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Veteran Scholarships You Should Take Advantage Of

The GI Bill, as you know, is a Department of Veterans Affairs education benefit earned by members of Active Duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces and their families. The benefit is designed to help servicemembers and eligible veterans cover the costs associated with getting an education or training. The GI Bill — even tuition assistance (TA) — can be a very useful for American Veterans as financial aid for college. But check out these other options to see if you are eligible for the six veteran aid scholarships that you could take advantage of now:

1. American Legion Auxiliary

The American Legion Auxiliary offers opportunities for financial aid for their members — more details here. Beyond individual service members, there is also a scholarship for children of service members.

2. Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA)

The AFCEA requires applicants to be associated with the following fields of study: electrical, chemical systems, aerospace engineering, physics, science, mathematics education, information technology management, or computer science. Applications for scholarships are considered by AFCEA chapter (i.e. location). More info here.

3. Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA)

In accordance with the AAAA, scholarships may be available to a current member, the spouse of a current member, a son or daughter of a current member, a grandchild of a current member, or the unmarried sibling of a current member. More info here.

4. Army Nurse Corps Association (ANCA)

Enrolled in an accredited baccalaureate or advanced degree program in nursing, nurse anesthesia, or related healthcare field? You may be a prime candidate for an ANCA scholarship — More info here.

5. Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)

25 scholarships awarded annually to eligible members and members of immediate family. Note: Your EAS must be within 36 months, prior to applying. More info here.

6. Veterans United Foundation

Up to 20 scholarships awarded every year. Applicants must be pursuing a higher education degree; spouses and children of service members eligible — More info here.

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Veterans Calling Suicide Hotline Got Busy Signals

American Veterans who called a suicide prevention hotline run by the VA received busy signals, had their calls go to voicemail, and were sometimes transferred to less qualified operators when employees at the VA failed to pick up, according to an Associated Press article.

An internal email that was obtained by the AP shows that former director, Greg Hughes wrote even though calls to the hotline have shot up, some hotline workers were answering less than five calls a day, causing up to 40 percent of the calls to get transferred to back-up operators who have less training.

A bill passed in the House of Representatives recently, requiring the VA to make sure that all calls to the hotline are answered in a timely manner, and the VA has plans to increase its staff and open a new office. Reports show the hotline made more than 80,000 referrals to suicide prevention coordinators last year.

VA officials have referred to suicide among military veterans as a public health crisis. Some quick numbers: about 20 U.S. veterans commit suicide every day, and veterans have a 50 percent higher suicide rate than those who didn’t serve. The Los Angeles Times, reporting on a VA analysis, wrote that of the veterans who served in active-duty units between 2001 and 2007 and left the military during that period, 1,868 had died from suicide through 2009.

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Pushup Challenge Helps Raise Awareness For American Veterans

You may have noticed your social media lighting up recently with videos of people doing pushups and the tag #22pushupchallenge and talking about raising awareness for Veterans suicide. What’s it all about?

On its surface, the Pushup Challenge is easy: Do 22 pushups, post a video and tag it. If you can’t do 22, do 10 or five, or just try really hard. It’s reminiscent of 2014’s #ALSIceBucketChallenge, and the mission is just as important. The 22 represents the claim that, on average, 22 military veterans take their own lives every day in the United States.

The Challenge was started by the veteran group Honor Courage Commitment. The group’s 22KILL movement works to build a community of support for veterans and raise awareness for mental health challenges they face. The #22PushupChallenge is one way to put words into action as well as capitalize on the viral nature of social media, instead of just calling for “awareness.” The ultimate goal of the project is to reach 22 million pushups, and the group uses people’s tags to keep a live tally.

As with most viral social media movements, it took celebrity backing to really catch fire. Actors Dwayne Johnson, John Krasinski, Chris Pratt and Kevin Bacon and growing number of celebrities are posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with their challenge videos.

The number 22 is originally from statistics quoted in the Department of Veteran Affairs’ 2012 Suicide Data Report where a survey of veteran deaths in 21 states was conducted. “If this prevalence estimate is assumed to be constant across all U.S. states, an estimated 22 Veterans will have died from suicide each day in the calendar year 2010,” the report says.

According to a more recent release from the VA Suicide Prevention Program, an average of 20 veterans died of suicide each day in 2014. While the numbers aren’t exactly equal, 20 suicides per day is still alarming, and something worth raising awareness for so that American Veterans can get the aid and support they so desperately need.

The important message of the #22PushupChallenge is clear: Public support can help veterans tackle the overwhelming challenges they sometimes face after they leave the uniform behind.

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American Veterans Take Complaints To VA Officials 

Frustration and long wait times have been an ongoing issue with American Veterans returning home and seeking aid and benefits from the VA. Vets recently reached out to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials for guidance.

Vietnam vet Ronnie Thomas of Rensselaer has more than $25,000 in hospital and doctors bills but “the VA refuses to pay.” He’s been working with a patient advocate since late March to work out thousands of dollars in medical bills, but said that has also been frustrating.

“My credit is ruined,” he said. “No one seems to care.”

Thomas was one of more than 100 veterans and their family members who filled Sycamore Hall at Woodland Park in Portage for a meeting with VA officials, put on by the city’s veterans advisory committee. One of the issues covered was the inability to reach anyone by phone, to voice concerns or issues.

Jim McLain, acting director of the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Chicago, apologized to the vets and their families, said the phone system is more than 20 years old and can’t handle the volume of calls it receives. The VA is going to a centralized call center and other improvements to help its clients.

Similar town hall style meetings have been organized in other parts of the country. In the Green Bay area the VA held its first town hall meeting at the Milo C. Huempfner clinic.

About two dozen veterans filled a conference room at the VA’s outpatient clinic in Green Bay to voice their opinions directly to VA leadership from Milwaukee. The Milwaukee VA oversees the Green Bay clinic.

“I felt it was a travesty that they’re not taking care of the veterans coming through this door with an MRI machine. This is simple. It comes down to budget and we need to do something about the budget so they can afford to have it here,” said Randy Matuszak, US Army Veteran who served in Vietnam.

Dr. Dan Zomchek, the new director of the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, fielded questions and comments for more than two hours.

“We are really working diligently to hire more of our physicians to be able to provide more deep services here,” Zomchek said.

While the VA may not be able to solve any problems overnight, veterans here say having an event like this is a step in the right direction.

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Those who served in Vietnam will now be over 65

According to the 2012 U.S. Census brief, Veterans age 65 or older numbered in excess of 12.4 million. These Veterans served in conflicts around the world including World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and even in the Persian Gulf War. As Veterans age, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will provide benefits and services that address a variety of issues including the changing health risks they face, as well as financial challenges through VA benefits and health services.

VA Benefits

Elderly Veterans may be eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military Veterans. VA benefits include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial. See our Eligibility page for an overview of requirements and to register.

VA Benefits for Elderly Veterans

The Department of Veteran Affairs offers a special benefit to war era veterans and their surviving spouses called Aid and Attendance.

This is a tax-free benefit designed to provide financial assistance to help cover the cost of long term care in the home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home.

This Benefit is for those veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person or caregiver in at least two of the daily activities of living such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring.

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