Applications Open for 2020 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship

Opportunity allows 10 student veteran VFW members to address issues directly with Congress

WASHINGTON (July 31, 2019) – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and Student Veterans of America (SVA) are now accepting applications from student veterans who are interested in participating in the upcoming 2020 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship program. The fellowship, now in its sixth year, will bring up to 10 student veterans – who must be VFW members – to Washington early next March to meet face-to-face with their members of Congress and senior policy makers.

Student veterans interested in applying for the 2020 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship must complete an application package that includes a 1,500-word or less essay that proposes legislative improvements to one of the following four specific veterans’ issues:

  • Student veteran success on campus and beyond;
  • Improving veteran’s health care and benefits;
  • Transition from military to civilian life; or
  • Challenges for service members and military families.

The essay proposal should include a discussion of why the issue is important to the veterans’ community, and how the fellowship candidate plans to address the issue through federal policy solutions and community-based advocacy.

VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship opportunities are open to all currently-enrolled student veterans. Fellowship candidates must be VFW members in order to be considered, the eligibility criteria for which can be found here. Selected fellows will be flown to Washington, D.C., to ensure the veterans’ voice is delivered to Capitol Hill alongside 500 fellow veterans’ advocates as part of the upcoming VFW Legislative Conference, March 1-5, 2020.

“The VFW’s advocacy efforts have led to the creation of every significant veteran and military quality of life program in this century and last,” said new VFW National Commander William J. “Doc” Schmitz. “The VFW is proud to continue sharing these opportunities with a new generation of veteran leaders through our strong partnership with SVA, which over the past five fellowship classes has produced positive legislative changes for our unique community.” 

“Given our ongoing collaboration to advocate for empowering policies, we’re excited to continue our partnership with the VFW to provide student veterans with the chance to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill,” said SVA President and CEO Jared Lyon. “This important program gives student veterans the opportunity to highlight policy ideas that support our military, our families, and our veterans. We look forward to welcoming our 2020 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellows to our nation’s capital.”

All applications must be submitted by close-of-business Sept. 30. Selected fellows will be notified before Thanksgiving, with a formal announcement of the 2020 fellowship class at the SVA National Conference in Los Angeles, Calif., in January. For full details about the VFW-SVA fellowship and to apply, visit

Past fellows have earned academic credit, found internships, accepted additional academic opportunities, and landed fulltime employment as a result of their fellowship experience. Several fellows have even had their research integrated into laws, which makes an everlasting impact on veterans, service members and their families.

The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is another example of the strong collaboration between VFW and SVA that resulted from a memorandum of understanding signed by the two organizations at SVA’s 2013 National Conference.

Northport VAVS

Please note that our August 12 VSO leaders meeting is postponed and will be rescheduled when the new Director arrives.

Special Thanks from Dr. Cruise:

As her time as Interim Director of Northport VA Medical Center ends later this week, Dr. Cruise extends to you her sincere appreciation for your generous support, guidance, and assistance since she assumed this temporary role last summer.  She is thankful and proud of the efforts made with you, staff, and volunteers to improve the care of veterans at Northport VAMC.  Just this week, VA released the FY’19 second quarter SAIL (Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning) report, which shows that, since last summer, Northport VAMC has improved in its ranking and is now within 10 points of a four-star rating. 

Dr. Cruise asks you to join in welcoming Dr. Antonio Sanchez, MHSA, FAPA, FACHE, Northport VA’s newly appointed Director.  Dr. Sanchez has been with VA for nearly 19 years and most recently served as the Acting Director of the VA Caribbean Healthcare System in San Juan, Puerto Rico.   After his arrival, a meeting will be arranged for Dr. Sanchez to meet Long Island’s dedicated VSO leaders!

Facility Projects Update: 

Oscar Prue, Northport VA’s Chief of Engineering Service, retired in June.  Mr. Khalid Nagidi, the Assistant Chief of Engineering, will act as Chief until Mr. Prue’s replacement is hired.  Mr. Nagidi provided the following facility project updates, which I shared at the meeting.    

·          Steam pipe replacement project

50% complete. Anticipated end of construction is 04/05/2020.

·          Dialysis renovation

Design proposals SF 330 were received and are under review. Anticipated end of construction is 11/30/2021.

·          Pathology and Lab renovation

Project is due to start in mid-august when lab equipment is relocated and moved out of construction area. It is being coordinated by Delores Grant. Anticipated end of construction is 11/21/2019.

·          New Cat Scan (CT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) suite

Construction in progress. The AC and condensing unit will be rigged and placed on building 200 roof in mid-July. Anticipated end of construction is 11/28/2019.

·          Sterile Processing Department renovation

20% complete. Anticipated end of construction is 02/17/2020.

·          Bldg. 200 roof replacement

Safety plan is under review with safety officer. RFP for changes in scope will be negotiated and RFP costs will be determined. Anticipated end of construction is 05/27/2020.

·          Operating Room air-handling unit refurbishment

If option 2 is selected by the leadership (replace air handling unit and ductwork), then the OR suite will be down for approximately 12 weeks. The optimistic anticipated end of construction is 03/30/2020.

·          Emergency Department Project

Cost Limit Increase document is under review by Doug E. Anticipated end of construction is 11/30/2021.

·          Intensive Care Unit relocation

The new design firm is still reviewing the project. Anticipated end of construction is 02/28/2023.

·          Special Procedures Suite

Materials for air handling unit modification are due to arrive July 29th. Anticipated end of construction is 11/30/2019.

·          Roads repair project

Design is complete. Funding for construction required, likely in FY2020. Pending staffing and resources.

·          Bldg. 1 and 2 demolition

90% design is due August 2019. Anticipated end of construction is 11/30/2020.

After sharing these project updates, the following questions were asked: 

1.      Status of Homeless Residence for Building 11? According to Levi Spellman, Northport’s Public Affairs Officer, VA’s contracting office continues in the preparation of the solicitation for a homeless service provider.  As more information becomes available, it will be shared.

2.      Status of the parking project following deconstruction of Buildings 1 and 2?  According to Khalid Nagidi, Acting Chief of Engineering Service, a formal parking lot project package will be prepared and submitted to VA for approval and funding.     

Mission Act Update:

The Mission Act rollout at Northport VAMC continues to move along well.  VA’s website about the new care in the community program can found at this link:    

Since it had a rather modest start, please note that the website showing in-network urgent care providers has been updated with many Nassau and Suffolk County sites.  Here’s the link:  VA In Network Urgent Care Locator

When discussing Mission Act rules regarding urgent care coverage, some VSO leaders asked for clarification on VA priority groups.  Click on the following link for priority groups explained:

Blue Water Veterans Update, Other Environmental Exposures, and General Enrollment Information:

VA’s press release regarding its extension of agent orange presumption to ‘Blue Water Navy’ Veterans was handed out at the meeting and here is the link:

VSO leaders and VA staff engaged in a good discussion about the need for all veteran advocates to raise the awareness of military environmental exposures, to include burn pits, liver flukes, and the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.    It was noted that Northport’s former Chief of Allergy Section received national recognition for his advocacy for service members exposed to burn pits and how his efforts helped a former Long Island Congressman in co-authoring legislation that led to the establishment of the national burn pit registry.  More about the registry can be found at this link:

Speaking about environmental exposures in Southeast Asia, some leaders referenced the small liver fluke research study conducted at Northport VAMC and VA’s current, large-scale epidemiological study being conducted to determine if Vietnam veterans are diagnosed more often with cholangiocarcinoma (cancer caused by liver fluke parasite) as compared to their age matched peers (Americans who are not veterans).   According to information VA shared last year, the study has begun and the Department expects data analysis to be complete in 1.5 to 2 years.


As you know, JoAnn DeMarco, Northport VA’s Outreach Coordinator, is pleased to work with you on VA registration/enrollment events at your post/chapter locations.  Please reach out to her at or (631) 261-4400, ext. 7082.  As some of you know, veterans may be missing out on vital VA services and support they need. 

David Rogers, Suffolk County’s VFW Commander, will have a major outreach event – that includes Northport VAMC – on Saturday, August 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Centereach VFW Post at 31 Horseblock Road.  The goal is to ensure veterans know their VA and other entitlements they earned by serving. 

VA Facilities Going Smoke-free

In accordance with VHA Directive 1085 (Smoke-Free Policy for Patients, Visitors, Vendors, and Contractors at VA Health Care Facilities), Northport VAMC will be joining all other medical centers around the country by going smoke-free by October 1, 2019.  Presently, VA is negotiating with the national leaders of employee unions on a smoke-free policy for employees.   As the outcome of those negotiations becomes available, they will be shared widely.  

As Dr. Richard Stone, VA’s Executive in Charge has noted:

There is overwhelming evidence that smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke creates significant medical risks. A growing body of evidence also reveals that exposure to thirdhand smoke — residue which seeps onto clothes, furniture, etc. — creates additional risks to safety and direct patient care.

A workgroup to manage the smoke-free rollout at Northport and its community clinics has been formed and will address the needs of veterans to include increased smoking cessation support.  If you have any questions about the rollout, please email me at

VA Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound allowance:

Since a few VSO leaders cited the importance of continually alerting senior veterans and their spouses about VA’s Aid and Attendance and Housebound Pension Program, here is the link: .  I’m also attaching a fact sheet that further clarifies the programs. 

Community Clergy Training to Support Veterans Mental Health:

Reverend Fred Miller of the American Legion 3rd Division shared that he is coordinating training in October for local clergy to become culturally competent in military veterans’ issues.  Attached is a registration form you are encouraged to share with clergy members in Nassau and Suffolk County.  Fred’s contact information is on the form, if you have any questions.

Volunteers for the Red Coat Ambassador Program:

The Medical Center relies heavily on thoughtful and generous volunteers.  If you know of someone looking to make a positive difference in the lives of patients, please encourage them to contact the Voluntary Service Office at ext. 7182 or email  Currently, volunteer greeters and guides are needed to assist patients at the Pavilion information desk.  Information about that specific role can be directed to

New VSO leaders:

If you have a new post or chapter commander, please email me the name, title, post #, phone number and email address so I can add new leaders to the email group.  Thanks!

Northport VA Introduces Valet Parking for Patients

New Solution Tackles Parking Issues

NORTHPORT, N.Y. — On July 29, the Northport VA Medical Center will cut the ribbon on its new valet parking service.

This solution to Northport’s long-standing parking issues, provided by highly professional and courteous staff, is designed with the maximum convenience of veterans in mind.

“A convenient, simple, and stress-free way to get in and out of the hospital will benefit the physical and mental health all of our veterans,” said Dr. Cathy Cruise, the facility’s interim director.

Veterans with appointments, and visitors of admitted patients, will enjoy the new service free of charge.

Questions about the valet parking service can be directed to the Northport VA Medical Center public affairs office.

Fly the United States Flag at Half-Staff Immediately

Issued on: July 17, 2019

Proclamation on the Death of 

John Paul Stevens

As a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding service of John Paul Stevens, retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that on the day of his interment, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on such day.  

I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.


VFW Snaps 27-Year Membership Decline

Programs and services needed just as much now as they were then

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 16, 2019) – The 120-year-young Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States just added almost 25,000 members to snap a 27-year decline in membership.

America’s largest and oldest war veterans’ organization began its new membership year earlier this month with almost 1.165 million members, a million less than its peak in 1992, yet significant nonetheless, according to VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, who attributes the growth to the organization being more visible on the national scene as well as in more than 6,000 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and 11 foreign countries. 

“The VFW is making a difference in the lives of countless others every day, and thanks to the power of social media and the internet, more people are taking notice and wanting to be part of our team,” said Lawrence. 

“The internet allows us to share our story of service to others, and social media allows us to engage not only with our members but with potential members, advocates and their families,” he explained. “More people are learning about VFW’s service work, which last year helped 526,000 veterans and transitioning service members to recoup more than $8.3 billion in disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are learning about VFW’s legislative advocacy, which directly benefits all 22 million veterans and military service members, and which has produced the Forever G.I. Bill for our newest generation of warriors, the Blue Water Navy Act for Vietnam veterans, and will soon eliminate the ‘Widow’s Tax’ that is financially penalizing some 65,000 surviving family members of all generations. And they are learning about VFW programs, which range from volunteerismyouth scholarship competitions and student veteran scholarships to financial grants and military unit sponsorships,” he said.

“The VFW is all about service to others,” said Lawrence. “That’s what our founders envisioned when they birthed the organization in 1899, and that’s what they made a certainty in 1919 when the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to open an office in our nation’s capital to petition our government for veterans’ rights and to ensure our government delivered. The decision to open the VFW Washington Office one century ago this year was the direct result of World War I veterans returning to the same government neglect as VFW’s founders encountered two decades earlier.

“Thanks to a robust membership and a 120-year relevance that spans generations, the VFW will continue to make a difference in the lives of others every day, because the programs and services we provide are needed just as much now as they were then,” he said.

To learn more about the VFW or to join, go to

VFW members pictured left to right: Nick Lopez of VFW Post 6603; Tara Fajardo Arteaga of Post 7356; Mary Spencer of Post 56; Chris Johnson of Post 56; and Chris Cormier of Post 56.



Veteran Resource Day

Suffolk County Council VFW Presents a:

Veterans Resource Day

Continuing with the motto of the VFW


The participating organizations include:

The VA Northport Mobile Unit (To perform veterans screenings and help sign veterans up for the VA)

Suffolk County Veterans Services

Stony Brook Medicine Mobile Mammography Program (The Truck will be at another location, but staff will be there to sign women veterans up for the upcoming mobile units and hospital program)

VA Women’s Wellness Clinic

Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk EOC of Suffolk, Inc. – Supportive Services for Veteran Families

Paws of War Mobile Dog Clinic (helping veterans take care of their pets) Paws of War

Joseph P. Dwyer Peer to Peer Program

Island Harvest Island Harvest

VA Suicide Prevention Program

United Veterans Beacon House


S:US Services for the Under Served Services for the UnderServed – S:US

Suffolk County United Veterans

Project Safety Net NY – Long Island

Fairway Foundation

St. Josephs College SVA

Independent Group Home Living Program, (IGHL)

Airborne Tri Team

Long Island State Veterans Home

Thanks to Rob Calarco and the staff at his office, there will be additional services to help veterans.From Dept of Labor: SCDOL rep who works closely with Vets and Veteran job related issues.From DSS:Medicaid Division will be represented and our Client Benefits Division (temporary assistance, SNAP, Housing) will be represented.A rep will also be attending, representing the Department’s Adult Protective Services.We appreciate the services that our county has to help provide programs and assistance to our veterans.

Congressman Lee Zeldin will have a table to help veterans that are having issues on the Federal Level.
and more…

light refreshments to be served

Hosted at:Centereach VFW Post 4927, 31 Horseblock RdCentereach, NY 11720
for more information contact CMDR Rogerssccvfw@gmail.com631-838-8944

ACTION ALERT – Fighting the Tyranny of Robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission and the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council are teaming up to help consumers declare independence from robocalls. 

Americans received more than 26 billion robocalls in 2018, a 46 percent increase over the previous year, according to third-party estimates.  The FCC receives more consumer complaints on this topic than any other, reflecting consumers’ growing frustration with the illegal and unwanted calls.  

Robocalls are not only annoying; they are increasingly used as an entry point to fraud.  Scammers target innocent consumers, often spoofinglocal numbers or government agencies to steal their money and identities.  The FBI reports that in just over a year, a Chinese-language robocall has resulted in over $40 million in reported stolen money from Chinese-speaking consumers.   

Please pass along these tips to your contacts, membership lists, family and friends:

§  Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.

§  You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be aware, though — caller ID showing a “local” number does not necessarily mean it is a local caller.

§  If you answer the phone and the caller — or a recording — asks you to press a button to stop getting the calls, just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.

§  Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes.”

§  Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mothers’ maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls, or if you are at all suspicious.

§  If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number in the phone book, on your account statement if you have one, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.

The FCC has additional consumer information on its website at  This information is also available in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog.

Last month the FCC empowered phone companies to aggressively block by default unwanted and illegal robocalls before they reach consumers.  Phone companies are also rolling out a robust caller ID authentication system, allowing them to block or label spoofed calls and help authorities track down the sources.

Help us get the word out and keep the fraudsters at bay.

Time is running out for some combat-injured veterans to claim tax refunds of up to $3,200

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is reminding veterans who received disability severance payments after 1991 and claimed it as income that time may be running out to claim their refund.

Veterans should take action soon if they received a notice (letters 6060-A and 6060-D) and have not already filed Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to claim a refund or credit of the overpayment attributable to the disability severance payment should do so soon.

“We appreciate the service and sacrifice of our nation’s combat-injured veterans, and the IRS is pleased to help deliver refunds under this special provision,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Time is running out this month for many people who qualify for this refund. We urge combat-injured veterans to take time review the provisions to see if they are eligible.”

The Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016 provides that most veterans who received a one-time, lump-sum, disability severance payment when they separated from military service are entitled to a refund if that payment was claimed as income. The payment must have been received after Jan. 17, 1991, and before Jan. 1, 2017. Eligible veterans should have received a mailed notice from the Department of Defense in July of 2018 explaining how to claim their tax refunds.

Some veterans have yet to act   

Deadlines are soon approaching as the time available for claiming these tax refunds is limited to:

  • One year from the date of the Department of Defense notice, or
  • Three years after the due date for filing the original return for the year the disability severance payment was made, or
  • Two years after tax was paid for the year the disability severance payment was made.

Veterans claiming their refund have the normal limitations period for claiming a refund or one year from the date of their letter from the DoD, whichever expires later. As taxpayers can usually only claim tax refunds within three years from the due date of the return, this alternative time frame is especially important since some of the claims may be for refunds of taxes paid as far back as 1991. While many veterans have claimed their refunds in the past year, many others have not, and time is running short.

Two options for claiming the tax refund:

  • Option 1: File a claim based on the actual amount of the overpayment attributable to your lump sum disability severance payment, or
  • Option 2: Choose to claim the standard refund amount listed below that corresponds to the year the disability severance payment was made. Simply write “Disability Severance Payment” on Form 1040X, line 15, and enter the standard refund amount listed below on line 15, column B, and on line 22, leaving the remaining lines blank.

Veterans can submit a claim based on the actual amount of their disability severance payment by completing Form 1040X and carefully following the instructions. An original return is not necessary if the information for that tax year available. Veterans without the required information to complete the Form 1040X, you can request a transcript online at

Option 2, claiming a standard refund amount, is the easiest way to request a refund because it does not require finding the original tax return or requesting information about the return from the IRS. It may result in a larger or smaller refund based on the actual amount from the return. The standard refund amounts are:

  • $1,750 for tax years 1991 – 2005
  • $2,400 for tax years 2006 – 2010
  • $3,200 for tax years 2011 – 2016

Special Instructions

Carefully follow the instructions in the notice mailed by the Department of Defense in July 2018:

  • Complete and file IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, for the tax year the disability severance payment was made
  • Write either “Veteran Disability Severance” or “St. Clair Claim” across the top of the front page of the Form 1040X
  • All amended returns are filed on paper, so veterans should mail their completed Form 1040X, with a copy of the DoD letter, to:

Internal Revenue Service
333 W. Pershing Street, Stop 6503, P5
Kansas City, MO  64108

Eligible but never received a DoD notice

Veterans who did not receive the notice from the Department of Defense and received a disability severance payment after Jan. 17, 1991, that was reported as taxable income, can still file a claim. They must include the necessary documentation to file with their Form 1040X. Veterans should contact the National Archives, National Personnel Records Center, or the Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain the required documentation for submission with their Form 1040X.

The IRS has posted detailed information on IRS.govVeterans with questions about claiming a tax refund for disability severance payment, can call the IRS toll free at (833) 558-5245 ext. 378 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time (Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific time).

FREE Women Veteran’s Career and Transitioning Seminar & Networking Reception

Greetings,  We are proud to announce this year’s annual Women Veteran’s Career and Transitioning Seminar & Networking Reception hosted by the Sea Service Leadership Association ( This is a FREE event for Military Members, Veterans, and their Spouses designed to help the transitioning process for women and to obtain future/new career opportunities. We will have over 40 exhibitors (Amazon, Deloitte, USAA, Ulta, WWP, Comcast, Veterans Affairs and more) in attendance and a full day of activities to help with resumes, personal branding/LinkedIn, or promotions.  We are also having a FREE reception that night so come mingle and meet with other military women and veterans and grab some free drinks!   

We are hoping you will pass along the following message to your organizations members and post on your social media!  We appreciate the help in advance to spread the word and we look forward to you joining us on August 21st at the Convention Center in Washington, DC. This event is the day before the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium where over 900+active duty military women, in uniform, will be in attendance August 22-23rd.   We are looking for a few volunteers so if someone in your organization is available August 21-23rd please have them send an email to For more info on the Career and Transitioning Seminar see attached flyer.  To register, fill out the form below. Any Questions? or 

Thanks, Reagan Cram