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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Updated Veterans Benefits NewsFlash

Tax Statements Available on MyPay
myPay users can access their 2009 tax statements online at myPay at (, thereby avoiding the delays and possible security risks of regular mail delivery. Last November, DFAS officials implemented a myPay security enhancement requiring users to establish new login credentials, including personalized login IDs and passwords. The Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) agency has posted step-by-step instructions in both text and video at the myPay site at ( and at the DFAS website ( to help customers set up their new information. 3.7 million users use MyPay to access pay account information, tax statements and to update their bank, personal and allotment information instantly and securely.

VA Proposes Rule on Gulf War Illness

The Department of Veterans Affairs has published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register that will establish new presumptions of service connection for nine specific infectious diseases associated with military service in Southwest Asia during the Persian Gulf War, or in Afghanistan on or after September 19, 2001. With the proposed rule, a Veteran will only have to show service in Southwest Asia or Afghanistan, and a current diagnosis of one of the nine diseases. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted over the next 60 days. A final regulation will be published after consideration of all comments received.
( Read the full article at the VA website.

Audit Finds VA Exam Shortcomings
An audit recently released by the VA Inspector General found multiple shortcomings on VA's part to provide timely exams for potentially service-connected disabled veterans. The audit findings included: (1) VA has not established procedures to identify the demand for medical exams and provide the resources for such exams; (2) VA cannot identify the total cost of such medical exams; and (3) evidence suggests that some VA staff kept timeliness averages artificially low through various strategies. The Inspector General audit is available at (

VA Hearings on Lejeune H2O Contamination
The U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs recently held a hearing about veterans and families who have been exposed to toxic substances, such as the water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, addressed the need for immediate access to care for veterans and their families who have been adversely affected while waiting on the completion of studies and concrete answers. Information on the hearing, including links to videos of the hearing on YouTube, is available on the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs-- ( Ranking Member website.

Alliance for National Defense Scholarships
The Alliance for National Defense is offering scholarships for women who are currently serving or are in an ROTC program planning to serve in one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. The $2,500 scholarship awards are based on merit, military experience, academic potential, community service and need. Enlisted applicants must currently be enrolled at an accredited college or university. Current members of the ROTC must be entering their Junior or Senior year. In addition, applicants must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better. One award will be given to an enlisted and one to a member of the ROTC. Deadline for applications must be received by May 1, 2010. To learn more visit the ( Alliance for Defense website.

Senate Passes Welcome Home Day
A resolution introduced by U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, encouraging communities across the nation to establish "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" was passed unanimously by the United States Senate. The resolution designates March 30, 2010, as "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day," to honor the return home of our armed servicemembers after serving in Vietnam. For more information on the War in Vietnam, including educational materials, visit the ( U.S. Army in Vietnam, the ( Virtual Vietnam Archive, the Public Broadcasting Service's ( Battlefield Vietnam webpage, the ( Vietnam War Bibliography, and the Gravel Edition of (
) The Pentagon Papers.

New Administrative Absence Policy
The Department of Defense has adopted a new policy that will give some servicemembers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan as many as 15 days of administrative absence (Non-Chargeable Rest and Recuperation Leave). The approved absences are contingent upon mission requirements and are only authorized for those servicemembers who participate in the NCR&R program. To qualify for the program, members must be serving in a leave restricted area, where no dependents are allowed. They must be receiving hostile-fire pay and in areas where travel in and out of the country is restricted. Each combatant command may request the under secretary of defense for Personnel and Readiness designate additional locations for NCR&R, provided they meet certain eligibility criteria.

New VA Center for New Orleans
The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a $3.3 million contract for pre-construction services for VA's new medical center in New Orleans. This is the first of several contracts to provide a new state-of-the-art VA medical center consisting of an inpatient hospital, outpatient clinic, diagnostic and treatment facility, rehabilitation facility, administrative space and research laboratories. The new VA medical center will be located on Canal Street in the mid-city section of New Orleans. VA operates medical centers in Alexandria and Shreveport, La., plus outpatient clinics and Veteran Centers across the state. For more information on VA benefits, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website at (

Wounded Warrior Pay Estimator
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) launched their new Medical Disability Retired Pay Estimator, an interactive online tool for medically retiring Wounded Warriors, available at the ( DFAS website. The user input driven tool helps medically retired servicemembers estimate their retired pay, Combat Related Special Compensation and VA disability compensation. Visit the DFAS ( Retired Disability Income Estimator.

DoD Disability Re-look Board
A special board established by Congress to review and raise the disability ratings of an estimated 77,000 injured or ailing veterans who may have received low-ball ratings by the services since 9/11 needs four times as many physicians as it has now to ensure timely action on a rising number of applications, says the board's top officer. Michael F. LoGrande, president of the Defense Department's Physical Disability Board of Review, said the PDBR, in its first 10 months, has received only 876 applications. It adjudicated 235 cases so far and recommended higher disability ratings for 136 veterans -- 58 percent of cases reviewed.

Redux Retirement Option
Officers and enlisted Airmen reaching 15 years of active-duty service will have new procedures in place beginning April 1 to accept enrollment in the Redux retirement plan. Airmen will receive an electronic notification of their eligibility for the High-3 Choice retirement plan that allows members to choose a $30,000 career status bonus (CSB) in exchange for lower retirement pay under Redux. Members who do not respond to the notification will automatically revert to the High-3 retirement plan. For information about CSB, visit the ( Air Force Personnel Center website "Career Status Bonus" or "Redux" into the search engine, or call the Total Force Service Center at (800) 525-0102.

Stimulus Payment Confirmation Line
The Internal Revenue Service has established an automated telephone service and website to confirm whether taxpayers received the $250 economic recovery payment in 2009, which went to most U.S. residents receiving Social Security benefits, supplemental security income, railroad retirement benefits or veterans' pensions or disability compensation. The automated telephone number is 866-234-2942 (option 1). The information is also now available on the (,,id=219514,00.html) IRS website. If eligible taxpayers did not receive an economic recovery payment, they may claim the $250 government retiree credit on new Schedule M for Form 1040.

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