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Burn Pit Exposure – Army Veteran Dies Of Cancer At Age 36

February 6, 2021 – Sgt. Ryan G. Mason died at 36 years of age after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer believed to be related to toxins and chemicals emitted from burn pits.  After enlisting in the Army at 17 years of age, he served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was exposed to burn pits while overseas. According to this article, “A study in 2018 by researchers at Augusta University in Georgia found that veterans were more likely to develop serious types of cancer the more they were exposed to burn pits. More than one million soldiers were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2009 when the usage of burn pits became restricted by the United States. Roughly 80% of the soldiers deployed to the two countries were exposed to burn pits, and roughly 60% reported having symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, mucus buildup, joint and abdomen pain, fatigue, and malaise, according to a study on burn pit-related illnesses published in 2019 in the Open Journal of Emergency Medicine.” Reference: Muir, Ben,“Army vet dies at 36 from Cancer believed to have originated from burn pit exposure”, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y, February 6, 2021, https://www.stripes.com/news/us/army-vet-dies-at-36-from-cancer-believed-to-have-originated-from-burn-pit-exposure-1.661286

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VA Helping Over 2 Million Veterans Facing Financial Hardships During COVID-19 Pandemic

January 29, 2021 – A statement from the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs states, “Through no fault of their own, our Veterans and their loved ones continue to face economic hardship due to the pandemic. I want to assure Veterans, their family members, survivors, and caregivers that we are doing everything we can to lessen their burden and worry.” Acting Secretary, Dat P. Tran further stated, “VA is also looking for immediate ways to help over 2 million Veterans maintain their financial footing by exploring options to ease the burden of federal collections on compensation and pension overpayments, and medical and education-related debts.” Reference: “Statement by Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dat P. Tran on VA easing economic hardships for Veterans, their families, survivors and caregivers”, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5612

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Family Members and Caregivers to Veterans With Disability Can Help

January 14, 2021 -The Veterans Administration stated, “Family members and caregivers have a front-row seat to see how service-connected disabilities impact not only the Veteran’s life but the lives of those around them. Maybe you received letters from the Veteran while they were on active duty that described some of the experiences they were having. Maybe you saw their behavior change as a result of what they experienced. Don’t discount your interactions or memories – they may be beneficial as evidence if your Veteran appeals a claim decision.” Reference: “How family members and caregivers can help with Veterans’ appeals”, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, VAntage Point Official Blog of the U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs, VA News Release, Jan. 14, 2021, https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/83553/family-members-caregivers-can-help-veterans-appeal/

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Space Force – Guardians

December 19, 2020 –  Space Force revealed they will be called “Guardians.”  Space Force ranks have grown to approximately 4000 members and two Air Force stations in Florida were redesignated as Space Force facilities earlier this month. Reference: Schwartz, Matthew, “Space Force Members Will Be Called ‘Guardians’, National Public Radio, Dec. 19, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/12/19/948375055/space-force-members-will-be-called-guardians

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Veterans Claims Denied During the Coronavirus Pandemic

December 10, 2020 – Veterans were improperly denied benefits because they could not see a doctor during the pandemic. This article states, “The VA has been trying to clear away its backlog of benefits claims for years. Designed to speed up the process, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 went into effect fully last year. According to advocates who help guide veterans through the process, juggling a new system and a pandemic, probably created even more cracks in the system.” Reference: Walsh, Steve, “Report: Thousand of Veterans Had Claims Denied During Pandemic.”, kpbs.org: A Public Service of San Diego State University, Dec. 10, 2020, https://www.kpbs.org/news/2020/dec/10/thousand-veterans-had-their-claims-denied-during-p/

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Veterans and Invisible Wounds

October 27, 2020 – Wounded Warrior Project, an organization whose mission is to assist veterans in returning to civilian life after serving in the military, hosted a virtual town hall focusing on veterans suffering from depression, PTSD, debilitating effects caused by traumatic brain injuries, and suicide According to the Wounded Warrior Project, ⅓ of veterans (close to 30,000) completed a 2020 Annual Warrior Survey and stated they had suicidal thoughts. A veteran who participated in the virtual town hall, Taniki Richard, stated, “What I really want to say to any veteran who is suffering from PTSD or suffering from depression is don’t lose hope. Once you have hope and know you can make it just another day, you will.” Reference: Wounded Warrior Project & co-created by RYOT Studio, “Invisible Wounds of War: A Town Hall on Reframing Veteran Mental Health.” Oct. 27, 2020, https://news.yahoo.com/watch-live-invisible-wounds-a-town-hall-on-reframing-veteran-mental-health-040024074.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9uZXdzcm9vbS53b3VuZGVkd2FycmlvcnByb2plY3Qub3JnLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAANOzOVAiucOYQ6MX3t_jSjVsK5wqw-8NcvlLSkvp19IgQsNTMxGHOAyeVlfDS6slQCMFEAnEbhc1IM9L24b2r3qivA6Rf4cYqYLbKOqrKUQVGYujLe1-XBiWlmg6F84La9aJVnD8QM0NXEQfmARRqc_cGQK-_pI9dLbs601qjuwZ

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Space Force: What Do They Do?

July 23, 2020 – The newest military branch, Space Force, is gaining the attention of those curious to know how they are operating.  Space Force’s mission is to protect our vulnerable orbital networks and has the same status as all U.S. Military Branches. Orbital warfare is the “new mentality” and “prime driver” behind the creation of the Space Force. Directory of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies stated, “Our space systems are vulnerable.”  Reference: Hennigan, W.J., “America Really Does Have a Space Force.  We Went Inside to See What It Does.”, www.time.com (Time Magazine), July 23, 2020, https://time.com/5869987/spaceforce/

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DOD and VA Release Updated Agent Orange Exposure Locations Recognizing Exposure in Areas Outside of Vietnam

January 27, 2020 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) releases an updated list of locations where herbicides were used, tested, and/or stored outside of Vietnam.  Veterans who served in these locations and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides may now be eligible to receive disability compensation for diseases associated with exposure. Survivors and dependents could also be eligible for benefits as well.  A full list of locations can be found here. Reference: “VA releases updated DOD list identifying Agent Orange sites outside of Vietnam”, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, VAntage Point Official Blog of the U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs, VA News Release, Jan 27, 2020, https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/70885/va-releases-updated-dod-list-identifying-agent-orange-sites-outside-vietnam/

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The Veterans Administration Creates Video Tutorial to Assist Veterans in Filing Their Claims Online

November 12, 2019 – The Veterans Administration created a video tutorial to assist Veterans in the filing of their disability claims online.  According to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, this will shorten the processing timeline for benefits claims and the VA is committed to providing Veterans quality service.  The Veterans Administration stated that the five-part tutorial series features a user-friendly platform with plenty of instructions to start the process of filing a disability claim.  The Veterans Administration further stated Veterans can track existing disability claims. The full tutorial can be found here. Reference: “New video series teaches Veterans how to file disability claims online”, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, VAntage Point Official Blog of the U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs, VA News Release, Nov 12, 2019. https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/68101/new-video-series-teaches-veterans-file-disability-claims-online/

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