Nine respiratory cancers added to list of illnesses presumed caused by burn pit smoke
VA officials this week will add nine respiratory cancers to the list of illnesses presumed caused by burn pit exposure, easing the path veterans suffering from those conditions have to take to get disability benefits.
The move follows promises by administration officials last fall to speed up care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pit smoke in Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas locations over the last 32 years.
The fires used in combat zones to dispose of waste may have caused serious illnesses in hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members.
In a statement, VA Secretary Denis McDonough called the move overdue. "Veterans who suffer from rare respiratory cancers associated with their service deserve the very best America has to offer, but they've had to wait for the care and benefits they deserve for far too long," he said. "That ends now."
The nine new conditions are: squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx; squamous cell carcinoma of the trachea; adenocarcinoma of the trachea; salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea; adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung; large cell carcinoma of the lung; salivary gland-type tumors of the lung; sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung; typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung
Read more in Military Times.
VETERAN SERVICE ORGANIZATION SPOTLIGHT: The American Legion, Department of Michigan
The American Legion, Department of Michigan was chartered in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. The American Legion is committed to mentoring youth and sponsoring wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans.
The American Legion is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with great political influence perpetuated by its grass-roots involvement in the legislation process from local districts to Capitol Hill. Legionnaires' sense of obligation to community, state and nation drives an honest advocacy for veterans in Lansing and in Washington. The Legion stands behind the issues most important to the nation's veterans community, backed by resolutions passed by volunteer leadership.
Michigan is home to more than 350 American Legion posts. If you have served at least one day of active military duty since Dec. 7, 1941 and were honorably discharged or if you are still serving active military duty honorably, you are eligible to join the American Legion.
Here are the industries where veterans are finding jobs
Veterans saw increased employment opportunities in the education and health services sector in 2021 but less hiring for professional and business services, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Services recently.
The research also showed a significant improvement in the overall veterans employment rate last year from 2020, when the coronavirus forced widespread business shutdowns across America, but still not a full recovery from the pandemic.
The jobless rate for all veterans in 2021 was 4.4%, down sharply from the 6.5% posted in 2020 but still above the pre-pandemic rate in 2019 of 3.1%. Since the start of 2022 that figure has dropped even further, with veterans unemployment reaching 2.4% last month.
Veterans unemployment has been a particular focus of the White House and Congress in recent years, with research showing that making a successful transition to civilian life can ease a host of potential stressors for military families.
The BLS report found that nearly one in four veterans (23%) are employed in local, state or federal government jobs, about the same rate as 2020. For comparison, only about 13% of non-veterans hold salaried government posts.
About 9% of veterans held jobs in the education and health services sector in 2021, an increase of almost 1% from 2019 levels. Manufacturing (12%) and business services jobs (10%) are the only private-sector industries with higher veteran participation.
On the other side, veterans as a group saw a significant decrease in those professional services posts (down 1.5%) and hospitality service jobs (down 1%, to about 3% of all veteran jobs) over the last two years.
Read more in Military Times.
In Michigan, several state departments are hiring law enforcement officers and encouraging veterans to apply. They include the Michigan State Police and the Departments of Corrections and Natural Resources.
Learn more about State Police job requirements, recruiting events and more.
Learn more about Department of Natural Resources jobs.
Learn more about Department of Corrections jobs.
For veterans seeking employment assistance in Michigan, Veterans' Employment Services (VES) provides program-specific services with eligibility requirements as defined by federal law.
VES provides many services. Those include resource information focusing on the needs of eligible veterans and spouses unable to obtain employment through Michigan Works! Service Centers along with one-on-one career services designed to reduce barriers into the workforce.
Contact the nearest Michigan Works! Service Center by calling 800-285-WORKS (9675) or visiting MichiganWorks.org.
Register today and start your job search at MiTalent.org.
Protect your benefits: Beat pension poachers to the punch
Have you received a suspicious call from an organization claiming to represent or have affiliation with VA? Did the caller guarantee a lucrative payout for your disability compensation or pension claim for a "small fee?"
If so, you may be a target of a scam. Recently, VA has seen an increase of fraudsters and non-accredited representatives who are targeting the pension benefits of elderly veterans, their dependents and survivors.
VA is committed to defeating fraudsters by educating elderly veterans, their families, and all partners about the types of fraudulent tactics being used against them, including Pension Poaching.
To avoid being a victim, here are some tips to remember when protecting yourself from fraud:
- Be suspicious if someone offers to shift your assets around to qualify for VA pension. You may be required to repay benefits to the government.
- NEVER share eBenefits, VA.gov or other VA login credentials with anyone.
- DO NOT deposit VA benefits directly into a third-party bank account unless the person is court appointed or a VA accredited fiduciary.
- Remember, VA does not charge for processing a claim or request a processing fee. Use VA accredited organizations to help file your claim.
- VA does not threaten or take adverse actions such as jail or lawsuits on claimants. If in doubt, call VA directly at 1-800-827-1000.
Read more in VA's VAntage Point blog.
State-run Veteran Navigators program supports Michigan veterans and families free of charge
Veteran Navigators was created to assist veterans and military families of all eras and discharge types. They work to connect veterans and their families to federal, state and local resources to ease issues regarding mental health, substance abuse, housing and other common issues that impact veterans in order to support healthier lifestyles and provide support.
Offered through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Veteran Navigator services are free of charge.
Veteran Navigators service different parts of the state. Find your local Veteran Navigator.
If the map is nonresponsive, choose your county from the corresponding list.
Climate change is running the National Guard ragged
Five years ago, the National Guard spent roughly 14,000 personnel hours fighting wildfires. By last year, that had increased to 170,000 hours.
And experts agree the trend is only getting worse.
"What does it mean for the National Guard to have spent 170,000 person hours in 2021? Instead of thinking about it as the worst fire year that the western United States has experienced so far, but perhaps the best fire year of the next 20 years going forward," said Erin Sikorsky, director of The Center for Climate and Security. "It's only going to get worse."
The steep increase is just one example of how record-breaking weather and climate disasters are impacting the National Guard, who often serves as a response force to wildfires and hurricanes around the nation. Morgan Higman, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Energy Security and Climate Change program, told Task & Purpose that as we've watched "catastrophic natural and climate related disasters" increase, it's "pretty reasonable to anticipate that the supportive needs to respond to those disasters will increase."
Read more in Task & Purpose.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE
ARE IN CRISIS:
The Veterans Crisis Line is staffed by caring, qualified crisis responders who are there to help. Many of these responders are veterans themselves.
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