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: https://missionact.va.gov/.    

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:  https://www.va.gov/health-care/eligibility/priority-groups/

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:https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5280

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:https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhv-portal-web/web/myhealthevet/ss20190626-open-burn-pit-registry.

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.

Outreach: 

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 JoAnn.DeMarco@VA.gov 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 Joe.Sledge@VA.gov

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:  https://www.va.gov/pension/aid-attendance-housebound/ .  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 Jennifer.Pohl2@va.gov.  Currently, volunteer greeters and guides are needed to assist patients at the Pavilion information desk.  Information about that specific role can be directed to Joe.Sledge@VA.gov

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!

Featured

Veteran Resource Day

Suffolk County Council VFW Presents a:

Veterans Resource Day

Continuing with the motto of the VFW

“NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS”

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

Project9Line

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 www.fcc.gov/robocalls.  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 IRS.gov/transcript.

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).

Communication update for SCCVFW

Please note the following updates for the SCCVFW

email: sccvfw@gmail.com

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

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sccvfw

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sccvfw

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/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.