Fall 2006 Edition NJDMAVA Veterans

Veterans News & Views

Remembering the Fallen
Remembering the Fallen
(pictured right to left) Deputy Commissioner Steve Abel, Assemblyman Jack Connors, Legislative District 7 and Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth render honors to the Gold Star Mothers during the Memorial Day ceremony at the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

We would like to thank all those who participated and joined us in our day of remembrance. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Olsen, NJDMAVA/PA.

Vets' Hiring Preference Changes For Guard, Reserve
Beginning June 9, National Guard and reserve members released from active duty will get the same veterans' hiring preference for federal jobs as those who are separated or retired from regular active-duty assignments.

The Office of Personnel Management announced the new hiring rules in a notice published the same day in the Federal Register, where new rules and regulations are published. Normally, there is a three or four-month delay in implementing newly announced federal rules. OPM officials, however, said in a statement accompanying the rule that they chose not to wait for the traditional comment period before implementing the new hiring policy so as to "not unwittingly deny veterans' preference based upon regulations that are now obsolete."

"If OPM's regulations were permitted to remain as currently written while OPM solicited comments upon its proposed revisions there is a chance that reservists recently released from active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, might be denied veterans' preference based upon the language of current regulations," the statement says.

The federal personnel office said factors in the rush to implement the policy were "the sacrifices being made by individuals who do not serve full time in the armed forces but who have been called to active duty for significant service."

Under the new rules, which Congress approved last year as part of the 2006 Defense Authorization Act, the definition of a veteran expands for the purposes of getting extra credit when seeking a federal job. Previously, veterans' preference applied only to people "separated" from active duty under honorable conditions.

Under the new policy, hiring preference would extend to any person discharged or released from active duty if they had more than 180 consecutive days of duty since Sept. 11, 2001, served in a war or in a campaign for which a campaign badge or expeditionary medal was authorized. Also, the person who is discharged or released must have received an honorable or general discharge.

The interim policy is still open to comments, and could be modified. Comments will be accepted through Aug. 8, with revisions possible after a review.

New Housing Search Available Online
New Jersey has introduced a housing search tool available online at, www.njhousing.gov. This site offers a search engine of affordable housing, as well as housing with special accessibility features. This site also acts as an information source for homebuyers on how to purchase a home, etc.

New Cost Of Living Bill Introduced
HR 5444, the Veteran Disability Compensation Automatic COLA Act has been introduced in the House.

This bill would make an automatic cost of living adjustment for veterans' disability benefits based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each year, without an act of Congress. This would create a guarantee of an increase in benefits each year for veterans.

Act Restricts Protests
The 'Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act' was put into effect on May 29. This prohibits certain demonstrations at cemeteries controlled by the National Cemetery Administration and Arlington National Cemetery.

The bill prohibits protesting within 300 feet of the cemetery entrance, and 150 feet from roads into the cemetery. This restriction holds from an hour before the funeral, to an hour after. This will guarantee that the veterans and their families will have a peaceful ceremony and the respect they deserve during their time of grief.

Healthier US Veterans Initiative
The Director of the VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Linda Kisinger recently proposed the "Healthier US Veterans" initiative. Partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services, this initiative will address the problem of diabetes and obesity amongst many veterans by promoting healthy eating and physical activity. National, regional, and local events will be held at VA medical centers that will focus on good nutrition and physical activity. A corps of veteran volunteers called 'Fit For Life' will act also as ambassadors for the program. For more information, go to www.healthierusveterans.va.gov

VFW Donates Money For Nurse
VFW Donation
The Department for Military and Veterans Affairs partnered with the Veterans of Foreign Wars in order to raise money to rebuild the life of a nurse's aid at the Vineland Memorial Home. Pictured are left to right- VFW District 11 Commander Tom Farrell, Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs Stephen G. Abel, Assemblyman Jack Conners and VFW Post 3020 Ladies Auxillary President Eva Burgess. The nurse's aid has been with DMAVA for the past 16 years and lost her daughter and two grandsons in a tragic fire. The VFW has contributed $1,500 to the effort, making the total approximately $2,800. We hope that this small contribution will aid her in this time of need.

Cars For Vets
For a second year in a row, the township of Maple Shade donated a 1996 Ford Crown Victoria car to New Jersey's veteran transitional housing, Veterans Haven. Other vehicles came from The Burlington County Bridge Commission who donated a 1997 Ford Explorer, the Dahn Corporation who donated a 16 foot U-Haul Truck and Rocco Castranova who donated a 1990 Nissan Axxess.

Bob Sauselein, the superintendent of Veterans Haven, said that residents who have a valid driver's license and are able to afford the insurance would be drawn at random for the use of these vehicles. The transportation provided by the use of the automobiles will allow residents to seek different and better jobs. On behalf of the Department, we would like to extend our thanks to those who donated these vehicles and those who dedicate themselves to improving the lives of Veterans Haven's residents.

Citizen of the Year
Citizen of the  Year
New Jersey Jewish War Veterans Department Commander Mike Winnick (left) presents Deputy Commissioner Steve Abel (right) the Citizen of the Year Award during the Commander's Banquet at the N.J. Jewish War Veterans Convention on June 17. Photo courtesy New Jersey Jewish War Veterans Department.

State POW/MIA Medal Approved
"On behalf of Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, The Adjutant General of New Jersey, and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, it is our pleasure to inform you that Governor Jon S. Corzine has just signed into law, bill A2685/S1613 creating a New Jersey POW-MIA medal.

The New Jersey State POW-MIA Medal has been one of our legislative priorities and is very close to our hearts. Few are as deserving of this high honor than those POW's and MIA's who sacrificed so much in defense of our great nation and state. We all owe a debt of gratitude to these courageous soldiers and their families."

Building Construction Nearing Completion
Building Construction
Deputy Commissioner Abel (center) and Iven Dumas (left) Brigadier General William Doyle Cemetery Superintendent accept a donation from Mary Veres in memory of her husband George for the purchase and installation of a a flag pole at the new Administration/Maintenance building. The building is tentatively scheduled to be completed Oct. 17, with a dedication ceremony to be held in the Spring of 2007.

Admission Application "On-Line"
The Application for Admission to the three N.J. Veterans Memorial Homes (VMHs) is now available on the NJDMAVA website.

By having the application online, applicants and/or their families will have easier access to information. Logon to www.state.nj.us/military, click on "Veterans Affairs" and then go to "Healthcare Services" and pick any of the three VMHs. Print out and complete, either in ink or by typewriter, the Application for Admission. The completed application can be mailed to the VMH of your choice.

The revised Application also contains three Appendixes: Appendix A contains Chapter 5, the law governing admission to the three VMHs; Appendix B discusses HIPAA (patient privacy) information; and Appendix C is "Calculating Financial Costs - An Overview."

The three VMHs are located in Paramus (north), Menlo Park (central), and Vineland (south).

Cell Phones For Soldiers
Cell Phones for Soldiers was started in April 2004 to help soldiers with the cost of calling home. From money collected through direct donations and the recycling of cell phones and ink jet printer cartridges, the organization has bought more than 50,000 prepaid phone cards for soldiers. If you or anyone you know has any cell phones or printer cartridges they want to donate, please go to www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com.

VA Secretary Tours Paramus
VA Secretary Tours Paramus
Jim Nicholson (left), Secretary of Veterans Affairs gets a tour of the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home led by New Jersey Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs, Col. (Ret) Stephen Abel on June 1. Congressman Scott Garrett (not pictured) joined Secretary Nicholson in touring and meeting the staff of the home. Following the tour, Nicholson spoke with veterans about the need for further improvement of the care facilities and addressed questions concerning the importance of safeguarding personal data and assured them that the VA is doing everything they can to protect personal information. The Secretary's visit demonstrates our partnership with the federal government in delivering the benefits veterans deserve. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Stephenson, NJDMAVA/PA.

Veteran Memorial Homes Employee Awards Program

The Division of Veterans Healthcare Services has initiated a Division-wide Employee Awards Program to recognize employees with perfect attendance, as well as Best Employee and Best Team of the quarter from each Veteran Memorial Home. Since Best Employee and Best Team submissions rely, in part, on letters or notes of appreciation, all residents who have relatives in one of our homes or volunteer in the homes can participate by writing to the Chief Executive Officers when an employee does something especially noteworthy.