Military Appreciation Month – Roy E.

May is Military Appreciation Month, and DVNF encourages everyone to reflect on how important the men and women who have served have been to our safety and freedom. And thanks to your support, we have been able to help so many veterans overcome challenges they often face after leaving the military.

This month, as part of how much we appreciate your commitment to helping veterans, we want to send the actual words of veterans whose lives you have impacted!

Roy E. – 70% Disabled U.S. Army Veteran

RoyE

“The Disabled Veterans National Foundation truly cares about the military veterans. This was very evident from the first contact I had with this organization. The person that assisted me with my case was Mary Moore. I felt like this organization really cared because Mary personally reached out to me spent the time and fully explained the process and everything that should be done clearly.

“Also appreciated was the service each time I called in, was able to get Ms. Moore on the phone, or got a quick response. I am very grateful for this organization and the help they were able to provide with my rent. I was going through a financial hardship due to hospital visits and this organization helped me when other organizations did not so I am very grateful for this. This organization really went above and beyond to provide great customer service and assistance and I thank them for their support.”

In honor of Military Appreciation Month, we encourage you to take part in our effort to help more veterans just like Roy!

Thank You Message from Albany

DVNF recently received a heart-warming message of thanks from Jezreel International, the Albany, NY organization we recently sent a shipment of clothing to for their Veterans Appreciation Day event.

Now, they are going to continue their work for veterans!

DVNF CEO, Joe VanFonda (left) with Jezreel International Warehouse Manager and Army Veteran, Lorenzo Hodges.

DVNF CEO, Joe VanFonda (left) with Jezreel International Warehouse Manager and Army Veteran, Lorenzo Hodges.

January 15, 2014

Dear Sergeant Major Joe,

Jezreel International is a 501© 3 not for profit humanitarian aid relief organization.

The work began in 1996 in Albany, NY with a purpose to help those in need, both here in America and around the world.

This past December 11th a deep desire of my heart was fulfilled when we hosted our first annual VETERAN’S APPRECIATION DAY event. We opened our warehouse to over 100 Veteran’s who were in need.

The day was filled with love, honor and appreciation for each and every Vet who attended. We had the LaSalle School Color Guard accompanied by a bagpipe player, several speakers and a free raffle of some very awesome gifts. The men and women were fed a wonderful lunch and then were able to Christmas ‘shop’ for their needs in our warehouse.

Many of the Vets were visibly moved by the love and appreciation they felt.

The big question in my heart was “why can’t this be available all the time?” So, with God’s help, we will open the VETERANS’ MIRACLE CENTER for our courageous men & women who have so faithfully served this country.

The purpose of the center is to help provide the basic necessities of life for our veterans and their families. Our goal is to alleviate the stresses and concerns on our men and women to provide for themselves, their wives & children. The center will be designed to provide personal care and hygiene products, clothing, house wares, tools, ambulatory equipment for those with specials needs and much more. All of these supplies will be freely given.

We look forward with great expectation to honor those to whom honor is due. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to help in whichever capacity we can to bless those who have so freely given to protect all of us.

On behalf of the entire staff at Jezreel International, we all say THANK YOU!! THANK YOU! We are looking forward to a deep and long lasting relationship with you and DVNF.

Sincerely Yours,

Barry Feinman
Executive Director, Jezreel Int’l

13 Important Resources for Veterans’ Health Needs

On behalf of DVNF, I want to wish all a happy New Year! I know that times are tough for many, and I believe it is important that every veteran should know about resources that are available to them.

So let’s kick of the New Year with some valuable information on programs and services that are available through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). In this post, I have included the VA’s top 13 links for veteran services.

As DVNF’S CEO, I think it is important for veterans to know what types of services are out there. That’s why we can use your help in spreading the word about these services to veterans. So please read and share!

Semper Fi
Joe VanFonda (SgtMaj Ret)
CEO/DVNF

Here is a quick list of links to the many programs available to our Veterans. If you know a Veteran, we hope you will print out this list (pdf) and give it to them.

  • It may be a homeless Vet you pass on the street every day — you can suggest they take the list to a public library computer to learn what VA has to help them.
  • It may be a young Vet recently returning from a combat zone, who is not aware of the benefits he or she is entitled to.

There are many potential opportunities for you to help Veterans make the connection to the services VA has for them, benefits they have earned! In addition to the doctors and nurses who provide our Vets with high-quality health care, VHA has many programs to help Vets reach their optimal health. 

Veterans!  Here are 13 of the top links for VA services. Use these health support services to maintain your physical and mental wellness:

Health Benefits
www.va.gov/healthbenefits
Start here to learn what VA health benefits you are elligible for and apply for care.
Helpful Phone Numbers
Health Benefits: 877-222-VETS (8387)
Other VA Benefits: 800-827-1000
Homeless Services: 877-424-3838
Compensated Work Therapy
www.cwt.va.gov
A vocational rehabilitation program to match and support work ready veterans in competitive jobs.
Disease Prevention
www.prevention.va.gov
Advocating for health promotion, disease prevention, and health education for our nation’s Veterans.
Geriatrics & Extended Care
www.va.gov/geriatrics
Geriatric and extended care services for Veterans including non-institutional and institutional options.
Homeless Services
www.va.gov/homeless
To end Veteran homelessness within the next five years, VA offers a variety of resources, programs and benefits to assist Veterans who are homeless.
Mental Health
www.mentalhealth.va.gov
Maintaining and improving the health and well-being of Veterans through excellence in health care, social services, education, and research.
MyHealtheVet
www.myhealth.va.gov
Anywhere, anytime Internet access to VA health care information and services.
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
www.ptsd.va.gov
VA’s center of excellence for research and education on the prevention, understanding and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder.
Readjustment Counseling (Vet Centers)
www.vetcenter.va.gov
Offers services to Veterans and their families to aid their successful transition from military to civilian life.
Rural Health
www.ruralhealth.va.gov
Improving access and quality of care for Veterans living in rural areas.
Substance Abuse Programs
www.mentalhealth.va.gov/substanceabuse.asp
Treatments addressing problems related to substance use, from unhealthy use of alcohol to life-threatening addictions.
Veterans Crisis Line
veteranscrisisline.net
The Veterans Crisis Line (Dial 1-800-273-8255 and press 1) is a toll-free, confidential phone support line that connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders.
Women Veterans Health Care
www.womenshealth.va.gov
Implementing positive changes in providing care for all women Veterans.

An Inspirational Visit to a New England Veterans Shelter

Last week, the staff of Disabled Veterans National Foundation had the opportunity to go to Boston and visit the New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV). As long time partners, DVNF and NECHV have teamed up to help hundreds of veterans in need in the New England area.

DVNF recently supplied the shelter with many items such as clothing, snack food, soap, lotion and many other needed items. These items are crucial to the wellbeing of these veterans, as well as to the success of the center.

NECHV is a wonderful organization that helps homeless veterans get back on their feet. Many of these veterans have endured difficult post-military lives coping with poverty, family issues, mental health problems and substance abuse. Among the veterans we visited, a few were eager to talk with DVNF.

Grady (left) continues to help fellow veterans in need.

Grady (left) continues to help fellow veterans in need.

Grady, an Army veteran and former resident of the shelter, is now an employee, giving back to the veterans that he can empathize with.  A big part of Grady’s job is to make sure that the veterans at the center fully utilize the clothing store*, which DVNF has helped to keep stocked over the years.

(*It should be noted that the “clothing store” is what NECHV calls their supply of items that are given to the veterans at the shelter.)

“When veterans walk into the store, they are always grateful for the items that DVNF has been able to send,” Grady told us. “Without these items, many of them would not have clothes to wear. No veteran should be left behind.”

Grady also said that he believes every veteran should have a place to rest his head at night and is thankful that he has the opportunity to show veterans that there is a safe place for them.

Another veteran we spoke with was Jamie. Jamie is an honorably discharged U.S Navy Veteran who is currently a resident at NECHV. Throughout the last couple of years he has overcome many obstacles such as two surgeries, a divorce and alcohol addiction. When asked about his time at the center, he replied, “The center has created a sparkle in my heart. When I came in, I knew something special was here.”

DVNF program coordinator, Ashley poses for a picture with Jamie (right).

DVNF program coordinator, Ashley poses for a picture with Jamie (right).

During his stay at the center, Jamie has created a job for himself. He works in the shelter’s clothing store and sorts the items that are delivered. When he is in the clothing store, he said that he gets to see the expressions on other veterans’ faces, and that they are so thankful for the items DVNF sent.  Not only was he appreciative of the items DVNF was able to send, but was also happy we were able to come to the center and speak with everyone.

One of the last veterans we spoke with was Richard. Richard is an honorably discharged Vietnam veteran and is a current resident at the Center. After serving in the Vietnam War Richard mentioned that he provided services to help other veterans, such as working with local offices.

Ashley talks with Richard (right), a Vietnam Veteran.

Ashley talks with Richard (right), a Vietnam Veteran.

Richard also expressed his gratitude for the items that DVNF has been able to send. He told us that when he shops at the Center’s store, everyone is so excited about the items and it gives veterans a boost of self-esteem.

These are just a few of the great people we were able to speak with at NECHV. Understandably, there were many more veterans who were not as comfortable with us telling their stories as Grady, Jamie and Richard. These individuals have led difficult lives. It  is hard to really understand unless you have experienced it.

When you meet veterans like Grady, everyone should take comfort in knowing that this individual–once a soldier, turned homeless–was able to overcome the greatest of odds. He could have left the shelter and moved on with his life, but instead, he chose to make a living serving the people whose difficulties he understands.

Though DVNF is always committed to serving veterans, opportunities like these, to spend time in a veteran’s world and hear of his triumphs and tragedies, are truly humbling experiences.

This is a great example that shows how your support can be paid forward exponentially!

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!

Best,

Joseph VanFonda (SgtMaj Ret)
Executive Director
DVNF

* * *

October 9, 2013

Benefits & Resources Navigation (BaRN)

“EASIEST WAY TO CHECK ON PENDING CLAIM OR APPEAL BY CONNECTING TO VA.”

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
DVNF

Yuba-Sutter Stand Down- Day 2

We arrived at the grassy basin once again on Friday, the weather identical to Thursday. The difference today though, the population of veterans and volunteers had more than doubled! We could tell immediately that we were going to have a very active day. More tents and RV’s had been set up, most for healthcare services. The Red Cross also sent in a truck and representatives were handing out various good to the vets and their families.

The strange part about it was that this event on the second day almost seemed like base camp in a war zone. In a way, it sort of was—just a very different type of war. This was a war on homelessness, a crusade to remember the forgotten, a battle to provide. The much needed reinforcements had arrived. The wounds of the warriors were not plainly visible, but look close enough, and you could see them as clear as the northern California sun. That is why so many volunteers showed up—to tend to the wounds that had been left untreated for so very long.

I had the chance to speak with a VA social worker who was in attendance that day, named Mike Miracle. Mike was a very pleasant individual with a calming demeanor. Mike had served in this capacity for 37 years with the Army and the VA. He told me something that really had never occurred to me. He said that he still has clients from WWII and Korea that cope with PTSD in some capacity. Can you imagine having to cope with troubling memories for 60+ years? It makes you respect these men and women even more.

The second day was much warmer than the first, but it didn’t stop the massive show of support. I met several veterans who were overwhelmed with gratitude from the event. Lanny Montgomery, a Vietnam veteran was all smiles when I spoke to him. Lanny started a PTSD support group for veterans in the area who couldn’t seem to find the help they were looking for. He said that simply discussing the common problems that PTSD causes, amongst a group of people who know exactly how you are suffering, can make such a big difference. He also mentioned that it was actually his group that helped to pave the way for such Stand Down events in the area, and that it flattering to know that DVNF had come all the way from DC to help out.

As the day began to wind down, I caught a glimpse of something across the basin and became interested. People kept approaching this gentleman who was wearing a red blazer, and then he would stop and take a picture with them. Assuming he was some sort of celebrity I began to walk closer to the tent he was under. I soon realized that this man was much older than anyone else I had seen at the Stand Down. Then, I figured out who he was. His name was Lenard Yates—one of the original Tuskegee Airmen! He was kind enough to let me take a picture of him, as well as another veteran who was just as eager to meet Mr. Yates as I was. What a great way to end the day.

Lenard Yates, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen

We left Marysville overwhelmed at how much effort was put into this Stand Down. We were also pleased knowing that veterans in this part of California are in good hands thanks to the appreciative and compassionate people that make up the community.