Everyone has a story. Everyone has a voice. However, veterans have unique stories – reasons for serving their country, experiences of service and war, and life after returning to family and friends.
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State of Affairs


It's been two months since our last correspondence and we were hoping to hold out as long as possible for the new Agent Orange presumptive conditions but, with Veterans Day upon us, we felt the need to get out the information we had on what was going on in the world of veterans affairs. 

Our office has seen a slight uptick in clientele, especially from our elderly population currently residing in nursing homes. We're kicking out non-service connected pension claims to our wartime veterans just as fast as families are providing the required information. It's teamwork in action and we're assisting them to get the benefits they've earned!!!

There's much to share so let's get to it!!!

Camp Lejeune Presumptive Conditions


From the 1950s through the 1980s, people living or working at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals.

VA recently proposed a rule to create presumptive service connection for Veterans, Reservists, and National Guard members exposed to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987 who later developed one of the following eight diseases: 
  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Parkinson's disease
Presently, these conditions are the only ones for which there is sufficient scientific and medical evidence to support the creation of presumptions; however, VA will continue to review relevant information as it becomes available. Veterans who are experiencing other health conditions that they think may be related to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune are encouraged to contact their primary care provider and to file a claim. VA reviews and decides disability compensation claims on a case-by-case basis.

Additionally, in accordance with the 2012 Camp Lejeune health care law, VA provides cost-free health care for certain conditions to Veterans who served at least 30 days of active duty at Camp Lejeune from January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1987.

Qualifying health conditions include:
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Female infertility
  • Scleroderma
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Miscarriage
  • Neurobehavioral effect
Veterans eligible for health care under the 2012 Camp Lejeune health care law may enroll in VA health care and receive medical services for the 15 covered health conditions at no cost (including copayments).

If you have or have had any of the mentioned conditions, please contact us as soon as possible so that we may assist you file a claim for service-connected disabilities.

Veterans Day 2016


On Friday, November 11, 2016, the Waverly Area Veterans Post is hosting their first annual Veterans Appreciation Day Program. The event begins at 8:00 am, lasts until 7:00 pm and will have refreshments, services such as chair massage, haircuts, flu shots, and blood pressure checks, and multiple presentations throughout the day.

Please join us celebrate and pay homage to our veteran population and their families. The event is free and entirely sponsored by local businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Bremer County Veterans Affairs will be in attendance and will have our "Where Did You Serve," maps, free raffle's and will order help you order a free set of your military records and medals. Also, you'll be able to meet each of our staff and Commission throughout the day. We hope to see you there!!!

If you plan to do some traveling for Veterans Day, we suggest you take a look at businesses around Iowa and the United States to see what they offer on the holiday. You can see the list of Veterans Day Freebies HERE. Of course, we always recommend you ask retailers what, if any, benefits they provide for our military veterans, even local, small business, all year long.

Waverly-Shell Rock Seeks Veterans Stories for Veterans Day


The Young Americans for Freedom Group at Waverly-Shell Rock High School is looking for your story! For Veterans Day, 2016, the group is seeking one-page, military autobiographies from our veterans and a picture of them in service. 

If you're willing to write a one-page synopsis and provide them with a picture of you in service, please contact Kaleb Schrock at kschrock18@wsr.k12.ia.us. Your autobiography and photo will be placed throughout the school so that students may continue to learn the price of our sacrifices.

IDVA Announces Increased Honor Guard Reimbursement


(Johnston, IA) Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director Colonel Robert King (Ret) announces that in a recently adopted administrative rules amendment, the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund Honor Guard Reimbursement is increased from $500.00 in a twelve month period to $1,000.00. The change became effective 18 May 2016. The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs manages The Iowa Veterans Trust Fund.
 
The Honor Guard Reimbursement was established to reimburse various veterans service organizations who provide military honors at funeral services for our states veterans when a military honor guard is unavailable. Colonel King stated “Several honor guards around the state are providing many more services than the $500.00 reimburses them for their support of our veterans and families. We want to insure that we are reimbursing these honor guards for their expenses in regards to the services they are providing.”
 
All other details of the administrative rules 14.4(11), ARC2491C remain the same. Only the dollar amount changes.

Agent Orange Presumptives Update

 
UPDATE: The Veterans Administration has not released further details or made any administrative changes as of yet. The newest rules were supposed to have been released in August however, no changes have yet been made.

By: Patricia Kime, April 8, 2016
 
The Veterans Affairs Department is weighing whether to add several diseases to the list of health conditions presumed in Vietnam veterans to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

A VA working group is studying a report issued in March by the Institute of Medicine to determine whether bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson’s-like symptoms — illnesses the IOM said may be more strongly linked to exposure than previously thought — should automatically make a Vietnam veteran eligible for VA disability benefits and health care.

According to Dr. Ralph Erickson, VA's chief consultant for post-deployment health services, the group will make a recommendations to VA Secretary Robert McDonald on whether the diseases should be added to a list of 15 already in place.

“We are in the midst of a deliberative process, carefully looking at all the IOM committee put in the report and additional information that has come out since,” Erickson said. “We will be putting together a VA response that will be brought before senior leaders and ultimately brought before the secretary.”

The process could take up to two years, a VA spokeswoman added.

Roughly 1 million Vietnam veterans are enrolled in the VA health system, according to the department. Based on a review of data for one year, 5,484 of these veterans have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, 15,983 suffer from hypothyroidism and an estimated 1,833 have Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

The working group also is looking into the role, if any, Agent Orange exposure has played in the development of hypertension in Vietnam veterans. According to VA, 307,324 Vietnam veterans in the Veterans Health Administration have high blood pressure.

“Hypertension has been a question that has been asked,” Erickson said. “The cohort of men and women who heroically served their country in uniform and went to Vietnam are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, and these individuals, merely because of their age, are starting to accrue chronic diseases that come with aging. It’s a delicate matter to tease out whether someone has hypertension because of their age or whether it would be related to an exposure to Agent Orange.”

VA began recognizing diseases associated with herbicide exposure in Vietnam beginning in 1991, naming 15 diseases as presumed to be related, including Hodgkin’s disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, early-onset peripheral neuropathy, porphyria cutanea tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, soft-tissue sarcoma, chloracne, type-2 diabetes mellitus, light chain amyloidosis, ischemic heart disease, chronic B-cell leukemias, Parkinson’s disease, and spina bifida in offspring of veterans.

The most recent IOM report actually downgraded spina bifida in the children of Vietnam veterans, saying research does not support a previously held belief that the disease occurred in offspring of exposed veterans at higher rates.

But the change of spina bifida from "limited or suggestive evidence" it is related to exposure to “inadequate or insufficient” evidence should not affect disability payments to the 1,153 descendants of Vietnam veterans who receive them, Veterans Benefits Administration senior adviser for compensation services Brad Flohr said.

VA recommends that veterans who have an illness they believe is related to Agent Orange exposure file a claim; they are considered on a case-by-case basis if the illness is not on the presumptive condition list.

Should new diseases be added to the list, the regulation would go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

If a veteran dies of a condition determined to be a presumptive condition after the veteran’s death, VA will provide dependency and indemnity compensation benefits to eligible spouses, children and parents of that veteran.

Patricia Kime covers military and veterans health care and medicine for Military Times. She can be reached at pkime@militarytimes.com.

VA Can Help Veteran Struggling Homeowners


Help for struggling homeowners is often closer and more attainable than they think.
 
Some Veterans experiencing financial hardship may be unaware of the programs and services available to help them avoid foreclosure, even for home loans not guaranteed by VA. It’s easy to become discouraged after falling behind and receiving daily collections phone calls. Remember that a mortgage servicer’s goal is not to take anyone’s home from them. Servicers would much rather see hardships resolved and borrowers resume making payments or otherwise avoid foreclosure. There are many VA resources to help Veterans do those things.
 
Did you know that the inability to afford your mortgage does not mean that foreclosure is inevitable?   Modifying your loan to a more affordable interest rate, being placed on a forbearance plan to obtain additional time if your financial situation is expected to improve down the road, or even deeding the property back to the mortgage servicer are all potential options to avoid foreclosure.
 
Are you concerned that your property value is so upside-down that you will never get out from under it? A Compromise Sale, or short sale, may be a great option, potentially allowing you to sell the home for less than you owe.
 
To see the stories of some of the more than 450,000 Veterans whom we have been able to help, watch the “VA Alternatives to Foreclosure” on website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/resources_video.asp.
 
These are only a few of the many options available. If you are more than two payments past due and have a VA home loan, a VA Loan Technician has already been assigned to assist you. If not, or if you do not have a VA loan, knowledgeable VA staff can offer financial counseling to determine how VA can help and what loss mitigation options might work best. If you have a VA loan, VA staff can even speak directly with your mortgage servicer on your behalf.
 
Please call (877) 827-3702 to reach your nearest VA Regional Loan Center, or you may visit our web site at http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/ to obtain information about the VA Home Loan program.
 
Additionally, Veterans who feel they may be facing homelessness as a result of losing their home can go to http://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/NationalCallCenter.asp, or call (877) 424-3838 to receive immediate assistance from VA.
 
In addition to the resources offered by VA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers assistance to homeowners by sponsoring local housing counseling agencies. To find an approved agency in your area, please search online at http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm or call HUD’s interactive voice system at (800) 569-4287.

Take Me To It

November


Military Family Month

November 8: BCVA Commission Meeting

November 10: Marine Corps Birthday

November 11: Veterans Day

November 24: Thanksgiving Day

 

December


December 1: Civil Air Patrol (USAF Auxiliary) Birthday

December 7: Pearl Harbor Day

December 13: National Guard Birthday, BCVA Commission Meeting

December 17: National Wreaths Across America

December 25: Christmas

December 28: Anniversary of the Army Chaplain Assistant
 

Beyond


January 1: New Year's Day

January 10: BCVA Commission Meeting

February 3: Four Chaplains Day

February 15: President's Day

February 19: Coast Guard Reserve Birthday

 

Bremer County Veterans Affairs Satisfaction Survey


Annually, we like to get your thoughts on what YOU feel is both positive and negative about our office. Are we completing the mission? Are you familiar with your benefits? Do you feel we're competent to manage your claim?

That's why, annually, we like to send out an anonymous satisfaction survey to let us know how we're doing. This is, by no means, your only opportunity to do so since we're governed by a County Commission on Veterans Affairs but this is a widely circulated survey that, hopefully, you'll take the time to complete. It will only take ten minutes and your answers are completely anonymous. 

PLEASE, provide us with your feedback so that we can let the County Commission on Veterans Affairs and the Bremer County Board of Supervisors know exactly what you think!!!
Take Me to the Survey

Keokuk National Cemetery


Did you know?

Did you know that there is a National Veterans Cemetery in Keokuk, IA?  The National Cemeteries began during the Civil War. In the summer of 1862, our country was in the second year of the Civil War. This was a war that was predicted to last only a few months. On July 17, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln under the direction of Congress purchased cemetery ground to be used as national cemeteries. There were fourteen national cemeteries established during the first year.  One of these cemeteries was in Sharpsburg, Maryland. After one day of battle 4,476, Union soldiers were laid to rest after the terrible battle of Antietam. Thousands more had died in Bull Run, Shiloh, Wilson’s Creek, and Fort Donelson. Nearly three hundred thousand union soldiers had been buried in 73 national cemeteries by 1870. Every effort was made to give those that died in battle an honorable burial. Nearly half were buried with an unknown identity. 

The College of Physicians and Surgeons was located in Keokuk, IA during the Civil War. There were five military hospitals in the city. The wounded and sick soldiers traveled up the Mississippi River to these hospitals. They were from the North and the South.  As a result, those who died were buried in what was to become Iowa’s only National Cemetery.  By the end of the war, there were six hundred Union soldiers and eight Confederate prisoners of war buried there.  In 1977, the cemetery was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.  This cemetery is one of the oldest in the nation. Starting in 1873, all honorably discharged veterans are eligible to be buried in national cemeteries. Approximately three million Americans are buried in about 17,000 acres of these cemeteries.  Active duty, honorably discharged members of the military are eligible for burial along with spouses and dependent children. Also, Reserve and National Guard veterans qualify if they have retired after twenty years of service or if they would have qualified for retirement, but died before age sixty.  

In 2001, it was determined that Iowa needed a state-owned and operated veteran’s cemetery. In early 2006 land was donated for the Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Adel. It is operated by the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs. The cemetery was dedicated on July 3, 2008. At this time, there are spaces for 81,000 burials. Currently, individuals from thirty-eight states are inured there. 

Requirements for burial are similar to that of the national cemetery. The burial may be of no cost to the veteran if they are receiving a veteran’s pension or compensation or died of a service-connected disability. Also, veterans who were in a VA hospital, nursing home or in a nursing home under contract with the VA, may be buried there.  As in the national cemeteries, spouses, and dependent children qualify. The veteran’s burial is at no cost. The spouse or dependent child will be buried at a cost of $300. The marker will be furnished and is in accordance with the other headstones.

Both of these cemeteries are located in a picturesque area and are well worth the time taken to visit. There are beautiful memorials and visitors centers at both locations.  The following websites offer more information.

www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/keokuk.asp and https://va.iowa.gov/cemetery

Bremer County VA Van


We make sure our veterans can make their appointments to our veteran’s medical appointments. The van was put in service fall of 2011. This is possible through an agreement with The Iowa City VA Hospital.

Since that time to the end of the fiscal year in June we have transported: 
  • 651 Veterans 
  • Have driven 89,589.1 miles 
  • Drivers volunteer their time 3,139 hours and 31 minutes
  • Made 491 trips    
In the 2011 fiscal year, we had 51 Veterans signed up to use the Van; at present time the number has grown to 77 Veterans.

At the present time, we have 9 active drivers with one other having passed all his test and will become a good driver. 

We have a cell phone which you can contact the “Van Coordinator” at 319-596-5800 or our Office Phone Number is 319-352-4209. I receive a call from the veteran requesting a ride to a VA Medical Facility; they will inform me of the date and time of their appointment and which VA Medical Facility they are going to. I will call one of the drivers (I try to spread the trips out). If the driver is available I will relay information for the trip. The driver tells me what time he or she wants to pick veteran up. I then call veteran back and inform him or her that I have a driver for the trip and where and time for pick-up. It is best that I have at least a 5 days notice to arrange the trip. I try to call both the driver and veteran the day before to remind them of the upcoming event.

I have what I call a “Trip Sheet “ to be filled out. This will have the name of the driver and veteran name, address and phone number and time out and in also mileage in and out. This is done for every trip the van makes to a VA medical facility.

Tom Charley
BCVA Van Coordinator
319-596-5800

Veterans Voices


Everyone has a story. Everyone has a voice. However, veterans have unique stories – reasons for serving their country, experiences of service and war, and life after returning to family and friends. Experience the captivating stories of Army, Marine, Navy, and Coast Guard veterans from World War II through recent events in the Middle East as performed by Hawkeye theater students.

On Thursday, November 10, 2016, Hawkeye Community College theater students are performing Veterans Voices, a theatrical production of life during and after their military service. Tickets are $5.00 for non-students and are available HERE or you may call (319) 296-4464.

All ticket proceeds go towards veteran and fine and performing arts scholarships.

Music Series: World War I Centennial Concert & Exhibit


Join us for an evening commemorating World War I and the Anglo-American Alliance with British music inspired by or written during the war including:
  • Quartet in a minor by Herbert Howells
  • Ludlow and Teme by Ivor Gurney 
  • On Wenlock Edge by Ralph Vaughan Williams 
  • Violin Sonata No. 1 by John Ireland
Featured performers include the Amara Piano Quartet, Edwin Griffith (tenor) and Julie Fox Henson (violin).

In a joint partnership with the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, an exhibition of WWI-era artifacts will be on display during this event.

Doors open at 6:45 pm for a complimentary wine reception. 

Dr. Eric Saylor, Associate Professor of Music History/Musicology at Drake University will discuss the composers and music and their correlation to WWI in a pre-concert talk beginning at 7:00 pm.

The performance begins at 7:30 pm.

We are grateful for special funding for this concert provided by:
Presenting Sponsor:
Andrea Westmeyer
Union Pacific Foundation

Performance Sponsor:
Brenton Foundation

Encore Sponsor:
Anonymous
Michael and JoAnn Callison
Confluence Landscape Architecture

Prelude Sponsor:
James Windsor

Melody Sponsor:
Anonymous

Where Did You Serve?


Each Veterans Day, we have an opportunity to meet hundreds of new veterans at the Veterans Appreciation Day on November 11th. For the last two years, we've provided maps, in one medium or another, to allow veterans to document where they served. This has been a tremendous success over the past couple of years and this information will be, again, available on Veterans Day this year.

However, only veterans who attend the event have had the opportunity to participate and we want to open it up to the Cedar Valley and fill our map with where our veterans have served. 

Additionally, because of this project, some veterans have come forth and asked how to get in contact with other veterans that served at their same command, sometimes decades later.

We decided that we would open the floodgates and see if any of you would like to provide more detail on your service. The button below will take you to a survey that allows you to document where, when and what unit you served. Additionally and optionally, it allows you to enter your phone number or email address if you are willing to have other members contact you that served in your same unit. All of the information you enter is entirely optional and you have the option of answering which questions you like. So take a look and see who else may have served in your exact same unit!!!
Where I Served

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