2020 Holiday Deals and Discounts For Veterans

In the spirit of the season, our dedicated team at Gumps Legal has compiled a list of deals, giveaways, and discounts for veterans and active-duty military members this holiday.

We are glad to bring you a resource guide that will help you enjoy your holiday. However, keep in mind that most of the companies will require a means of identification or proof of military service.

2020 Holiday Deals, Giveaways, and Discounts for Veterans and Service Members

Trees for Troops
Trees for Troops is a wonderful organization on a mission to extend the Christmas spirit to veterans, children, and the environment at large by delivering free and farm-grown Christmas trees to various places.

The Christmas-based organization delivers trees directly to various military bases across the United States.

You can check HERE for more information or contact your MWR office.

YMCA Operation Holiday Joy
YMCA is an amazing organization that gives out gifts and foods to junior service members and their families. The organization was founded in 2004, and more than 25,000 food baskets and 320,000 toys has been given out to service members and their families.

YMCA has different branches in various cities across the United States.

You check HERE to find your local branch

Operation Christmas Spirit
The Operation Christmas Spirit’s mission is to show gratitude and appreciate active service members for the sacrifices they make for the nation by giving them Christmas gifts.

The organization also has a program that give toys to children and an Adopt-a-family program.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Rank of E1 to E5
  • Any rank with four children and above.
  • Any rank with proof of need.

Apply for Operation Christmas Spirit support HERE

Full Circle Home

Full circle home supports deployed service members by helping them send Christmas gifts to their loved one(s) back home.

If you are a deployed service member, click HERE to sign up and send a gift to that special person or people.

Veterans’ Service Organization

The local veterans’ organization are not left out too. They also support veterans and their families in various ways during the holiday. This includes grocery gift cards, Adopt-a-family programs, and toy drives.

You can check for your local VSOs HERE

A Collaborative Effort Between VA and NARA Helps To Successfully Digitize Vietnam Era Navy Deck Logs

Vietnam Era Navy Deck Logs

In a bid to ensure that disability claims are disbursed for Vietnam-era veterans, the Department of Veteran Affairs announced that they have successfully digitized thousands of deck logs from ships used during the Vietnam war which were stationed offshore. They were able to achieve this due to their collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Who worked closely with VA to discover locations of those ships and then digitize the deck logs recovered from the ships, all of which sums up to over 1,800 in numbers.

How The Digitization Helps Veterans

The information in these deck logs will help validate the claims made by the Blue Water Navy Veterans (those who were posted to serve on ships in deep waters off the Vietnam coast). So, these deck logs will help VA determine where the veterans served, the type of toxins they were exposed to, and also determine if they are eligible for VA disability benefits.

In a press statement made by the VA secretary Robert Wilkie, he said “the deck logs move should make it easier for veterans to receive the benefits they have earned without burdening them with paperwork”.

In the past, only Vietnam-era veterans that served within inland waterways or served on the ground could receive VA disability benefits based on an assumption of exposure to harmful chemicals. The veterans that served on ships offshore were not granted this same opportunity by Veteran Affairs. They were required to provide certain proof that the illnesses they experienced later in life were service-related, and they were also required to provide ship logs as a proof that they truly served in the waters around Vietnam.

Veterans Affairs Advocates clamored for years that the proof required was an unfair obligation on aging and infirm veterans. Now, lawmakers have finally agreed and passed legislation last year which instructed the Department of Veteran Affairs to update their decades-old records.

What Veterans Should Know

The collaboration between VA and NARA successfully digitized over 29 million images from the Coast Guard deck logs and U.S Navy dating back as far as 1956-1978. This provides vital information like date, ship name, and coordinates, which are enough to foster the VA internal processing system. It also ensures that the Veteran representatives have all the evidence needed to make a decision when a claim is filed.

The data obtained has also resulted in faster service for veterans as it has already assisted the VA in granting more than 22,524 claims since Jan 1, 2020. However, NARA has not finished their work yet, as they are still trying to make the newly-digitized records publicly available on the National Archives Website.

VA  officials have also advised veterans looking to file a claim to do so with the help of an approved Veteran Lawyer. However, if veterans or survivors have previously filed a claim and were denied, they can also file a supplemental file with the help of their VA Lawyer.

Benefits of Veteran Supportive Communities

The military lifestyle has taught servicemen and women to be strong in battlefronts and expect the unexpected. Unfortunately, there is no training that teaches them how to handle life after they leave the military. For this reason, many veterans deal with a lot of crises and stress that their civilian family and friends can’t understand, and 95% of the time, these crises are usually due to experiences from their military years.

So, helping these veterans requires a deep understanding of what they are going through. They need to talk to someone who gets it or who has once been in their shoes, and a veteran community is precisely what they need to scale through a crisis.

Below are some of the benefits of community support for veterans in crisis:

  • Access To Top-Notch Care

Veteran communities help veterans get the medical care they need by connecting them to the health services based on their unique needs.

  • Helps Identify More Veterans In Crisis

Many campaigns and programs have been carried out in the past to create awareness and also identify veterans in crisis. Some of these programs have been effective, while some are not.

Fortunately, veteran communities have been able to identify veterans in crisis with the help of social media. Once they find a veteran in crisis, they immediately appoint another veteran in that area to care for the veteran in crisis.

  • Restrict Access To Lethal Equipment

Veterans find it difficult to give up their weapons, and research shows that this is the most common tool veterans use to commit suicide.

So having a supportive community that can be trusted with their weapons will help reduce suicide rates.

Final Note

There are lots of veterans out there that have lost their sense of meaning and can’t figure out their life after the military.

So, if you know a veteran in crisis or you are a veteran in crisis, you can try connecting with other veterans in real life or social media, seek out faith-based communities, reach out to mental health experts at the VA hospital, and also apply for VA benefits available through the Veteran Affairs Department.

 

Veteran Affairs Disability Compensation For Spouses

The VA Department provides some benefits to assist families of disabled veterans. This help can help reduce the responsibilities of veteran families if they are informed and know how to apply for them.

Supports Provided For Disabled Veterans Spouses

  • Monetary Benefits

Veterans that have been previously allotted a rating of 100% for their service-connected disabilities are qualified for some specific payments, which will be given to their spouses and children. Some of these payments are granted automatically, so there will be no need to apply for them.

The payments include:

  • A spouse that has no child will be given $150 per month
  • A spouse that has a child will be given $259 per month
  • Then an additional $75 per month will be given for each child
  • Medical Benefits

The family could also be eligible for health care benefits via the Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA).

Medical care that spouses and children can get include; medical equipment, mental health care, prescribed medications, and nursing care. However, all the children must be below 18 years of age or 23 years of age but still in school.

  • Educational Benefits

Families of disabled veterans don’t need to place the veteran care above their children’s education. The Department of VA will assist by providing reimbursement for up to 3 years and nine months for each of the children. Spouses can also use this compensation for further studies.

  • Government Offered Benefits

The state government where the spouse resides may also provide additional assistance like employment, exemption from paying property tax, and free counseling. However, the benefits vary based on state, so it’s advisable to confirm from your State’s Veteran Affairs Department.

How To Apply For The Veteran Affairs Disability Compensation For Spouses

Some benefits would be automatically sent to you if your spouse’s disability was rated 100%, while some benefits will be given only after your application has been approved. The application process can be daunting, but the team of VA lawyers at Gumpslegal are ready to work with you to ensure you and your family get all the benefits you are qualified for under the law.

VA Individual Unemployability Compensation

As a veteran, if you sustained disabilities from service that is preventing you from getting employment, thereby unable to take good care of yourself, then you can qualify for VA compensation from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

However, to qualify for this unemployability compensation, you will need to establish beyond sustaining a service-connected disability. You also need to confirm that the disability is truly stopping you from getting a good-paying job.

Income Limits For Veterans That Want To Apply For The VA Unemployability Compensation

The following are the income limits that will qualify you for an Unemployability Compensation from the VA Department;

  • You are presently not working and cannot work due to the disability you sustained in service.
  • You are currently employed, but your earning is below the poverty level.
  • You are employed, but in a sheltered position, i.e., you have accommodation from your work due to your service disability.

If any of the points listed above apply to you, then you may receive the unemployability compensation.

What Kind of Compensation Will I Recieve From The VA?

  • Healthcare
  • Cash compensation

 FAQs About The VA Unemployability Compensation

Q: Will my assets make me ineligible for the Unemployability compensation?

No. If you own a home or a car, this won’t make you ineligible, neither will it affect your VA rating.

Q: Will my job make me ineligible?

As long as you meet the limits discussed earlier, your job won’t count. However, some employed veterans may be denied a higher rate than veterans who can’t work at all. This is why you need to employ the services of a VA Compensation Lawyer.

Q: If I receive support from others, does that mean I have an income?

A lot of veterans with disabilities from service have to depend on family and friends for assistance. So, that won’t be considered an income.

How To Qualify For a VA Compensation For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) occurs when someone experiences a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one, assault, or accident. Most people usually have stress reactions after trauma. However, if the reactions don’t go away for long life and hinders the person from living the everyday life they used to live, that’s PTSD.

As a veteran, if you experience PTSD as a result of your service year in the military, VA compensation from the Veteran Affairs Department could be available to you.

When people talk about VA disability ratings, they only talk about the physical injuries attained from service year. They do not consider the mental health of our veterans, as PTSD is not easy to spot like an injury. However, according to a recent VA research:

  • Up to 20% of veterans that served in operation Iraqi freedom suffers from PTSD
  • 12% of veterans who served in the gulf war suffer from PTSD
  • Up to 30% of veterans who served in the Vietnam war suffer from PTSD
  • More than 15% of women in the military have said to be sexually abused at some point in their careers.

Symptoms That A Veteran Suffers From PTSD

PTSD can manifest in various ways, but below are some of the most prevalent symptoms;

  • Frequently having nightmares about the event.
  • Concealing the event and hates talking about it or doesn’t want people to bring it up.
  • Always at alert for danger even when they are in a very safe place.
  • Detaching themselves from friends and families and acting numb day-to-day.
  • Avoiding situations that can remind them of the events by all possible means.

If you’re a veteran that has been showing these symptoms or if you know any veteran that has been showing these symptoms, get them to speak to a mental health expert without wasting time.

Tips For Increasing Your VA Compensation Rating

To determinate the amount of compensation you’ll receive, The Veteran Department will give your PTSD a disability rating between 0 and 100 percent. If you are rated 100 percent, you can receive up to $3,300 per month. There are various ways you can increase your VA rating, and they include:

  • Include All Your Mental Medical Records On Your Application

Since PTSD can not be seen, the easiest way to show the VA Department you truly have it is through medical records. This can include private medical records and service treatment records.

The report also has to include medical reports from your active service year, proving that the event happened during your service, and you can’t function as you used to because of the symptoms.

However, most veterans can’t provide this. So statements from your colleagues who were witnesses of the traumatic events, statements from family and friends who know you well can explain how your behavior has changed since the event, and a statement from a psychologist using their expertise and experience to verify the extent of your PSTD will be great at that moment.

  • Hire a VA Lawyer

Trying to navigate the VA compensation process on your own can be extremely difficult as various complicated rules are guiding VA compensations. An expert VA lawyer will know what to do with your forms and how to gather the necessary evidence. They can help you get the highest VA disability compensation rating possible and can also help if your application is denied.

By following these steps, you increase your odds of obtaining the maximum benefits you deserve under the law.

Also, to learn about how Gumpslegal can help you as an advocate for VA disability benefits firm, you can request for a free consultation here.

Plantar Fasciitis: How VA Ratings Work

Plantar Fasciitis, a common inflammatory issue, has a disproportionately high impact on service members. Fortunately, the following blog post is designed to explain the VA rating system for veterans who may have the condition.

Overall, the Plantar Fasciitis VA ratings for 2020 operate on a 0% to 50% scale (including intermittent benefit percentiles at 10%, 20%, and 30%). Depending on several factors that determine the severity of the service member’s Plantar Fasciitis, they could be eligible for up to 50% coverage.

Additionally, there are secondary benefit claims that may be available for back, hip, knee, and joint conditions related to Plantar Fasciitis.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis

As one of the leading causes of foot pain in veterans, Plantar Fasciitis is when the heel bone tissue that connects to your toes becomes inflamed, as demonstrated in the image below.

The condition could be worsened by long distance running, age, poor heel support, obesity, and long periods of standing.

How Do VA Ratings Work For Plantar Fasciitis?

Initially, the service member may experience symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis to include swelling, tenderness, heel pain, and a painful range of motion. Upon diagnosis, the VA operates on the following scale:

 

  • 50% (VA Rating) for Plantar Fasciitis – extreme tenderness or displacement that cannot be resolved by arch support or proper footwear

 

  • 30% (VA Rating) for Plantar Fasciitis – severe deformities and acute pain accompanied by swelling or callosities on the foot

 

  • 20% (VA Rating) for Plantar Fasciitis – severe deformities and moderate pain resulting in swelling or callosities on the foot

 

  • 10% (VA Rating) for Plantar Fasciitis moderate symptoms that exhibit a downward concave for the tendon Achilles, accompanied by foot pain

 

  • 0% (VA Rating) for Plantar Fasciitismild symptoms that are resolved with arch support or more supportive footwear

Secondary conditions resulting from Plantar Fasciitis that could lead to back, hip, knee, or joint pain could also be eligible for benefits, and require “proximately due to/ aggravated by” or “showing of causation” diagnoses by a qualified medical professional.

Closing Remarks

Overall, a C&P examiner will utilize medical records, a physical exam, and X-Rays to determine the severity of your condition. In closing, we would like to thank you for your service, and hope you have gained valuable insight from this post! Thank you for reading.

Nursing Home Care for Veterans: Things to Know to Claim the Benefit

Veterans who were afflicted with major and aggravating disabilities are at a distinct disadvantage post service. 

The topic of receiving benefits as a veteran can be a rather complicated. But to make the subject easier to comprehend, we’re here to break it down for you.

Are you eligible for a Nursing Home Care?

Not all former military members who accumulated the right amount of service time, are honorably discharged, and suffering from a case of disability are fit to claim the benefit of a Nursing Home Care.

Ideally, there is only one of two ways by which an honored veteran may take advantage of this privilege—he must either be recently released from a VA hospital, possibly as a result of a service-oriented disability, or have a disability that is rated at 70% or a total disability that renders him unemployable.

If a veteran meets any of these two criteria, it is guaranteed that Nursing Home Care is within reach.

What are the options?

Eligible veterans seeking 24/7 care have a variety of options they could choose from, which include:

  • Community Living Centers (CLC)

Aimed to provide the veteran an accommodation that mimics the ambience of home, Community Living Centers are usually situated within the vicinity of the VA Medical Center or, in some other cases, at a distinct, closed-by building. Typically, CLCs strive to keep the environment a “fun” place for the veterans by entertaining them with a host of different activities regardless of the age, letting them bring along their pets, and even giving them the leeway of decorating their own rooms.

  • Contract Nursing Home Care

Not many valid veterans get into either a public or private nursing homes, as accommodation in this facility prioritizes those of the severely disabled. In addition, a stay in a nursing home would typically have a limit of at most 6 months only and is subject to a drastic reduction to as short as 30 to 60 days.

  • State Veterans Homes

As the name implies, State Veteran Homes are nursing homes which are operated by the state along with the approval of the Veterans Affairs. In general, nursing homes under this category are subject to different states which make eligibility requirements and degree of services varied from each location.

Things you Need to do When you Have an Abnormal Heartbeat

Have experienced an abnormal heartbeat? Does your heart beat extra fast? Or extra slow? Any of these and you have an arrhythmia.

Arrhythmia is a heart condition that caused an abnormal heartbeat. There are two types of arrhythmia: tachycardia and bradycardia.  

Tachycardia pertains to an extremely fast heartbeat. On the other hand, bradycardia refers to an irregularly slow heartbeat. 

I know you might be asking, Is an irregular heartbeat serious? Well, not all of the time. There are times that an arrhythmia only just happens out of the blue. in this case, there’s completely nothing to worry about. You will get better without asking for medical assistance.

However, if the irregular heartbeat symptoms persist, this could mean an emergency. Visit your doctor as soon as possible.

The following are some the conditions that may trigger arrhythmia:

  • Heart Illness
  • Imbalanced blood electrolytes
  • Heart attack injury
  • Heart muscles changes or adaptation
  • Cause by after-surgery heart healing

Whatever the reason for your arrhythmia, you need to be very careful. Regular checkup is the key to prevent complications of abnormal heartbeat

To understand how serious your irregular heart beat is, your doctor will ask you to undergo an electrocardiogram (ECG). ECG is a test that is used to detect signs of heart problems. 

The following are the most common signs of arrhythmia:

  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

When you experience any of these, immediately consult your doctor. You need to treat arrhythmia as soon as possible to prevent complications. 

But unfortunately, arrhythmia can also be asymptomatic. Meaning, the usual signs of the abnormal heartbeat are not observed. In cases like this, you need to consider your health history. If you have underlying health conditions that may trigger an abnormal heartbeat, you need to see your doctor. 

VA Benefits for People With Heart Disease

Before you can take advantage of VA benefits, there are requirements that you need to submit. 

The most important requirement that you need to pass is the result of your MET (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) exam. MET is a medical exam used to measure the amount of oxygen consumed by the body during strenuous activities. The result of the MET will be used to determine your disability privilege. 

Below is the rating system used by the VA for heart-related diseases:

  • 100%. Those people with continuous congestive heart failure may avail of this VA benefit. But of course, you need to comply with some requirements first. What are those? Well, you need to score 3 METs or lesser to qualify for this benefit. Another requirement is the doctor’s certification that, indeed you are experiencing shortness of breath. Proof of chest pain, dizziness, and fatigue may also qualify you. People whose left ventricle is pushing less than 30% of blood (each beat) may also apply for a 100% VA claim. 
  • 60%. If you experience congestive heart failure, two times in a year, then you are entitled to this benefit. Aside from this, a 4-5 MET score is also needed. VA will also ask for proof of shortness of breathing, dizziness, and even chest pain. 
  • 30%.  This rating is given to people with a 6-7 MET score. You will also be required to present evidence of hypertrophy (heart muscle thickening). If in case you have an enlarged heart, just show results of your laboratories, and you will be entitled. 
  • 10%. When you have MET score anywhere between 8-10, you fall into this rating. Evidence of fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath must also be established beforehand. And of course, you have to convince the VA that you need to undergo continuous medication. 

These are the ratings used by the VA to determine the scope of benefit given to a patient. But this rating system is only good for irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. For other heart conditions such as hyperthyroid and supraventricular arrhythmias, a different rating system will be used. 

Conclusion

Although an abnormal heartbeat could be a sign of severe health conditions, you don’t need to panic. You can always ask for assistance from the VA. But before you apply for benefits, make sure to undergo a medical checkup first and comply with all the requirements to avoid a hassle.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the more common brain injuries to happen to veterans. 

Let’s take a look at what causes a TBI. If a soldier is on duty and receives blows, or jolts to the head, or a penetrating head injury this can disrupt how the brain works. Obviously not all hits to the head cause severe damage, in truth, the majority of head trauma is actually quite mild.

The number of soldiers with brain injuries has increased in recent years. However, the methods for checking on a TBI remain the same. You’ll want to keep an eye out for depression, chronic migraines, sleep disorders, or irritability. 

The VA acknowledges that TBI’s are quite common, and so they allow for an exam that can be completed by a psychiatrist, neurosurgeon, neurologist, or physiatrist. You’ll want to get checked as soon as possible. Your medical professional will likely check to see if you have memory loss, or trouble performing normal tasks.

Generally when you first receive a diagnosis you’re going to want to prove that your diagnosis is service related. If there are no records of your head injury, a nexus letter will help to get your injury related to your service. The VA can rate TBI’s all the way from 0-100.