Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Michigan Veterans News & Resources for Jan. 19, 2022 (Young and dying: Veterans are getting brain cancer and struggling to get benefits)

Sandbox Bulletin

Standing by at 1-800-MICH-VET: Our expert technicians

Ron Fink and the Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center

As Ron explains in this short video, when you call the Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center (MVRSC) at 1-800-MICH-VET, you'll be connected to an expert in veteran benefits. An expert like Ron himself.


Ron is one of our technicians in the MVRSC. The married father of two served in the Air Force for more than 21 years and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. He now gives back to his fellow veterans by connecting them to the benefits they earned for their service.


The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency launched the MVRSC in 2014 as the first of its kind in the nation – a free call center for Michigan veterans and their dependents that's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. The innovative call center won an Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award from the VA in 2016.


MVRSC technicians are available from 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours, the phones are answered by trained agents with Michigan 211, which ensures that someone is there to answer calls 24/7.


Call the MVRSC at 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838) to get a copy of your discharge documents, to inquire about available benefits including medical, compensation and pension, or to be connected to a VA-certified Veteran Service Officer who can walk you through the claims process.


Ron, and our other expert technicians, are standing by.

Young and dying: Veterans are getting brain cancer and struggling to get benefits

No one knows why Noah Feehan, a 38-year-old Minnesota Air National Guard master sergeant, developed a rare brain cancer with an average life expectancy of 12 to 18 months that usually afflicts those in their 60s or older.


But he and other service members have their theories, after spending years working around electronics and jet fuel, operating in places contaminated by depleted uranium and pollutants, and living alongside belching pits full of burning trash.


"We're all assuming it's the burn pits," said Feehan, who deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. "It was disgusting what they threw in there. Tires, jet fuel, body parts, plastics."


While traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder have been called the "signature wounds" of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, affecting nearly half a million troops, thousands of veterans also have been diagnosed with diseases possibly connected to environmental hazards and toxic waste, according to a collaborative investigation by and Public Health Watch.


Hundreds, like Feehan, are fighting or have succumbed to glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer, striking roughly 12,000 Americans each year.


The few studies done on military personnel and veterans to determine whether they have been getting glioblastoma at higher rates than the general population have been inconclusive.


But glioblastoma is the third most common cause of cancer-related death in the active-duty population, behind colon cancer and leukemia.


And among post-9/11 veterans who deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, glioblastoma occurs at a rate 26% higher than that found in the general population, according to calculations based on Department of Veterans Affairs and National Institutes of Health data.



MVTF emergency assistance now available to eligible peacetime-era veterans

Emergency assistance through the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF) is no longer available to just wartime veterans.


For the first time in its 75-year history, the MVTF will provide emergency assistance to eligible peacetime-era veterans 65 years and older under a new pilot program.


Similar to its Emergency Grant Program for wartime-era veterans, the MVTF's 65+ Peacetime Program allows veterans who served in a peacetime era, have at least 180 days of service and were discharged under honorable conditions to apply for emergency assistance.


The assistance helps veterans overcome unforeseen situations causing a temporary or short-term financial emergency or hardship that a grant will resolve and for which the applicant can demonstrate the ability to meet future expenses. Covered expenses under the 65+ Program include utility bills, home repairs and rent and mortgage assistance.


Veterans interested in applying for the 65+ Peacetime Program should contact the MVTF county committee serving the county they reside in or fill out and submit the emergency assistance form available on the MVAA's website. Veterans can call 1-800-MICH-VET to be connected to their county veteran representative.


Read more about the new program at


MVTF 75 years

Red Cross: National blood crisis may put patients at risk

The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available.


Blood and platelets donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments. Veterans, dependents and other donors of all blood types – especially type O − are urged to make an appointment now to give in the weeks ahead.


In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met.


Read more in VA's VAntage Point blog.

Healthy Weight Week promotes a healthier you

Many veterans enjoy making New Year's resolutions to improve their health and well-being. For those wanting to make healthy lifestyle changes, VA's MOVE! Weight Management Program is ready to help you manage your weight, eat wisely and be more physically active. To assist you in your efforts, VA is promoting the third week of January as Healthy Weight Week.


The MOVE! Program offers useful tools to help you develop lasting habits that empower you to manage your weight and health more effectively than short-term diets.


Read more in VAntage Point.

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