Spring 2011 Edition NJDMAVA Veterans

About NJ Veteran Journal:
The New Jersey Veteran Journal is an official publication of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is intended to serve New Jersey's veterans, their families, friends and concerned individuals and groups. All correspondence should be sent to:

Veteran Journal Editor, NJDMAVA/PA, PO Box 340,
Trenton, NJ 08625-0340

 
Veterans News & Views

Providing a helping hand to veterans
Volunteers give homeless veterans haircuts during Stand Down 2010 at the Army National Guard Armory in Cherry Hill on Sept. 25, 2010. Stand Downs are designed to provide homeless veterans and their family members with access to healthcare, medical screening, veterans' benefits counseling, substance abuse counseling, legal and employment services, social services, vocational rehabilitation services, a hot meal, a haircut, and winter clothing. A Stand Down was also held on Oct. 16, 2010 at the John F. Kennedy Pool and Recreation Center in Newark. Homeless Veterans or their families can call 1-888- 8NJ VETS for information on entitlements. Photo by Kryn P. Westhoven, DMAVA Public Affairs.
Soldiers, Airmen visit homes

Paramus Veterans Memorial Home resident John Semoldoni, seated, poses with, left to right, Sgt. 1st Class John Figueroa, Spc. Deiree Morales and Tech. Sgt. Duy Nguyen on Nov. 9, 2010. Each year the New Jersey Counterdrug Task Force visits the Menlo Park, Paramus and Vineland Veterans Memorial Homes to spend time with fellow veterans. U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Joseph P. Prieto.

VINELAND GETS PHANATICAL ABOUT BASEBALL

Bernard Errickson, left, watches the antics of the Phillie Phanatic, while Dolly Madkiff, above, gets a hug from Mike Trout. The Phanatic and Millville native Trout, the top Major League Baseball prospect visited the residents of the Vineland Veterans Memorial Home on Feb. 7. Photos by Mark C. Olsen, DMAVA Public Affairs.

Dig in

Over a decade in the talking and planning stages, the construction finally began for the multi-purpose room at the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home with the groundbreaking ceremony with, left to right, Roger Stine, Robert McCooberry, Carter Construction; Ray Zawacki, Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs; Doris Nebart, Chief Executive Office, Paramus Veterans Memorial Home; U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5th Dist.) and Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, The Adjutant General of New Jersey on June 28, 2010. The Veterans Administration was able to provide $1,754.255 to cover nearly a third of the construction costs with the state providing the balance to build the nearly 8,000 square foot addition. The room will be able to hold up to 700 people for dinners and other events, currently much smaller groups can be accommodated in the dining room when meals are not being served. The room is expected to be completed in April. Before the groundbreaking (photo below) Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, right, with U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5th Dist.), center, presented resident Richard Dion with several military awards to include the Vietnam Service medal and National Defense Service medal before a room full of his family and friends. Photos by Kryn P. Westhoven, DMAVA Public Affairs.

New benefits for veterans' caregivers

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is launching the first of a series of new and enhanced services supporting family caregivers of seriously ill and injured Veterans.

In May 2010, President Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 legislation authorizing the VA to establish a wide range of new services to support certain caregivers of eligible Post 9/11 Veterans.

In addition to the new benefits and services for eligible veterans who were disabled in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001 (Post 9/11 Veterans), the VA will also begin providing enhanced benefits and services to include access to VA's toll-free Caregiver Support Line: 1-855- 260-3274, expanded education and training on caring for veterans at home, other support services such as counseling and support groups and referral services; and an enhanced website for caregivers.

Each VA medical center has designated caregiver support coordinators who will assist eligible veterans and caregivers in understanding and applying for the new benefits. VA also has a Caregiver Support Web page, www.caregiver. va.gov, which will provide general information once final regulations are published.


Program expands support

The VA is expanding support nationally to caregivers of Veterans with Alzheimer's disease.

A pilot program of the REACH VA (Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregiver Health in VA) program showed great success in reducing stress on caregivers while improving care outcomes for the veterans.

REACH VA involved 127 caregivers connected to 24 VA medical centers. The median age for the caregiver was 72 and the majority of the participants were spouses.

Typical issues caregivers face when caring for veterans with Alzheimer's disease and dementia include memory problems, behavior problems and the need to provide basic attendance such as grooming assistance. Caregivers typically reported feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, cut off from family and friends, lonely, prone to bouts of crying and having worse physical health than the year before.

Local caregiver support coordinators are available to assist Veterans of all eras and their caregivers in understanding and applying for VA's many caregiver benefits. VA also features a website, www.caregiver.va.gov, with general information on REACH VA and other caregiver support programs available through VA and the community.


VETERANS HONORED ACROSS THE STATE ON NOV. 11

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, right, and Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, left, The Adjutant General of New Jersey, listen to Betty Franck, seated in wheel chair and Kay Franck, holding the wheel chair, both Independence Unit Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home residents, following the Veterans Day ceremony held at the Home on Nov. 11. The Lieutenant Governor and the Major General were joined by Raymond L. Zawacki, Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs and Joe Brandspiegel, CEO, Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home in honoring the services of the nearly 300 veterans who live at the Home. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, 177FW/PA.

Congressman-elect Jon Runyan, 3rd district, left, joins Brig. Gen. James Grant, Director of the Joint Staff, and Deputy Commissioner Ray Zawacki as they place the ashes of 3,103 U.S. flags that were buried during the state Veterans Day ceremony at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery in Wrightstown. Photo by Kryn P. Westhoven, DMAVA Public Affairs.

Exhibit highlights NJ first for Black History Month

By Sgt. Wayne Woolley, DMAVA Public Affairs

In 1948, the New Jersey Army National Guard went where no military force had ever gone before. And it was done without deploying a single Soldier.

With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Alfred Driscoll racially integrated the state's military forces on Feb. 12, 1948 five months before President Truman ended segregation for the rest of the active and reserve components.

Although Driscoll acted because a new state Constitution adopted in 1947 prohibited discrimination based on race, 1st Lt. Vincent Solomeno, Historian of the New Jersey National Guard, said the governor had another reason for taking the bold step.

This watershed moment in the history of New Jersey and the National Guard was the cornerstone of the Black History Month Exhibit "Leading the Charge: African- Americans in the New Jersey National Guard" at the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey in Sea Girt. The exhibit featured the recently-unearthed correspondence between Driscoll, National Guard officers in New Jersey and top Pentagon officials.

Almost immediately after the new constitution was adopted, Driscoll ordered National Guard officers to prepare to disregard a standing order that "mixed units were not authorized." He followed that with a letter to Defense Secretary James Forrestal explaining the circumstances created by the adoption of the new constitution and asking for permission to begin full integration as soon as possible.

The reply came from Army Secretary Kenneth C. Royall who told Driscoll that while he did not believe integration "is in the interest of National Defense," he would make an exception for New Jersey. Shortly after, Driscoll directed New Jersey's Adjutant General to issue General Order No. 2, which read in part: "No qualified person shall be segregated from any militia because of religious principles, race, color, ancestry or national origin."


Burlington VSO success story
By Kryn P. Westhoven, DMAVA Public Affairs

The hallmarks of the 14 Veterans Services Officers of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs are knowledge, perseverance, and patience. Using all three traits added up to a huge $371,205 retroactive payment for a Burlington County veteran.

Beside the lump sum payment, the home-bound veteran was granted total service-connected disability and will receive nearly three-thousand dollars a month for the rest of his life.

This combat Vietnam veteran was already receiving a Veterans Administration non-service-connected pension since 1996 when he came into Charles Piscopo's office in Mount Holly. "The VA granted his pension claim at that time without considering all of his multiple service-connected disabilities for compensation," said Piscopo.

A thorough and detailed review of the veteran's military record, his VA claim record, and the applicable rules warranted a request to reopened claim for service-connected compensation.

"During a training session for our VSO, we talked about the VA's decision last year to revise the Agent Orange presumptions and service in Vietnam," said Chris Kulkosky, VSO Training Officer.

If veteran's claims were approved under these new VA regulations, the United States District Court orders in Nehmer v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would provide back payments to 1993.

Over a period of several months, Piscopo worked with the Beverly resident to gather all the necessary medical, military and pension records to reopen the claim and to supersede the original claim.

"At the time of the old application for pension due to inability to work, the medical condition was not yet related to Agent Orange, and so at that time a Service Connected Disability could not be filed," noted Piscopo.

"Charles did a tremendous professional job in assistance to this veteran," added Kulkosky. Piscopo is currently the department's VSO at the Philadelphia VA hospital.




Have an ice day

World War II Army veteran Leon Glowacki, a resident at The Vineland Veterans Memorial Home enthusiastically poses for a photo with Trenton Devils' mascot, Scorch, during the hockey game between the Devils and the Gwinnett Gladiators at the Sun National Bank Center on Feb. 26. Residents of NJ Veterans Memorial Home from three locations; Paramus, Menlo Park, and Vineland, were treated to the game in cooperation from the Department of NJ Jewish War Veterans of USA and the Trenton Devils. Photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez, DMAVA Public Affairs.


Congratulations graduate Minardi

Phillipsburg School Superintendent, Mark Miller, right, presents 92-yearold Dominick Minardi, a New Jersey World War II Navy veteran, with his high school diploma during the Veterans Tribute at the High School Gym at Phillipsburg, Pa., on Nov. 7, 2010. The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Department of Education jointly launched Operation Recognition, on Oct. 5, 2000 to honor New Jersey World War II veterans who left school to join the military and never received a high school diploma. Photo by Spc. Patrick Nogan, 444th MPAD.


Bank Donates $50,000 to Vet2Vet

Bank of America has donated $50,000 to the Foundation of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey- University (UMDNJ) for a program to help veterans returning from deployment and looking for work.

The grant will be used to expand the Vet2Vet program operated by the UMDNJ-University Behavioral HealthCare that assists the State's service men and women and their families with issues ranging from post traumatic stress syndrome and other behavioral health matters to marital and financial matters. With the additional Bank of America funding, NJ Vet2Vet will now assist veterans in learning about and pursuing employment and training opportunities as they reintegrate into society.

The primary point of entry for NJ Vet2Vet is a peer-operated helpline, 1-866-838-7654 (1-866-VETS-NJ4), which provides callers with immediate, direct contact to a fellow veteran counselor.

For more information about the Vet2Vet program, contact Christopher Kosseff at 732-253-5900 or at kosseff@umdnj.edu.