The VVA Veteran, Jan./Feb. 2011
With our veterans suffering many problems from the effects of dioxins and aging, many of our members have become "caregivers". Many of us find ourselves caring for our veteran, as many of us took care of our parents when they became unable to care for themselves. Whether it is just taking care of the checkbook, running errands, grocery shopping, administering medications, or coordinating necessary outside services such as doctor's visits, we are caregivers. Although we love what we do and our loved one, it takes a toll. Remember, as a caregiver, we should never feel alone.
Caregiving to someone we have stood by, laughed with and supported comes without prejudice. However, it is also draining- both mentally and physically. Taking care of ourselves is important also. We cannot take care of someone, when we are mentally and physically fatigued. We must seek assistance.
VA Benefits and Assistance programs include VA Pension if: (1) the care receiver is a wartime veteran with limited income, (2) and is permanently and totally disabled, (3) or at least 65 years of age. A care receiver may be eligible to receive a monthly pension from the VA if the aforementioned criteria are met. VA Disability Compensation is a benefit paid to a veteran due to injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty or were made worse by active military service. The care receiver may be eligible if they have a service-related disability and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. This pertains to Vietnam Veterans.
The recent Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 provides government assistance only for the spouses of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) disabled veterans who function as the OIF/OEF veteran's caregiver and not Vietnam Veterans.
Caregiving is a huge component of our Legacy! We must not only take care of the receiver, but we must also support the many members who, with open hearts, give their lives, to caring for our ill/dying veterans. The Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America will continue to assist the Vietnam Veterans of America, in any capacity we can, because that is who we are.
Dr. Tom Berger will be presenting a seminar on "Caregiving for the Vietnam Veteran" at our 2011 AVVA Leadership Conference in Reno, Nevada, Please plan to attend.
The VVA Veteran, Sept./Oct. 2010
On August 12, during AVVA’s sixth Biennial Meeting in Orlando, we elected national officers for the next three years. Four officers and nine Regional Directors were sworn into office. We all are honored to serve our membership.
AVVA is a great national organization and now is the time to nurture the internal structure that holds us together--our membership. Our members are our lifeblood. The new Board of Directors is committed to developing our associates to their full potential. We are well aware that some states and chapters are floundering; our goal is to provide leadership and guidance for those in distress and to encourage and develop those that are prospering.
Although our Policy and Procedure Manual lists the basic duties and responsibilities of our state and local leaders, there still is a need for more detailed instructions. We envision a handbook for our leaders that will help them make the right choices and use proper procedures in holding meetings. It will be a guide to help with the day-to-day obligations of leaders.
Communication is a two-way street. This newly elected Board will be communicating to the membership, and we expect to hear from our members as well. Our plan is to establish an electronic newsflash to our state leaders, keeping them abreast of what is happening on the national level. In turn, this line of communication will be open for responses, opinions, and ideas.
After the elections in Orlando, questionnaires were passed out to our State Representatives and Presidents. If you have not returned those, please do so. We cannot know or appreciate your ideas without feedback. This is your organization; you are important to us. The time has come to empower this organization through our state leaders, chapter leaders, and membership. So, please talk to us.
During the upcoming months, AVVA will be developing a strategic three-year plan. Two important issues for me are: the far-reaching effects of Agent Orange. This issue is near and dear to my heart. I want to educate and help states in organizing and presenting Town Hall Meetings in communities. Let’s get this issue out to the public. These dioxins have affected our spouses, children, and grandchildren. I want AVVA to be a point organization for this problem.
The second issue is the rapid loss of our veterans. Our families need preparation, education, and knowledge of benefits due them after the passing of a spouse. We will be exploring ways to get this message out to the survivors of veterans.
I could never express how much AVVA wants to enhance our relationship with VVA. We have been together for many years and we love you very much. You are our reason for existing. Please don’t forget that. We want to work closely with you and will support and promote your endeavors as never before.
Judith Young, the president of the Gold Star Mothers National Monument Foundation, was the keynote speaker at our Biennial Meeting. She is on a very important mission. She discussed the Gold Star Mothers Monument Act of 2009 (HR4197). It authorizes a monument to be built in the Washington, D.C., area. She urged everyone to contact their congressional representatives and ask that they support this bill. Our Gold Star Mothers have given the ultimate sacrifice. They deserve this respect.