Senator Dush E-Newsletter

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If you know a veteran, please forward this issue to them (you can sign up for my mission reports here). There are some important updates, resources and information they can use.

In this Update:

  • National Cemetery Administration Adds Options for Commemorative Plaques and Urns
  • VA Expands Health Care Coverage to Veteran Family Members, Caregivers Through CHAMPVA
  • New Website for Veterans, VA Customers Ordering Contact Lenses
  • New VA Grant Program to Help with Transition from Military to Civilian Life
  • Veterans Job Listing
  • Vet Centers

National Cemetery Administration Adds Options for Commemorative Plaques and Urns

Beginning June 10, families of deceased and cremated veterans can apply to receive commemorative plaques or urns from the VA if they do not want to inter their loved ones in a VA national cemetery or receive a government-furnished headstone, marker or medallion for placement in any cemetery.

Commemorative urns are used to hold the remains of a deceased, cremated veteran, and commemorative plaques are designed to hang on a wall. Both the urns and the plaques honor a veteran’s service and serve as a lasting tribute to the individual’s status as a veteran. Eligible family members can request one or the other, but not both.

More information about NCA memorial options can be found on the VA website. Information about VA burial and memorial benefits is available online, at VA national cemeteries or by calling toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.

VA Expands Health Care Coverage to Veteran Family Members, Caregivers Through CHAMPVA

The VA has expanded coverage for medical services – including audio-only telehealth, mental health and substance use – for family members and primary family caregivers participating in the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).

CHAMPVA is a health care program for certain spouses, surviving spouses, children and primary family caregivers of eligible veterans – currently, there are more than 737,500 CHAMPVA beneficiaries. Through CHAMPVA, VA shares the cost of medically necessary health care services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries. This includes mental health services, inpatient and outpatient services, prescription medications, transplants, ambulatory surgery, family planning and maternity care, and more.

To learn more and apply for CHAMPVA care today, visit our CHAMPVA website.

New Website for Veterans, VA Customers Ordering Contact Lenses

The new Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) PatriotVision website allows veterans, their families, their caregivers and VA employees the opportunity to order prescription contacts with free standard delivery.

Partnering with NextDayContacts, VCS is offering top name brands, including Acuvue, Dailies, Biofinity, Air Optix and more.

For more information and to shop for contacts, go to the PatriotVision website.

New VA Grant Program to Help with Transition from Military to Civilian Life

The VA has announced has created a new grant program to help service members and their spouses transition from the military to civilian life.

The grants will be awarded to eligible organizations that provide employment-based resources and tools for transitioning to civilian life service members and spouses — including resume assistance services, interview training, job recruitment training, employment placement services and additional services that lead directly to a successful transition.

The VA expects to award approximately $4 million in grants in 2024, in increments of up to $500,000 per organization. The grants will be matched by the receiving organization. A notice of funding opportunity for this program will be posted this month by the VA. 

For more information about all the VA’s efforts to support transitioning service members and their families, visit the VA’s transition homepage.

Veterans Job Listing

Every week, the Pennsylvania Nation Guard Associations updates its free job board with good openings for National Guard members, Veterans and their families across Pennsylvania and in nearby states. The board features nearly 10,000 employment and internship postings.

What are Vet Centers?

I’ve been asked this question by several of my fellow vets and feel it’s important to provide an answer to those who haven’t reached out yet.

VA Vet Centers provide free and confidential readjustment counseling for War-Zone Veterans and their families, World War II to the current Global War on Terror.

Vet Centers are small, non-medical, counseling centers conveniently located in our region. They’re staffed by highly trained counselors and team members dedicated to seeing you through the challenges that come with managing life during and after the military.

Our region is served by the DuBois Vet Center, which is one of 12 Vet Centers in Pennsylvania and over 300 across the country. Whether you come in for one-on-one counseling or to participate in a group session, at Vet Centers you can form social connections, try new things, and build a support system with people who understand you and want to help you succeed. The Dubois Vet Center’ website  is designed to provide veterans, family members, and community partners the ability to see what services the center offers, as well as the center’s Community Access Points with a picture of the entrance so first time visitors have a frame of reference to help guide them in.

From my time in the State House through my current position, I’ve had a strong relationship with the Dubois Vet Center.  They have helped me help many of my fellow vets.

Two Recreational Therapy Groups Available at the Dubois Vet Center

As part of a national competition, the DuBois Vet Center was approved for initial funding for two recreational therapy groups.

One of the groups is an introduction to fly tying for fly fishing, with one of the center’s counselors being an avid fly tyer and fisherman. The other group is a no sew blanket group, which the center hopes will generate interest from women veterans, but the group is open to anyone who would like to join.

The groups will be held at the Vet Center with approximately 4 cohorts to run quarterly with 6 vets in each cohort. The center says it hopes to grow these groups and potentially be able to have them at the center’s Community Access Points (CAPs) in McKean, Centre and Blair counties, with the possibility of adding more recreational therapy groups in the future.

The center noted the initial funding will help them launch the groups, but they will be actively trying to obtain additional funding they can expand on them.

Who is eligible to receive services at Vet Centers?

Vet Center services are available to Veterans at no cost, regardless of discharge character, and without the need to be enrolled in VA health care or having a service-connected disability. If you are a Veteran or service member, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, you can access Vet Center services if you:

  • Served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility.
  • Experienced military sexual trauma (regardless of gender or service era.)
  • Provided mortuary services or direct emergent medical care to treat the casualties of war while serving on active military duty.
  • Performed as a member of an unmanned aerial vehicle crew that provided direct support to operations in a combat theater or area of hostility.
  • Accessed care at a Vet Center prior to Jan. 2, 2013 as a Vietnam-Era Veteran.
  • Served on active military duty in response to a national emergency or major disaster declared by the president, or under orders of the governor or chief executive of a state in response to a disaster or civil disorder in that state.
  • Are a current or former member of the Coast Guard who participated in a drug interdiction operation, regardless of the location.

Contacting your local Vet Center

Even if you are unsure if you meet the criteria to receive services from a Vet Center, please contact a center. From personal experience I can tell you that, if the center can’t help you, they’ll find someone who will.

Center services are also available to family members when their participation would support the growth and goals of the Veteran or active-duty service member. If you consider them family, so does your local center. Bereavement services are also available to family members of Veterans who were receiving Vet Center services at the time of the Veteran’s death, and to the families of service members who died while serving on active duty.

The DuBois Vet Center, located at 100 Meadow Lane, Suite 8, DuBois, PA 15801, can be contacted at 814-372-2095 or toll free 24/7 at 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387).

The DuBois Vet Center recently announced counseling and referral services are now being provided at the State College American Legion Post 245, in addition to the many services they offer at their locations in DuBois, Altoona, Bradford, Penn State-DuBois, Smethport and their mobile Vet Center.

The other Vet Center locations in Pennsylvania are:

  • Bucks County Vet Center, 2 Canals End Road, Suite 201B, Bristol, PA 19007, 215-823-4590
  • Erie Vet Center, 240 West 11th Street, Suite 105, Erie, PA 16501, 814-453-7955
  • Harrisburg Vet Center, 1500 N. Second Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102, 717-782-3954
  • Lancaster Vet Center, 1817 Olde Homestead Lane, Suite 207, Lancaster, PA 17601, 717-283-0735
  • Norristown Vet Center, 320 East Johnson Highway, Suite 201, Norristown, PA 19401, 215-823-5245
  • City Center Philadelphia Vet Center, 801 Arch Street, Suite 502, Philadelphia, PA 19107, 215-627-0238
  • Northeast Philadelphia Vet Center, 101 East Olney Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19120, 215-924-4670
  • Pittsburgh Vet Center, 2500 Baldwick Road, Suite 15, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, 412-920-1765
  • Scranton Vet Center, 1002 Pittston Avenue, Scranton, PA 18505, 570-344-2676
  • White Oak Vet Center, 2001 Lincoln Way, Suite 280, White Oak, PA 15131, 412-678-7704
  • Williamsport Vet Center, 49 East Fourth Street, Suite 104, Williamsport, PA 17701, 570-327-5281

For more information, please visit


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