Have you been wondering how to tell your veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck: VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a veteran. All it takes is an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with as much of the information as you can put together. Following is an overview of how to put together a great #VeteranOfTheDay package.
Photos: Everyone loves pictures, so the more and better quality, the better the tribute will be. Try to have a picture of your veteran in uniform and a picture of them today. If you only have one image of them in uniform, don’t worry. World War II, Korea and Vietnam service members often don’t have many pictures. The images should be larger than 200KB. If you don’t have a photo-editing program and you have the image in a digital form, open it up in PowerPoint and try to make it bigger. If it starts to get grainy before it takes up a third of a standard PowerPoint slide, it probably won’t work.
Biography: What did your veteran do while they were in uniform? What was their job or military occupational specialty? Also, what work do they do now? What work did they do after they left service? This is a great way to show your veterans successful transition to civilian life.
Unit: What was your veteran’s last unit? You can even use your veteran’s favorite unit or the unit he/she deployed with in support of combat operations. If you’re trying to surprise them, you can always look on their Facebook page for mentions of their unit — especially patches or insignia. You can even look for groups they may belong to or old veteran buddies who may be able to help. You’re looking for mentions of stuff like 2-2, 5-503rd, Blue Knights, 82nd All the Way, etc.
Deployments: If you know when and where your veteran served overseas, let us know. Don’t worry though, overseas or combat operations are not required to nominate your veteran.
Awards/recognitions: Did your veteran receive a Bronze Star medal? Purple Heart? Silver Star? Medal of Honor? Don’t forget about combat infantry badges, aircrew wings, Pathfinder and Special Forces badges.
You can request they be honored on certain days. While the VA cannot guarantee any specific date, it will work with you to make it happen if they can. Search Facebook and Twitter for #VeteranOfTheDay to see examples of previous submissions. (Source: VAntage Point Blog | December 2, 2015)
Pentagon self-check site launched
The Office of Personnel Management announced the official launch of a Pentagon-hosted website that allows visitors to check if their personal data was stolen in a massive breach of sensitive background investigation files.
The OPM Verify Site can be found at https://opmverify.dmdc.osd.mil. About 21.5 million federal employees, contractors and retirees were affected by the breach, which OPM disclosed last summer. The agency has been mailing letters to hack victims since October.
Late last month, OPM said it had mailed over 13 million notification letters and was sending an average of about 800,000 a day. The self-check site is designed to allow hack victims who never received a letter from OPM to check if their data was stolen.
In addition, the site can help users who received a letter but lost the PIN provided to sign up for free identity-protection services.
OPM is still in the process of notifying all hack victims and expects to finish in the next two weeks, agency head Beth Cobert said in a blog post about the official launch of the verification system. So far, about 1.2 million people have signed up for the free credit monitoring offered by the government. (Source: NextGov News Release | December 1, 2015)
Hepatitis C care update
The Veteran Service Organization (VSO) community has been pleased and even relieved to see several new drugs come onto the market over the past two years that can now cure most veterans who were unknowingly infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) during the course of their military service.
Congress responded quickly and generously to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ requests for emergency supplemental appropriations to allow the department to offer these new life-saving and long-term cost-saving treatments to veterans infected with HCV.
In fact, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilConVA) provided $200 million above and beyond the VA’s initial request for FY2015 supplemental funding for veterans’ HCV treatments, and we remain highly optimistic that the final VA appropriation, whether as a stand-alone bill or as part of an omnibus, will now reflect an even greater level of investment in treating and curing veterans with HCV in light of the recent budget deal.
The VA’s treatment of veterans with HCV dropped astoundingly to less than 400 for the first week of October, and has remained alarmingly low since then.
Congress has provided and continues to provide every dollar that VA has asked for to offer veterans infected with HCV with the latest breakthrough medical treatments and to generously and fully fund all medical services provided by the VA.
Furthermore, until the new MilConVA appropriations bill with supplemental HCV funding for FY16 is passed into law, VA knows that it can borrow from within its medical services account to continue its previously aggressive pattern of treatment of veterans with HCV infections.
There is, therefore, no fiscal, logical, administrative, or other reason for VA medical providers to be halting or slowing treatment of veterans with HCV following the start of the new fiscal year. The VA should be continuing to treat as many veterans as it is able to with the money that it has currently available in line with established clinical guidelines.
In the meantime, the VA should review its own prescription and treatment data for HCV patients and be proactive in ensuring that as many veterans as possible with HCV continue to receive the care and treatment that Congress intended for VA to expeditiously provide. (Source: The Hill | Diane Zumatto | December 9, 2015)
Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire.