About two decades after Dee Fulcher left the Marine Corps, in which she served for nearly a dozen years, she came out as a transgender woman. “From the age of probably six I knew that I was different,” says the 54-year-old from Louisiana, who once worked on helicopter hydraulics systems. “Part of the reason I joined the service was I wanted to be the macho man everybody wanted me to be.” But now Fulcher is on another path and believes that her healthcare provider, the Department of Veterans Affairs, is holding her back because of a blanket prohibition on providing surgical care to transgender veterans, which she can’t afford out of pocket. Along with a Army veteran who identifies as a transgender man, she is one of two named individuals seeking to have that rule rewritten through a petition submitted to the Department on May 9. “When people are denied care or care is delayed, it can lead to significant psychological distress, depression and even suicide,” says Sasha Buchert, staff attorney at the Transgender Law Center. That organization, along with Lambda Legal, filed the petition on behalf of those individuals and the Transgender American Veterans Association, an organization with approximately 2,268 members around the country. Fulcher says this is about her mental well-being. “I’ve had good times here and there just like anybody else, but the majority of the time it was the unhappiness and uncertainty about who I am and not liking who I am, physically. You get sick from looking at yourself in the mirror,” she says. “Now I’ve found my answers … [but] I just feel like I’m not fully being able to be a woman.” The V.A. has not yet responded to a request for comment. In the petition, the legal team essentially makes four arguments. The first is that the V.A. already provides transition-related healthcare for transgender people, such as hormone replacement therapy and mental health services, so the ban is “arbitrary,” says Lambda Legal’s Dru Levasseur. (The V.A. issued a directive in 2011 indicating that staff must provide such care “without discrimination.”) The second is that the V.A. covers the same procedures that transgender people are seeking, such as mastectomies, for non-transgender and intersex veterans. The third, says Levasseur, is “the V.A. created this exclusion without examining any relevant data,” ignoring the “medical consensus” on the topic. On that point, the legal team has gathered materials to point to, such as a statement from the American Medical Association that “an established body of medical research demonstrates the effectiveness and medical necessity of mental health care, hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery” in treating people with gender dysphoria. That’s not to say that every transgender person needs or wants surgery, and having had more surgery does not make someone more transgender, cautions the Transgender Law Center’s Buchert, but those procedures can be “life-saving” for those who do want them. The fourth argument is the same one that the U.S. Attorney General is making to oppose a controversial law passed in North Carolina, one that seeks to ban transgender women from the women’s room and transgender men from the men’s: that discriminating against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination, which is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act. Though there is no federal law that explicitly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, advocates have increasingly been relying on the sex discrimination ban to win cases in federal courts and through administrative bodies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Buchert says the legal team is confident that appealing to the V.A. to rewrite this rule will work but that they’re willing to file a lawsuit if it does not. Blanket bans on surgery for transgender people, which Medicare lifted in 2014, are based on “outdated” modes of thinking, she says, such as the belief that such surgery is “experimental” or “cosmetic,” rather that a medically effective treatment for people who feel a severe incongruence between their bodies and innate sense of self. “I’m just not comfortable in my own skin,” says Gio Silva, the Army veteran named in the petition. “Since I was little kid I thought I don’t belong in this body.” Silva says he wants a mastectomy not just for transition-related reasons but also because he has large breasts that cause physical pain, a reason that non-transgender women seek such surgery. “I hurt every single day,” he says. “I did my time in the military and I was told, ‘Hey, if anything does happen, we got you. This is a brotherhood.’ And I don’t feel that.” Silva is currently living on unemployment benefits—transgender people as a demographic experience much higher rates of poverty and unemployment than the general public—so the notion of paying for such surgery himself seems impossible. The surgeries in question could cost anywhere from several thousand dollars to $50,000, but while that kind of bill can be crippling for individuals, the legal team says, several studies have found that those costs are often negligible for big insurers. And, says Levasseur, the cost of surgery is often smaller than the bills taxpayers will foot when transgender people turn to more destructive means of coping, such as substance abuse or attempting suicide. In 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs treated more than 2,500veterans for gender dysphoria, with the exception of providing surgical care. A study by UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates that 150,000 transgender Americans have or are currently serving in the military. Though a ban on their open military service is under review, it remains in place. Fulcher says that while she opposes the ban on surgery, the V.A. has been generally very supportive of her in an upending, stressful time. She attends a support group for transgender veterans organized by the V.A., goes there for counseling and gets hormone therapy from a V.A. healthcare site. “It’s sort of funny,” she says, “that they’ll provide you all the hormones and everything else to go halfway but they won’t finish the job.” by Katy Steinmetz
A highly anticipated monument honouring World War II veteran has grabbed the attention of onlookers, but unfortunately not for its craftsmanship. Only a few days after the unveiling of the statute depicting General William Darby, visitors noticed the word “American” had been misspelt on the $200,000 statue’s plaque, missing out the “I” and reading “Amercan” instead, 5 News reports. The bronze monument honouring General Darby, who founded the US Army Rangers, was installed on Monday and formally dedicated on Saturday in Fort Smith, Arkansas, after years of the effigy being absent from a plinth in the city’s Cisterna Park. Hundreds of people, including former Army Rangers and veterans from around the country, turned out to witness the statue’s unveiling, which was described by one local as the "greatest thing that ever happened to the city of Fort Smith." CGSC It took three years for the Darby Legacy Project to fund and organise the installation of the 12ft monument, It was funded by private donations and the sale of personalised dedication bricks, which cost $75 (£50), according to the project’s website. A spokesperson for the Darby Legacy Project told 5 News, the group are aware of the error and are in the process of correcting the mistake. Brigadier General William Orlando Darby was born in Fort Smith in 1911 and is best known for his organisation of the First Ranger Battalion during World War II. He died on 10 April 1945 after a shell burst in the middle of a group of assembled officers while he was issuing orders for the attack on Trento, Italy to cut off a German retreat. Two days later, on 2 May 1945, all German forces in Italy surrendered. General Darby, who was 34 at the time of his death, was posthumously promoted to brigadier general on 15 May 1945. “He was known as an exemplary leader in combat, and he always led his men into battle,” the Darby Legacy Project says. The life size monument is a recreation of documented pictures of General Darby riding a Harley Davidson during World War II. by Alexandra Sims
Vetmoji, the new emoji-keyboard app for Android and iPhone, is supposed to be some light-hearted fun for those in uniform. There’s a selection of silly faces in camouflage hats, a soundboard of phrases like “Bravo Zulu”, and gifs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America waving flags. The app, produced for IAVA with Kapps media, also contains a quiet flaw: when someone uses the Vetmoji keyboard, the keyboard can access all the data they type. The flaw was spotted in a review of the keyboard on the app story. User T-chuk2965 gave the keyboard one star, and wrote, in part: I was super excited when I got the email from IAVA about new military emojis. I gladly paid the $1.99 and then was told the app needs full access to my phone with a key logger. This allows the app to track and store sensitive information like credit card numbers and SS numbers. More importantly I can't communicate with my troops on drill activities or fellow employees as a police officer. I denied access and every time I type a message and click the emoji keyboard to add an emoji I get an additional pop up screen asking me allow access to this additional keyboard. T-chuk titled his review “OpSec”, which is military shorthand for “Operational Security.” The Pentagon defines Operational Security as “the process by which we protect unclassified information that can be used against us,” and broadcasting everything typed in a message to a third-party app seems to be a clear violation of that basic safety practice. The risk that a keyboard app is also a keylogger is an intrinsic risk in any keyboard app a user chooses to install. The Defense Technical Information Center listed keyloggers as malicious code, noting they can corrupt files and destroy or modify information, compromise that information and lose it, or give hackers access to sabotage systems. The Duqu malware was introduced into secure computer systems after the attacker used a keylogger to get credentials for that computer. In 2013, a Romanian hacker was sentenced to 21 months for, in part, using a keylogger to steal credit card information from Subway stores and others at the time of sale. The risk that a keyboard app is also a keylogger isn’t limited to the Vetmoji keyboard. It is, really, an intrinsic risk in any keyboard app a user chooses to download and install on her phone. As information security professional Lenny Zeltser writes: The users need to trust the keyboard developer not to capture keystrokes and other sensitive data beyond Language Modeling Data. Doing this could be done on purpose by a malicious keyboard app or by accident by an otherwise benign application. In this case, the keyboard could act as a powerful keylogger for the mobile device. That’s a risk that anyone takes when using a third-party keyboard on a mobile device. What makes it stand out with Vetmoji is the target audience includes servicemembers, whose keystrokes could give away personal information like credit card numbers and logins, as well as the location they’re deployed and any plans they might be coordinating. That’s not great. Or, in the words of Vetmoji, by Kelsey D. Atherton
Education is becoming increasingly important no matter what level of your career you are at. Therefore our transitioning Veterans need to be prepared to pursue the necessary education for their new career path. In order to do this they need to be able to use the benefits they earned while on active duty. As a Veteran they may not have had the luxury of attending college or obtaining certifications while on active duty due to various limitations in schedule such as various deployments both local and abroad, varying work shifts, family requirements, etc. As our Veterans transition out of the military they run into many of the issues highlighted below in relation to obtaining education and related benefits: Unsure which college or programs to enter into Lack of proper advising Issues with transferring credits Issues with use of GI Bill Lack of properly trained staff at colleges that understand the military education benefits Lack of accommodations for veterans outside main stream learning Overwhelmed with other responsibilities on top of education Studies in 2015 have shown that a large number of Veterans are getting Associate level degrees in liberal arts and general studies. Unfortunately this level of degree and course selection will not prepare the Veteran to be competitive with those that are getting Bachelor’s degrees or higher in the thriving segments of the market. This information alone highlights that there is a large gap in advising and supporting our Veterans on the proper education to receive. We need to ensure that they are being advised on the proper selection of degrees to ensure they are competitive on the market and can shorten the length of time they are looking for a job. On top of needing to get College degrees many fields also now require some type or level of certification, but which one is the right one. For example the information technology field has as many certifications available as you can imagine for any area possible. Being able to properly position yourself as a veteran to know which of these certifications is the right one can be challenging and overwhelming at times. Then once they have found what they believe to be the right degree or certification it becomes difficult to know which College or training company is the best to attend. In addition some veterans may have credits they obtained but are not enough for a full degree so they will need to be transferred to a new college. This can be cumbersome to get the credits transferred and then matched up to the new college’s criteria. Some veterans have military related challenges that are not accommodated in main stream class settings. Many colleges and universities provide on line learning and are ADA compliant for those with disabilities. Although I have highlighted many issues that Veterans face in relation to obtaining education and the related benefits, there are many colleges and universities that have robust Veterans based programs that will walk Veterans thru the maze of requirements to get on their way to getting their degree and using their benefits. They also provide life experience credit for certain degree requirements which will shorten the time to reach your goal. Bottom line is we need to make the educational opportunities and processes to obtain them more streamlined and accessible to our Veterans. Education is only one area of many that they are working on simultaneously to make a successful transition. We owe it to our Veterans to make all colleges and universities advocates for our veterans ability to gain the proper education. Landmark Life Coaching’s Mission is to honorably and respectfully serve courageous groundbreakers and transitioning veterans to persevere in defining and executing their future by providing an atmosphere of comradery and trust that honors their dedication and commitment. This will empower our clients to feel whole, honored, respected and fulfilled in defining and living their life purpose. by Dwayne Paro
(CNN) By now, you've probably seen or heard the viral story about the judge in North Carolina who spent a night in jail with his fellow veteran. Last month, that same court -- which handles criminal cases involving veterans -- held its first graduation. This "veterans' court" offers people returning from military service who have found themselves in trouble a more humane court experience focused on rehabilitation, and it has captured the imagination of the country. It's a welcome reprieve from the onslaught of examples we see every day of our broken criminal justice system, a bright spot in the midst of great darkness showing us that there is another way to treat people who make mistakes. A judge spending the night in jail with a veteran so he wouldn't be alone? This level of compassion for a fellow human being in need is so extraordinary in our justice system that it may be viewed as an anomaly. But it doesn't have to be. The court made famous by Judge Lou Olivera is not a traditional court, it's a veterans treatment court. And the bond between this judge and the men and women his court serves can be seen in action every single day in each of the more than 264 veterans treatment courts, and nearly 2,966 treatment courts, across the country. While some of our service men and women return home strengthened by their time in the military, veterans involved in the justice system are often struggling with underlying issues stemming from their service -- PTSD, military sexual trauma, brain injuries and substance dependence, to name just a few. Veterans treatment courts recognize that traditional, punitive sentencing doesn't address these root problems. Instead, in these courts, judges work with a team of professionals to ensure veterans are clinically assessed, connected with the evidence-based treatment and services they've earned through the VA, and paired with a volunteer veteran mentor who can guide them through the rigorous demands of the program. All of this support is focused on a single goal of putting each veteran on the road to recovery: getting sober, participating in treatment and counseling, finding employment or going back to school and repairing relationships with their family and community. This approach works, and not just for veterans. Veterans treatment courts are modeled after drug courts, the single most successful alternative to incarceration in our nation's history for leading people struggling with serious addiction out of the justice system and into healthy lives of long-term recovery. Treatment courts are principled about showing compassion, dignity and respect for the absolute value of every person. They're transforming our system from the inside out by helping to prevent people from carrying felony and misdemeanor criminal records; reducing drug use and recidivism; and improving education, employment, housing, and family stability. And they're changing how Americans think about what it means to serve justice. The fact is that these programs -- drug court, veterans' court, and youth court -- are working. Using the court system to focus on rehabilitation instead of just retribution results in people doing better things with their lives. It allows us to avoid the extreme brain drain that far too many neighborhoods are suffering through -- with countless people's talents for work and family wasted behind bars. At #cut50, an organization I co-founded to cut the prison population while making our communities safer, we find these results inspiring. Dealing with the root of the problem as opposed to simply punishing behavior has drastically reduces the risk of recidivism. These means fewer people will commit crimes once they have been through the treatment court. There are approximately 2.2 million Americans behind bars. Nearly 200,000 were veterans in 2011-2012, according to a study released late last year by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, and many would benefit from a treatment court, but do not have access to one. We must expand these innovative, life-saving programs so they're in reach of everyone in need. The fact is that hurt people hurt people -- and we can't break that cycle without allowing people to heal. It says something that this story about a small-town judge struck such a chord -- not just in the United States, but around the world. We're desperate for a system that values compassion above punishment, and promotes health, not handcuffs. The time has come to expand treatment courts, and to make retribution a last resort for use only if rehabilitation fails. By Jessica Jackson Sloan
“No man is an island.” I don’t remember the first time I heard that John Donne quotation, but I suspect, like much of what I heard back in high school English class, it didn’t inspire deep reflection at the time. Looking back through the lens of my time in the Marine Corps, though, it definitely rings true for me — and probably most other veterans — now. Those words have meant a lot of different things to different people over the years, but for me, it speaks to the importance of community. I was lucky enough to grow up in a small Kentucky town with a strong sense of community. My dad, my grandparents, teachers, coaches, friends — they all had a hand in shaping me to be the person I am today. After I joined the Marines, the men and women I served with became vital pieces of that community. Your community inspires you. It encourages you. Community gives you something to fight for and something to come home to. And for most Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors, that community eventually grows to include a family of your own. These days, I spend a lot of time talking about veterans’ transition to civilian employment. I have worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program and Toyota to develop an education curriculum and a resume building tool for veterans. Together, we work to help veterans develop a personal brand, to showcase their background, experiences and skill set in a way that civilian employers can understand and value. And it’s working. Veterans are marketing themselves to employers that increasingly recognize their value. The veteran employment landscape has improved dramatically in recent years, and I’m really proud to have been a small part of that effort. Despite these favorable changes for veterans, though, the spouses of our nation’s service members and veterans still face considerable challenges to finding meaningful employment opportunities and building their careers. These spouses, long a symbol of patriotism and sacrifice, represent an incredibly rich talent field for employers. But while these military and veteran spouses possess the education, work and volunteer experience, and soft skills (like tenacity and flexibility) that make them valuable employees, military spouses still face unemployment rates of roughly three times that of their civilian counterparts, and, by some estimates, more than 90% of military spouses are underemployed. Earlier this year, Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) announced that in 2016, the program would renew their efforts to push the issue of military spouse employment to the forefront of the conversation. This week HOH took another an important step toward that goal, announcing that my friend Bonnie Amos, the former first lady of the U.S. Marine Corps, has joined the program as a senior advisor and consultant. I know firsthand the deep level of commitment Bonnie has to our nation’s service members and their families. Her enthusiasm for being a positive force for change was obvious from my earliest conversations with her. After more than 40 years as a military spouse, she keenly understands the unique employment challenges faced by her fellow military spouses. But more than that, she knows the strength and character of the men and women who stand beside their service members, and recognizes the traits, like adaptability and tenacity, that make these same men and women valued employees and hard-working entrepreneurs. Every day, I am inspired by the way our veterans meet the challenge of transitioning to civilian employment head on. I am encouraged by the communities that rally together to support these veterans and the employers who recognize the unique value that veteran employees bring to their companies. Looking to the future, I am optimistic that those same communities and employers will find new and innovative ways to incorporate the talent pool that is the backbone of our military community — military sp ouses. And I am optimistic that Bonnie is up to the task of leading that charge. by Dakota Meyer
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's lawmakers have decided veterans should be exempt from having to pay a state fee to get a concealed carry permit. The Senate gave final passage to the proposal with a 37-1 vote Tuesday, sending it to the governor's desk. A five-year concealed carry permit costs $125 and a lifetime permit costs $500, with veterans currently charged half the fee's price tag. The bill by Rep.Tanner Magee, a Houma Republican, would do away with the fees for veterans entirely.
Newswise — Military veterans are more likely to report delays in seeking necessary healthcare, compared to the US general population, reports a study in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer. Such self-reported care delays may be related to having Veterans Administration (VA) health coverage—and to long waiting times in the VA system, according to the study by Doohee Lee, PhD, of Marshall University, South Charleston, W.V., and Charles Begley, PhD, of the University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston. "Access problems within the VA system may be creating disparities in care for this vulnerable and deserving population that need to be mitigated," the researchers write. Veterans Report More Delays in HealthcareDrs. Lee and Begley performed a secondary analysis of data from a nationally representative survey, performed in 2010-11, to assess delays in seeking healthcare, in the US population overall and among military veterans in particular. About 11,000 Americans were asked if they had "put off or postponed getting medical care they thought they needed" anytime in the past year. The results were compared for groups with different types of insurance coverage. Most respondents had private health insurance; just under two percent (1.72 percent) were covered by veterans' insurance. "Those in veterans' care were more likely than the rest of the surveyed population to report care delay," the researchers write. Nearly 29 percent of veterans reported they had delayed seeking needed medical care, compared to the national rate of 17 percent. Reasons for care delays differed between insurance groups. The veterans reported difficulties in making appointments by phone and in getting transportation to the doctor's office (as did Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries). After controlling for personal factors and region of the country, veterans were 1.76 times more likely to delay needed medical care, compared to privately-insured individuals. "Such delays may have an effect on veterans' propensity to seek healthcare as well, which could be detrimental to their health," according to Drs. Lee and Begley. The findings are consistent with recently reported problems accessing care within the VA system. Prompted by reports of lengthy wait times in veterans diagnosed with health problems, investigation found manipulation of waiting times and inappropriate scheduling practices at some VA medical centers. Delays in seeking care are an important issue in the US healthcare system, working against efforts to improve high-quality, effective healthcare. Previous studies—mainly comparing patients with public (Medicare and Medicaid) with private insurance—have reported that type of health insurance coverage affects delays in receiving care. The new study finds that delays in seeking health care are common in the US population, and that the problem is most pronounced for veterans. Nearly three out of ten veterans report delays in seeking care over the past year, and there may be a "causal link" with the VA access problems. Drs. Lee and Begley believe their study has important implications for policies related to reducing care delays—especially among veterans. They conclude, "More studies are needed to expand our understanding on the magnitude and current status of care delay and offer specific steps to rectify related issues on delayed care if reported in military health care." Click here to read "Delays in Seeking Health Care: Comparison of Veterans and the General Population." Article: "Delays in Seeking Health Care: Comparison of Veterans and the General Population." (doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000420) ###
We salute and thank Dimit Truck and Trailor Repair in Piketon, Ohio! They recently joined our annual sponsorship program with Veteran's View. If you're going to get your tuck or trailer repaired in and around central Ohio, please consider choosing Dimit Truck and Trailor repair in Piketon. Veteran's View is proud to recommend Dimit Truck and Trailer repair to our veterans and their families, as well those individuals wanting to support businesses that support veterans. Veteran's View caters to informational needs of all veteran groups, such as the VFW, American Legion, Wounded Warriors and other active and retired military groups. It's through the advertising support of Dimit Truck and Trailor Repair that we're able to be an independent voice that is dedicated to informing, educating and promoting news to veterans. Below are some of the services offered by Dimit Truck and Trailor: Some of our Trailer Repair Services Include:
For plenty of Americans, filing taxes this month was an overwhelming process. Our tax code is thousands of pages long. The rules are complex and the procedures vary by state — even municipality. And for our nation’s veterans, filing as a civilian for one of the first times can be downright daunting after time spent in the service. As you likely experienced this year, other than disability pay, most of your income is now taxable. Certain tax advantages, like tax-free allowances, no longer apply. Now that the deadline has come and gone, it might be tempting to take a big sigh of relief and forget about taxes until next April. But if you start thinking about your filing now, there are plenty of tricks to make next tax season less taxing. With a little planning ahead, you can cash in a few money saving tips and make sure you don’t end up paying too much. First things first, understand if you qualify as a veteran.For tax purposes, a veteran is an individual who has served at least 24 continuous months in active duty and has not been released with “dishonorable” status upon discharge. Then get to know your benefits — and your eligibility. There are a number of benefits and entitlements that you and your family members receive that are not taxable at the federal level. Some of the most common benefits include: Disability Pension Disability Compensation Education and Training Allowances Dependents and Survivors Life Insurance Housing Grants Compensated Work Therapy Program Keep in mind that each of these benefits stipulates its own eligibility rules. Don’t miss the deadline: you must file by April 17 in 2017.While military personnel stationed in combat zones are granted automatic filing extensions, if civilians can’t file by April 17, 2017, they need to request an extension. Extensions are generally granted until October 17. However, if you owe money, you still must pay by April 17 or face interest charges and penalties. Consider where you live and work. When deciding where to live and work after completing your service, it makes good sense to look up the income tax rates, as well as property tax rates, in the areas you’re considering. For instance, if you decide to buy a home, some states offer property tax reductions for veterans. Your new career may also offer tax breaks, so also consider researching common tax deductions used in your field. For example, if you join the National Guard, you may be able to deduct uniform expenses and mileage related to your service. Or if you work as a police officer, you can often deduct expenses for uniform cleaning or union dues. Make the most of your tax deductions. The first way to reduce your taxes is through deductions. The most common ones are your property tax, charitable contributions, mortgage interest, student loan interest, as well as medical and non-reimbursed job-related expenses that exceed a certain portion of your income. For example, if you’ve searched for a job, you can deduct expenses for creating a résumé and cover letter, related transportation costs, hiring an employment agency, and business networking events, to name a few. Recognize that deductions aren’t automatic. You have a choice between a “standard deduction” and taking an “itemized deduction.” To get things like your mortgage interest or a write-off for a non-reimbursed, work-related expense deducted, you’ll need to list them out on your tax return. Consider tax credits to reduce the taxes you owe even further. The most common tax credits are child or dependent care tax credits, education tax credits, energy tax credits, and earned income tax credits. Take advantage of free services for help and advice.There are plenty of resources that provide free tax-filing services to veterans. You may qualify for free online tax filing through the IRS, but be sure to check with your local tax authorities and the IRS.gov website because qualifying factors may change by location and situation. The Resource Center at Wounded Warrior Projectcan also connect you to local resources for free tax preparation. Check your tax benefits every year.Join eBenefits.va.gov, a joint website of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Department of Defense, to make sure you’re taking advantage of every possible tax break every year. The eBenefits site houses the resources and self-service capabilities for veterans all in one place.