AMVETS in Action

Category: Press Release

AMVETS National Commander on VA Secretary’s Remarks

Contact/Inquiries: David Gai,
National Communications Director, AMVETS
4647 Forbes Blvd.
Lanham, MD 20706
DGai@AMVETS.org
301-683-4035
www.AMVETS.org

Statement from AMVETS National Commander Jim Pidgeon on VA Secretary’s Remarks

The overall experience for veterans, or “customers”, at U.S. Veterans Affairs medical centers has been lacking in quality for far too long. AMVETS (American Veterans) is pleased that the VA is working toward the important measurement of customer satisfaction. That metric is central to all private medical care systems, as well at VA.

VA Secretary Bob McDonald’s unfortunate remarks Monday in which he drew a loose comparison between wait times veterans were facing to receive medical care and the lines for rides at Disneyland were not serious enough for the matter at hand. Waiting for VA medical care should not be compared to waiting in line at an amusement park. It is important to continue tracking and reducing wait times for veterans.

That said, this one sentence does not reflect the full context of McDonald’s overall message and the work being done at VA. In the full context, the need to focus on veteran satisfaction is something that can be agreed with by most, if not all, veterans and their families.

McDonald was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a deeply partisan era in large part because of his successful business experience in bringing customers what they need and want. While his latest remarks were easy to spin, the fact is Disney is one of many successful business models the VA can look to through its ongoing transformation.

The VA remains focused on industry and businesses’ best practices and efforts to increase access and reduce wait times. The overall experience must be improved, and AMVETS is hopeful the new MyVA efforts and applications of business and industry best practices are positive steps in that direction.

AMVETS is committed to comprehensive transformation of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Administration to best serve every veteran. AMVETS will continue working with McDonald and the rest of the VA leadership in a collaborative, transparent effort to create an overall positive experience for every VA “customer.”

AMVETS Names Afghanistan, Iraq Veteran Executive Director

Contact/Inquiries: David Gai,
National Communications Director, AMVETS
4647 Forbes Blvd.
Lanham, MD 20706
DGai@AMVETS.org
301-683-4035
www.AMVETS.org

AMVETS Names Afghanistan, Iraq Veteran National Executive Director

Chenelly is a longtime veterans advocate, former military reporter and political advisor

WASHINGTON – AMVETS (American Veterans) has tapped one of the veterans’ community’s top grassroots organizers to take over as national executive director of the nonprofit organization.

Marine Corps combat veteran Joseph R. Chenelly will oversee AMVETS, one of the nation’s largest Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization, working to better serve veterans of all eras in both Washington, D.C., and in communities nationwide.

Chenelly is a veteran of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait, the Horn of Africa and East Timor. After his time in uniform, Chenelly became a veterans’ advocate, a journalist and a political adviser, organizing nationally at the grassroots levels and advising on veterans and military matters.

In his new role, Chenelly is charged with using that experience to inspire and organize AMVETS’ 250,000 members in 1,400 posts to educate the public on the challenges facing those currently serving in the active/guard/reserve components, veterans and their families.

“We are in a very challenging time, one of the most important for the future of veterans health care. We have every confidence that 2016 has the potential to be one of the most decisive, pivotal years in AMVETS history,” said Chenelly.

AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s veterans and citizens alike. AMVETS includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to help lead this great, historic organization in fighting for all of the more than 22 million American Veterans alive today as well as their families,” Chenelly said. “It is a difficult time for America’s warriors, a time when we need to stand together stronger than ever. Every veteran matters. The challenges are serious and far reaching, much needs to be done. I am honored to join a group of such dedicated members – the AMVETS family.”

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Chenelly enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in March 1998, serving with the 1st Marine Division, and was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant in April 2006. He then covered military and veterans matters as a staff writer for Leatherneck magazine, the Military Times newspapers, and Gannett, reporting on operations in the Middle East, Southwest Asia, Africa, as well as disaster relief in the United States.

Chenelly was named one of the 100 “most influential journalists covering armed violence” by AOAV in 2013. He was the first U.S. Marine combat correspondent to step into enemy territory after September 11, 2001, as a military reporter in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He also reported from the frontlines with American and allied forces in Kuwait and Iraq as that war began. He was on the ground for the start of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Chenelly served as AMVETS’ national communications director in 2005 and for the past eight years as assistant national director for communications for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) in Washington, D.C., leading grassroots efforts through social networking and new media.

He’s also served as president of Social Communications, LLC, and a public affairs director for the Department of Navy. Chenelly is an alum of Syracuse University and Central Texas College.

Chenelly resides in Fairport, N.Y., with his wife Dawn, a service-connected disabled Air Force veteran, and their five children. He is on Facebook at fb.com/joe.chenelly and Twitter @jchenelly.

The White House Internship Program and the D.C. Scholars Program

For Immediate Release

Apply: https://www.whitehouse.gov/participate/internships/apply

LAST CHANCE TO APPLY FOR THE WHITE HOUSE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM AND THE D.C. SCHOLARS PROGRAM AT THE WHITE HOUSE IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATIONFall 2016 White House Internship ProgramDC Scholars Program

Do you know leaders interested in interning at the White House for the Obama Administration?  Encourage them to apply today for the Fall 2016 White House Internship Program – the final internship opportunity in the Obama Administration.  This select group of young men and women from across the country dedicate their time, talents, energy, and service to better the White House, the community, and the nation.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, 18 years of age or older before the first day of the internship, and meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university (two-to-four year institution)
  • Graduated from an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university (two-to-four year institution) no more than two years before the first day of the internship
  • A veteran of the United States Armed Forces who possesses a high school diploma or its equivalent and has served on active duty, for any length of time, in the two years preceding the first day of the internship

Every summer since the start of the Obama Administration in 2009, graduating high school seniors from public and charter high schools in the District of Columbia have been invited to apply for a part-time summer internship opportunity at the White House through the D.C. Scholars Program at the White House.

Additional information on both programs, including eligibility requirements, application materials, and internship timelines are available on our website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/participate/internships/about.

How can you help?

  • Promote the White House Internship Program at your alma mater.  Email internship_info@who.eop.govfor more information.
  • Encourage eligible applicants to apply before the deadline – the final intern application cycle in the Obama Administration!  The Fall 2016 White House Internship Program application cycle closes on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 11:59 PM, EST and the application for the D.C. Scholars Program at the White House closes on Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST.  Application questions should be directed to intern_application@who.eop.govand DCScholar_Info@who.eop.gov.
  • Distribute the attached flyers to potential applicants and other contacts who may be interested in the program.

 

Horizon Goodwill Industries Launches AMVETS Career Center powered by the Call of Duty Endowment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact
David Gai
Phone: 301-683-4035
Email: dgai@amvets.org

On Wednesday January 20th, Horizon Goodwill Industries, in partnership with AMVETS (American Veterans), will launch their AMVETS Career Center powered by the Call of Duty Endowment at the Goodwill Resource Center at 100 Eagle School Road, Martinsburg, WV 25401 from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Horizon Goodwill Industries (HGI) is proud to be AMVETS’ first non-AMVET partner in this critical resource for our community,” said Catherine Fleming, Director of Mission Services for HGI. “HGI is a perfect fit as a partner with AMVETS for helping veterans. Job seekers of all kinds come to Goodwill® for services every day, including veterans. AMVETS is well-known to men and women who have exited the service. This partnership offers veterans a convenient location to access training and help finding employment.” said Fleming. Up to now, AMVETS, a national veterans’ service organization, one of eight Call of Duty Endowment grantees, has used local AMVETS posts to house their career centers.

“We are proud to be working together with HGI and confident that this partnership will enhance our joint service offerings for this nation’s heroes, especially for the veterans in the Martinsburg area,” said Jim Pidgeon, AMVETS National Commander. By the end of 2016, more than 74,000 veterans will be living in the 4-state region*. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 5.0 percent national unemployment rate for all Americans (16 and over) for December 2015. That same report identified the unemployment rate for veterans in the following age categories; 20-24 at 6.1%, 25-29 at 6.5%, 30-34 at 8.3%, and 35-39 at 6.3%. If these statistics hold true for the 4-state area, that means between 4,000 and 5,000 men and women who have served our country will be without a job.

Goodwill and AMVETS are doing something about that! #puttingheroestowork

“We provide case management, paid work training and job placement services for vets that are also receiving assistance from the VA,” said Fleming. “Both AMVETS and Goodwill are increasing services to veterans resulting in closer partnerships with VA programs. This vital career center partnership is the first of its kind for both of our organizations.”

AMVETS National Commander James D. Pidgeon and Horizon Goodwill Industries CEO John N. McCain will speak at the launch about the partnership and how it will benefit veterans in the 4-state region.

HGI serves people in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia and is able to support needs that could otherwise go unmet in local communities. Goodwill’s vison is helping people achieve their full potential through the dignity and power of work.

AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s veterans and citizens alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves.

*Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, Veteran Population Projection Model-VetPop2014; statistics for Washington, Allegany, and Garrett County in MD, Grant, Hardy, Mineral, Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson counties in WV, Winchester City and Frederick county, Warren, Clarke, Page, and Shenandoah counties in VA and Fulton and the southern portion of Franklin counties in PA.

For more information, please visit www.horizongoodwill.org and www.amvets.org. #puttingheroestowork

Defense Department Announces Results of Military Decorations and Awards Review

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Release No: NR-004-16
January 7, 2016

Today, the Department of Defense announced the results of its year-long review of the military decorations and awards program to ensure continued appropriate recognition of the service, sacrifices, and actions of its service members while maintaining the historical legacy of the awards program.

The department’s review focused on combat and valor recognition utilizing lessons learned over 14 years of combat operations. Among the key changes was:

  • Implementation of new goals and processes to improve timeliness of the Medal of Honor and other valor awards;
  • Standardization of the meaning and use of the “V” device as a valor-only device to ensure unambiguous and distinctive recognition for preeminent acts of combat valor;
  • Creation of a new combat device (e.g., “C” device) to distinctly recognize those service members performing meritoriously under the most arduous combat conditions;
  • Adoption of a common definition of Meritorious Service Under Combat Conditions to determine eligibility for personal combat awards;
  • Introduction of an “R” remote impacts device to recognize service members who use remote technology to directly impact combat operations.

The complete list of changes to the military decorations and awards program can be found at: http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Military-Decorations-and-Awards-Review-Results.pdf. These changes will be implemented over the next 12 months.

Heroes Vodka Donates $14,000 to AMVETS

Nashville, TN – Dec. 9, 2015 — Nashville-based Heroes Vodka, founded by U.S. Veteran Travis McVey, is donating $14,000 to AMVETS for its 2015 Giveback. The annual donation is an ongoing commitment by the award-winning vodka to give back a portion of every purchase to benefit U.S. Veterans and their families.

McVey dedicates the month of November to American Heroes by traveling to stores and bars that sell his product and personally thanking them for their support. “With 9 gold and silver medals in blind tastings, the vodka sells itself,” says McVey, “but the bars and liquor stores in Middle Tennessee also see value in the giveback to Veterans.” Heroes Vodka is the only local spirit that has a Giveback attached to every purchase.

McVey made personal visits to local establishments to present the annual donation including ACME Feed & Seed, The Palm Restaurant, Cool Springs Wines & Spirits, Sperry’s Restaurant, Whiskey Bent Saloon, Tootsie’s Lounge, Corner Pub and Bridgestone Arena. Dignitaries including Nashville Mayor Megan Berry and more than 100 Veterans joined in the festivities. Heroes Vodka is available in nearly 400 accounts in TN, and in hundreds more nationwide. Heroes Vodka will be the main sponsor of the 2015 Music City New Year’s Eve Bash on Broadway in conjunction with Tootsie’s Lounge, Rippy’s Bar & Grill, and Honky Tonk Central. In addition to being featured on the VIP Fast Pass, Heroes Vodka will be the preferred pour with specialty drinks to ring in the new year.

McVey is traveling to New York to for the official Giveback presentation of the $14,000 check to the AMVETS National Commander on Dec. 9, 2015 at the Union League Club, located at 38 E. 37th St, New York, NY 10016.

About Heroes Vodka
Heroes Vodka is an award-winning, Veteran-owned premium American vodka. It was first bottled at Buffalo Trace on Veteran’s Day – 11.11.11 – a date that occurs only once in a century and epitomizes the rarity of this event. An all natural gluten- and glycerin-free spirit, Heroes Vodka has received 9 Gold and Silver Medals in national tasting and spirit competitions. Made from 100% American corn, each batch is distilled four times to create an ultra-pure, world-class spirit. The mission of Heroes Vodka is to deliver exceptional taste and superior value to consumers, while honoring Veterans and other American service organizations through charitable contributions. Every purchase of Heroes Vodka supports American Veterans through its Official Giveback Partner AMVETS. Donations are used to to develop community assistance programs for U.S. Veterans, active duty military and their families. To date, Heroes Vodka has donated $34,884 to support America’s military Heroes. HeroesVodka.com

About Travis McVey, Heroes Vodka Founder & U.S. Veteran
Travis McVey is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran who proudly served as a Presidential Honor Guard from 1989-1992. An innovative and determined entrepreneur, Travis endured the life-changing tragedy of a good friend dying in combat in the War Against Terror in Afghanistan. The experience paved the way for the production of Heroes Vodka, which donates a portion of every sale to AMVETS, helping to make a difference in the lives of the brave men and women who have sacrificed for our country. McVey is a member of NaVOBA (National Veteran-Owned Business Association) and author of “Heroes of the Stage: Country Serving Country.” He serves as a correspondent for Vets on Media and has been a keynote speaker at multiple Veteran advocacy events, including the AMVETS National Convention. McVey currently resides in Nashville, TN.

About R.S. Lipman Company
R.S. Lipman Company is a Nashville-based international supplier of wines, spirits, beers, and mixers. The company’s diverse portfolio includes: Country Club Vodka (established in 1957), Lonely Cow Wines from New Zealand, Hap & Harry’s Tennessee Beers, U.S. Veteran owned Heroes Vodka, Red Eye Bloody Mary Mixes, El Diamante del Cielo Tequilas, Old Hickory Great American Whiskeys, Hidden Jewel California Wines, Saturday Night Red Wine, and the Napa Smith Brewery collection of craft beers. RSLipman.com

About AMVETS
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for Veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and Veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered Veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. AMVETS.org

For more images from the Heroes Vodka Giveback events in Nashville, please visit our photo gallery found in the link below:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/heroesvodka/sets/72157661992749435

AMVETS Announces Thanksgiving Sweepstakes Winners

LANHAM, Md., November 23, 2015 — AMVETS leaders this week congratulated AMVETS 2015 Thanksgiving Sweepstakes grand prize winner Perry Tucker. AMVETS National Executive Director James B. King personally called Perry Tucker to congratulate him on winning the $10,000 sweepstakes grand prize.

AMVETS selected the 10 lucky sweepstakes winners from approximately 105,000 entries from around the country for prizes ranging from $500 to the $10,000 grand prize. The drawing took place today at the AMVETS National Headquarters in Lanham, MD.

Proceeds from the sweepstakes help support AMVETS’ continuing mission to deliver quality of life programs for veterans and their families. Be sure to look for the next AMVETS Sweepstakes entry form in the mail in February 2016.

2015 Thanksgiving Sweepstakes winners:

$10,000.00 – Perry Tucker, Burke, NY
$5,000.00 – George Swanson, Naples, FL
$2,500.00 – David D. Vander Hyde, Newaygo, MI
$1,000.00 – John T. Heron, Edmore, MI
$500.00 – Brett Thomas Lamour, Lambertville, MI
$500.00 – G. Northway, Clarence, NY
$500.00 – Edwin Sanborn, Medway, OH
$500.00 – Darrell E. Jensen, Audubon, IA
$500.00 – Bryant S. Mitchell, Louisville, TN
$500.00 – Rose Nemeth, Hillsboro, MO

About AMVETS:
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit www.amvets.org.

AANP, AMVETS Promote Non-Pharmacological Approaches for Chronic Pain

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

For AMVETS:
Diane Zumatto, National Legislative Director
Phone: 301-683-4016
Email: dzumatto@amvets.org

For AANP:
Michael Jawer, Director of Government and Public Affairs
Phone: 202-237-8150
Email: mike.jawer@naturopathic.org

Washington DC, September 16, 2015 – AMVETS, one of the nation’s largest veterans service organizations, has joined with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) in seeking to promote natural, non-pharmacological approaches to treating veterans suffering from chronic pain.

The organizations have collaborated via a “Dear Colleague” letter in the US House of Representatives calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to take steps to employ licensed naturopathic physicians, who are specially trained in natural, non-invasive methods of healing. A “Dear Colleague” letter to that effect has begun circulating in the US House of Representatives. Leading the charge is Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI), who – like many of his colleagues – is concerned about the dangers of overmedicating veterans, especially with painkilling opioids. Rep. Pocan is joined by Representatives Julia Brownley (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Walter Jones as the letter’s initial signators.

“After incidents across the country of veterans overdosing on or abusing opioids associated with chronic pain, it is clear we need a new approach to veterans’ pain management,” Rep. Pocan stated. “Our veterans deserve access to all possible forms of care when making their healthcare decisions, including the services provided by naturopathic doctors (NDs).”

The VA serves 8.76 million veterans each year, and chronic pain is known to disproportionately affect those who are serving or have served in the military, affecting nearly half of all active-duty military personnel and veterans.

The letter urges VA Secretary Robert McDonald to assign an employment code to licensed NDs so that they can be brought into the agency’s healthcare system. Signators will be on record as supporting the inclusion of “licensed naturopathic doctors, who are trained in the use of safe and effective natural and conventional therapies, in the spectrum of healthcare professionals employed within the agency.” Citizens can quickly and easily urge their Representative to sign the letter by clicking here.

Before its collaboration with AMVETS to support the House Dear Colleague letter, AANP commissioned a nationwide survey of a representative sample of America’s veterans, finding that nearly two-thirds of veterans (64%) would prefer a doctor who prescribes natural therapies before considering drugs or surgery, and that nearly three-quarters of veterans (73%) would consider seeing a ND if he or she were on staff at a nearby VA facility.

For military veterans, chronic pain often coexists with other health problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. NDs are well suited to help, since they are specially trained in natural, non-pharmacological approaches that facilitate the body’s self-healing ability.

Approximately 4,400 NDs are licensed to practice naturopathic medicine, having earned their degree from 4-year postgraduate naturopathic medical schools accredited through the US Department of Education. The approaches studied include nutritional counseling and stress reduction, botanical medicine, therapeutic manipulation, and oriental medicine. A strong emphasis is placed on disease prevention and educating patients on proactive self-care to maintain wellness. Resolutions passed by the US Senate have urged Americans to learn more about this “safe, effective, and affordable form of health care.”

The seeds for the VA initiative were planted at this spring’s AANP legislative conference, when NDs and naturopathic medical students swarmed Capitol Hill expressing the need for the VA to bring NDs into its employment mix. The agency has the ability to assign NDs an existing employment code; Congress’ letter is intended to encourage the VA to take the next steps.

Ultimately, the letter will be delivered to the VA, with the agency asked to respond to this “clear and present need.”

About AMVETS:
AMVETS (American Veterans), a leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s Armed Forces, has supported Veterans, Active & Reserve Component Service Members, their families and survivors, for more than a half a century. As a leading advocate for Veterans rights and benefits, AMVETS serves as one of the preeminent voices of Veterans on Capitol Hill. AMVETS seeks to enhance and defend the earned benefits of all Veterans & Service Members through leadership, advocacy and service. Learn more at www.amvets.org.

About The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) is the professional association that represents licensed naturopathic physicians. AANP strives to make naturopathic medicine available to every American, and to increase recognition of naturopathic physicians as the identified authorities on natural medicine. Learn more at www.naturopathic.org.

AMVETS Supports Veterans, Not Politicos

Lanham, MD – In response to the comments over the weekend from Donald Trump in regard to Senator McCain’s military service and record on VA reform, AMVETS (American Veterans), National Communications Director, David Gai, issued the following statement on behalf of AMVETS.

“When the dust settles and the rhetoric is gone, what is the true impact on veterans? Let the politicos open their mouths and insert their foot. That’s what they do; they don’t need our help. We refuse to sink low and get involved in the mud-slinging and political jabs because it has no benefit to supporting veterans, which is our organization’s focus.”

For media inquiries, please contact amvetscomms2@amvets.org.

About AMVETS:
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit www.amvets.org.

VA Expands Disability Benefits for Air Force Personnel

VA Expands Disability Benefits for Air Force Personnel Exposed to Contaminated C-123 Aircraft

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today published a new regulation that expands eligibility for some benefits for a select group of Air Force Veterans and Air Force Reserve personnel who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange through regular and repeated contact with contaminated C-123 aircraft that had been used in Vietnam as part of Operation Ranch Hand (ORH).

VA published this regulation as an interim final rule so that it could immediately begin providing benefits to eligible Air Force veterans and Air Force Reserve personnel who submit a disability compensation claim for any of the 14 medical conditions that have been determined by VA to be related to exposure to Agent Orange.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald made the decision to expand benefits following receipt of a 2015 report by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM) on Post-Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange-Contaminated C-123 Aircraft. This VA-requested report found evidence that as many as 1,500 to 2,100 Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel who served as flight, medical and ground maintenance crew members on ORH C-123 aircraft previously used to spray Agent Orange in Vietnam were exposed to the herbicide.

“Opening up eligibility for this deserving group of Air Force veterans and reservists is the right thing to do,” said Secretary McDonald. “We thank the IOM for its thorough review that provided the supporting evidence needed to ensure we can now fully compensate any former crew member who develops an Agent Orange-related disability.”

Under this new rule, Air Force and Air Force Reserve flight, medical and ground maintenance crewmembers who served on the contaminated ORH C-123s are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides during their service, thus making it easier for them to establish entitlement for some VA benefits if they develop an Agent Orange-related presumptive condition. In addition, for affected Air Force Reserve crew members, VA will presume that their Agent Orange-related condition had its onset during their Reserve training. This change ensures that these reservists are eligible for VA disability compensation and medical care for any Agent Orange-related presumptive condition, and that their surviving dependents are eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation and burial benefits.

The interim final rule can be found on the Federal Register: www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection. VA will immediately begin processing claims and issuing benefits to eligible Air Force crew members.

VA encourages reservists who were assigned to flight, ground or medical crew duties at Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio (906th and 907th Tactical Air Groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadron), Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts (731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron) or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, International Airport ( 758th Airlift Squadron) during the period 1969 to 1986, and developed an Agent Orange-related disability to file a disability compensation claim online through the joint VA-Department of Defense web portal, eBenefits (https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/).

VA also has identified several active duty locations where ORH C-123 aircraft may have been used following their service in Vietnam. Active duty personnel who served in a regular USAF unit location where a contaminated C-123 was assigned and who had regular and repeated contact with the aircraft through flight, ground or medical duties during the period 1969 to 1986, and who develop an Agent Orange-related disability, also are encouraged to apply for benefits. For more information on applying for these benefits, including the affected units, Air Force Specialty Codes and dates of service for affected crew members, and a listing of Agent Orange-related conditions, visit www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp.

In order to avoid unnecessary delay of benefits, claimants should annotate “(C-123)” after each Agent Orange related disability in Part II, Block 14 of VA Form 21-526 or Section I, Block 11 of VA

Form VA Form 21-526EZ when filing on eBenefits. Example: Diabetes (C-123). If claimants have any of the following documents, they should be attached to their application:

  • Discharge, separation papers, (DD214 or equivalent)
  • USAF Form 2096 (unit where assigned at the time of the training action)
  • USAF Form 5 (aircraft flight duties)
  • USAF Form 781 (aircraft maintenance duties)
  • Dependency records (marriage & children’s birth certificates)
  • Medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports)

VA will process all claims related to C-123 exposure at the St. Paul, Minnesota, VA Regional Office. Claims not filed through eBenefits should be mailed to the following address (or faxed to 608-373-6694):

Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
Attention: C123 Claims
PO Box 5088
Janesville, WI 53547-5088

Individuals with specific benefit questions related to herbicide exposure on C-123s may call VA’s special C-123 Hotline at 1-800-749-8387 (available 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST) or e-mail VSCC123.VAVBASPL@va.gov.