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VA News

Patrick Air Force Base gets Space Force designation, which could lead to name change

Patrick AFB

 

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - A Central Florida Air Force Base will be a part of the newly created U.S. Space Force.

The Space Force was created Friday when President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law. It’s the first new service since the U.S. Air Force came into being in 1947.

"The law states that Air Force Space Command will be re-designated the United States Space Force, that will happen immediately," Gen. John Raymond, the commander of US Space Command and Air Force Space Command, told reporters at the Pentagon Friday.

Raymond said that the 16,000 active duty airmen and civilians currently in the Air Force Space Command will be assigned to the new United States Space Force, though officials made clear those personnel will not actually become members of the Space Force and will remain in the Air Force for the time being.

During a question and answer session with reporters on Friday, Raymond was asked which existing bases will house space units.

He named Peterson Air Force Base, Buckley Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, Vandenberg Air Force Base and Patrick Air Force Base, which is located in Brevard County.

Reporter: Do you have any plans to maybe rename some of the Air Force bases that are currently space-focused?

Raymond: We do have a plan to rename the -- the principal Air Force bases that -- that house space units to be space bases. That will occur in -- in the months ahead and we'll plan that appropriately.

Reporter: So they'll be called, like, Patrick Space Base now?

Raymond: Could be. We'll work it out. Okay.

Leaders of the 45th Space Wing of Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, who are now part of this change, shared comments in a Facebook video.

"Effective immediately, consider yourselves airmen assigned to the United States Space Force. Now that might create some questions and trust me, we also have some questions, No matter what, we’re always Sharks,” Chief MSgt. Scott J. King, Command Chief of the 45thSpace Wing said.

"I can tell you, the 45th space wing will continue to do its mission of assured access to space," 45th Space Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Douglas A. Schiess said.

Dale Ketcham, a VP for Space Florida, says for what is at stake, the move for Patrick Airforce Base to be a part of the Space Force is an important and essential one.

"We rely as a country and our economy and our national security, more on space assets than any other country and our adversaries are aware of that, if they take out our satellites --- You've blinded the United States," Ketcham said.

What could this change look like for some of the personnel, like the 45th Space Wing?

"It will become Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, assuming they don't change those names. I don't think it would be a huge change because both Patrick and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the missions that they serve now won't change dramatically. I think the creation of space force is a recognition of the fact that what they do is that important and eventually we'll get new uniforms and some other cosmetic things," Ketcham said.

Ketcham says ultimately this will lay the foundation and preparation for what the future could hold when it comes to conflicts involving space.

“It’s not likely that we’re going to see soldiers and airmen and spacemen in space fighting, hostilities at least not for quite some time. This will be there first iteration I would imagine where it will be, if there are actual hostilities up there, it’ll be entirely robotic, autonomous satellites, throwing stuff at one another and shooting. Right now, it’s more conceptual, somebody may be able to pull of something up there, we don’t know yet, we may be able to do it and they’re not telling us…but the plan is to prepare for that,” Ketcham said.

So far, the plan for the new space force is to have about 16,000 Air Force active duty and civilian personnel.

The creation of the US Space force, the 6th branch of the military, was part of the signing of a $738 billion-dollar defense bill.

Source

The first independent air force — 100 years before the Space Force

John Gurdons F.2b Fighter

 

A century before President Trump announced the creation of a U.S. Space Force, another new military force was leaving the Earth. The Royal Air Force came into existence 100 years ago, on what might seem an inauspicious date, April Fool's Day, 1918.

On that morning, my grandfather, John Everard Gurdon, flew on the RAF's first ever patrol, hunting Luftwaffe aircraft in the skies over northern France. When he returned to his base at Vert-Galant, his fellow men of the 22 Squadron gathered in front of Gurdon's Bristol F.2b fighter for a memorial photograph. The result (above) is in the Imperial War Museum now, and copies are all over the place.

Gurdon turned out to be good at this work. He went on to become one of the air aces of World War I, shooting down 28 German aircraft and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross. (Fighter flying became a short family tradition, for my father, Philip Gurdon, flew Spitfires in World War II, a fact that used occasionally to make complete strangers go gaga with admiration.)

But back to 1918 and today. The RAF had previously been the Royal Flying Corps, part of the British Army. But as aircraft became more sophisticated, and control of the skies became more and more important over the battlefield, an independent force equal to the army and navy was a logical step. Details of America's Space Force can be debated at another time, but the events of 100 years ago in northern Europe are a persuasive example of how military forces must adjust to new technology to ensure national security.

The proximate occasion of my writing this post today is not, however, Trump's decision to create a Space Force. It is, rather, the fact that John Gurdon's first and most successful book, Over and Above, is back in print 99 years after it was first published in 1919, and is now on sale in the U.S. (Grub Street, 182 pages, $16). It is a lightly fictionalized account of the author's four or five months of fighting. The style is typical of the boys' adventure genre of those days, with lots of boarding school slang and bravado.

But the scenes are also harrowing when you realize they were not really fiction at all. Gurdon's friends were shot down in flames, fell from their aircraft during dog fights, and suffered heavily from post-traumatic stress, as Gurdon did. On one occasion, a bullet shot through his windscreen at face height and smashed his arm; fortunately, he was at that moment leaning down to free a rudder pedal that had jammed. In August 1918, exploding anti-aircraft fire from the ground concussed Gurdon, and it ended his war. He was sent back to England, and he put down his experiences in Over and Above.

I remember vaguely that, as a boy, I heard an account of Gurdon shooting down an observation balloon. The anecdote had not greatly impressed me; a vast dirigible seemed both easy to hit and defenseless when in the machine gun sights of an incoming fighter. But in Over and Above, the drama of that incident, its danger, and its almost mad fighting fury come alive, and I look back now amazed at what men of action will do, and also at my own juvenile insouciance.

So, this is a shameless plug for the book, and to be clear, it won't earn me a penny.

Source

101-Year-Old WWII Vet Commissions Grandson Into Air Force: 'One of the Best Days of My Life'

101 Year Old WWII Vet

 

Graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy is already an exciting milestone, but for one class of 2019 cadets, the ceremony served as a touching multi-generational event.

Walter Kloc, a 101-year-old WWII Veteran traveled some 1,500 miles from Amherst, New York, to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to commission his grandson, Joseph Kloc, as an officer in the Air Force on Wednesday, May 29, according to CNN and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“This is what it’s all about … Walter received a standing ovation, and everyone in the room was gifted with a memory they’ll never forget,” Air Force officials wrote in a Facebook post alongside photos of the grandfather and grandson sharing the special moments.

Joseph shared the pictures in his own Facebook post, writing, “Probably one of the best days of my life.”

Walter was a bombardier and pilot for the Army Air Forces more than 70 years ago, CNN reported. He traveled to Colorado with his son and Joseph’s father, William Kloc, according to NBC affiliate WGRZ. Ahead of the event, Walter’s wife, Virginia, told WGRZ that he was “absolutely thrilled and excited” to be part of the graduation ceremony.

“I’m so excited for him,” William told the station of his son. “He’s fulfilling his dream, and he was so excited that his grandfather … World War II, Air Force, bombardier, pilot, could come and commission him.”

Walter was raised in Michigan and worked for General Motors after the war, WGRZ reported.

Source

Guam EPA: Andersen Air Force Base violates Guam environmental law

Andersen AFB 001

 

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency issued a violation notice to Andersen Air Force Base Northwest Field Facility after finding non-approved chemicals used for treating water.

According to the notice, Guam EPA charged with the responsibility of implementing the Guam Pesticides Act, found there was a possible misuse of a product to disinfect water for distribution.

On Dec. 28, 2018, a routine sanitary survey inspection was conducted on a water storage tank on Northwest Field and Guam EPA staff discovered a different form of chlorination from what was approved by Guam EPA was installed, the notice stated.

A review by Guam EPA's Pesticides Enforcement Program found the product is a pesticide and is used only for swimming pools, per the product labeling. Guam EPA imposed a $750 administrative penalty.

Andersen responds

Andersen in a release said it used Pool Time chlorination tabs to sanitize a half-million-gallon drinking water tank that serviced the facilities on Northwest Field; however, Guam EPA classifies the tablets as a pesticide and when this became known, the use of the tablets was immediately ceased.

The Northwest Field water tank provides water to Northwest Field only. It doesn't provide water to any other part of Andersen Air Force Base, the release stated.

Although Andersen received the notices of violation for the Northwest Field water tank, at no time was the water deemed unsafe to drink. Both Guam EPA and Andersen concluded that the use of the Pool Time chlorination tabs wouldn't result in any adverse health effects, the release stated.

A public notice explaining what had happened was sent to people who may have been exposed to the drinking water, the release stated

Andersen conducts routine analysis of its water supply and at no point was it deemed unsafe, the release stated, and the base fully cooperated with Guam EPA. Military representatives met with Guam EPA on Feb. 7 to discuss the actions required by the notice of violation and committed to paying the appropriate fines, the release stated.

The $750 fine is in the final process of being paid and the $1,700 fine is still being discussed with Guam EPA as there is no record/proof of exactly when the tabs were used, the release stated.

Personnel involved in operating and maintaining the water systems have been disciplined/counseled and additional training accomplished, the release stated, and new standard operating procedures have been put in place, requiring regular internal inspections of all systems with environmental permits and notifications to environmental experts when primary methods of chlorination are inoperable.

Source

Exclusive: Air Force to push Congress for military housing tenant bill of rights

AF Push Congress

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Aiming to grant military families far greater say to challenge hazardous housing, the U.S. Air Force told Reuters Monday it will push Congress to enact a tenant bill of rights allowing families the power to withhold rent or break leases to escape unsafe conditions.

The proposed measure, outlined in an interview at the Pentagon by Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff David L. Goldfein, follows complaints from military families who say they are often powerless to challenge private industry landlords when they encounter dangerous mold, lead paint and vermin infestations.

“Clearly there are areas where we have issues,” Goldfein said.

Added Secretary Wilson: “That could put a little more leverage into the hands of the renters.”

The Air Force push adds to a drumbeat of reforms to emerge in recent weeks following a Reuters series, Ambushed at Home, that documented shoddy housing conditions at bases nationwide and described how military families are often empowered with fewer rights than civilian tenants.

Read the series Ambushed at Home at www.reut.rs/2t1Y2UA

Wilson said the Air Force is actively working with the Army and Navy to push a tenant bill of rights that would give military families a stronger hand in housing disputes. She wants to strengthen the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a law that includes active duty housing protections. As one example, Wilson proposed expanding the act to allow base families to end their lease or withhold rent if their landlords fail to correct health and safety problems.

Beyond that effort, she said wing commanders of each U.S. Air Force base have been directed to inspect all 50,000 privatized family housing units in the force’s portfolio by March 1. She cited housing breakdowns at Air Force bases including Tinker in Oklahoma, Maxwell in Alabama, MacDill in Florida and Keesler in Mississippi.

In addition, she said, the inspector general’s office will launch a review of how Air Force bases respond to housing health and safety complaints.

Last week, the U.S. Army vowed to renegotiate its housing contracts with private real estate firms, test homes for toxins and hold its own commanders responsible for protecting residents. And on Friday, the Army issued a letter directing senior commanders to conduct inspections of all housing within the next 30 days.

The military action plans follow a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this month in which members of Congress sharply questioned private industry landlords and Defense Department leaders over conditions at U.S. bases.

Wilson said the Air Force is also considering working with Congress to renegotiate its contracts with housing companies to allow the service to withhold all incentive fees from low-performing landlords.

Source

Army Veteran to become first living recipient of Medal of Honor for war in Iraq

David Bellavia 001

 

The White House announced on Monday that former Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia will become the first living Medal of Honor recipient for the war in Iraq for his heroism during the second battle of Fallujah in November 2004. The five previous Medals of Honor in the Iraq War were handed out posthumously and Bellavia's award is an upgrade from the Silver Star he had previously received .

President Trump will present the award to Bellavia at a White House ceremony on June 25.

A few years ago, the Pentagon began a blanket review of all valor awards to see if they should be upgraded.

Bellavia is being honored for his heroism on Nov. 10, 2004 when he was a squad leader in Operation Phantom Fury, an American offensive on the western Iraqi city of Fallujah an Iraqi insurgent stronghold.

The Army Veteran is credited with saving his entire squad that day after being pinned down by enemy fire coming from a block of houses.

"He quickly exchanged an M16 rifle for an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, entered the house where his squad was trapped, and engaged insurgents, providing cover fire so that he and his fellow soldiers could exit safely," said a White House statement announcing his award.

When an armored Bradley Fighting Vehicle could not fire directly into the house, Bellavia re-entered the house armed only with an M16, and attacked insurgents who had been firing rocket-propelled grenades.

"He proceeded to kill one insurgent and wound another, who then ran to another part of the house," said a White House statement announcing his award. "Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia was soon engaged by another insurgent rushing down the stairs when the previously wounded insurgent reemerged to engage him as well." Bellavia was able to return fire and killed both attackers.

"He then took enemy fire from an insurgent who had appeared from a closet across the room. He pursued him up the stairs and killed him," said the statement.

Bellavia then to the roof "where he engaged and wounded a fifth insurgent, who fell from the roof of the building."

For his heroism, Bellavia was awarded the Silver Star, the nation's third highest award for valor; the Distinguished Service Cross is the nation's second highest. His award is being upgraded to the Medal of Honor as part of the Pentagon's three-year review of valor awards for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that was prompted by concerns that acts of heroism were not being appropriately honored.

David Bellavia enlisted in the United States Army in 1999 and after serving in Kosovo, he deployed to Iraq in 2004 with Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division.

Since leaving the Army in August 2005 Bellavia has been active in Veterans advocacy groups and philanthropic organizations.

Bellavia is also the host of a radio talk show for WBEN in Buffalo, New York.

On Monday morning, Bellavia told his listeners the news of his award was "not really registering."

"I'm going to see guys I haven't seen in 15 years. I'm going to think about them. I'm going to just think about the guys we lost the most," said Bellavia. "It just brings you right back.

"One guy gets attention, but none of that's possible without the work of, you know, 25 guys that nobody talks about," he said. "And in this fight, in this circumstance, it was just a group of guys that were out-gunned, and we -- we fought our way through it together."

"This award is our award, and they're, we all consider it something that we did together," he added.

Source

Soldiers: Disgraceful housing conditions at Texas Army post

Fort Hood Housing

 

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) - Soldiers and their spouses have told Army leaders at Fort Hood of disgraceful housing at the Central Texas post that includes mold and lead paint along with other problems.

Families living at the post detailed their frustrations with housing during a meeting Thursday that the Austin American-Statesman reports came about a week after a congressional hearing that exposed longstanding problems at privatized housing complexes.

Thousands of homes at Fort Hood are owned by the Australian firm Lend Lease, and the U.S. government oversees 141 barracks that house 18,000 soldiers.

Lawmakers have set aside nearly $300 million to renovate 24 barracks but U.S. Rep. Roger Williams and others have expressed concern that the money could be siphoned away as part of President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to fund a border wall.

Source

VA Disability Ratings for GERD Explained

Gerd

 

VA Disability Benefits and Ratings for GERD: What Veterans Should Know

Among gastrointestinal disorders, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a very common condition that is associated with heartburn. In fact, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Digestive Disease, approximately sixty million people experience heartburn at least once a month, and twenty-five million experience the symptoms daily. If you experienced GERD following military service, you may be able to seek VA benefits for your condition and get a GERD VA Rating.

This post will outline the basics of GERD, as well how former service members can obtain service-connection from the VA despite the lack of a disability rating schedule for this condition.

What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a condition in which gastric acid and partially digested food flow up from the stomach into the esophagus. This results in the painful sensations that are associated with heartburn. Continuous irritation of the esophageal lining poses a risk for developing more severe complications such as esophageal cancer.

Symptoms of GERD include:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Pain in chest or upper abdomen
  • Difficulty swallowing or painful swallowing
  • Respiratory problems
  • Vomiting

How Does GERD Occur?

The esophagus, commonly called the food pipe, is a narrow muscular tube that is about 9.5 inches long. It connects the back of the mouth with the stomach. When you swallow food, muscles in the esophagus move the food toward the stomach. At the base of the esophagus is a band of muscle, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which opens and closes to allow food and liquids to pass into the stomach. Except for belching, this is the only time that the LES is supposed to open. Once food and liquids have passed safely into the stomach, the stomach acids and enzymes in the stomach begin to break down the starch, protein and fat in the food. While the stomach has a lining tough enough to withstand the acid, the esophagus does not.

What happens in cases of GERD is the LES opens when it is not supposed to—namely after the enzymes and acids have started working on the contents of the stomach. When this occurs, gastric acid and partially digested food flow back up into the esophagus. The lining in the esophagus, as mentioned before, is not thick enough to withstand acid, and this causes the burning sensation in the chest and throat. This sensation is more commonly called heartburn, pyrosis, or acid reflux.

What Causes GERD?

It is a well-established fact that certain medications, lifestyle choices, and non-related physical disorders can contribute to GERD. Not only do some medications weaken the LES, but some medications and outside factors can aggravate the already-irritated esophageal lining.

Medications

There are some medications that are known to weaken or relax the LES. Many of these act as muscle relaxants, and can cause the wrong muscles to relax, such as the LES. These medications include:

  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Anticholinergics (used to treat urinary tract disorders, allergies, and glaucoma)
  • Beta adrenergic agonists (used to treat asthma and obstructive lung diseases)
  • Dopamine agonists (used to treat Parkinson’s)
  • Antidepressants
  • Sedatives
  • Narcotics

There are also medications that irritate the esophageal lining, such as:

  • NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen (Aleve)
  • Potassium
  • Iron pills
  • Bisphosphonates (used to treat osteoporosis)
  • Antibiotics

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors for heartburn and GERD. Many of them necessitate the regular consumption of medications listed above.

  • Eating pattern: People who eat heavy meals and then lie on their back or go to bed are at risk for heartburn and acid reflux.
  • Pregnancy: Symptoms of GERD are often unavoidable during the third trimester, then the growing uterus puts pressure on the stomach and forces acids and partially digested food back up through the LES.
  • Obesity
  • Respiratory Disorders: People with asthma and COPD have a high risk of GERD. This is due not only to the medications which they must take to control their symptoms, but also due to the chronic irritation that these disorders inflict on the esophagus..
  • Smoking: Studies have shown that smoking reduces LES muscle function, increases acid secretion, impairs muscle reflexes in the throat, and damages protective mucus membranes. Smoking also reduces salivation, which helps neutralize acid.
  • Alcohol Use: There are mixed opinions on this particular risk factor. Alcohol is known to relax the LES muscles and, in high amounts, may irritate the lining of the esophagus. Other studies, however, have shown some types of alcohol, such as wine, to actually protect the lining of the esophagus.

Certain health conditions like a hiatal hernia can also cause GERD. It’s important to always consult a doctor if you are experienced recurrent epigastric distress, discomfort in the digestive system, IBS, or other symptom combinations. Doing so is an important part in seeking VA disability GERD benefits.

Making a Disability Claim: How Do GERD VA Ratings Work?

GERD is one of those interesting and rather inexplicable exceptions to the VA rules. For example, the VA’s regulations on presumptive Persian Gulf War conditions (conditions which are automatically considered service-connected if you meet the qualifying criteria) include gastrointestinal disorders.

However, there is a caveat to this and VA Ratings for GERD.

These regulations only apply to functional gastrointestinal disorders, which involve abnormal functions of an organ in the gastrointestinal tract, without a structural alteration in the tissues (such as irritable bowel syndrome). GERD is not considered a functional gastrointestinal disorder; rather, it is considered a structural gastrointestinal disorder. On top of it all, there is not even a rating schedule for GERD in the VA rulebook. So, the typical percent evaluation VA rating system and diagnostic code may not apply in your disability compensation case.

One can argue that this does not make any sense. But while this particular regulation does make it harder to obtain service-connection for GERD, there are ways to get around this. Since there is not a specific GERD VA Disability rating system, individuals may choose to obtain Veterans disability compensation by proving direct or secondary service connection.

Direct Service Connection

In order to show a direct service connection for GERD, you will need to gather medical evidence and show severe impairment of health. If you were diagnosed with GERD while on Active Duty, and if a medical expert provides a favorable opinion that your GERD condition began during and has continued since service, you can obtain service connection on a direct basis.

Secondary Service Connection

Service connection can be granted on a secondary basis if a medical expert can provide a favorable opinion that one condition was developed secondarily to a condition that has already been service-connected. In this particular case, we mentioned respiratory conditions as being a risk factor for GERD. Say, for example, the VA has service-connected you for COPD. Over time, you developed GERD due to chronic irritation of the esophagus and due to the effects of the medications that help control your COPD. You can file a VA claim for GERD secondary to COPD. However, you will need a doctor or health care practitioner’s opinion that your COPD condition caused or aggravated GERD.

Need Help With Your GERD VA Rating?

While the VA ratings for GERD may not mimic that of other conditions, that doesn’t mean you can’t obtain Veterans benefits for your medical condition. The Veterans disability law firm Hill & Ponton is available to help former service members obtain disability benefits from the department of Veterans affairs. Whether you want to discuss the rating schedule, service connection, or medical evidence for an appeal, be sure to call 1-888-373-9436 to speak with our knowledgeable team. You can also click here to request a case evaluation.

Source

Proving asbestos exposure in military service in a DIC appeal

Gold Star 02

 

This case involves the failure of the Board of Veterans Appeals to address all evidence related to the Veteran’s possible exposure to asbestos in military service when it denied service connection for the cause of the Veteran’s death.

Our client appealed the BVA’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

The appeal was resolved through a joint motion for remand: the government attorney agreed with Alexandra Curran’s arguments that the Board failed to address all relevant evidence of in-service asbestos exposure.

ISSUE ON APPEAL TO THE CAVC:

This appeal involved the BVA's failure to address all relevant evidence as it related to the Veteran’s cause of death.

Based on an alleged lack of evidence and the Veteran’s military occupational specialty, the Board determined that the Veteran did not establish in-service exposure to asbestos in his VA claim.

As a result, the BVA denied service connection of the cause of the Veteran's death, preventing his surviving spouse from receiving disability compensation in the form of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). DIC and accrued benefits are two of the most common benefits sought by a Veteran's surviving spouse, but they are certainly not the only such benefits.

Service connection for cause of death may be granted if a service-connected condition was either the principal or contributory cause of the Veteran's death.

A principal cause of death means that the service-connected condition was the immediate or underlying cause of the death. A contributory cause of death means that the condition contributed materially or substantially to the death or aided in the death.

The Veteran’s death was caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and brain cancer. His surviving spouse sought service connection for the cause of his death due to in-service asbestos exposure.

While most cases involving asbestos exposure in military service involve navy Veterans, Veterans from other branches of the military were exposed to asbestos.

The Board held that the Veteran was not exposed to asbestos in military service, explaining that the Veteran’s wife did not have personal knowledge of the exposure and relying on his military occupational specialty of truck driver.

However, the Board failed to address three pieces of important evidence: 1) his wife’s statement that her husband talked about performing repair work on the trucks he drove while in the military; 2) the Veteran’s DD 214 that listed auto mechanic training; and 3) an article explaining reasons for high risk of asbestos exposure in the automotive industry.

Ms. Curran argued that the BVA erred in failing to address this evidence regarding possible exposure to asbestos.  

RESOLUTION AT THE CAVC:

The Secretary agreed that the Board of Veterans Appeals erred when it provided an inadequate statement of reasons or bases to support its determination that the Veteran was not exposed to asbestos in military service, since the BVA did not address all the evidence of record related to his possible in-service exposure.

The parties identified at least 3 pieces of evidence that related to the Veteran's possible exposure to asbestos in military service, and (among other things) directed the BVA to address that evidence on remand.

The Veteran and the VA’s Office of General Counsel filed a joint motion to vacate and remand the appeal back to the Board to fix its errors.

If the BVA decision in this case sounds like yours, or if you have a BVA decision that involves clear and unmistakeable error, reach out to the law firm of Attig | Steel.

Click here to submit your BVA decision and one of our attorneys will see if there is anything we can do to help.

Link to the BVA Decision on CAVC Website.

Link to the Joint Motion to Remand the CAVC Website.

Case Details

OGC Attorney: Sarah Catherine Blackadar (link to attorney bio on LinkedIn)

Veteran Representation at CAVC: Alexandra Curran (link to bio)

Board of Veterans Appeals Veterans Law Judge: K. Parakkal

Vet's Rep at BVA: pro-se

Date of BVA Decision: June 21, 2018

Date of CAVC Judgment on Remand: May 10, 2019

Source

Announcing the Veterans Benefits Banking Program

Vets Banking Prgm

 

A partnership between VA and the Association of Military Banks of America

Life comes with plenty of challenges, but your banking shouldn’t be one of them. That’s why VA has partnered with the Association of Military Banks of America (AMBA) to launch the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP). With VBBP, Veterans and their families can safely, reliably, and inexpensively receive and manage their VA monetary benefits through financial services at participating banks.

This new program introduces new financial resources to Veterans and their beneficiaries. AMBA specializes in providing services for military personnel, Veterans, and their families around the world. VBBP’s new services will give Veterans the tools necessary to better protect their benefits from fraudulent schemes. It will also help to improve their financial literacy so that they can develop a long-term financial strategy.

Our Veterans who receive monetary benefits should have as many financial management and services options as possible. Participating VBBP banks will offer eligible Veterans federally-insured and regulated financial products, services, and education that can be tailored to their needs and the needs of their families.

The present available banking options include direct deposit into an existing bank account, electronic funds transfer into a Direct Express pre-paid debit card, and mailing of a paper check for pre-approved beneficiaries. VBBP expands upon these offerings.

VBBP introduces new financial resources to Veterans and their beneficiaries. It will expand these offerings by giving Veterans more choices, and it addresses issues some Veterans experience using the payment methods currently available to them. VBBP offers these VA beneficiaries – including many who have been unable to open bank accounts in the past – the opportunity to deposit their benefit funds directly into existing or new bank accounts offered by participating AMBA member banks.

VA delivers approximately $118 billion annually in benefits and services for Veterans and their families, ranging from disability compensation, pension and fiduciary, education, home loan guaranty, vocational rehabilitation and employment, life insurance, and transition and economic development. There are approximately 250,000 Veterans and beneficiaries who receive their VA benefits through a pre-paid debit card or paper check who may not have a bank account.

Neither VA nor AMBA endorses any bank and does not require Veterans and other beneficiaries to use them. Veterans who are satisfied with their current financial situation are not required to change how they receive their VA monetary benefits.

How to enroll

Find more information on the Veterans Benefits Banking Program, the enrollment process, or how to find a bank that fits your needs, visit www.benefits.va.gov/banking or www.Veteransbenefitsbanking.org.

To have your federal benefits electronically transferred to a your bank, eligible Veterans should visit www.VA.gov/change-direct-deposit or call VA at 1-800-827-1000 with relevant banking information.

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