VA News of interest to Veterans



What are you worth?

Volunteers are an invaluable resource for the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is impossible to calculate the amount of caring and sharing that VAVS volunteers provide to veteran patients. VAVS volunteers are a priceless asset to the Nation's veterans and to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

If you have free time on your hands check it out, it's rewarding.


All Hands:

New licenses to help identify veterans

Tuesday, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles rolled out its new veterans license
Subsequently, the following information was acquired to share with all Florida Veterans:

The DMV connects with Veterans

Florida implemented the “Florida Vets Connect” initiative in July, a program designed to better recognize Florida's veterans and provide them with information about the benefits they may be entitled to collect. So far, nearly 30,000 Florida veterans have been contacted.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles allows veterans to identify their veteran status when applying for or renewing a license or ID card. The Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs then uses that contact information to make sure the vets know about the benefits to which they're entitled. Since the DHSMV is using existing computer systems, the new program doesn't cost the taxpayers any additional money.

According to the state, more than 1.6 million veterans live in Florida, but as of July, the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs only had accurate contact information for approximately 700,000. Nationwide, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine reported more than $22 billion in veterans' pension funds go unclaimed annually.

If you are a veteran but you're not registered with the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs, be sure to let the DHSMV know so that your name can be added to the database.

Press Release: 'Florida Vets Connect' Connects Nearly 30,000 Florida Veterans with Benefits


CONTACT: Kevin Cate, (850) 413-2842 TALLAHASSEE – Florida CFO Alex Sink today announced that the ‘Florida Vets Connect' initiative, designed to better recognize Florida's veterans and provide them with information about the benefits they may be entitled to through their brave service to our country, has already contacted nearly 30,000 Florida veterans. “The success of this initiative is a testament to the commitment of our state to honor our veterans with the benefits that they've earned,” said CFO Sink. “Every day of the year, but especially on the eve of Veterans Day, it's important to recognize the sacrifice of our veterans and their families.” This joint initiative with the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs (FDVA) and the Florida Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) allows veterans to voluntarily identify their veteran status when applying for or renewing a license or ID card. Their contact information is then used by Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs to ensure Florida's veterans are provided information about the benefits to which they may be entitled. At no cost to taxpayers, ‘Florida Vets Connect' utilizes driver license offices as an intake point to gather information on veterans not currently in the state system. The DHSMV collects, stores, and makes this information available to the Department of Veterans' Affairs. The program began during the regular DHSMV system update in July. “I commend CFO Sink and her team for the idea and for facilitating implementation of Florida Vets Connect,” said DHSMV Executive Director Julie L. Jones. “The initiative uses the Department's existing resources to help more veterans gain access to benefits they have earned through their military service, and DHSMV is proud to partner with FDVA.” "We also acknowledge the superb efforts of the late LeRoy Collins Jr. in implementing this worthwhile initiative," said FDVA Interim Executive Director Bob Milligan. More than 1.6 million veterans live in Florida, but as of July, the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs only had accurate contact information for approximately 700,000. Nationwide, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine reported more than $22 billion in veterans' pension funds go unclaimed annually.



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When: Monday – Friday (except for holidays)

Where: Broward Blvd. Park and Ride (Tri-Rail) to Broward VA Clinic and back

Times: Departs Park and Ride at:

7:00am, 9:00am, 11:00am, 3:00pm

Departs Broward VA Clinic at:

8:00am, 10:00am, 12:00pm, 4:00pm




Florida State Park Vet Passes: State Park Fees for Veterans S.B.2256 introduced by Sen. Andy Gardiner (R-9) and H.B.1145 introduced by Rep. Leonard Bembry (D-70) has been passed and sent to the and or gratus Entrance Passes to eligible members of the military community who present proof of eligibility:

•  25% discounted Annual Entrance Passes for active duty and honorably discharged veterans of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard or reserve units of the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard.

•  No cost Life Entrance Passes for veterans with service related disabilities and surviving spouses of members of the US military who have fallen in combat.

The discounted Florida State Parks Annual Entrance Pass is only available for purchase at any Florida State Park staffed ranger station. The no cost annual Life pass can only be obtained at a staffed ranger station. A list of staffed ranger stations can be found at . Satisfactory written documentation to prove eligibility includes current military identification card showing the bearer as active duty, reserve or retired member of a branch of the Department of Defense, or Personal identification (i.e.: driver license) and:

•  Most recent DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, showing the named individual's Character of Service as Honorable, or

•  Other current official documentation from the Department of Defense, or one of its branches, naming the bearer as active duty, reserve, veteran or retired military, or

•  Current official documentation from the Department of Defense, or one of its branches, naming the bearer as having sustained a service-related disability, or

•  The final DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, showing the date of death as the same date as the date of separation, and Marriage certificate or license, or death certificate showing the bearer as the spouse of the military member who has fallen in combat.

National Park Passports: In addition to the senior pass available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are at least 62 years old for a one-time processing fee of $10, the following can be obtained:

•  Access Pass: A Free Pass for People with Disabilities. It is a special permit for people of any age who are medically determined to be blind or have other permanent disabilities. It offers the same benefits as the Senior Pass, but it is completely without charge. No processing fee is charged for the Access Pass. Like the Senior Pass to national parks, the Access Pass cannot be purchased by mail or online. It must be obtained in person at a federal area where an entrance fee is charged. To qualify for the free Access Pass to national parks, you will need to provide one of the following: a statement from a licensed physician, a document issued by a Federal agency such as the Veteran's Administration, proof of Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income, or a document issued by a state agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency.

•  A One-Year National Parks Pass for People Under Age 62. If you are under age 62 and do not qualify for a Senior Pass to national parks, you can still save money by purchasing an Annual Pass, which costs $80 and is good for one year from the date of purchase. At national parks, monuments and recreation areas that charge a per-vehicle fee, the Annual Pass to national parks admits you and your passengers without charge. Where a per-person fee is charged, the pass admits you plus three other adults (children under 16 are not subject to charges). There are three ways to purchase an Annual Pass to U.S. National Parks. In person at a national park that charges an entrance fee, online from the National Park Service Annual Pass site , or by calling 1-888-ASK-USGS, Ext. 1

•  Volunteer Pass. If you enjoy the national parks and want to help out by becoming a volunteer you can get an complementary annual pass for your efforts. You'll receive the same discounts and national park benefits as the Annual Pass described above, but the Volunteer Pass is available to volunteers who provide 500 hours of cumulative service. For more information about the Volunteer Pass to our national parks, call 1-888-ASK-USGS.

VA MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT:    Veterans traveling to and from Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities started being reimbursed for their travel at a higher rate effective 17 NOV. The increase, from 28.5 cents per mile to 41.5 cents per mile, was mandated by law this year, and Congress provided funding for the increase. Veterans who have service-connected disabilities, receive VA pensions or have low incomes are eligible for the reimbursement. The deductible that applies to certain mileage reimbursements will stay the same for now, at $7.77 for a one-way trip and $15.54 for a round trip, with a cap of $46.62 per month. On Jan. 9, these deductibles will decrease to $3 for a one-way trip, $6 for a round trip, with a maximum of $16 per month.

VA PTSD CLAIM SUPPORT: There has been some confusion concerning what is a decoration for Valor in combat to support PTSD claims filed due to combat.  The decorations on the below list are the only decorations recognized for Valor in combat.  If the Veteran has one of these decorations, he (or she) does not need a diagnosis of PTSD, as exposure to combat is conceded by the VA.  They only need to complete VA form 21-0781 detailing stressful incidences to the best of their ability, and provide a "Stressor Statement" detailing the symptoms they're experiencing (see attached list). There can be other acceptable evidence in the form of official Unit Records, Diaries and Ship's Deck Logs on occasion.

•    Air Force Cross
•    Air Medal with "V" Device
•    Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device
•    Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device
•    Combat Action Badge
•    Combat Action Ribbon (Note: Prior to FEB 69, the Navy Achievement Medal with "V" Device was awarded.)
•    Combat Aircrew Insignia
•    Combat Infantry/Infantryman Badge
•    Combat Medical Badge
•    Distinguished Flying Cross
•    Distinguished Service Cross
•    Joint Service Commendation Medal with "V" Device
•    Medal of Honor
•    Navy Commendation Medal with "V" Device
•    Navy Cross
•    Purple Heart, and/or
•    Silver Star.

Myth: Common Belief is that most Vietnam veterans were drafted.
Fact: 2/3 of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. 2/3 of the men who served in WW II were drafted. Approximately 70% of those killed in Vietnam were volunteers.

Myth: The media have reported that suicides among Vietnam veterans range from 50,000 to 100,000 - 6 to 11 times the non-Vietnam veteran population.
Fact: Mortality studies show that 9,000 is a better estimate. The CDC Vietnam Experience Study Mortality Assessment showed that during the first 5 years after discharge, deaths from suicide were 1.7 times more likely among Vietnam veterans than non-Vietnam veterans. After that initial post-service period the rate of suicides is less. 

Myth: Common belief is that a disproportionate number of blacks were killed in the Vietnam War.
Fact: 86% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians, 12.5% were black, 1.2% were other races. Black fatality figures were proportional to the number of blacks in the U.S. population at the time and slightly lower than the proportion of blacks in the Army at the close of the war.

Myth: Common belief is that the war was fought largely by the poor and uneducated.
Fact: Servicemen who went to Vietnam from well-to-do areas had a slightly elevated risk of dying because they were more likely to be pilots or infantry officers.  Vietnam Veterans were the best educated forces our nation had ever sent into combat. 79% had a high school education or better.

Myth: The Common belief in the U.S. is that the domino theory was proved false.
Fact: The domino theory was accurate. The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, Philippines , Indonesia , Malaysia , Singapore and Thailand stayed free of Communism because of the U.S. commitment to Vietnam . The Indonesians threw the Soviets out in 1966 because of America 's commitment in Vietnam . Without that commitment, Communism would have swept all the way to the Malacca Straits that is south of Singapore and of great strategic importance to the free world.  The Vietnam War was the turning point for Communism.

Myth: The common belief is that the fighting in Vietnam was not as intense as in World War II.
Fact: The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter. One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty. 58,148 were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.7 million who served. Although the percent that died is similar to other wars, amputations or crippling wounds were 300% higher than in World War II ....75,000 Vietnam veterans are severely disabled. MEDEVAC helicopters flew nearly 500,000 missions. Over 900,000 patients were airlifted (nearly half were American). The average time lapse between wounding to hospitalization was less than one hour. As a result, less than one percent of all Americans wounded, who survived the first 24 hours, died.

Myth: Kim Phuc, the little nine year old Vietnamese girl running naked from the napalm strike near Trang Bang on 8 June 1972 was burned by Americans bombing Trang Bang.
Fact: No American had involvement in this incident near Trang Bang that burned Phan Thi Kim Phuc. The planes doing the bombing near the village were VNAF (Vietnam Air Force) and were being flown by Vietnamese pilots in support of South Vietnamese troops on the ground. The Vietnamese pilot who dropped the napalm in error is currently living in the United States . Even the AP photographer, Nick Ut, who took the picture, was Vietnamese. The incident in the photo took place on the second day of a three day battle between the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) who occupied the village of Trang Bang and the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam ) who were trying to force the NVA out of the village. Reports in the news media that an American commander ordered the air strike are incorrect. There were no Americans involved in any capacity. The Commanding General of TRAC at that time said Americans had nothing to do with controlling VNAF.

Myth: The United States lost the war in Vietnam .
Fact: The American military was not defeated in Vietnam . The American military did not lose a battle of any consequence. From a military standpoint, it was almost an unprecedented performance. General Westmoreland said the war was a major military defeat for the VC and NVA. The United States did not lose the war in Vietnam , the South Vietnamese did.

More than 85,000 Serve Veterans as VA Volunteers

Secretary: Volunteer Week a Time to Salute Service to Vets

WASHINGTON  – As the nation prepares to mark National Volunteer Week, April 27 to May 3, officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) encourage more Americans to join the Department's corps of 85,000 volunteers.

“Volunteers make important contributions to the operation of VA hospitals, nursing homes and national cemeteries,” said Dr. James B. Peake, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “I encourage everyone to consider becoming a VA volunteer.  These dedicated private citizens prove that one person can make a difference in the lives of our veterans.”

The 11.6 million hours of service donated last year by VA volunteers was equivalent to 5,500 full-time employees, the Department estimated.  VA officials say the donated time was worth nearly $220 million.

When VA's volunteer program began in 1946, volunteers helped primarily in VA medical centers, escorting patients to appointments, helping with administrative duties and overseeing recreational programs for patients.

In recent years, however, the role of VA volunteers has expanded.  In the health care arena, the volunteers are involved in helping VA medical staff in hospices, outpatient clinics and home-based programs.  Volunteers are also active at many of the 125 national cemeteries managed by the Department, where they place flags on gravesites, provide military honors and help with landscaping.

Volunteers are also important in programs reaching out to homeless veterans, especially annual “stand downs” held in many communities to provide health check ups, clothing, and benefits assistance to the homeless.

To become a volunteer, contact the nearest VA facility, or complete a form on the Internet at .

VA Voluntary Service

VA's Voluntary Service is one of the largest volunteer programs in the federal government.  Men and women from their teens to their nineties become volunteer partners on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care team.  Some bring special skills and knowledge, while others have a desire to explore and learn.  Many come with a gift for working directly with patients, while others bring dependability to assignments behind the scenes.  Voluntary Service matches the volunteer to the assignment, provides orientation and training for volunteers and maintains an awards program to recognize volunteer service.

Over the past 60 years, VA volunteers have donated more than 689 million hours of service worth an estimated $12.9 billion.  In fiscal year 2007, 85,428 active volunteers contributed a total of more than 11.6 million hours of service -- equal to 5,574 full-time employees worth $218 million.  Volunteers and their organizations generated another $59 million last year in direct gifts and donations.

Volunteer Activities

VA volunteers perform a variety of duties at VA medical centers, national cemeteries, regional offices and regional counsel offices.  At medical centers, their roles range from traditional ones, such as escorting patients and administrative duties, to creative activities, such as teaching arts and crafts and developing newsletters.  As VA has expanded its care of patients into the community, volunteers now assist VA staff in hospice programs, outpatient clinics, home-based primary care and outreach centers.

At cemeteries, volunteers provide military honors at burial services, create memorials, plant trees and flowers, build historical trails and place flags on graves for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. 

Volunteers have been particularly active in supporting community programs aimed at reaching and serving the homeless in one- to three-day events offering a variety of services.  Volunteers also have become an integral part of national and local "showcase events" aimed at introducing people with disabilities back to mainstream activities.  These include the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games (the largest wheelchair athletic meet in the world), the National Veterans Golden Age Games and the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. 

Corporate volunteers play a strong role in these events, setting the pace for the future of VA Voluntary Service, along with a strong and growing youth volunteer program that is introducing teenagers and college students to careers and community service.  In VA medical centers, young volunteers work in such areas as audiology, speech pathology, dietetics and physical therapy.  Scout groups assist in landscaping and decorating at VA national cemeteries.