LVMAC News — Veterans, Reservists and the National Guard Should Worry About a Pennsylvania Payday Lending Bill

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In this Issue

Pending Payday Lending Legislation: A Debt Trap for Military Veterans
General Announcements
Homelessness
Scholarship Program
Community Educational Outreach
PTSD Booklet for Families
Healthcare in Our Community
Veterans Supportive Colleges Initiative
DoD/VA News

Pending Payday Lending Legislation: A Debt Trap for Military Veterans

Go to the Forward Observer article on payday lending to read what Kerry Smith told the Council at its 20 March business meeting.

General Announcements

Now that the budget and programs are underway, will be making the first quarterly distribution soon to programs we support.

Our AFW Dinner is on 3 May at the Ice Palace in Allentown.  We will be celebrating our tenth anniversary as an organization.  Please attend.

Lehigh Valley Homeless Veterans Action Committee

Pat diLuzio will have second meeting of the Lehigh Valley Homeless Veteran Advisory Committee on 27 March.  The February meeting was a success.  Presently, the focus of the effort seems to be moving towards the development of housing stock and transitional living.

Scholarship Program

Scholarship Program is underway and this year it seems we will have more veterans applying, based on what has been submitted already, a focus of the program for this year.

Community Educational Outreach

Robin Carmody has a prepared a simple, survey of the 18 school districts.  First Generation will assist us in conducting the survey using the electronic method. Meanwhile the military kids page for the website has been submitted to our service provider and she is drafting a bibliography of appropriate books to be read for a reading program.

PTSD Booklet for Families

The review of our second version (Author’s 7th edition) is now drawing to a conclusion.  Rich Hudzinski has added some new best-of-class resources while dropping outdated ones.  We expect to send the final draft to the printers at the end of April.

Healthcare in Our Community

Eric Johnson and Alexander Alex are setting up a financial workshop meeting with TRICARE North for tomorrow.  We’re also getting down to brass tacks for the CEO Conference in May or June.  While cooperation with DoD is progressing well, we are also hopeful Wilkes-Barre VAMC’s Director will see the value of this important project to our community. We understand there are federal limitations, both budgetary and legal,and concerns about unfair competitive advantages when it comes to contracting, but certainly it should not prevent communications and education of hospitals to perform better in servicing veterans,  especially since contracting is not the objective of this project. The fact is locally the majority of our veterans do not use the VA.  The Federal Administrations’ Joining Forces wants efforts such as ours.

Veterans Supportive Colleges Initiative

Carol Reese and Lexi Hay of Moravian College, our co-chairs for this initiative, returned from a Student Veterans of America conference out in Pittsburgh two weeks ago with fresh ideas.  They will be meeting with the Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman, Rich Hudzinski, on  22 March to draft the final proposal to the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges for the forming of a special action committee which may well unit the efforts of all the high educational institutions in the Lehigh Valley.

Government Affairs

Chuck Jackson and Rich Hudzinski briefed the state VFW Commander on 7 March about the importance of re-launching their drive for a State Dept. of Veterans Affairs.  They are to talk to Sen. Baker of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee to sound her out on the subject.

HB 1019 was introduced 18 March to create an Office of Mental Health Awareness to be under the control of DMVA.  OMHSA, which has been spearheading the PA effort, as part of a SAMHSA federal effort to do more in this area of transition assistance, however, is unaware of the development.  Coordinated efforts in PA are possible, but difficult.

The state’s Vietnam Veterans of America has suggested that the current Paralyzed Veterans Pension benefit, under revision in response to a court case which the state lost over the definition of loss of use of a limb as HB 536 and 381 (the same bills essentially duplicating one another) severe neuropathy resulting from an Agent Orange or TBI, determination by the VA, be considered when it results in loss of fulltime employment.  It fits the intent of the court settlement and modern times, while keeping the benefit from being abused.

DoD/VA News

A tidbit … As part of its ongoing transformation from paper-based to electronic claims processing, the Department of Veterans Affairs has continued to improve the automated payment of benefits for Veterans participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill education program.  As a result, VA is now providing benefit payments to currently enrolled students in an average of six days – cutting by more than half the processing time experienced during the spring enrollment period last year.

To give you an idea of the immensity of this undertaking, over the past three and 1/2 years, VA has provided $27 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to approximately 938,000  veterans, servicemembers and their families, and to the universities, colleges, and trade schools they attend.

 

 

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As of 21 March 2013

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