Health reform protects military benefits

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Republican lawmakers raised the specter of military families and survivors of veterans seeing health care costs rise as a result of the national health reform law that President Obama signed March 23. But the threat was never more than a notion and it is fading away. That’s the consensus among […]

Vets should file paperwork now

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans with ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease or B cell leukemia should file claims now with the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability compensation, not wait until VA publishes a regulation officially linking these diseases to wartime service. Advocacy groups are urging the swift filing […]

Military increasing awareness of benefits

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Despite billions of additional dollars pumped into veterans’ benefits in recent years, many military personnel still leave service unaware of their VA benefits or of programs set up to help them transition to civilian life, a senior Defense official and veteran advocates testified Wednesday. Noel C. Koch, deputy under secretary […]

PTSD disability ratings increased

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist More than 4300 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who were diagnosed in service as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but got low military disability ratings, have won an agreement with the Department of Defense to upgrade those ratings retroactively to 50 percent. The higher rating will represent an important win […]

Veterans cautious of health reform

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist As House and Senate Democrats negotiate a final compromise national health care reform bill, military people across the nation — and their advocates in Washington D.C. — remain vigilant for side effects. The Obama administration and Democratic congressional leaders have tried to reassure military members, retirees and veterans that national […]

Stop-loss vets eligible for payment

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist About 185,000 veterans who were forced by wartime “stop loss” orders to serve on active duty after enlistment contracts had expired, or past their approved retirement dates, are due a retroactive special payment of $500 for each extra month they served. But these veterans must apply by Oct. 21 to […]

Local institutions say no problems with veterans’ tuition payments

Staff and wire reports Although many universities and colleges are still waiting for tuition payments for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who attended school last fall under the new GI Bill, representatives of local institutions say they’re not having a problem. The Veterans Affairs Department says the number of veterans with claims unprocessed is now fewer […]

Old veterans daunted with current wars

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist A small group of U.S. war veterans, the age difference among them as wide as 70 years, gathered this month at American Legion Post 177 in Fairfax, Va., for a special event at the annual Veterans Day Community Fair. They had agreed to participate in a “living history,” co-hosted by […]

Female veterans face unique issues

By Anna Crook: Guest columnist The recent tragedy at the Fort Hood Army Post in Texas reminds us just how much we value and appreciate the men and women who bravely serve our nation. This Army post houses soldiers who have returned from deployment in the Middle East and others who will travel to combat […]

Senator holding up veterans benefits

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist More than a month after a new fiscal year began Oct. 1, the House and Senate are still pressing to pass a group of bills to improve veterans’ benefits and health programs, rolling them together in “omnibus” legislative packets. The omnibus bills can then be shaped by final compromises between […]

Veterans Day parade part of week of activities honoring veterans

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File photo Activities recognizing Veterans Day will be going on in Clovis throughout the week. By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer Veterans Day should be about giving thanks and recognition for the impact and sacrifice of military service, not only on service members, but on their families as well, according to George Vargas of the […]

Veterans deserve thanks, praise

By Clyde Davis: Local columnist Armistice Day. Veterans’ Day. November 11th, so designated to coincide with the signing of the agreement to end the First World War, the war to end all wars. This we knew, growing up in the 60’s and 70’s as we did, and I presume before that. It was always a […]

Friday morning briefing: NFL favorites, and thanks to veterans

Good morning. Welcome to Freedom New Mexico’s Friday morning briefing.

Base commander to speak at Portales Veterans Day ceremony

Courtesy photo: Joe Blair Don Paschke sings “The Star Spangled Banner” at a past American Legion Veterans Day ceremony in Portales, while other dignitaries listen. The event is occurring for the 63rd time this year. By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico “…The land of the free and the home of the brave.” The 63rd annual […]

Cancer fundraising feast set at VFW post

Freedom New Mexico The Veterans of Foreign Wars post 3015 Ladies Auxiliary is hosting a cancer fundraiser and Halloween Feast 7 p.m. today at the post. A $6 donation will be collected at the door. The menu is spaghetti with meat sauce, chicken alfredo, garlic bread and salad. Auctions and raffles will be held during […]

Lawmakers share blame for delay

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki got a bipartisan hug from the House Veterans Affairs Committee last week as lawmakers accepted his plan to fix Post-9/11 GI Bill payment delays, and blamed their own rush to enact the complex education benefit last year for some of the challenges VA now faces. […]

VA committee meeting

CNJ Staff The Legislative Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee meets 9 a.m Wednesday at the New Mexico National Guard Armory, 600 Wyoming Blvd. NE, in Albuquerque. The group, which works as an interim committee, invites veterans, members of the military, and the public to the meeting that mostly focuses on veterans care. There are no […]

VA not ready to back disabled pay

By Tom Philpott: Military update Monthly compensation the Department of Veterans Affairs pays to veterans with service-connected disabilities is intended to replace average earnings loss due to injuries or ailments. But should VA also pay disabled veterans something extra for diminished quality of life? Two prominent commissions in 2007 said it should. Last week, however, […]

Udall to visit ENMU

Freedom New Mexico Friday, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is scheduled to host a town hall meeting 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Eastern New Mexico University in the Campus Union Building Sandia Room. He will discuss and take questions about the first six months of the 111th Congress. In addition, Udall is set to distribute the new GI […]

Politics, movies and T-shirts

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer In what was a weekend of LeBron James buzzer-beater replays, bad movies and heartfelt thanks to our veterans, I never really had a thought that could compete verbosely with my new idea for duct tape last week. So here are my three best attempts at such: • In what […]