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Veterans Can Qualify for Increased Disability due to TBI

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Veterans Can Qualify for Increased Disability due to TBI

 

Veterans Can Qualify for Increased Disability due to TBI

 

By Debbie Gregory

Over the last several years, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been thrust into the forefront of the consciousness of the medical community and the general public. This is in large part due to recent combat operations and subsequent recognition of this potentially “silent injury.”

Traumatic brain injury is characterized by both physical and psychological impairments, and oftentimes, veterans suffer from residual effects of TBI. In those cases, the VA may not recognize those residual symptoms as being caused by traumatic brain injury, and this creates a limitation on the benefits a veteran can receive.

There has been a big increase in the number of veterans and servicemembers being diagnosed with TBI. Issues caused by TBI include cognitive deficits, speech, language, sensory, perceptual, vision, hearing, smell, taste, and emotional, social and physical changes.

TBI symptoms may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Depression or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Difficulty speaking or slurring words
  • Difficulty walking or loss of coordination
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Headaches
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tingling or numbness of the arms and legs

Individuals with a history of TBI often receive a rating and compensation for “disability”. In order for a veteran to receive the highest overall rating due to TBI, he or she should file a claim for every symptom caused by TBI and classify it as secondary to TBI, not just the overall diagnosis of TBI.

For veterans who have already filed a claim for general TBI, they should file each unrated symptom as a new claim and state that each TBI symptom is “secondary to TBI.”  

Veterans who believe that the VA has underrated their conditions should get a second opinion from an accredited attorney or a veteran’s service officer.  If this is done less than one year after the rating decision is issued, the veteran may be able to appeal the decision to maximize the backpay.

Is Using Smart Drugs to Help the Military a Good Idea?

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Is Using Smart Drugs to Help the Military a Good Idea

Is Using Smart Drugs to Help the Military a Good Idea?

By Debbie Gregory

You may have never heard of nootropics, but these so-called “smart drugs” could help our servicemembers by improving cognitive and executive functions that could lead to an increase in intelligence.

Nootropics and smart drugs are natural or synthetic substances that can be taken to improve mental performance in healthy people.

Militaries throughout the world have used or are using drugs to improve performance of soldiers by suppressing hunger, increasing the ability to sustain effort without food, increasing and lengthening wakefulness and concentration, suppressing fear, reducing empathy, and improving reflexes and memory recall.

The word nootropic was coined in 1972 by a Romanian psychologist and chemist, Corneliu E. Giurgea, from the Greek words for “mind” and “bend” or “turn.”

Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world. It’s naturally found in coffee, cocoa, tea, kola nuts and guarana and added to many sodas, energy drinks and medications.

Probably the most well-known and effective prescription smart drug is Adderall. It is used as a treatment for ADHD and has been shown to increase motivation in individuals.

Alpha GPC and Racetams, sold over the counter, have shown potential enhancements in long-term memory, spatial memory, and working memory.  The neuropeptide Noopept has the potential to enhance discipline, memory, learning, and focus. It is similar to the Racetams family of smart drugs, yet more powerful.

In the United States military, modafinil has been approved for use on certain Air Force missions, and it is being investigated for other uses. As of November 2012, modafinil is the only drug approved by the Air Force as a “go pill” for fatigue management.

Synthetic nootropic supplements like Noopept and piracetam are widely available, but research on their effectiveness in healthy adults is lacking.

Many natural nootropics are used in alternative medicine, but their effects are typically more subtle and slower acting. They’re sometimes taken in combination to boost their effectiveness.

The use of nootropics and smart drugs is on the rise in today’s society, but more research is needed to better understand their benefits.

 

States Join FTC to Target Fraudulent Military Charities

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States Join FTC to Target Fraudulent Military Charities

 

States Join FTC to Target Fraudulent Military Charities

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Many charities do a great job supporting our nation’s military and veterans, but there are some charities that exploit donor generosity. Now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has joined forces with the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) to educate consumers so that they can make better choices with their donated funds.

Operation Donate with Honor is a nationwide law enforcement and education initiative to stop veteran-related charity fraud. Charity regulators from 70 offices, including every state, Washington D.C., Guam, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico, joined the FTC in this initiative, announcing more than 100 law enforcement actions targeting veteran-related charities and fundraisers. This unprecedented cooperative effort signals that charity scammers who prey on Americans’ patriotism and generosity should beware…law enforcement is watching – and taking action.

“Not only do fraudulent charities steal money from patriotic Americans, they also discourage contributors from donating to real Veterans’ charities,” said Peter O’Rourke, Acting Secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

To make sure you donate wisely, it’s a good idea to do your research, ask questions, be careful how you pay, and watch out for scammers and spoofers.

For more information on Operation Donate with Honor, along with details of two complaints filed against organizations as part of the initiative, visit www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/business-blog/2018/07/operation-donate-honor-law-enforcers-unite-challenge.

 

GI Benefits and YOU

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GI Benefits and YOU

GI Benefits and YOU

 

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

It is “back to school” season across the country. Our college campuses are getting ready to welcome a new crop of freshmen students with open arms – and some are getting ready to welcome our military veterans into the ranks of their student body. Unavoidably, the cost of a four-year degree is on the rise. While there are a host of private grants, scholarships and financing available – active military, select reservists and National Guard members earn education benefits that will help make a post-service education more affordable.

Depending on where you attend school, your GI Benefits might just cover all of your expenses. For example, if you are attending a public college or university, you can expect to have your tuition covered and paid directly to your school. Additionally, the post 9/11 GI Bill provides a monthly housing allowance as well as an annual supply allowance.

In order to qualify for GI Benefits, you need to have served at least two years of active duty and have completed high school (or have a HS equivalency certificate). During your first year of active duty, your contribution needs to be $100 per month. You can also quality under VEAP (Veteran’s Educational Assistance Program). Once you have served and contributed the minimum to qualify, you are eligible to apply for benefits through the VA. Your initial application may take as long as 10 weeks, so allowing for enough time is critical.

Everyone’s life path is different – so while some soldiers look to enroll as soon as they are no longer serving, some may have other plans in mind. The GI Bill protects these plans as well, as veterans have 15 years to apply for benefits after their most recent period of active duty. Once your application is submitted, your benefits will cover up to your first 36 months of school.

There are so many options when expanding an education. Some higher learning institutions pride themselves on working with military personnel and veterans. St. Bonaventure University in New York boasts a strong ROTC program – but it also makes it easy for active personnel to put a degree on hold to serve overseas.  Columbia Southern University in Alabama boasts an extensive selection of online degree programs as well as open enrollment, catering to the hectic schedules and unpredictable nature of military scheduling.

Colorado State University has a devoted team of advisors dedicated to assisting military personnel and veterans. So much that they even have a special “Military and Veteran Student Visit Day” next month. Drexel, in Philadelphia, PA, has a unbeatable online degree and course offering. Don’t forget to check out Touro University Worldwide – an online program that makes obtaining a degree easier for those of us who need to move around.

Between the GI Benefits and the institutions who are actively trying to work with veterans, now is a fantastic time to start a pursuit of a degree!

Limiting GI Bill Transfer Plan – Is It Fair?

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Limiting GI Bill Transfer Plan – Is It Fair

Limiting GI Bill Transfer Plan – Is It Fair?

By Debbie Gregory.

 

The Defense Department’s new rules on transferring GI Bill benefits to dependents have House members demanding a reversal to the plan, with 83 lawmakers calling the new policy  “unacceptable.”

Last month, the Pentagon said it was curbing the window in which service members could transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to immediate family members.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn) who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, led the bipartisan effort to rally members of Congress in opposition.

Previously, military members could transfer benefits at any time, as long as they had at least six years of service. Under the new rules, set to take effect next July, they will need to not only meet the six-year benchmark, but also be approved to serve four additional years and to have completed fewer than 16 years of service.

The lawmakers penned a letter to defense Secretary James Mattis late last month, saying “Eliminating the ability to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to family members after honorably completing 16 years of service sends exactly the wrong message to those who have chosen the military as their long-term career, and sets a dangerous precedent for the removal of other critical benefits as members approach military retirement.”

They continued, “Once a service member meets the requirements for transferring Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to an eligible family member, we must uphold our end of the commitment. This change in policy is unacceptable, and we call upon you to swiftly reverse this decision.”

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the American Legion have joined in, criticizing the change.

The American Legion opposes “the curtailment of veterans’ earned benefits,” said Legion spokesman retired Lt. Col. Joe Plenzler. “We understand the minimum time-in-service for transferability eligibility, and that makes sense from a retention perspective, but the 16-year transfer or lose rule makes no sense to us as DOD has articulated it and disadvantages the veteran when it comes to the use of this earned benefit,” Plenzler said.

The Pentagon says more than $20 billion in education benefits has been passed to service members and dependents since the Post-9/11 GI Bill was passed in 2009.

 

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