Disability Benefits Being Awarded To U.S. Vets Exposed To Tainted Water

It’s been a long time coming, but finally a major breakthrough for our nation’s veterans, former reservists and former National Guard members who were stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and exposed to tainted drinking water.


The Obama administration has agreed to provide these military veterans with disability benefits, according to an official announcement made to the public on Thursday.


Those who served for at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune’s marine base from 1953 to 1987 and have been diagnosed with one of eight diseases are eligible.


The Dept. of Veterans Affairs would be making these payments to those veterans starting in March. The Associated Press reports that up to 900,000 service members could have been affected by the tainted water at the famous marine base. The cost to taxpayers of the added VA benefits has been estimated at $2.2 billion over five years.


The diseases and conditions listed by the document’s Federal Register include adult leukemia, aplastic anemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease.


The National Research Council stated that contaminants in the water supply were found to have three major routes of exposure: through inhalation, skin contact and ingestion. Some of these toxic chemical compounds featured trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, benzene and vinyl chloride.


Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis had authored the Camp Lejeune Reservist Parity Act to require the VA to expand benefits to reservists who served at Camp Lejeune (not only active-duty personnel). Bilirakis serves as Vice Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.


Biliarkis, like many in our country strongly believe, says it was the right thing to do for the men and women who had served at Camp Lejeune. Veterans sacrifice so much for the country and deserve better access to well-earned benefits, Bilirakis added.


US Veterans Protest against Installation of Oil Pipeline in North Dakota

US veterans from various military branches have joined North Dakota residents and other activists in demonstrations against the installation of an oil pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota. The protests have been ongoing since April 2016. The protesters were recently ordered to leave the area but even the bitter cold does not seem to be a deterrent to them. Among the protesters are environmental activists who claim that the oil pipeline will contaminate Standing Rock’s water source. Besides this, the oil pipeline will also run over sacred burial sites and this has infuriated North Dakota residents.


Michael Wood, a former US Marine, is the leader of the veterans’ group of protesters. There have been accusations of police beating up peaceful protesters and Mr. Wood was appalled by this as the demonstrations are peaceful. The veterans have a Facebook page through which they urge the public to support them by making donations to cater for the various needs of the protesters and other aspects of the campaign. They have raised more than $1 million and are expecting many more people to join the protests. The protesters want the pipeline to be rerouted so as not to interfere with the local water source and the sacred burial sites.


The veterans are determined to fight for this cause as they believe it is a worthy one. They have truthfully and honorably served the US for years and continue to do so even in their retirement. They urge volunteers who want to join in the protests to be peaceful and not to carry any drugs or weapons to the protests.


Chili’s Manager Scolded For Refusing Free Meal To Vet, Despite Proof Of Service

This one makes Chili’s restaurant chain look bad, no matter what part of the country the establishments are located in. The problem occurred on Veteran’s Day, when the chain announced that US servicemen and women could have a free Chili’s meal.


Ernest Walker and his service dog were enjoying that meal at a Chili’s Restaurant in the Dallas suburb of Cedar Hill, Texas. Imagine the vet’s embarrassment and humiliation when the Chili’s manager there challenged Mr. Walker on his US Army military status, beginning with the uniform he was wearing, says Fox-News.com.


Mr. Walker was wearing a military uniform without a name tag. He had bought the uniform after retirement. Mr. Walker claims another customer at the north Texas Chili’s had the nerve to question whether he was actually in the service.


When a manager then asked the veteran to showed him his discharge papers and identification, Mr. Walker did right away. Still, his free meal was taken away from him. Mr. Walker filmed the incident unfolding on his cell phone, which shows the manager taking the free meal away, despite proof of the military discharge papers. Mr. Walker posted the video on YouTube after the incident. You can check it out here.


Mr. Walker claims he was treated with disrespect by the male manager, because of his color. “He treated me as if I was a black mean stealing a meal.”


The vet has retained counsel, looking at his legal options. Chili’s has since apologized.


Veterans With PTSD Find Comfort With Art Therapy

Art therapy has been a growing trend of using artistic mediums to deal with or work through traumatic situations or issues that cause mental anguish. One non-profit oganization in the UK is using this innovative form of therapy as a treatment for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


The Tyrwhitt House is a combat stress facility that works with veterans returning from war and has realized the healing properties that art therapy can have on these struggling individuals.


The facility’s senior art pyschotherapist, Jan Lobban told Buzzfeed News that it does not take artistic talent to participate and be successful in this form of therapy. Lobban explains that all that is needed is an open mind. The mind creates the art.


“It’s not about how good the art is, it’s about what it represents,” Lobban said. “It’s about self-expression and being able to externalise some things that might not be making sense. People learn about themselves through image-making.”


The art therapy program’s veteran participants were skeptical at first, but are now realizing how creating artwork and poems can help them let go of things that their minsd are holding onto and begin the healing process.


“The inspiration comes naturally, or quite instantly,” explains one of the veterans. “And sometimes you have to get up because it’s too painful.”


Art therapy is giving hope to these veterans that are struggling with seeing unimaginable things and coming so close to making the ultimate sacrifice for their serviec to their country.