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Beware of VA Claim Sharks

Last week, Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-KS) sent a letter to VA Secretary McDonough highlighting the continued need for VA to work with veterans service organizations to inform and protect veterans from predatory claims consultants. As the VFW reported in the June/July 2021 issue of the VFW magazine, these predatory companies, referred to as “claim sharks,” coach veterans in filing VA disability claims with promises of increasing their ratings while charging fees and taking a portion of the veterans’ compensation. Accredited veterans service organizations like the VFW have service officers who provide claims assistance to veterans free of charge, as is the law. If you or someone you know has been charged fees for VA claims assistance, contact the VFW at vfw@vfw.org.

VA Discontinuing My HealtheVet Advanced Accounts

As of September 2021, My HealtheVet Advanced accounts will be discontinued and revert to Basic, unless the accounts are upgraded to Premium. A Premium account allows access to request and track current VA prescriptions; view, download, and print VA health information; send and receive secure online messages; and view, schedule, reschedule, and cancel VA appointments. Upgrade today.

House Holds Hearing on VA Education Improvements

On Tuesday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing on VA’s education programs. Executive Director of VA Education Service Charmain Bogue provided updates on the Department’s education upgrades since the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 passed last year. Bogue and the subcommittee members discussed participation levels of critical VA training programs, and much-needed IT upgrades that are currently underway.

Important Dates in August

The month of August has many important days. Here are just a few:

Antiterrorism Awareness Month

Aug. 1 – Air Force Day

Aug. 4 – Coast Guard Day

Aug. 7 -. Purple Heart Day

Aug. 10 – U.S. Department of Defense Birthday

Aug. 10 – Agent Orange Awareness Day

Aug. 14 – Navajo Code Talkers Day

Aug. 16 – National Airborne Day

Aug. 29 – Marine Corp Reserve Birthday

POW/MIA Update

Air Force Maj. Paul A. Avolese, 35, of Jamaica, New York, was a radar navigator assigned to the 4133rd Bombardment Wing. On July 7, 1967, Avolese was part of the crew of a B-52D Stratofortress bomber conducting a bombing mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to a target in Vietnam. During a maneuver over the South China Sea, Avolese’s bomber collided with another B-52, causing both aircraft to fall into the sea. Four of the crew members from his aircraft were rescued, but Avolese was never recovered. He was declared dead on July 24, 1967. He was buried July 24, 2021, in Springfield, Oregon.

Air Force 1st Lt. Alva R. “Ray” Krogman, 25, of Worland, Wyoming, was a pilot assigned to the 504th Tactical Air Support Group, 7th Air Force, on temporary duty with the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron operating out of Nakhon Royal Phanom Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Krogman was never recovered and was declared killed in action on Jan. 31, 1967. He was buried July 21, 2021, in his hometown.

Army 1st Lt. James E. Wright, 25, was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division. On the morning of Sept. 8, 1944, Wright’s unit was part of a larger force ordered to cross the river and take up a position in the woods on the east side. Interment services are pending.

Army Pfc. Bill Morrison, 29, was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. His unit was engaged in battle with German forces in the Raffelsbrand sector of the Hürtgen Forest. His body was not able to be recovered. Interment services are pending.

Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Alan E. Petersen, 23, was assigned to the 345th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force. Interment services are pending.

Army Pvt. Stephen C. Mason, 21, was assigned to Headquarters Co., 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. His body was unable to be recovered. Interment services are pending.

Army Pfc. Berton J. McQueen, 20, was assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. In August 1944, his unit landed on the southern coast of France as part of Operation Dragoon. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio

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