Veterans Hotline: CNCC seeks Amsterdam veterans

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— Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig is hosting a community presentation Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Bell Tower Building near the Holiday Inn of Craig. They have invited Joesphina Kooijman, a translator, born and raised in Amsterdam to be the guest speaker. The program is called "Amsterdam: Resolute, Heroic and Merciful." There will be refreshments served. The college is asking for veterans who served in that area during the wars or who visited this city on leave to attend and share their experiences.

Library looking for veterans to read stories

The Moffat County Library is looking for vets to be story readers Nov. 6 at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. They are asking that you read your favorite short story to youngsters in the story-reading program. If interested, contact me or Trisha at the library at 824-5116.

VFW holds electronic donation drive

How will you honor America's heroes this Veterans Day? The national VFW has an electronic fundraiser going at friendsoffreedom@vfw.org. There will be dollar-for-dollar donor matching for each dollar that is donated in this program and received by the VFW by Nov. 11. Donate to honor these heroes and double your impact. Act quickly if you want to support our troops and veterans.

Veteran Clinic hires new registered nurse

The Craig Telehealth Clinic has a new full-time RN. She is April Branstetter, RN, BSN, CPAN, from Hayden. April started Oct. 16 and is undergoing VA training & orientation to the Telehealth system. Here is a short biography she wrote to introduce herself:

April was born in Las Animas. After high school, she moved to Pueblo then Denver. She worked at St. Joseph Hospital and the Denver VAMC, then she moved to Hayden. She has been a resident for the past 15 years. April has 29 years experience as a registered nurse. She has worked at Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat for the past 15 years in ICU, medical/surgical nursing, charge nurse, house supervisor and, more recently, in the day surgery/recovery department. She is married, has 2 children and a dog. April is looking forward to serving the veterans in Northwest Colorado at the VA Telehealth site.

Veteran flu shots now are available

Flu shot walk-ins now are available in Craig at the Telehealth site. If you get a flu shot from another provider, make sure that info gets into your medical history log. The same with any other vaccination you get elsewhere. Moffat county vets now can enroll in the VAMC health care system in Craig, once the new PA staff member is on site. This means a trip to the main facility in Grand Junction will no longer be necessary in all enrollments. The new PA will do the physical assessments. However, if there are significant health issues, it still may mean a trip to VAMC Grand Junction for proper treatment or further testing.

Traumatic brain injury update

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced changes to its schedule for rating disabilities for Traumatic Brain Injury, the "signature wound" of Iraq and Afghanistan. A VA news release reported, "Traumatic brain injuries result in immediate effects such as loss or alteration of consciousness, amnesia and sometimes neurological impairments." In some cases, "prolonged or even permanent problems with a wide range of impairment in such areas as physical, mental and emotional/behavioral functioning may occur." People with TBI may experience headache, sleep difficulties, decreased memory and attention, slower thinking, irritability and depression. 22,000 veterans presently are being compensated for TBI, including 5,800 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Those already receiving compensation for TBI injuries can be re-evaluated under the new rating schedule criteria. The VA stressed, however, that veterans with the "most severe" forms of TBI would not receive much, if any, extra compensation because the current rating schedule provides adequate compensation in such cases. The rating schedule change mainly has the potential to affect those with mild or relatively moderate TBI who may have been assigned low or modest ratings in the past. Under the new rules, TBI ratings will be based on the degree of "cognitive impairment" and other "residuals" of TBI. These may include mild to severe loss of memory, attention, concentration, judgment, motor activity, visual spatial orientation, ability to communicate and other functions. The rating schedule goes into effect in late October. Because of the complexity of each individual evaluation, it's not possible to assert that a particular person or particular condition would receive a particular rating increase. (Source: MOAA Leg Up)

Posthumous Purple Heart awards

Congressman Bob Filner (CA 50th District) announced Oct. 7 that the Purple Heart will be presented posthumously to all prisoners of war who die in captivity. The revised policy allows retroactive award of the Purple Heart to qualifying prisoners of war since Dec. 7, 1941. Posthumous award will be made to the deceased service member's representative, as designated by the secretary of the military department concerned, upon application to that military department. The legislation that makes this possible is Filner's bill, Honor Our Fallen Prisoners of War Act, passed by Congress in 2006. The Department of Defense announced its complete implementation Oct. 6. "The law now presumes the death of all service members who die in captivity was the result of enemy action or the result of wounds incurred in action with the enemy during capture and imprisonment," said Congressman Filner. "Before passage of my bill, prisoners of war who died during imprisonment of wounds inflicted by an instrument of war were eligible for posthumous Purple Heart recognition, but those who died of starvation, disease, abuse, freezing or other causes during captivity were not. There should be no false distinction indicating more courage or more sacrifice by some prisoners of war over others," said Filner. The Honor Our Fallen Prisoners of War Act had more than 200 co-sponsors and broad bipartisan support in Congress. In addition, many major Veteran Service Organizations supported the bill, including the American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the American Ex-Prisoners of War. The Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer. "The inspiration for my bill came from Wilbert 'Shorty' Estabrook, who was imprisoned for more than three years during the Korean War, and Rick and Brenda Tavares. Brenda's uncle, Corporal Melvin Morgan, died in Korea of starvation and beatings in 1950 at the age of 20," said Filner. Each military department will publish application procedures and will ensure they are accessible to the general public. Family members with questions may call Army Military Awards Branch at 703-325-8700, Navy Personnel Command Retired Records Section at 314-592 -1150, Air Force Personnel Center at 800-616-3775, and Marine Corps Military Awards Branch at 730-784-9340. For further information, media representatives should contact Eileen Lainez at 703-695-3895 or eileen.lainez@osd.mil. (Source: Filner Press Release)

For information on these programs and other veterans' benefits, call or stop in the Moffat County VSO office at 480 Barclay St. (West of the Bank of Colorado parking lot.) Call 970-824-3246 or fax 970-824-7108. Our e-mail address is veterans@moffatcounty.net. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Other times can be arranged by appointment. Bring a copy of your separation papers (DD-214) for application for VA programs and for filing at our office.

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