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Veteran Intel

Attention Veterans: Congress Wants To Modify The GI Bill 2.0

Let them know what you think!

Chuck Yarling

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News just now received greatly affects all future veterans by updating the GI Bill 2.0.

Stars and Stripes” reported:

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs gave veterans groups a draft last week of legislation that would deduct $100 from servicemembers’ basic pay each month for two years, for a total of $2,400, in order for them to receive education benefits. The Post-9/11 GI Bill created in 2009 doesn’t require servicemembers to pay into it, but an earlier version of the benefit – the Montgomery GI Bill – mandated recipients to pay $100 per month for one year.

A draft of the legislation states the buy-in provision would go into effect one year after the bill is enacted and would apply to servicemembers who enlist on or after that date.

Comments from veterans service organizations almost immediately condemned the idea.

Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan (IAVA), said:

“There is plenty of room to improve the Post-9/11 GI Bill. IAVA led the creation of the original Post-9/11 GI Bill and later, GI Bill 2.0.

”However, IAVA will vigorously oppose any and all attempts to impose a registration tax on this essential benefit. If Congress wants to find ways to raise more money, they can do it without nickel and diming newly-enlisted Privates. Pushing this GI Bill tax proposal on troops in a time of war is political cowardice. It’s also bad for recruiting and morale.”

And Rieckhoff said on his Facebook page: “Yep. Just when you thought things in DC couldn’t get any stupider! #IAVA will again fight like hell to #DefendTheGIBill.”

But Rieckhoff also noted that IAVA has their own comprehensive list of recommendations for improving veterans lives. The recommendations are an 88-page document entitled Policy Agenda: Fulfill The Promise To Today’s Veterans. It’s quite impressive.

Kayla Keleher, a legislative associate for the Veterans of Foreign Wars said,

The Post-9/11 GI Bill was implemented as a high-five, a wartime benefit. It was a ‘Thanks for taking the oath of enlistment while at wartime.” The VFW… will not stand idly by as Congress continues adding on mandatory pay-in requirements of our troops, let alone while we are still at war.”

It should be noted that this is not a bill and no representative has stepped up to the plate to sponsor the present draft.

Most may not know that the current pay for an E-1 private is about $1600 a month. Their contribution of $100 is about 6.25%.

Here’s an idea for those in favor of the proposed changes: instead of $100 per month, start at $50 a month and raise it by $25 for the next two promotions such that by the time a soldier is an E-3 ($1886); $100 is then only 5.3% of their pay.

Otherwise, Congress needs to find another way to fund future benefits given to us veterans through the GI Bill.

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Chuck Yarling has had many titles in his career thus far: veteran, engineer, math teacher, consultant, technical writer, book author and publisher, and triathlete. He was a member the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Bugles Across America, which plays Taps at military funerals and special events. Spec. 5 Chuck Yarling served with the 26th Combat Engineering Battalion in Vietnam as an awards clerk. His service with the U.S. Army resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal. You may reach Chuck at [email protected]

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Military

Thank Our Military Servicemen And Women But Praise Our Heroes

Chuck Yarling

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With the continuing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places across the globe, well-meaning citizens are increasingly calling all of our military servicemen and women as well as veterans: heroes.

One could draw an argument that this began with President Bush and the beginning of these current conflicts after the voracious attack by Muslim extremists on 9/11. As a veteran, President Bush visited the troops in the field during unannounced trips and continued his actions by visiting wounded military men and women in the hospital – again without the press.

Without a doubt, this overt display of patriotism by the American public is something that we see more frequently now that President Trump is in office. Indeed, the former candidate and now president, has made it a mission of his to keep his and America’s attention on our military.

Most Americans appreciate Trump’s actions. However, it is now obvious that too many people, pundits, and even military organizations are calling all active duty military as well as veterans “heroes”. Many of us veterans think the word reduces the significance of those whose actions have proven themselves to actually be heroes.

Perhaps this comes from one of the definitions of a hero. Dictionary.com defines hero as

A person who, in the opinion of others, asspecial achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal. 

However, take a look at a second definition of a hero from Dictionary.com:

A person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character.

Please don’t get misunderstand: our soldiers really appreciate your kind gestures and appreciation. Indeed, please feel free to thank them for their service, dedication to their mission, and let them know that you appreciate the sacrifice they are making to their personal and their families lives by choosing to serve our country. However, be aware that the definition of a hero should be anyone who has performed a courageous act of valor for someone else without regard for his or her own safety or life.

For instance, consider those firefighters who entered the smoking buildings of the twin towers in New York City right after the attacks by Muslim jihadists. How about the passengers on Flight 93 who intentionally fought off their attackers resulting in its crashing in a Pennsylvania field, all of whom perished because of their actions?

Then, of course, there are those courageous servicemen and women about whom you’ve read of their receiving the Silver Star or Medal of Honor medals. These are the highest medals available to be given by our military. All of these people deserve to be called heroes!

President Trump recently called veterans ”This Country’s Greatest National Treasure”. This is a perfect description that many of us veterans easily accept.

Just remember: when our military men and women go about the job to which they committed themselves, they are not heroes and they will gladly accept your thanks for their service. However, many of us do ask that you lavish your praise upon our true heroes.

They’re the ones that really deserve it!

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Veteran Intel

Parasites May Be Killing Vietnam Veterans

Chuck Yarling

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Results from a recent study by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has shown that a parasite acquired in Vietnam may be killing veterans of
Vietnam. Indeed, in excess of 20% of 50 blood samples were either positive or “bordering positive” for liver fluke antibodies.

This infection came from eating raw or undercooked fish and results in a rare bile duct cancer called cholangiocarcinoma. The problem is the worms
“can live for decades without making their hosts sick. Over time, swelling and inflammation of the bile duct can lead to cancer. Jaundice, itchy skin, weight loss and other symptoms appear only when the disease is in its final stages,
which is death.

One veteran, 65-year old Mike Baughman, fought with the VA in order to have them grant his claim. In fact, the VA denied it three times. However, his doctor wrote a letter to the VA letting them know that his cancer was “more likely than not” caused by the liver flukes. Fortunately, he now receives $3,100 per month and knows his wife will continue to receive benefits after his death.

Unfortunately, the VA is still up to their old tricks: refusing to grant veterans their just due for a variety of claims. In this case:

Claims hit a high of 60 last year, with nearly 80 percent denied. Decisions appear to be haphazard. Some are approved automatically. Others, presented with the same evidence, are denied.

For instance, some rejections were based on the fact that parasites were not found in stool samples, but those tests were conducted years after the worms would have died. Other claims were dismissed because the veteran did not report his illness within a year of leaving Vietnam, yet symptoms typically don’t appear until decades later.

VA officials say while they’re sympathetic, it’s up to the men to prove that liver flukes from Vietnam are killing them. They say because the cancer remains rare, it would be unrealistic and onerous to carry out regular screenings.

This is still a legal process that both the VA and the veteran have to go through, and we will look at each case and all the evidence that is presented to us and make a determination at that point. Certainly any veteran has an opportunity to appeal.”

The lesson here is never give up. If you have to, do what Baughman did: get a doctor’s note explaining that your cancer is due to the worms you acquired in Vietnam!

Go for it and good luck!

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Culture

WOW: Homeless Veteran Gives Stranded Woman His Last $20, What She Does Next For Him Will Bring You Tears Of Joy

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The holidays tend to make us somewhat introspective about how great most of our lives are. It also makes most of us want to reach out to help those that aren’t as fortunate as we are. If you’re one of the people being helped by a good-hearted friend or neighbor this Thanksgiving, you’re probably especially thankful for the holiday spirit.

Usually those of firmly planted in the middle class take this opportunity to help at a homeless mission or hand out money to people we see on the street. However, one New Jersey native found herself the recipient of kindness from a homeless man who came to her aid just a few days ago. According to Daily Mail, Kate McClure found herself broken down on a dark and lonely road when her angel of mercy came out of the darkness to save her with his last few dollars.

McClure wasn’t sure what she would do until the hhomelessJohnny Bobbitt Jr. selflessly gave her $20 to get home. She was so touched by his kindness that she started a campaign to raise money for her newfound friend who was down on his luck.

“Kate McClure, 27, started the GoFundMe campaign 12 days ago after she ran into trouble on Interstate 95 and Johnny Bobbitt Jr., came to her rescue with his last $20.

Speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer, McClure said that she didn’t know what to do when she pulled over on the deserted highway just before midnight. ‘My heart was beating out of my chest.’

She phoned her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, 38, and asked him to come and get her. It was then that Bobbitt Jr. emerged from the darkness and approached her car.

McClure, who works for the New Jersey Department of Transportation said she didn’t have any money to repay him that night.

Because of his kind and caring nature, the couple decided that they had to do something for him, to try and make a perminate change in his life. He truly seemed to be interested in working his way back up to functioning as a productive member of society, he just seemed to have fallen on hard times. Especially after finding out that he was a homeless veteran, they knew that they had to do something for him.

“‘He is very interested in finding a job, and I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night’s rest, his life can get back to being normal.

‘Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break. Hopefully, with your help, I can be the one to give it to him.

‘He just needs a push in the right direction. I can’t imagine how hard it is. He’s from the Carolinas. He’s a thousand miles from home with nothing, nobody. Things probably snowballed to where he’s living under a bridge.’

Bobbitt told the couple that he wants to live in Robbinsville, New Jersey and work at the Amazon warehouse.

‘He definitely has the drive,’ D’Amico said. 

‘He doesn’t want to be on the streets anymore. He wants to be a functioning member of society and not be sitting on a guardrail in Philadelphia.

‘He knows where he’s at and he knows what he has to do to dig himself out,’ D’Amico said. 

‘It’s almost impossible to dig himself out if he has nobody and nothing. If we can raise enough money to set him up for a few months, where he doesn’t have to worry about where he’s going to sleep and what he’s going to eat, then he can get a job and go about his life.’ 

The cash will go toward renting an apartment for Bobbitt and paying for necessities like food, clothing, cellphone, and transportation.

He will also receive a small amount of cash for walking-around money.

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