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Mid South Veterans & Families Support Initiative

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Veterans and Veteran Organizations and Supporters
The Cook County Department of Veterans Affairs will host the 50th. Vietnam War Commemoration on Wednesday, August 1, 2018.
This commemoration will take place at the Chicago Botanic Gardens at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL.    We would like to show our appreciation and thank the veterans for their service.
Each Vietnam era Veteran will receive the Commemoration Pin and a Certificate of Appreciation. .
Any United States Veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the period of:  November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975 (regardless of location) is eligible to receive the lapel pin. If the veteran is deceased, the family member can fill out the application and we will have a special certificate for the deceased veteran.
Please fill out the attached (fillable) 50th. Vietnam War Commemoration application and send back to:
Cook County Veterans Affairs – Deadline is July 13, 2018
You may send back by: Email, Fax, or Mail to the following:
Email:  veterans.affairs@cookcountyil.gov
FAX: (312) 603-4479 or
Mail:       Cook County Department of Veterans Affairs
                 Bureau of Administration
                 118 N. Clark, Room 801
                 Chicago, IL. 60602
Any questions, please call me at (312) 603-6423
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Bill Browne – Director
Cook County Veterans Affairs
Bureau of Administration I Cook County Government
118 N. Clark, Room 801 I Chicago, IL. 60602
Office: 312-603-6423 l  Mobile: 312-898-7408
Email: Bill.Browne@cookcountyil.gov  
Website: http://www.cookcountyil.gov/agency/veterans-affairs
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In Case You Missed It:  The Center for Minority Veterans is sharing recent news stories that may be of interest to minority Veterans, service members, and their supporters on a weekly basis.
06/12/2018 06:00 PM EDT
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps Veteran Samuel Tom Holiday.  Samuel served during World War II. [From VAntage Point]
We honor his service.
06/12/2018 10:23 AM EDT
This June, VA joins the nation in recognizing Men’s Health Month–a time to spread awareness of preventable health issues and encourage early detection of disease among men and boys.  Activities including screenings, media appearances, health fairs and other educational and outreach events will be held to teach men how to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. [From VAntage Point]
06/12/2018 10:08 AM EDT
VA, in collaboration with PsychArmor Institute, a national nonprofit that provides online education and support to Americans who work with, live with or care for military service members, Veterans and their families, recently launched an online suicide-prevention training video, titled “SAVE,” which is designed to equip anyone who interacts with Veterans to demonstrate care, support and compassion when talking with a Veteran who could be at risk for suicide.
SAVE which stands for “Signs, Ask, Validate, Encourage and Expedite,” offers simple steps anyone – whether a treatment provider, clinician, friend or family member – can take when talking with Veterans at risk for suicide. [From VAntage Point]
06/12/2018 08:10 AM EDT
There was a Marine visiting family on Guam for five days during the little free time he had before returning to fight a bloody battle in Vietnam.  But the same day he reunited with his unit, he became a casualty of the hotly contested war. [From The Guam Daily Post]
06/12/2018 08:10 AM EDT
We congratulate the Filipino Community of Guam on celebrating the 120th anniversary of Filipino Independence from Spain.  The special day was marked Tuesday with a flag-raising ceremony at the Reef Hotel in Tumon, and the annual Philippine Independence Day Ball will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at the University of Guam Calvo Field House. [From Pacific Daily News]
06/11/2018 02:09 PM EDT
If you didn’t have to worry about a down payment, what would your dream home look like?  From first time homebuyers to seasoned homeowners, Veterans of all ages may qualify for a VA home loan, a benefit that can be reused. [From VAntage Point]
06/11/2018 11:09 AM EDT
Veterans face two separate challenges to the VA that have come to a boil this week – one from Trump, one from the Republican House.  One concerns Trump and the makeup of a commission focused on closing VA facilities.  The other concerns transferring funding of Veterans’ healthcare from VA facilities to private entities. [From Forbes]
06/07/2018 06:00 PM EDT
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Marc Ortiz.  Marc served from 1999 to 2005. [From VAntage Point]
We honor your service, Marc!
06/06/2018 04:11 PM EDT
Years before Will and Grace became a groundbreaking hit TV show and even before comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out, Ralphy Lozano was standing up for the LGBTQ community.  In popular hangout spots, such as bars and restaurants, around his traditionalist town, the teen and his high school-aged friends gathered and refused to hide their true selves, essentially disrupting the status quo. [From REMEZCLA]
06/06/2018 07:28 AM EDT
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project hosted a World War II Filipino Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Presentation May 6 at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikīkī Beach Resort. [From MidWeek]
06/06/2018 07:27 AM EDT
A Filipina American is running for a Congress seat to represent the 23rd district in Texas in November.  Gina Ortiz Jones, 37, who won the Democratic primary runoff, is a former Army intelligence officer who served in Iraq. [From GMA News Online]
06/06/2018 07:27 AM EDT
Women of color are making history this year, winning key primary election races in Texas and across the country.  Here in Texas, Lupe Valdez became the first Latina to win a major party nomination for governor, and in Georgia, Stacey Abrams is the first African American woman to win a major party’s nomination for governor. [From TribTalk]

VA Changes Gulf War Veterans Need to Know

There have been some changes to the eligibility and claims period for Gulf War Veterans concerning presumptive illnesses. Because of the mystery of the illnesses Gulf War Veterans have experienced, the rules seem to be ever changing, and we expect that to possibly continue into the future. Studies on the illnesses many Gulf War Veterans experienced continue to be conducted to find causes, treatment, and But for now, here are the changes that Veterans should know about when it comes to filing for a Gulf War related presumptive illness.

Change in Eligibility:

Eligibility rules have changed recently as to who qualifies as a Gulf War Veteran. The definition of Southwest Asia theater of Military Operations no longer includes Afghanistan.  The areas included in the definition are:

  • cc-changes-from-the-va-gulf-war-veterans-need-to-know-image-1Iraq;
  • Kuwait;
  • Saudi Arabia;
  • The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia;
  • Bahrain;
  • Qatar;
  • The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.);
  • Oman;
  • Gulf of Aden;
  • Gulf of Oman;
  • Waters of the Persian gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea; and
  • The airspace above these locations.

While Veterans of service in Afghanistan are still eligible for certain infectious diseases associated with the SW Asia theater, a recent Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims decision has affirmed that Afghanistan is not considered part of the SW Asia theater when considering presumptive illnesses (see CAVC decision). It is noted on the VA website that service in Afghanistan on or after September 19, 2001, is considered qualifying service for disability benefits associated with “certain” presumptive diseases;

  • Brucellosis;
  • Campylobacter jejuni;
  • Coxiella Burnetii (Q Fever);
  • Malaria;
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis;
  • Nontyphoid Salmonella;
  • Shigella;
  • Visceral leishmaniasis; and
  • West Nile virus.

Check with your local VA representative to review your specific issues and ensure that you qualify before you file your claim to ensure you do not experience undue delays in the claim process.

Other eligibility requirements to file for Gulf War associated presumptive illnesses are:

  • Are an eligible Veteran;
  • Served in the SW Asia theater of operations between August 2, 1990, to present;
  • There is no other cause of your disability or illness other than service in the SW Asia theater;
  • Your disability has existed for 6 months or more;
  • Your disability appeared either during service in SW Asia or before December 31, 2021, to a degree that is at least 10% disabling; and
  • The illness is classified as either an undiagnosed illness; diagnosable functional gastrointestinal disorder; diagnosable chronic fatigue syndrome; or diagnosable fibromyalgia.
  • You may also need either medical evidence or nonmedical indications such as verification of lost time from work; changes in appearance and/or behaviors; changes in physical abilities; and/or changes in mental or emotional attitudes or capacities. A C&P Exam may be required to verify medical conditions.

And the GOOD NEWS is:  The Time Period to File Claims has been Extended

cc-changes-from-the-va-gulf-war-veterans-need-to-know-image-2In December 2016; it was announced that the time to file for presumptive illness claims was extended by 5 years until December 31, 2021; extending the original time period from December 31, 2016. This extension was based on studies conducted that showed that many presumptive illnesses may take much longer to manifest than original thought. Another factor is that the Gulf War has not officially ended, so extending the date was imperative for those who are still serving in the theater of operations. Several past extensions have already been passed; possibly more will be passed in the future if our military personnel continue to serve in theater.

What Does this Mean for Veterans?

If a Veteran has any conditions that fall under the category of a qualifying chronic illness, including those undiagnosed illnesses such as fatigue, unexplained rashes, headaches, cognitive issues, muscle and/or joint pain or other multi-symptom illnesses; and certain infectious diseases, your time to file a claim has been extended by another 5 years. This extension means many Veterans who may not have realized they are eligible for benefits can now apply before the new deadline is reached or those who have not started to experience symptoms but may after the original deadline, will now be eligible to apply for benefits.