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:
Kane VFW Post 1132 Celebrates 100th Anniversary
On Jan. 27, Rep. Marty Causer (R-67) and I had the privilege of attending the 100th Anniversary celebration for Kane VFW Post 1132 which was chartered on Jan. 29, 1924.
We also presented House and Senate citations to Post Commander Dave Swanson and State Commander David “Spike” Gyger.
One personal note from this “grizzled” veteran, Commander Gyger fulfills a large role in helping homeless veterans, so much so that he has slept alongside many of them out on the streets. I know this because I served with Spike in the193rd Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.
Commander Swanson was also presented with the American Post Commander Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership which contributed to Kane VFW Post 1132 receiving the All-American Post Century Award.
Kane VFW Post 1132 continues to go above and beyond the call of community service by supporting the Kane youth baseball team, purchasing body cams for the Kane police force and donating to Tunnel to Towers to place Killed in Action (KIA) monuments at Memorial Point in Evergreen Park.
Another example demonstrating the tremendous generosity and community impact of Kane VFW Post 1132 occurred when the remains of a MIA Korean War veteran from Mount Jewett were recently identified and returned home.
Kane VFW Post 1132 funded the Patriot Riders, and the motorcycle led procession to this honored veteran’s final resting place was over a mile long.
Thank you all for your service. Here’s to another 100 years of supporting our hometown military veterans and our communities!
We do not forget!
VA’s Newest Life insurance Program Celebrates One Year
The VA’s newest life insurance program and first such program in nearly 50 years, VALife, has been accepting veterans since Jan. 1, 2023, with more than 31,000 having signed up during the past year.
The goal of VALife is to provide veterans with the peace of mind that comes from knowing loved ones will have some funds after their departure. The program increases access to more veterans than ever before by eliminating time limits to apply and offering guaranteed acceptance, whole life insurance to veterans aged 80 or under with any level of service-connected disability. Veterans aged 81 or over may qualify if they meet certain criteria and apply within a certain timeframe.
Life insurance offers financial security for veterans, their spouses and dependent children. You can learn more about VALife here.
Partnerships Empower Military Spouses with Successful Careers
Despite possessing valuable skills, many military spouses often face limited employment opportunities.
To help address that challenge, the VA’s National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP) is working collaboratively to bring partnerships and health care innovations to veterans and their spouses.
HAP facilitates the partnership between the Veterans Health Administration and Salesforce, which offers free training, exams, certifications and career opportunities for high-paying, tech-related jobs.
The VA-Salesforce partnership supports the needs of service members, veterans and their families as they transition out of active duty and into the civilian workforce. The partnership helps connect veterans and their spouses with career and employment resources, such as training, networking events, job boards and educational opportunities. Since its launch in 2014, the VA-Salesforce partnership has connected 3,150 veterans, spouses and other eligible enrollees to Salesforce Military’s free resources and provided training to more than 30,000 military trailblazers.
The VA offers a variety of resources to support military spouses and help them find meaningful careers. Other programs and partnerships include the VA Veterans and Military Spouse Talent Engagement Program, the VA Caregiver Support Program, Onward Ops and the Daniel and Salvador Montoya Heroes Foundation.
The VA Offers Help to Make Your Dream of Homeownership a Reality
With the economy the way it is right now, homeownership has become a more difficult proposition. It can be even more daunting as a veteran or active member of the military.
Securing the best possible loan is key to ensuring you don’t cost yourself additional money now and in the future, or possibly prevent your ability to purchase your dream home.
To navigate the complex process of applying for a home loan, you need to be informed and prepared. Understanding why loan applications are denied can save you from disappointment and keep your homeownership dreams alive.
Common reasons for a loan application denial are application errors, credit rating, job stability and home appraisal issues.
If you are denied you should seek a clarification for the denial from your lender. You can also apply with other VA-approved lenders. The VA urges loan applicants to not be disheartened should an application be denied. Instead, they suggest you take the time to understand why, remedy the issues and explore your options.
Services Available to Help Disabled Veterans with Employment
If you have a service-connected disability that limits your ability to work or prevents you from working, the VA’s Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E), formerly called Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, is available to offer assistance.
The program is designed to help you explore employment options and address education or training needs. In some cases, your family members may also qualify for certain benefits.
You can apply online here (the process also offers an online orientation to help you decide if VR&E is right for you), or you can apply by mail (mailing an application to the VA) or in person at a VA regional office.
At-home Primary Care Available Through the VA
Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) is a unique VA program that provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary, primary care in the homes of veterans.
The program is for veterans who need team-based, in-home support for ongoing diseases and illnesses that affect their health and daily activities. It is one of several VA programs designed to all veterans to age in their homes.
An HBPC team involves veterans working with health care professionals to plan comprehensive care and lifelong health and wellness. An HBPC team also expands to include family caregivers and community-based services, with everyone working toward the goal of offering care in a comfortable, familiar setting.
You can learn more about this health care program here.
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:
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:
For more information, please visit www.vetcenter.va.gov
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