WWII Medic Received Purple Heart from Grateful Nation; Cold Shoulder from City Hall

BAY CITY, Michigan —  When neighbors went inside Marvin Schur’s house, the windows were frosted over, icicles hung from a faucet, and the 93-year-old World War II veteran lay dead on the bedroom floor in a winter jacket over four layers of clothing.

He froze to death — slowly and painfully, authorities say — days after the electric company installed a power-limiting device because of more than $1,000 in unpaid bills.

Read the rest of this story from the AP here.  An obituary is available online here.


WWII Vet’s Benefits Erroneously Terminated, Then Reinstated

A WWII vet in an assisted living home was advised by VA that his benefits would be terminated unless he filled out and submitted a form.  Oddly, not long after he submitted the form, VA sent him a check for $35,000 which he never received.  Read more here about this puzzling ordeal, which thankfully ended happily rather than in the veteran’s eviction from the assisted living facility.

Several States Offer Additional Benefits to Vets

Most military veterans know about the Veterans Administration and are aware of at least some of the benefits they have earned.  However, states often provide additional benefits to veterans.  Read about new laws some states have passed to provide additional thanks to veterans. To learn more about benefits specific to your state, please contact a veterans service organization, or your county or state department of military and veterans affairs.  Veterans who haven’t yet sent a copy of their DD-214 to their state department of veterans affairs will find this an excellent reason to do so.  Any of the veterans service organizations in your community should have contact information you can use to send a copy of your DD-214 by certified mail to your state DVA.  Another way is to go to the VA website and open the directory of state DVAs.

If you happen to be at the Veterans Center in Second Life, just use the laptop computer on the second floor of the information building.  It’s the one with the red and white U.S. map on the screen and is preloaded with the VA directory of the websites for state DVAs.

The DMVA of my home state of Colorado for instance offers Operation Recognition, a program that provides high school diplomas to those veterans who left school to defend freedom.  Disabled veterans may qualify for a property tax exemption.  Members of the Colorado National Guard are eligible for tuition assistance.  A family relief fund is also available to active duty, guard and reserve service members.

Pfizer/Wyeth Woes and VA Approved Drug List

Big banks.  Big oil.  Big car makers.  Big drug companies.  But what will we do without them?  Read a former FDA official’s explanation of how the financial crisis has thrown two of the largest drug companies in the world onto the mat and how this could stop lifesaving medications from making the VA approved drug list.

In the Shadow of the U.S. Naval Academy

According to a recent story in The Capital, the daily newspaper serving greater Annapolis and Kent Island, Maryland, about 70% of veterans from that area still have not enrolled with the Veterans Administration.  One common factor has been identified in the countless cases of veterans who are still not enrolled with the VA.  While veterans can choose to have their DD-214 released to their state department of veterans affairs, it is not required.  However, without the DD-214 the state department of veterans affairs never receives information about the veteran, including how to contact the individual about enrollment in the VA.

While this story relates to veterans from Maryland, its key points may be useful to service members and veterans in general.  Read more here.

U.S. Soldiers Electrocuted By Improper Wiring in Iraq

American servicemembers in Iraq face an unexpected threat: faulty wiring.  At least 13 have been killed.  During the second half alone of 2006, nearly 300 electrical fires were reported.  Two soldiers died.

Electricians warned the contractor about the unsafe conditions, which they said were due to unlicensed supervisors and Iraqi contractors who did not understand the hazards.

Some electrocutions occurred in showers. One soldier, a Green Beret, died when an improperly grounded pump sent a lethal jolt of electricity through his body when he turned on the water.

According to this CNN report, the Army has known about the danger of electrocution since the beginning of the Iraq war.

An Army probe found contractor KBR guilty of negligent homicide for failing to ensure that electrical work was completed by qualified electricians.  The report is currently being reviewed by the Criminal Investigation Command at Ft Belvoir, Virginia.

Read more here.

Veterans Service Organization News Nuggets

In addition to the many services provided to veterans, the service organizations also keep veterans in the know.  Each of the veterans service organizations includes a news area on their website for up to the minute developments.  At least two provide the full content of their magazines on the web.  The following is an example of how some of the veterans service organizations keep their members informed both in print and on the web.

AmVets publishes its 40-page American Veteran magazine in paper and web editions.  This veterans service organization provides news right up front on the home page.  Ever wonder what happens to a claim after it arrives at the VA? AmVets’ National Service Director Denny Boller explains the process in the current issue.  In his previous three Service Corner articles, he explains the process from initial preparation prior to separation up until the claim is submitted to the VA Regional Office.  American Veteran magazine is published four times a year and past issues are available on the web.

Disabled American Veterans publishes DAV Magazine six times a year in paper and web editions.  Its official website includes a news area.  The current issue contains 40 pages of valuable information especially for veterans during peacetime or war who have become disabled in the service to our nation.  As DAV National Commander Raymond E. Dempsey explains,

Our newest generation of veterans is articulate,
energetic, and dedicated to mission. They
have the right stuff to strengthen the DAV and to
move us forward into this new century.
These veterans need experienced partners
who will work for them and share the camaraderie
of those who have traveled this road before

Disabled veterans will find DAV Magazine loaded with valuable resources and insights.  Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to download and view the magazine online, but the viewer is free to download here.

The American Legion publishes a selection of articles on the web from its magazine.  Sneak a preview here.

Veterans of Foreign Wars publishes selections from each issue of VFW Magazine on the web and presents news front and center on the home page.  Visit the current issue and archives to read more. An 8-page newsletter, Checkpoint, is also available in PDF form.