Saturday, August 22, 2009

Post 295 Raffle Winner

The raffle to support wounded warriors ended today at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair ended with two winners being selected.

The winners have been contacted but they have not yet selected their prize. When they have selected their prizes we will publish the information.

MC AG Fair Chairman Steve Olcott selected the winners.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

VA Scraps Current Developer and Plan after Lengthy Delays

(Fort Howard, MD) – After lengthy delays, the Department of Veterans Affairs just announced it has terminated the current plan to develop a veteran’s facility at Fort Howard in Baltimore County. Team Maryland, including Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), and Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith (D-MD), support the VA’s search for a new developer committed to creating a high-quality, affordable community for Maryland veterans and their families.

Fort Howard Senior Housing Associates LLC, the developer, broke ground more than three years ago. The first phase of the $180 million public-private partnership for the continuing care retirement community geared toward Maryland veterans was slated to be complete this year. Construction has stalled after disagreements over cost, size, and local transportation needs.

“We have a sacred trust with the veterans who serve our country so we may live in freedom. Part of that sacred trust is making sure we provide them with the services and support they need and deserve,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). “Preserving land for veterans shows Maryland’s vets that America is with them. That’s why I will continue the fight to ensure that Fort Howard is developed in a way that is valuable to veterans and favorable to the surrounding community.”

"I am committed to working with the VA and prospective developers to provide our aging veterans with a care facility that will meet their needs,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Budget Committee. “Our veterans were there when we needed them and now it's time for us to be there to help them meet the challenges of aging.”

“Maryland veterans risked their lives for their country. They deserve a first-rate, reasonably priced facility that will be an integral part of the community and a good neighbor to the area. I look forward to working together with our local, state, and federal partners to redevelop this area in a positive way that doesn’t negatively impact existing communities,” said Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “From the War of 1812 where Marylanders fought off the British to Fort Howard’s role as a VA Hospital until it closed in 2002, Fort Howard has been an important piece of Maryland history. Maryland veterans deserve to enjoy this facility with its gorgeous views of the Patapsco River and its proud past.

"I am hopeful that the Veteran's Administration will be able to reach an agreement with a new developer for the Fort Howard project in the near future," stated Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith (D-MD). "I am confident that there are developers who will be able to work with the community and Baltimore County to create a quality living environment for our veterans who have done so much for their country."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

VA Launches 10-Year Health Study of Recent Veterans

In summer 2009 the Department of Veterans Affairs is launching one of the largest scientific research studies ever undertaken on the health of recent Veterans - the "National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans." Findings from this questionnaire-based study of 60,000 Veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere will provide insight on the long-term health of these Veterans.

Additional information can be found at:

Legion salutes ‘ California fix’ to new GI Bill

The last FIX is to allow retirees who qualify to transfer their benefits to thier children. Right now only active duty may do so. ~ Bob

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 5, 2009) – The best veterans benefit in a generation just got better, said the head of the nation’s largest veterans service organization, American Legion National Commander David K. Rehbein.

“The new GI Bill is making it possible for today’s veterans and family members to obtain the higher education that they so richly deserve,” Rehbein said. “But even though this bill, made possible through the advocacy efforts of The American Legion and others, goes a long way toward expressing the gratitude this nation has toward its heroes, there were some inequities that needed to be corrected. The solution reached between California and VA is a step in the right direction.”

Rehbein was referring to disparities in the benefit caused by the wide ranging tuition rates found in different states. The Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefit authorizes VA to pay the actual tuition and fees charged by a university up to the maximum in-state tuition and fees charged by the most expensive public university in the state. California state schools, however, charge little or no tuition, but instead label the cost as “fees.” The result of this semantic difference was that students attending private schools in California would receive a far smaller benefit than those attending private schools in other states.

The VA and California resolved the issue yesterday by allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to accept a new California billing line item “Educational Fee / Tuition” to meet the requirements.

“The Post-9/11 GI Bill is an important part of fulfilling our promise to the men and women who have served our country so honorably,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. “This solution will allow all veterans who want to attend a California school the same benefits as any other veterans across the nation.”

Moreover, veterans at more than 1,100 private colleges, universities and schools across the country can benefit from the “Yellow Ribbon” program, which helps pay the difference between the highest in-state public school tuition rate and the cost of the private institution. The Yellow Ribbon schools agree to pay up to 50 percent of those expenses and VA will match the additional funding for students using the GI Bill.

Rehbein, who met with President Obama yesterday, said he is pleased that the president is taking an inclusive approach to using the GI Bill. Currently, National Guard members mobilized under “Title 32” state orders do not enjoy the same GI Bill benefits offered to their counterparts mobilized under federal orders.

“My general philosophy is that somebody who served in uniform on behalf of our safety and security, they should be eligible,” Obama said. “We want to be inclusive rather than exclusive. We want to encourage more people to use the program rather than less.”

The American Legion’s strong support of GI Bill benefits is nothing new. It was a past national commander of The American Legion, Harry W. Colmery, who wrote the original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. As modern day tuition rates soared, The American Legion wanted today’s veterans to enjoy the same benefits as their predecessors. The Legion was the leading champion for ushering the new GI Bill through Congress.

“Passing this historic new GI Bill into law could not have happened without the dedicated efforts of The American Legion,” Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Rep. Chet Edwards said at the time.

Rehbein said that The American Legion will continue to advocate for greater equity and inclusiveness in the distribution of GI Bill benefits. He recommended that veterans contact The American Legion if they have questions about their benefits or visit .

“Whenever there is a program of this scope, there will be glitches,” Rehbein said. “This GI Bill, however, is a result of support from the grassroots, advocacy from The American Legion, and Congress doing the right thing. We are grateful for the agreement reached between VA and California . It’s now time to address any other inequities that exist.”

With a current membership of 2.5-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

VA healthcare will not be endangered by national system, says President Obama

Promise made during private meeting with National Commander of The American Legion

WASHINGTON (Aug. 4, 2009) – President Obama, meeting privately with the leader of nation’s largest veterans service organization this morning, pledged to keep the medical care system administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs essentially as is – quelling fears that VA healthcare would be absorbed into a national health care system.

“(I) got his very strong assurance the VA as our veterans know it will continue to exist,” said National Commander David K. Rehbein. “It will not be diluted or folded into some sort of national system and that the folks who go to the VA…that will be considered their insurance, so any insurance requirements (will be met) simply by being enrolled in the VA.”

Another topic discussed during the one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office was Medicare reimbursement to the VA, a proposal long championed by The American Legion. This proposed practice would require Medicare to pay for care provided at Department VA medical facilities to Medicare beneficiaries – that is, eligible veterans over the age of 65 with non-service related injuries, illnesses and conditions. Currently, Medicare is precluded by statute from doing this.

“Medicare reimbursement to VA would be a boon to veterans in that it would encourage them to take advantage of what we consider the best care anywhere,” said Rehbein. It would also generate much-needed revenue for the VA.” The “Medicare VA Reimbursement Act of 2009” resulted from a discussion Rehbein had with House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) at the Legion’s DC headquarters just three weeks ago. “I am pleased that Chairman Filner visited with us and then took prompt action,” Rehbein said.

Obama and Rehbein also discussed the positive effects that the enhanced educational benefits contained within the newly enacted and American Legion-pioneered Post 9/11 GI Bill will have on the veterans community and the nation as a whole.

The vexing problem of a dramatically growing backlog of VA benefits claims was also considered by the two. Rehbein said he feels the president “fully appreciates” its gravity and will do what he can to aid in its solution.

Rehbein, obviously pleased with the meeting’s outcome, characterized the 25-minute White House chat as “very friendly…conversational in style” in which “issues were discussed rather than positions being presented.”

With a current membership of 2.5 million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and the mentoring of youth. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.
A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr. Rehbein is available at

New Paid Up For Life Program

*** Applications under the old pay scale must be received by August 15th to ensure processing.

New Paid-Up-For-Life (PUFL) Program Effective October 1, 2009 and Procedural Changes
The Paid-Up-For-Life (PUFL) program changed as a result of National Executive Committee Resolution 8 passed during the Spring Meetings, May 6-7, 2009 (copy attached). See the attached PUFL brochure for the new rate chart and the new required forms for all new PUFL applications.

New rates are effective October 1, 2009. All PUFL applications being submitted at the current rates must be received at National by September 1, 2009. This gives time to process the applications under the current system before the new rates go into effect. No PUFL applications will be accepted on the old forms after the September 1st cut-off.

The Time Payment Plan, which currently allows up to 12 months to pay, has been extended to a 36-month payment period. This is a big benefit of the new plan. The rate chart on the application has been changed to show monthly payment amounts instead of the full payment due.

Instead of the 10% minimum deposit that is currently required, the member must only include the first month's payment, as noted on the rate chart. If the member chooses to pay more than the minimum deposit, the remaining balance will be divided into 35 additional payments, which will decrease the amount of the monthly payment. National will continue to forward payment coupons to the member once the application has been accepted and processed. A new option has been added to give the member the opportunity for automatic monthly credit card billing.
Members may still pay the full amount at the time of application. To calculate the total cost of a PUFL membership, the member (or post officer) will need to find the monthly payment on the rate chart and multiply it by 36. PLEASE NOTE: The total fee must be entered on the front of the application, regardless of whether the member is paying in full or choosing the Time Payment Plan.

Beginning October 1, 2009, all PUFL applications must be accompanied by a copy of the member's separation form (DD214 or similar) or a copy of their current active duty military identification. If neither is available, provide a brief explanation and include a copy of the member's current driver's license. The PUFL application will not be processed if eligibility documentation is not provided and will be returned to the Department Headquarters for resolution.

Member's who choose to participate in the Time Payment Plan must complete the Participation Agreement on the back of the application. Any forms received without a signature will be returned to the department for correction. This new form is procedural change from the current system.

Your Department will be shipped a supply of the new PUFL brochures for immediate use as soon as they are received from the printers. In addition all the forms will also be on by August 7th. Also next week, we will forward a computer fill-in form to you for your use. We ask that you use all available means of communication to publicize the impending changes and the cut-off day of September 1st, as well as the October 1st effective date of the new application and rates.

We understand that these are fairly significant changes but they're necessary in order to keep the PUFL program viable.