DVNF Executive Director’s Benefits Tips

As you may know, DVNF is in the beginning stages of implement its new Benefits and Resources Navigation (BaRN) initiative. As part of this, DVNF Executive Director Joseph VanFonda (SgtMaj Ret) will begin to offer helpful tips for veterans who are looking for resources or assistance with the VA system.

* * *

October 28, 2013

Joseph VanFonda (SgtMaj Ret), Executive Director for DVNF, continues to push the phrase “Knowledge is Power” out to our Disabled Veterans, and Veterans alike.

“Imagine if all our Disabled Veterans & Veterans alike unite together on identifying our homeless veterans and help them navigate through this difficult matrix of our Department of Veterans Affairs. Honestly, you would be saving our American Heroes, and many need to be saved.

“Please reach out to the National Call Center for the Homeless. It’s confidential and it’s the right thing to do. We as veterans are all cut from the same cloth, sewn from the same fabric of our American Flag.”

For more information please continue to read below:

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) has founded a National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline to ensure that homeless Veterans or Veterans at-risk for homelessness have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. The hotline is intended to assist homeless Veterans and their families, VA Medical Centers, federal, state and local partners, community agencies, service providers  and others in the community.  To be connected with a trained VA staff member call 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838).

  • Call for yourself or someone else
  • Free and confidential
  • Trained VA counselors to assist
  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • We have information about VA homeless programs and mental health services in your area that can help you.

What will happen when I call?

  • You will be connected to a trained VA staff member.
  • Hotline staff will conduct a brief screen to assess your needs.
  • Homeless Veterans will be connected with the Homeless Point of Contact at the nearest VA facility.
  • Family members and non-VA providers calling on behalf of a homeless Veteran will be provided with information regarding the homeless programs and services available.

Contact information will be requested so that staff may follow-up.

* * *

October 22, 2013

DVNF’s Executive Director Joseph VanFonda (SgtMaj Ret) explains that the residue from the carnage of war will stay with every veteran who served for the rest of his/her life.
“What we absorb on the battlefield can be indescribable; we tend to suppress our emotions as we move forward in order to accomplish our mission. However, when we return home our decompression begins. This is where our resiliency is tested. This is where our family members see our frustration and pain that is associated with trying to let go and move on.  This is where our loved ones become our sounding board, hoping that they hold onto us telling us we will be ok.
“Let’s take the burden off of our loved ones. If you are suffering from PTSD, or even think you might be, please reach out to the provided resources that are at your finger tips.  I previously explained that knowledge is power, so I will continue to educate our disabled veterans and veterans alike with the resources that are available for their very survival.”
This is reliable information that is free and private. Please download this app and begin the journey of understanding so you can start the healing process of dealing with the painful memories of war when returning home.

Mobile App: PTSD Coach

PTSD Coach has now been downloaded over 100,000 times in 74 countries around the world.

The PTSD Coach app can help you learn about and manage symptoms that commonly occur after trauma. Features include:

  • Reliable information on PTSD and treatments that work.
  • Tools for screening and tracking your symptoms.
  • Convenient, easy-to-use skills to help you handle stress symptoms.
  • Direct links to support and help.
  • Always with you when you need it.

Download the mobile app

Free PTSD Coach download from:
iTunes (iOS)* and Google Play (Android)*

Now available for Canada (in French) and other versions on iTunes.

Also see PTSD Coach ONLINE: 17 tools to choose from available as desktop version.

How to use PTSD Coach

Together with professional medical treatment, PTSD Coach provides you dependable resources you can trust. If you have, or think you might have PTSD, this app is for you. Family and friends can also learn from this app.

PTSD Coach was created by the VA’s National Center for PTSD and the DoD’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology.

NOTE: PTSD is a serious mental health condition that often requires professional evaluation and treatment. PTSD Coach is not intended to replace needed professional care.

The questionnaire used in PTSD Coach, the PTSD Checklist (PCL), is a reliable and valid self-report measure used across VA, DoD, and in the community, but it is not intended to replace professional evaluation.

Providing you with facts and self-help skills based on research.

Privacy and security

Any data created by the user of this app are only as secure as the phone/device itself. Use the security features on your device if you are concerned about the privacy of your information. Users are free to share data, but as the self-monitoring data belong to each user, HIPAA concerns do not apply while the data is stored or shared. If the user were to transmit or share data with a health care provider, the provider must then comply with HIPAA rules.

* * *

October 10, 2013

Executive Director Joseph VanFonda (SgtMaj Ret) explains:

Knowledge is power! We will educate our disabled veterans and our transitioning service members with the tools needed in order to understand the Veterans Integrated System Network within their state of residence.  And by understanding this complex system by the knowledge we share each disabled veteran can self-advocate for their own immediate care.

Did you know…

Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) are downloadable forms for veterans to use in the disability evaluation process. DBQs can help speed the processing of compensation and pension claims.

DBQs allow veterans and servicemembers to have more control over the disability claims process by giving them the option of completing an examination with their own healthcare providers instead of at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility.

DBQs enable private health care providers to capture important information needed by VA to accurately evaluate and promptly decide veterans’ claims for benefits.

More than 70 DBQs are available that use check boxes and standardized language to streamline the process. DBQs average about seven pages in length. Veterans are responsible for any fees their private providers may charge for completing a DBQ.

Visit the DBQ Website for more information.

How to Find and Submit a DBQ

The DBQ process involves four steps:

Access the form online at http://benefits.va.gov/disabilityexams and download it;

Have your healthcare provider complete the form;

Save a copy for your records; and

Submit the form to VA.

Note:  Remember, knowledge is power and it starts now!

I have enclosed a website that will help you, called eBenefits;  its personalized workspace, called “My Dashboard” provides quick access to eBenefits tools. Using eBenefits tools, each veteran can complete various tasks.  It can help veterans apply for benefits “and, medical care”, by downloading their DD 214, view their benefits status, in addition to other actions as needed. This workspace is available to ALL veterans once they have created an eBenefits account.

Also, please create an online account with the (VA) My HealtheVet website https://www.myhealth.va.gov/index.html.

My HealtheVet is VA’s online personal health record. It was designed for Veterans, active duty service members, their dependents and caregivers. My HealtheVet helps veterans partner with your health care team. It provides veterans opportunities and tools to make informed decisions and manage their health care.

Create an account and register!


Joseph VanFonda (SgtMaj Ret)
Executive Director

* * *

October 9, 2013

Benefits & Resources Navigation (BaRN)


Haven’t heard back from the VA in months about your claim?

How many times have you called the VA 1-800 number and ended up on hold for 30 minutes before hanging up? Are you getting lost in the maze of recordings?

I want to let you know about an easy way to get a call back rather than wait.

  • Call 1-800-827-1000
  • Wait for the first recording to start then push “1”.
  • Wait for the next response to start then push “1” again.
  • Wait for the recording to come on the third time then push “0”.

You will now be connected to call-back recording.

This works 24/7.

Please try it!

Note: You can also request for a response in writing.

Joseph VanFonda
Executive Director

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