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U.S.S. Oklahoma City


Veterans' Page


Retirement Alert! Veterans Get Extra Benefits

Special extra earnings credits are granted for periods of active duty or active duty for training. Special extra earnings credits are not granted for inactive duty training.

If your active military service occurred:
•From 1957 through 1967, we will add the extra credits to your record when you apply for Social Security benefits.
•From 1968 through 2001, you do not need to do anything to receive these extra credits. The credits were automatically added to your record.
•After 2001, there are no special extra earnings credits for military service.

Please note that you must ASK for this benefit and produce your DD214- it is not automatic. For a more specific look at these Special Extra Earnings, go to the Social Security Online Retirement Planner

From combined dispatches with thanks to Larry Berlinski, (RM2 68-70), Jim Blackburn, (RM3 68-71) and Don Harribine, (YNCS Ret.) all USS Oklahoma City veterans.



Little Known Program May Help Veterans


By Diane C. Lade
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

More veterans were denied federal health care benefits in Florida last year than in any other state, with more than 27,000 being turned away, a new survey shows. Veterans organizations worry that those numbers will grow as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tries to curb rising health care costs.

Yet one program that could open the door to the VA health care system, as well as provide money for assisted living and home health care, isn't being explored by many vets who might benefit.

It's called Aid and Attendance. For years, the VA program has provided monthly payments to veterans and their spouses who have high out-of-pocket medical costs, and who are disabled or homebound, to help them offset health care expenses. The eligibility formula balances income against medical bills, so middle-class vets could qualify for payments as high as $1,744 a month.

But VA officials think more veterans might be eligible than are tapping into the program. They consider Aid and Attendance one of the department's most underutilized offerings.

A recent study commissioned by the VA suggested only about one-fourth of eligible veterans nationwide, and about 17 percent of eligible widows, are participating.

"We're asking ourselves: `Why is that?'" said Barbara Harker, the veteran's benefits and assistance director for the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs in Largo.

Aid and Attendance could especially assist veterans now, as the VA has clamped down on new health care enrollments for those with no service-connected disabilities. In 2003, the department created what is called "Priority 8," a classification that barred access to VA clinics, hospitals, physicians and medications for people over certain income limits.

The limit is $33,700 for a single Broward County vet and $35,150 for a single Palm Beach County veteran.

According to federal statistics, 27,465 Florida veterans looking to enroll in the VA health care system last year were told they would not receive service because of Priority 8, far more than in any other state. One reason cited: Florida has the second highest number of civilian veterans in the country, 1.8 million. But California , with 2.3 million vets, had 17,378 denials.

Toivo Nevala, 89, formerly of Jupiter, is like some others who served in the Army during World War II. According to his family, he never knew he was entitled to VA benefits and never filed for any until, after he had a massive heart attack, relatives were looking for a care facility for Nevala and his wife, who has Alzheimer's disease.

Tamarac elder-law attorney Alice Reiter Feld, who is helping the Nevalas put together a care plan, told the family about Aid and Attendance. They applied, and now Nevala and his wife, who are in a Hobe Sound assisted living center, receive about $1,500 a month.

"Without it, we couldn't make it. Money only goes so far, and they aren't that well off," said their niece Pamela Carroll, of Michigan.

Feld, who has taught other attorneys about Aid and Attendance, said the program never received the publicity that the veterans' prescription, education and housing benefits did. "I'm glad they're promoting it now but I wish they had done it sooner," she said.

Raymond White, a Korean War veteran and volunteer service officer who helps others apply for benefits, thinks Florida's high rate of Priority 8 denials is due in part to an increase in veterans turning to the VA for the first time as housing, medication and health care costs rise in South Florida. "You have people who retired 30 years ago with plenty of money who never filed. Now they are working at Wal-Mart," said White, of Delray Beach.

Veterans who qualify for Aid and Attendance automatically get full VA health care and prescription benefits as well. Because the program's eligibility formula counts all unreimbursed medical expenses against a veteran's income, someone who made enough money to be denied health care under Priority 8 might get it under Aid and Attendance if his or her medical costs were high enough.

A doctor also must certify that a veteran or spouse has conditions requiring the "aid and attendance" of another person or care center in order to live safely. About half of those receiving the benefit live in nursing homes, with the rest in assisted living centers or receiving home care.

While veterans and their families still may not know about Aid and Attendance, private enterprise has picked up on the program. VA officials have heard about companies that, for a fee, help care centers or the veterans themselves apply.

Floyd White, the veteran's service officer for Broward's Elderly and Veterans Services Division, points out that he and other county agents will do the same thing for free. Private companies, however, sometimes will front money to a care facility until the VA approves the benefit, something county governments can't do.

"A lot of people are desperate for the check. They can't wait," White said.

The reason: Most veterans just don't know about it, VA officials say.

Sent to us by shipmate Dave Campbell, BMC, 73-79



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Agent Orange And The Navy


Statements Specific to Illnesses of Navy (Sea-Based) Veterans

Within this document, you will find the following statements addressing the health of sea-based veterans. This document is in the Australian-New Zealand Vietnam Veterans files of the Documentation Section. Below is a compilation of paragraphs, in order of appearance, but not contiguously located as is shown below.

See the listing entitled: " Health effects of Vietnam service, ADF Health, Vol 4, Sept 2003 - PDF File Health effects of Vietnam service located here.

Health Effects of Vietnam Service


by Dr Eileen J Wilson, MSc, PhD ans Dr Keith W A Horsley, MB BS, MPubAdmin

Of the three service branches, Navy veterans had the highest overall mortality (SMR=1.37; 95% CI, 1.23-1.52) and the only significantly elevated overall mortality. The SMR for Army veterans was 1.00 (95% CI, 0.99-1.05) and for Air Force veterans 1.12 (95% CI, 0.97-1.27). The SMR for deaths from neoplasms among Navy personnel was 1.58 (95% CI, 1.31-1.89). Navy veterans also had significantly increased mortality due to diseases the circulatory system (SMR=1.26; 95% CI, 1.04-1.52) and external causes (SMR=1.48; 95% CI, 1.15-1.86).

The Institute of Medicine publication Veterans and agent orange 15 provides researchers with an extensive review of information on the health effects of dioxin exposure and Vietnam service. This literature review, first published in 1994, is updated every two years and draws on veteran studies and studies of occupational and environmental exposure. The report categorises the association between specific health outcomes and exposure to herbicide into four groups: conditions with sufficient evidence of an association, conditions with limited/suggestive evidence, conditions with inadequate/insufficient evidence, and conditions with limited/suggestive evidence of no association. These categories are based on statistical association reported in the literature, not on causality. The strength of the reported association is assessed on the quality of the study and the extent to which chance, bias, and confounding were addressed. In the latest update of Veterans and agent orange, (16) five diseases were classified as having sufficient evidence of an association with herbicide exposure. These diseases are: chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and chloracne. An additional seven diseases have limited or suggestive evidence of an association between herbicides and outcome. That is, there is at least one high quality study that shows a positive association, but the results of other studies are limited and inconsistent. The seven conditions are: respiratory cancer, prostatic cancer, multiple myeloma, acute and subacute transient peripheral neuropathy, porphyria cutanea tarda, type 2 diabetes and, in children of veterans, spina bifida maxima. Recent developments The difficulty for epidemiological studies of Vietnam veterans has been the inability of researchers to accurately quantify and separate the exposure associations of herbicides and other wartime hazards with long-term health outcomes. Australian studies have generally assessed exposure as Vietnam service and refined this only to the level of Service branch, corps grouping, and time in Vietnam. A recent Australian report by the National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology has identified a potential exposure of Navy personnel to dioxins through potable water produced by evaporative distillation.

(17) By constructing a model of the evaporative distillation system used on HMAS Sydney, this study has shown that, in the process of evaporative distillation of potable water, organochlorine pesticides and dioxins, if they had been present in the source sea or estuarine water, would have codistilled and been concentrated. Possible exposure to dioxin for Navy members through the ingestion and personal use of the potable water was estimated to have been several orders of magnitude above what are acceptable standards today. Exposure assessments in US studies have relied on the US Department of Defense HERBS file. This is a comprehensive file of the Air Force Ranch Hand herbicide spray missions. However, the file did not contain sufficiently coherent data to formulate an exposure reconstruction. Recent advances by the Columbia University group led by Stellman have greatly increased the potential for researchers to make more accurate assessments of exposure to herbicides for specific military units deployed during the Vietnam conflict.

(18) The group has developed a geographic information system that characterises exposure to herbicides in Vietnam. The system has combined several databases, some only recently discovered in US Defense archives, which incorporate flight paths of aerial spray missions, the amount and type of agents sprayed, identification and location of military units and troops, land features, soil typology, and location of civilian populations to produce an exposure opportunity index (EOI). The EOI is based on the proximity in time and space to spraying. It does not measure dose, but provides a systematic method for assessing potential exposure. A user-friendly system is being developed which will The Army Vessel (AV) 1355 Vernon Sturdee on the Mekong River, 1967, with US riverine boat. Note the defoliated riverbanks and lack of protective clothing worn by the gunner. Courtesy of David Perham, veteran of 32 Small Ship Squadron.

This article was sent to us by Oklahoma City shipmate YNCS Don Harribine, USN(ret). If you want to subscribe to his veteran's newsletter, send him a note mail



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Asbestos Exposure?


Hi Joe,

Thank you for taking time out of your day to reply!

As you may have noticed, I am with the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center. We aim to provide the most current and accurate information regarding asbestos exposure and its link to mesothelioma cancer.

As you know, many Navy veterans were unknowingly exposed to asbestos while working in shipyards, and while onboard ships and submarines.

I chose to contact you today because the USS Oklahoma City is one of those vessels. When built, asbestos was used as an insulator for many parts of the engine room and boiler room.

That said, in an effort to spread awareness about this terrible disease, I am trying to reach all those who understand this devastating disease and the importance to get good information out there. I would invite you to visit our site, especially our Navy section.

I am confident you will find that we have compiled a large resource for those who may be suffering from the disease or have family members who are.

I would like to share this resource with your browsers, and would ask you to point a link to some portion of our navy section that you feel would be the most pertinent to your browsers.

I look forward to your reply and feedback. Thank you for all the work you do.

Kind Regards,

Dave Latimer


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Agent Orange Help

Many of our shipmates have asked for information on assistance with Agent Orange issues and claims. Chief Dave Campbell has already done the research and you can read the results on his Navy Bosn website.

You can also check out the Department of Veterans Affairs resources on AGENT ORANGE.

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DD-214s Now On Line

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) has provided the following website for veterans to gain access to their DD-214s online:Vetrecs Archive.

This may be particularly helpful when a veteran needs a copy of his DD-214 for employment purposes. NPRC is working to make it easier for veterans with computers and Internet access to obtain copies of documents from their military files.

Military veterans and the next of kin of deceased former military members may now use a new online military personnel records system to request documents. Other individuals with a need for documents must still complete the Standard Form 180, which can be downloaded from the online web site.

Because the requester will be asked to supply all information essential for NPRC to process the request, delays that normally occur when NPRC has to ask veterans for additional information will be minimized. The new web-based application was designed to provide better service on these requests by eliminating the records center's mailroom processing time.

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Military Benefits Guide

The recently launched Militarybenefits.com Website is an all-inclusive insider guide to military benefits, and includes both general overviews on major benefits topics as well as in-depth explanations of specific benefits. From pay to the GI Bill, from VA home loans to health care, your military service has earned you valuable benefits, whether you're active duty, Reservist, a veteran, or a retiree.

The Militarybenefits.com site features everything you need, and also includes useful community and reference links. Bookmark the site Military Benefits and use it as a one-stop resource.

Thanks to shipmate YNCS Don Harribine, USN(Ret) for the heads up.

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Where Are My Records?

Anyone who's been in the military knows that trying to get personnel records can be frustrating. The government has tried to simplify things by allowing online record requests.

Answer a few simple questions and print out a signature verification sheet. Fax the sheet to the number listed within 20 days of your request. The hardest part is the wait.

TO VISIT THIS SITE, GO TO RECORDS

Use our system to create a customized order form to request information from your, or your relative's military personnel records. You may use this system if you are: A military veteran, or Next of kin of a deceased, former member of the military The next of kin can be any of the following: surviving spouse that has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, or brother. If you are not the veteran or next of kin, you must complete the Standard Form 180 (SF 180). You can obtain this form from Fax-on-Demand, or download it, then mail or fax it to the appropriate address on the form.The SF 180 may be photocopied as needed. Please submit a separate request (either SF 180 or letter) for each individual whose records are being requested.

You may submit more than one request per envelope or fax.How to Initiate a Request for Military Personnel Records: Click on the "Request Military Records" button to start. This will launch a separate window.

Enter the required information in the system to create your customized request form. There are 4 steps that you need to navigate. The system will guide you through the steps and tell you exactly which step you are on. Print, sign and date the signature verification area of your customized form. If you don't have a printer, have a pen and paper handy and we will guide you through the process. This is important because the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a) requires that all requests for records and information be submitted in writing. Each request must be signed and dated by the veteran or next of kin.

Mail or fax your signature verfication form to us, and we will process your request. You must do this within the first 20 days of entering your request, or your request will be removed from our system.

Thanks to YNCS Don Harribine for the heads up.

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Department of Veteran's Affairs

The Department of Veteran's Affairs has a website that covers all topics of interest to Vets from education benefits to burial services. You'll find their site at Veteran's Affairs.

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V.A. Gravesite Locator

Records showing where veterans and their spouses have been buried in Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries are now available online at www.cem.va.gov making it easy for anyone with Internet access to search for the gravesite locations of deceased family members and friends.

The nationwide grave locator contains more than three million records of veterans and dependents buried in VA's 120 cemeteries since the Civil War. It also has records of some burials in state veterans' cemeteries and burials in Arlington National Cemetery from 1999 to the present.

The records date to the establishment of the first national cemeteries during the Civil War. The Web site is updated nightly with information on burials the previous day. The site displays the same information that visitors to national cemeteries find on kiosks or in written ledgers to locate gravesites: name, dates of birth and death, period of military service, branch of service and rank if known, the cemetery's location and phone number, plus the grave's precise location in the cemetery. Refer to the home page Burial and Memorial Benefits to select the Nationwide Gravesite Locator to begin a search. State cemetery burial records are from those cemeteries that use VA's database to order government headstones and markers for veterans' graves.

Since 1999, Arlington National Cemetery, operated by the Department of Army, has used that database. The information in the database comes from records of interment, which before 1994 were paper records, kept at each cemetery.

VA's interment records contain more information than what is shown on the Internet and cemetery kiosks. Some information, such as identification of the next of kin, will not be shown to the public for privacy reasons. Immediate family members with a government identification card may request to see the full record of a burial when they visit a national cemetery.

Six cemeteries which have not yet completed their records for inclusion in the data base are Long Island, Los Angeles, Ft. Rosecrans, Golden Gate, San Francisco, and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Go to:VA Gravesite Locator.



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