part, I will say it’s dogs that are not properly trained, but we’ve seen everything from pigs, to monkeys, to hamsters. You name it, we’ve seen it,’ Hartshorn added.

“The untrained animals can have behavioral issues, and some even relieve themselves on the plane.”

Continue reading this article at NPR; click here.

ATTENTION Link partner agencies: 2020-21 Veterans’ Trust Fund Notice of Funding Announcement

veterans trust fund

Click on the above graphic to download the entire .pdf file.

NOTE: The due date for the application is Wednesday January 27, 2021 by 2:00 pm