In This Issue
- Mr. Babb Talks About the Veterans History Project Roundtable
- Veterans Affairs Committee Develops Its Operating Budget
- Looking Forward on the Homelessness Front
- 2013 Scholarship Season Opening
- Re-looking Our Employment Programs
- Health Care Initiative Progressing
- Project Healing Waters Events Set for 2013
- Focus on Colleges Begins
- Report on the War Veterans Council
- DoD/VA News
MR. BABB TALKS ABOUT THE VETERANS HISTORY PROJECT ROUNDTABLE
David Babb, a historian and interviewer for the Lehigh Valley Veterans History Project Roundtable, a member organization, spoke to the Council at its business meeting on 17 January 2013.
His organization was formed in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization two capture the stories of all wartime veterans and also those who served on the home front. It collects documents and preserves their personal experiences and then shares those stories with both the public and the Library of Congress. To date about 200 interviews have been done.
Babb talked about their doing personal interviews at the homes using questions to draw out the interviewees. Each interview results in a thirty-minute to two-hour video in addition to paper documentation. The video is then provided for free to the family members the veteran desires to receive a copy. Then the work effort is submitted to the Library of Congress for the use of researchers and historians.
The other way the organization records history is through the Roundtable procedure done every last Thursday evening (7 p.m.) of each month at the Lehigh County Senior Center located at 1633 Elm St. in Allentown. One or more veterans are asked to speak and are taped. Some of these have written their own books. Attendance has been startling good. About 150 to 200 people, veterans and non-veterans, attend. It is open to the public.
Babb then went onto cite various people who have been interviewed. Veterans from World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War have been interviewed, the oldest being 104 years old. Both men and women have been interviewed, including the first woman general officer. Hitler Youth, a Malmedy survivor, Battle of Bulge participants, POW’s, and heavy combat vets and support troops – the list went on and on — have all participated.
The Roundtable has been in the practice of doing one other thing also. It arranges bus trips for World War II veterans to see their memorial in Washington, D.C. – many never having seen it. It has done four of these trips since 2010. As the World War II generation passes on, more and more veterans of other ages have been filling the buses.
Next, Babb made a call out for future interview candidates. Contact his organization. He concluded with this remark, “These interviews are not about the bravest, biggest hero, but about documenting the years of life sacrificed in service to the country.”
The organization is now talking about creating a library or resource room, he said. Finally he concluded by saying, “The Lehigh Valley Veterans History Project Roundtable survives on grants and donations. We need your support.”
VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE DEVELOPS ITS OPERATING BUDGET
On 2 January, the Board has approved a target amount for the Veterans Affairs Committee’s budget. The committee has subsequently approved an operating budget for the coming fiscal year projected to be $57,000 in obligations, maximum, if sufficient funds are obtained. It was based upon inputs from the committee members and other submissions, and is an aggressive plan requiring an equally aggressive fundraising.
LOOKING FORWARD ON THE HOMELESSNESS FRONT
Pat diLuzio is in the process of setting up in the next few weeks the first meeting for what we plan on calling the “Lehigh Valley Homeless Veteran Advisory Committee.” Hopefully the invitees will adopt the idea of it. There is an apparent need for it and the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center needs to up its game locally.
2013 SCHOLARSHIP SEASON OPENING
Phil Hublitz and Bob Rothenberger are conducting their first meeting of the Scholarship Committee on 18 January and are about to launch the 2013 effort which will culminate in awards by August. The suspense for submissions will be 15 May. This year we plan on awarding up to $10,000. Our special fund set aside for this purpose guarantees $5,000. The application forms have been simplified and the program and forms are now posted on our website, www.lvmac.org.
SCHOOL READING PROGRAM ENVISIONED
Robin Carmody at the last Veterans Affairs Committee meeting suggested (and the committee approved) we begin our Community Educational Outreach initiative by arranging for veterans and service members to participate in elementary school reading programs. The idea is both simple and practical and should appeal to the school districts – a good way to give back to our community while overcoming the divides and lack of understanding which sometimes separate us. She is now in the process of preparing a survey of all the local school districts to determine needs and is developing a “military kids” website page for our website.
RE-LOOKING OUR EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS
Now that a program director has been found, we are awaiting a proposal from a working group consisting of AEDC, LVEDC, Baker Institute (Lehigh University) and LVMAC participants for what will be called as a working title, the “Lehigh Valley Veterans Entrepreneurship Initiative.” It will deal with the training and connecting of returning veterans interested in technology entrepreneurial enterprises. As you might be aware, some claim that about 40% of veterans have an inclination in starting their own businesses upon leaving the service. Max Harris, an Associate Member, is trying to make this dream a reality for the Lehigh Valley.
HEALTH CARE INITIATIVE PROGRESSING
Eric Johnson meets with the VALOs on 18 January at Coordinated Health to get an update on the progress of our Health Care in Our Community effort. The three primary areas of endeavor currently are the patient screening and identification project, the education and training project, and completion of a first version of the resource manual. A meeting with physicians validated what we are attempting to accomplish and all the hospitals are participating. On that note we are in the process of setting up the second annual meeting of the CEO’s, the steering committee, in March.
PROJECT HEALING WATERS EVENTS SET FOR 2013
If you caught the Morning Call last week you will note that Hokendauqua Trout Unlimited has already begun its Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing efforts for 2013. They have a very ambitious plan for this year. It contains 6 events or activities. It proves what can be done when a group organizes well and is persistent. It has also touched lives.
FOCUS ON COLLEGES BEGINNING
On 25 January, the Veterans Affairs Chair, Rich Hudzinski, will be meeting with Carol Reese and Lexi Hay from Moravian College, a new member organization. They have volunteered to serve as co-chairs for an effort to ensure every college and university in the Lehigh Valley become a member organization, but more importantly to push for the formation of veterans clubs, well-educated veterans advisors and ultimately veteran friendly or prepared schools, a deficiency in Pennsylvania according to a report done a few years ago by PACARES.
REPORT ON WAR VETERANS COUNCIL
Again the Pennsylvania War Veterans Council failed to readopt an old legislative goal of theirs to create a State Department of Veterans Affairs. If well-placed officials and legislators who work veterans issues can see the need for one in this state, why this body of old line veterans organizations and the Pennsylvania Association of County Directors cannot confounds us. On the upside, Chuck Jackson and the VAC chair are about to launch a new effort and it seems a coalition between LVMAC, MOAA and VVA and others is possible towards that purpose.
The current legislative goals of the War Veterans Council this year are:
– Increase the annual funding of Act 66 claims officers provided by these organizations to $2.3 million
– Support funding of $350,000 to maintain the services of the DAV’s Transportation Network
– Clarifying and modifying the Small Games of Chance law they were instrumental in helping get passed and now all those affected seems to have grudge about, to the point that implementation of the reporting requirements have been delayed a year while efforts are ongoing to settle the matter.
On 20 December, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it is cutting red tape for Veterans by eliminating the need for them to complete an annual Eligibility Verification Report (EVR). It affects those receiving a veterans or survivors pension. The main thing it does is stop automatic, unwarranted cessations of monthly payments because a report is missing or suspense missed. Changes to income and medical expenses, if full reimbursement is wanted, still need to be submitted annually. A side benefit is that it will shift manpower to eliminating the compensation claims backlog. More information can be found in the Forward Observer article, “Cutting the Red Tape from Veterans’ and Survivors’ Pensions — Somewhat.”
The Miltiary Officers Association and The Military Coalition are now engaging Congress to preserve TRICARE as first promised. Already it has given up the battle over TRICARE PRIME. Department of Defense has already announced that major changes in TRICARE PRIME will occur, now that the appeals to the contract awards are settled. Expect TRICARE PRIME changes to begin in our area around October. However, the early word is that the Lehigh Valley will unaffected but we are not certain at this time. Probably this means those on active duty and their families are unaffected, but any military retirees and their dependents may be (but there also few who use PRIME). Here is what DoD is saying, “The new contracts limit Prime networks to regions within a 40-mile radius of military treatment facilities and in areas affected by the 2005 base closure and realignment process, she explained. But provisions will allow Prime beneficiaries who see providers outside the 40-mile service area to remain in Prime if they reside within 100 miles of an available primary care manager and sign an access waiver … If TRICARE retirees and young adults live less than 100 miles away from a remaining Prime service area, they can re-enroll in Prime by waiving their drive standards and there will be room made for them,” Lawhon said, adding that the networks are required to connect providers to those who elect to waive their drive standards.”
The existing TRICARE STANDARD and EXTRA and RESERVE SELECT will be its replacement. PRIME is a more expensive program than originally projected and cost reduction is at play, considering the budgetary problems. As a result cost-shifting onto some service members and retirees will be occurring. Actually some of them prefer the change according to MOAA because PRIME network providers have failed to develop in all areas of the country as needed, among other reasons. The downside is that while costs are based on use — unlike in PRIME which has a flat annual fee — it is a more expensive program for a military or military retiree. Not only are deductibles involved, but also up to 15 to 25% copays depending on status.
TRICARE will soon offer a ZIP code lookup tool that will help you find out if you live in an area that is affected. Sign up now to receive e-mail alerts about this topic and to learn when the ZIP code lookup tool becomes available. For more information, click here.
As of 17 January 2013