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Veterans Report - Week of December 30, 2013

Posted: Tue Dec 31, 2013 10:15 am
by boardman
Veterans Report - Week of December 30, 2013

Winter Vehicle Safety Tips
Here are several winter safety tips for your vehicle: (1) get regular oil changes, and make sure that you choose the right viscosity for the vehicle for this time of year; (2) make sure that your car battery's posts and connections are corrosion-free, and if the battery is more than three years old, have a certified repair shop test its ability to hold a charge; (3) make sure tires are properly inflated to ensure the best possible traction with the road; (4) check the status of the four-wheel-drive system to be sure it is working correctly; (5) have the properly amount of antifreeze in your vehicle; (6) store a special emergency kit in your car's trunk; and (7) only drive during daylight hours and take 10-15 minute breaks to rejuvenate drivers.
For more auto maintenance tips, visit the ( Auto Center.

Committee Chairman Introduces COLA Measures
House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller has announced he will introduce two legislative measures that would eliminate certain cuts to cost of living adjustments for military retirees that were included in the recent Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The first measure would eliminate the Bipartisan Budget Act's COLA reduction for all military retirees. The second measure would eliminate the act's COLA reduction only for veterans who are medically retired, receiving Combat Related Special Compensation and/or Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments. Texts of the measures introduced are on the ( ... -from-cola) House Committee on Veterans' Affairs website.
For more COLA updates, see ( ... -caps.html) this news article.

How Happiness Battles the Holiday Blues
Dr. Ron Pekala, a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) researcher, helps his patients find happiness and is concerned about how the holiday blues affect them. He helps them understand happiness and what it takes to be happy. For more information, read the article on the ( ... -Blues.asp) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) website.
For more on veteran benefits programs, visit the ( Benefits Center.

Housing Rates Announced
The recently announced 2014 basic allowance for housing rates for servicemembers represent an average increase of 5 percent, or up to $75 to $80 per month. The new rates will take effect Jan. 1. The impact on each servicemember is local as BAH rates are based on the costs of housing in various areas. The allowance differs by pay grade, location and whether or not servicemembers have dependents. Servicemembers already assigned to an area where BAH decreases in 2014 are "grandfathered" by the program's individual rate protection, and their rate will not go down. For more information, visit the ( ... or-housing) BAH section.

Progress on VA Claims?
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has reduced a disability claims backlog but more work remains to be done, according to recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Undersecretary Allison A. Hickey testified about what she called the VA's "significant progress" toward modernizing VA systems and eliminating the backlog by 2015. Testimony from the hearing is available on the ( ... n-progress) Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs website.

Filing a Fully-Developed Claim
By filing a fully-developed claim (FDC), veterans, servicemembers and survivors take charge of their claim by providing all the evidence at once. By then certifying that there is no more evidence, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can issue a decision faster. VA recommends you appoint an accredited Veterans Service Officer to help you initiate your claim, gather the required medical records and evidence, and submit your claim online at at ( For more information, visit VA's ( Fully Developed Claims webpage and watch the ( YouTube video.
For more on veteran benefits programs, visit the ( Benefits Center.

Dell Committed to Hiring Veterans
Start your civilian career with Dell. As a global technology leader they can provide endless opportunity and a career path that lets you choose where you want to be. ( ... Read More.

Glossary of Military Terms and Slang
Leave your favorite military term in the comments of ( ... this glossary and we will include it!

VGLI Too Much? Get $300k from $21 a Month
VGLI too much? Protect your family for less. ( Get $300k life insurance coverage from less than $21 a month.

Avoiding the Flu
During holiday parties, most everyone is smiling and hugging or shaking hands and many forget that basic rule for staying healthy: wash hands frequently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing hands with soap and warm water, but alcohol-based hand sanitizer will work in a pinch. See proper hand washing techniques on the CDC website at ( The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get the annual flu vaccine. TRICARE covers both the flu shot and flu mist. Beneficiaries may be able get their flu vaccine, at no cost, from a military treatment facility, hospital or from a pharmacist at one of the 45,000 network pharmacies that administer vaccines to TRICARE beneficiaries. Find a participating pharmacy on the Express Scripts website at (, or by calling Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303. Even though flu season has been underway for several months, getting vaccinated is still important.
For more military family support resources, visit the ( Spouse Channel.

Iowa Launches Veterans Website
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has announced the launch of a state-sponsored website designed to entice veterans to relocate to the Hawkeye State. The new website at Home Base Iowa at ( is being described as a "one-stop shop to match veterans with employers" and what are being called "home base" communities in Iowa. Iowa is facing a shortage of qualified workers in several key areas, most especially the manufacturing and agribusiness industries. State lawmakers are also working on measures to streamline the civilian licensing and credentialing of appropriately trained and experienced former servicemembers and their spouses. For more information, visit the Home Base Iowa website at (
For more on veteran benefits programs, visit the ( Benefits Center.

Caregiver Burnout
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), caregiver burnout is the experience of feeling physically, psychologically, and medically unhealthy due to over compensation of family members when caring for servicemembers with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other conditions. The VA has outlined some care-giving tips through the use of the acronym, "PEAS" which stands for participate, educate, attend and seek: (1) participate in your servicemember's behavioral health treatment, (2) Educate yourself about PTSD, the medical facilities in which your servicemember receives treatment, and the routines of your servicemember; (3) attend to warning signs of potential relapses or suicide risk; and (4) seek social support and engage in other positive self-care activities. For more information, visit the VA Caregiver Support webpage at (
For more military family support resources, visit the ( Spouse Center.

Navy to Evaluate Uniform
Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus has announced plans to evaluate and redesign elements of the female service dress uniform for both officers and enlisted beginning no later than May, 2014. The Service Dress Blue (SDB) uniform worn by female Sailors E1-E6 will be redesigned along with the female combination cover for E7 and above. New uniform items will be evaluated for fit, comfort and durability. Fleet introduction will begin following approval of the final design and completion of the manufacturing process. The final timeline and costs of the new items will be determined following the wear test. For more information on this topic, see this ( ... ilors.html) article.

Keep Your Pets Safe During the Holidays
Keep your pet safer and healthier during the cold-weather season by following these tips: (1) keep indoor pets in a warm, dry area free of drafts; (2) elevate your pet's bed off the floor; (3) provide outdoor dogs and cats with a dry, warm, insulated shelter out of the wind; (4) bring your pet inside if the wind chill or other weather conditions become severe; (5) feed your pet extra calories when temperatures drop; (6) pets like the smell and taste of antifreeze, and a small amount can easily kill them. Thoroughly clean up spills at once; (7) Cats and kittens often nap on warm car engines. Knock on the hood or honk the car, and then wait a few moments before starting the car; (8) groom your dog regularly; and (9) do not leave your dog alone in a car.
For more pet news and tips, visit the ( Pet Corner.

AF Museum Receives Osprey
A CV-22 Osprey recently landed at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, and will be a centerpiece of the museum's new 224,000 square-foot building. Construction is slated to begin in late spring 2014 and be completed in the summer of 2015, with a public opening anticipated in late 2015. The National Museum of the United States Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson AFB, is the service's national institution for preserving and presenting the Air Force story. The Museum is free to the public and features thousands of artifacts amid more than 17 acres of indoor exhibit space. For more information, visit the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force website at (

A Look at Veteran Care Data
"Big data" and "data analytics" are hot topics in government and industry, but how much do they affect the care that veterans receive at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)? They have a significant impact, suggests a recent report from the nonprofit, Partnership for Public Service. The report, "From Data to Decisions III: Lessons for Early Analytics Programs," describes how the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has pioneered data analysis capabilities to predict health risks and target services to patients. Thanks to VHA-developed tools like the Care Assessment Needs (CAN) score, health care providers are identifying patients who are at elevated risk of hospitalization or death and customizing care for them -- making VA care more proactive and preventative. "From Data to Decisions III: Lessons for early Analytics Programs," is available on the ( ... php?id=233) Partnership for Public Service website.
For more on veteran benefits programs, visit the ( Benefits Center.

Travel Safety During the Holidays
Here are several holiday travel tips to plan before you go: (1) file a "travel plan." Let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, when you plan to arrive, and how to contact you. If you deviate from that plan, let someone know; (2) travel with friends. There is safety in numbers; (3) make sure your house appears "lived-in" when you are away. Lock all doors and windows and set household lights (inside and out) on timers; (4) have a neighbor park a car in your driveway to make it appear as if someone is home; (5) have a neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers while you are away or have them held at the post office; and (6) invest in an alarm. An alarm system controls access points to your home and lets you know if someone has invaded your space.
For travel discounts for servicemembers, veterans and families, visit the ( Discount Center.

Hagel, Ryan Defend COLA Caps
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, appear to be in sync in defending the controversial cap that Congress has imposed on cost-of-living adjustments for "working age" military retirees starting in January 2016. They should be, Ryan is suggesting, because the idea for the ( ... COLA cap came to him from the Department of Defense. And the budget deal he struck will help to ease automatic defense spending cuts from sequestration that military leaders said were decimating force readiness. Hagel and Ryan also agree, however, that it was a mistake for Ryan and his negotiating partner, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, not to have shielded more than 100,000 service members retired on medical disability from the planned COLA caps. For more details, see ( ... -caps.html) this news article.

It's Official: 2014 Pay Rates
President Obama has signed off on a 1% pay raise across the board for all military pay grades in 2014. To see 2014 pay charts, visit the ( ... harts.html) Pay section, or calculate your 2014 pay using's ( ... calculator) Military Pay Calculator.