Veterans Qualify for New Benefits

VA MISSION Act Provisions Expand Access to Urgent Care

On June 6, the VA began implementation of the MISSION Act, an overhaul of VA operations designed to simplify and expand veteran access to healthcare both within, and outside of, the VA.

One of the most exciting new benefits provided by the MISSION Act is the addition of urgent care and walk-in clinics located within the local community. This is a giant step forward in terms of convenience for our patients, as eligible veterans do not need to get prior VA authorization to visit an urgent care provider that has been vetted, approved, and added to the network.

This urgent care benefit is meant to give veterans a convenient way to get treatment for minor injuries and illnesses such as colds, strep throat and pink eye. To be eligible for urgent and walk-in care, veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system and have received care through VA from either a VA or community provider within the past 24 months.

As an example of how this works, please see here:

Veterans can click on the following link to find urgent care and walk-in clinics in their local areas:

For more information, or to schedule an interview with one of our MISSION Act experts, please contact the Northport VA Medical Center’s public affairs office.

Communication update for SCCVFW

Please note the following updates for the SCCVFW


Mail: SCCVFW, P.O. Box 1492, Ronkonkoma, NY 11779 (Be sure to put who the mail is going to: ie.. ATTN: County CMDR, ATTN: Quartermaster, ATTN: Adjutant)

Skype: Live: SCCVFW




Web tags: @sccvfw #sccvfw #vfw #vfwpostpride #veterans #deptofnyvfw

Bill would give disabled vets free TSA Precheck

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A new bill backed by U.S. Army Reserves veteran Sen. Tammy Duckworth would waive the TSA Precheck fee for veterans with disabilities.

Duckworth, D-Illinois, is a Purple Heart recipient who lost both her legs in combat in Iraq, so she personally understands the problem.

“I’ve been taken into a separate room to strip so that they can see my devices,” she recalled. “It was a full pat down every single time. And for a while, they were X-raying our limbs.”

“I got a pretty thorough pat down,” Sherman Gillums, another veteran who uses a wheelchair, described. “I was very uncomfortable. It was out in public. … It got to a point where I had to file a complaint.”

Duckworth said X-rays are no longer routine, but getting through Transportation Security Administration checks at the airport is still a hassle and it’s time to make it easier for those who have served.

“I figure if you’ve been wounded in the defense of this country, you probably should be given a little bit of a break,” she said.

TSA Precheck allows approved flyers to speed through security without waiting in line or pat downs. But it costs money: $85 for a five-year plan. Duckworth’s bill would waive the fee for about 300,000 veterans with disabilities.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “Many of our veterans are unemployed, especially our disabled veterans, and they need a little bit of a help.”

“We want those men and women to get out of their house and see the world if that’s their desire and for the world itself to be more accommodating,” said Gillums, who’s with veteran service organization AMVETS.

A veteran of the U.S. Marines, he was paralyzed 17 years ago during a training exercise.

“In this small way, there’s a chance to show veterans that they’re appreciated,” he said. “It’s not a lot to ask to spend a little more on the people who suffered loss at the hands of defending freedom.”

Duckworth said her bill has bipartisan support. She hopes it will pass Congress by the end of the year.

Blue Water Update

Good evening —

I hope that you are all having a nice weekend. 

A few updates tonight: 

(1) I’ve received several emails asking whether Secretary Wilkie’s stay of Blue Water Navy claims until January 1, 2020, means that Blue Water Navy Veterans “should not bother filing or re-opening a claim” until that date arrives. 

The answer to that question is a resounding NO! 

Please do not delay in pursuing these claims. If you wait to file until January 1, 2020, then you will wind up losing several months of payments if the claim is granted. File now and preserve the earliest possible effective date for the claim. 

(2) The VA issued a press release late in the afternoon yesterday concerning claims filed under the Blue Water Navy Act. 

This press release confirms that when the VA does begin processing claims filed under the Blue Water Navy Act, two categories of claimants will receive priority in claims processing: Veterans over the age of 85 and Veterans who have a “life-threatening illness.” 

Here is a link to the press release:

(3) Many of you have asked how the VA will calculate the effective date for Blue Water Navy Veterans whose original claims were denied. 

The VA just released a “Fact Sheet” regarding Blue Water claims. Of particular interest is the following language: 

“Presumptive Agent Orange conditions granted for Blue Water Navy Veterans may be retroactive to the date VA received your original claim. If you had a previously denied claim and you resubmit your claim, the effective date will be determined on a case-by-case basis.”

With this language, the VA appears to be opening the door to granting at least some re-opened Blue Water cases back to the original date of claim. 

We do not yet know what rationale the VA will use to grant or not grant these retroactive payments. This language is from a VA-issued fact sheet, not from a law or regulation. However, it at least keeps the door ajar for at least some of these cases to be granted back to the effective date of the original claim. 

(4) Lastly, please remember that under 38 C.F.R. 3.156(c), if a claim is re-opened with military records that the VA did not consider when adjudicating the original claim, the effective date of that re-opened claim is always the original date of claim. 

The Blue Water Navy Act has no effect on this regulation. Therefore, if you can provide relevant military records that the VA failed to consider when deciding the original claim, and you are successful in winning the re-opened claim, then the VA should establish the original date of claim as the effective date, regardless of whether this re-opened claim is for a Blue Water Navy Veteran. 

Please let me know if you have any questions. I will continue to provide more updates as new information becomes available. 

Thank you, as always, for everything that you do. 


Benjamin Pomerance 

Deputy Director for Program Development 

New York State Division of Veterans’ Services 

Nave Blue Water Veterans

Good morning —

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Independence Day celebration. 

Many of you have asked me how quickly the VA will begin processing disability compensation claims for Blue Water Navy Veterans, now that the Blue Water Navy Act has been signed into law. 

Attached is a new memorandum from VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. In this memo, Secretary Wilkie orders the adjudication of claims that are impacted by the Blue Water Navy Act to be “stayed” (postponed) until January 1, 2020. 

We know from the Blue Water Navy Act that the VA has 120 days to provide a report of their “go forward plan” to Congress. We now also know from this memo that the VA is not going to start processing claims under this new law until at least January 2020 (and, if the VA has not finished promulgating its new Blue Water Navy regulations by that point, perhaps even later). 

The one remaining question is whether the VA’s postponement of processing these claims is valid under the Federal Circuit’s decision in Procopio v. Wilkie. The Procopio decision arguably did not grant the VA any latitude to delay adjudication of these cases for several months. 

Instead, Procopio simply stated that Veterans who served aboard ships on the offshore waterways should receive the same presumption of herbicide exposure as any other in-country Vietnam War Veteran. The majority opinion in this case does not provide any clear authority for the VA to treat a claim from a Blue Water Navy Veteran differently than a claim from any other in-country Vietnam Veteran. 

I have heard, but cannot yet confirm, that the Blue Water Navy Association is considering a legal challenge to the VA’s stay by presenting the case that this delay violates the Procopio decision. I will keep you posted as I learn more. 

In the meantime, if you are still seeking to immediately pursue a Blue Water Navy Veteran’s case, I recommend that you cite the Procopio decision, and not the Blue Water Navy Act, as your rationale in pursuing the claim. This could have effective date implications if the Blue Water Navy Association (or anyone else) is successful in challenging the validity of the stay. This is sort of a “Hail Mary pass” at this point, but it seems like the best option in light of Secretary Wilkie’s memo. 

I will keep you updated if more details arise. Thank you, as always, for all that you do. 


Benjamin Pomerance 

Deputy Director for Program Development 

New York State Division of Veterans’ Services 

National Convention Patriotic Parade

Dear 2019-20 Department Commander,

In preparation for the VFW Patriotic Celebration on Tuesday, July 23, with parade formation starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center,

All participants, including your color guard which are welcome, but not mandatory, are requested to be in position on Tuesday, July 23, by 5:30 p.m., in the designated area in Hall WE2 for the lineup.

(We highly encourage dressing “Patriotic.”)

The parade order is based on the membership numerical gain or loss of your Department as of June 30, 2019. There will be a sign with your state’s name on it located in the assembly area, Tuesday, July 23, 5:30 p.m., indicating your department’s position in the Patriotic March.  

General VFW Patriotic March Rules

  1. All persons are requested to be in position by 5:30 p.m. in the staging area
  2. In order to meet a set time schedule, the march must start at 6:30 p.m.
  3. Distance between each unit is approximately 20 paces.
  4. The Department Commander and President will pass in review. Parade will be reviewed by the Commander-in-Chief and National President.
  5. Have fun!!!

If you have any questions concerning the Patriotic March, contact me at VFW National Headquarters via 816.968.1116 or


Lynn W. Rolf, III

Director of Programs

Blue Water Navy Act

Here are some key details from the Blue Water Navy Act that was just signed into law by the President.

Effective Date: The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

VA’s Responsibility: Within 120 days, the Secretary of the VA is required to submit a report to the Senate and the House of Representatives detailing the Secretary’s plans “to conduct outreach” to Veterans concerning this new legislation and “to respond to inquiries from Veterans regarding claims for disability compensation” under these new statutory provisions.

Translation: Within 120 days, we will know what the VA’s “go forward plan” is regarding these disability compensation claims, including the unanswered questions of whether Nehmer rules will apply to these cases, how the VA intends to prioritize these cases, etc., etc.

Definition of Offshore: A location is deemed to be “offshore of Vietnam” (and thus eligible for the presumption of Agent Orange exposure) if the location is within 12 nautical miles of the coast of Vietnam and Cambodia, along a line of demarcation intersecting the following points:

“Points Geographic NamesLatitude NorthLongitude East
At Hon Nhan Island, Tho Chu Archipelago Kien Giang Province9°15.0′103°27.0′
At Hon Da Island southeast of Hon Khoai Island Minh Hai Province8°22.8′104°52.4′
At Tai Lon Islet, Con Dao Islet in Con Dao-Vung Toa Special Sector8°37.8′106°37.5′
At Bong Lai Islet, Con Dao Islet8°38.9′106°40.3′
At Bay Canh Islet, Con Dao Islet8°39.7′106°42.1′
At Hon Hai Islet (Phu Qui group of islands) Thuan Hai Province9°58.0′109°5.0′
At Hon Doi Islet, Thuan Hai Province12°39.0′109°28.0′
At Dai Lanh point, Phu Khanh Province12°53.8′109°27.2′
At Ong Can Islet, Phu Khanh Province13°54.0′109°21.0′
At Ly Son Islet, Nghia Binh Province15°23.1′109° 9.0′
At Con Co Island, Binh Tri Thien Province17°10.0′107°20.6′

Spina Bifida Cases: Under this law, benefits are now available for children diagnosed with spina bifida who had a parent who served at covered locations in Thailand (e.g., Royal Thai Air Bases in certain military occupational specialties) during the Vietnam War. (This coverage is already available for children diagnosed with spina bifida who had a parent who served in Vietnam and along the Demilitarized Zone [DMZ] in Korea).

New Starting Date For Korean DMZ Presumptions: The new law amends the starting date for the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange to apply to a Veteran who served along the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) from April 1, 1968, to September 1, 1967.

Obviously, there are still several unanswered questions — particularly focusing on the mechanics of how the VA is going to handle these cases — but we will have these answers in the VA’s report to Congress within 120 days.

Thank you, as always, for all of the work that you do for Veterans, Service Members, and their families every day.


Benjamin P. Pomerance

Deputy Director for Program Development

New York State Division of Veterans’ Services

2 Empire State Plaza, 17th Floor, Albany, NY 12223

Phone (518) 474-6114 | Fax (518) 473-0379 | |


As many of our new members work different hours and sometimes have to travel long distances to make meetings for the County and District, following with that tradition of helping veterans, the Suffolk County Council has established a Skype account. This will allow us to reach members who wish they could join the meetings, but simply can’t because of family obligations, work, distance to meetings.

For more information on the County Skype program or to set up a time to sign up for a meeting contact the County Commander at or call 631-838-8944