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Wayne Blawat, Quartermaster
National Park Fees ► Waived Admission Fee 2018 Schedule
Go mark the National Park Service’s fee-free days on your 2018 calendar now so you don’t miss them. They will fly by. The Park Service announced this week that it will waive entrance fees on four days next year. That is down from 10 days in 2017 and 16 days in 2016. The admission fee-free days for 2018 will be:
Jan. 15 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
April 21 – The first day of National Park Week
Sept. 22 – National Public Lands Day
Nov. 11 – Veterans Day
The National Park Service comprises 417 places. They include national parks as well as other types of sites — national monuments, battlefields and seashores, for example. To find the park nearest to you, visit the Park Service’s “Find a Park” page. Most of the 417 sites do not charge entrance fees at any time. The 118 that do charge admission waive that cost on the entrance fee-free days. National Park Service Deputy Director Michael T. Reynolds says in the announcement: “The days that we designate as fee-free for national parks mark opportunities for the public to participate in service projects, enjoy ranger-led programs, or just spend time with family and friends exploring these diverse and special places. We hope that these fee-free days offer visitors an extra incentive to enjoy their national parks in 2018.”
Other types of fees, such as those for camping or special tours, still apply on free-entrance days. The Park Service’s announcement did not explain why the number of fee-free days was reduced by 60 percent from this year to next. But this news comes less than two months after the Park Service publicly proposed a seasonal entrance fee increase for certain parks. As was detailed in “17 Popular National Parks Plan to Hike Admission,” the extra revenue would help fund improvements to aging park infrastructure. Originally, the public had until Nov. 23 to comment on the proposed fee hike. The comment period has since been extended until Dec. 22, however. So, you still have time to weigh in on the Park Service’s plans to create peak-season prices. You can do so by visiting the Park Service’s public comment website, or mailing your comment to 1849 C St. NW, Mail Stop: 2346, Washington, DC 20240.
Even with fewer entrance fee-free days and the possibility of peak-season entrance fee hikes, you can still save money at national parks in the new year. Several discounts will remain in place. For example, the cost of the annual pass that provides entrance to all federal lands will remain $80.
Admission to all parks will also continue to be free for children ages 15 and younger, as well as holders of the following types of passes:
Senior — which costs $80 for the lifetime version and $20 for the annual version,
Military — a free pass for current U.S. military members and their dependents,
Access — a free pass for U.S. citizens and permanent residents with permanent disabilities,
Volunteer — a free pass for volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program,
Every Kid in a Park — a free pass for fourth-graders,
[Source: MoneyTalksNews | Karla Bowsher ++]
Army Gun Sale ► Surplus .45 Caliber Pistols for Public
With the stroke of a pen, as many as 10,000 Army surplus 1911A1 pistols could be available for sale to the public early next year. A provision in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act explicitly orders the sale of between 8,000 and 10,000 of the venerable .45 caliber pistols. The 1911 has a storied history, and it influenced handgun design for more than a century. Having seen service in every war since World War I, the gun is a favorite among collectors and civilian shooters, many of whom modify variants of the 1911 for competitive shooting.
The iconic sidearm has been featured in films ranging from 1930s detective dramas — “Bullets or Ballots” starring Humphrey Bogart is one example — to a nickel-plated version with pearl grips carried by John Travolta’s character in the 1994 hit “Pulp Fiction.” In military movies, Sam Elliot carried the 1911 handgun while portraying famed Army Command Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley in “We Were Soldiers,” a film depicting the 1965 Battle of Ia Drang and the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry Regiment during the Vietnam War. Once the approved, the surplus 1911s will be sold through the Civilian Marksmanship Program. http://thecmp.org. The CMP is a nonprofit organization that educates people on responsible firearms use and conducts marksmanship competitions nationwide. It is a recipient of military surplus firearms for sales to support its mission.
The NDAA awaits President Donald Trump’s approval before the transfer can take place. The rollout wouldn’t take place all at once, with the weapons set to transfer to the CMP from 2018 through 2020. The CMP sells another piece of U.S. military history, the M1 Garand, a .30 caliber rifle that was used in World War II, Korea and initially in Vietnam before being replaced by the M16 service rifle. The 1911A1 was replaced as the Army’s official sidearm in 1986, when the service fielded the M9 Beretta 9 mm pistol. That handgun is now in the process of being replaced by the Modular Handgun System, which includes the M17 and a compact M18, which are military versions of the Sig Sauer P320 9 mm handgun. [Source: ArmyTimes | Todd south | December 4, 2017 ++].
Feb 1, 2018, copayments for prescription drugs at TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery and retail pharmacies will increase. These changes are required by law and affect TRICARE beneficiaries who are not active duty service members.
While retail pharmacy and home delivery copayments will increase, prescriptions filled at military pharmacies remain available at no cost. You can save the most money by filling your prescriptions at military pharmacies.
“Military pharmacies and TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery will remain the lowest cost pharmacy option for TRICARE beneficiaries,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ann McManis, Pharmacy Operations Division at the Defense Health Agency.
Using home delivery, the copayments for a 90-day supply of generic formulary drugs will increase from $0 to $7.For brand-name formulary drugs, copayments will increase from $20 to $24, and copayments for non-formulary drugs. without a medical necessity will increase from $49 to $53.
At a retail network pharmacy, copayments for a 30-day supply of generic formulary drugs will increase from $10 to $11 and from $24 to $28 for brand-name formulary drugs.
In some cases, survivors of active duty service members may be eligible for lower cost-sharing amounts.
TRICARE groups pharmacy drugs into three categories: generic formulary, brand name formulary and non-formulary. You pay the least for generic formulary drugs and the most for non-formulary drugs, regardless of whether you get them from home delivery or a retail pharmacy.
To see the new TRICARE pharmacy copayments, visit www.tricare.mil/pharmacycosts. To learn more about the TRICARE Pharmacy Program, or move your prescriptions to home delivery, visit www.tricare.mil/pharmacy.
Veterans and Mesothelioma
Military veterans, especially ones who served in the U.S. Navy, were unnecessarily exposed to asbestos during their service, placing them at risk for developing pleural mesothelioma. Learn more about how veterans were exposed and benefits that can help today.
FREE HELP FOR VETERANS
Pleural mesothelioma takes a disproportionate toll on U.S. veterans. Nearly one-third of all the annually diagnosed cases of this kind of cancer affect former service members. The statistic is a sobering reminder of the once-careless use of asbestos in every branch of military service, a policy decision that continues to generate serious health issues.
Asbestos materials once were desired by the military because they held the ability to strengthen, insulate and fireproof almost everything, including military bases, ships, vehicles and aircraft. In fact, the mineral and its versatility seemed perfect for the military, which used it to make safer machinery and weaponry. All branches of the military put asbestos construction materials in base housing and most every place where servicemen worked.1:25[Wistia video thumbnail - LA-52 What benefits are available to veterans with mesothelioma and their families_]
Joe Lahav, the legal advisor at the Pleural Mesothelioma Center, discusses where asbestos was used in the military.
Asbestos in the Military
The belief was that asbestos prevented burns and injuries. It did, but the reality is that the military took advantage of the many desirable qualities of asbestos and consequently put thousands of veterans at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases.
When asbestos-containing materials are broken or damaged through daily use or maintenance of military property, asbestos fibers become airborne and easily inhaled through the mouth or nose. Persistent inhalation of these fibers overtime can cause them to build up in the lining of the lungs, which can cause tumor growth and eventually lead to pleural mesothelioma.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers some hope. It has a number of benefits for veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service. The Veterans Department at The Pleural Mesothelioma Center is dedicated to ensuring that veterans receive all the VA benefits they deserve.
Free Mesothelioma Informational PacketGET YOURS NOW
[Mesothelioma packet and books]
Our Veterans Department provides military veterans with resources they need to secure benefits from the VA. In addition to answering questions about asbestos-related cancer and these benefits, that is the department’s chief mission. Our staff is headed by retired Navy officers who have a working knowledge about how the VA renders its benefits decisions and how they best can help veterans get benefits. The VA is known for long, drawn-out processes. Our Veterans Department helps cut through that red tape.
The best news is that this service, and others that we provide to veterans and their families, is free. Among the benefits we fight for on behalf of veterans include Disability Compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and VA Health Care.
If veterans have an injury that is service-connected, they are eligible for disability compensation through the VA. The VA does accept pleural mesothelioma and related conditions as service-connected, but proof of exposure is required.
Our VA-accredited Claims Agents can help prepare all the necessary paperwork to file this type of claim and help veterans write an asbestos exposure summary, which details their level of exposure while enlisted in the military.
The typical compensation rate for mesothelioma starts at about $2,800 per month, but rates are based on the level of disability and increases based on the number of dependents the veteran claims.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Dependents and survivors of veterans whose death was the result of a service-related disease are also entitled to VA benefits. Spouses receive a basic monthly payment, plus an additional payment for dependent children if they require aid and assistance, or if they are house-bound.
VA Health Care
The VA also offers health care to veterans of the U.S. military who were exposed to asbestos during their service. VA treatment centers are located all throughout the U.S. The Veterans Health Administration is America’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving 8.76 million veterans each year.
Whether you seek personalized assistance with filing a claim or you’re just looking for some advice, our experienced VA-Accredited Claims Agents are determined to help you in any way they can.
Eligibility for VA Benefits
A person who served in the military and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable is considered a veteran who may be eligible for VA health benefits and services.
Once the nature of a veteran's discharge from military service is established, other eligibility requirements include:
Length of military service
Classified as a service-connected disability
Number of dependents
Available VA resources
Proof of a diagnosis caused by asbestos exposure
The key to filing a successful VA claim is convincing the VA that the majority, if not all, of a veteran’s asbestos exposure was a direct result of his or her service in the military. The veteran must provide documentation from an accredited physician stating that the diagnosis is asbestos-related and that the disease was caused by military service.
You have questions. We have answers.
Our Patient Advocates are available right now.
CHAT WITH US
Danielle DiPietro, VA Claims Agent
Subject: WWII data
You might enjoy this.
1. The first German serviceman killed in WW II was killed by the
Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by
the Russians (Finland 1940); highest ranking American killed was Lt Gen
Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. So much for allies.
2. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN.
He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age.
His benefits were later restored by act of Congress.
3. At the time of Pearl Harbor, the top US Navy command was called
CINCUS (pronounced 'sink us'), the shoulder patch of the US Army's 45th
Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was
named 'Amerika.' All three were soon changed for PR purposes.
4. More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps.
While completing the required 30 missions, your chance of being killed was
5. Generally speaking, there was no such thing as an average
fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target. For instance, Japanese
Ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger
on a cargo plane.
6. It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th
round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracers had
different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the
target 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet tracers instantly told your
enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the
practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you
that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to
tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate
nearly double and their loss rate go down.
YOU'VE GOT TO LOVE THIS ONE........
7. When allied armies reached the Rhine, the first thing men did
was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston
Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself
photographed in the act).
8. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City, but
they decided it wasn't worth the effort.
9. German submarine U-120 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.
10. Among the first 'Germans' captured at Normandy were several
Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were
captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they
were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until
they were captured by the US Army.
AND THE BEST FOR LAST....
11. Following a massive naval bombardment, 35,000 United States and
Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops
were killed in the assault on the island. It could have been worse if there
had been any Japanese on the island.
Vietnam Vets Please Read
Liver flukes ingested from undercooked fish over time can become a killer…. Cholangiocarcinoma cancer.
If you were a Vietnam Vet, that spent time out in the field, and ran out of ration and forced to improvise, this article is for you. Bet this risk wasn’t covered at Pilot’s Survival Training School—“Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape?”
PS: Some Desert Storm Vets may recall the CIA warning us if you find yourself off base, avoid eating home grown vegetables. When asked, why? The short answer was, because they use human waste for fertilizer.
Subject: Fwd: VA study shows parasite from Vietnam may be killing vets ..
I just got this e mail from Col Aaron Wolf (retired from the (US ARMY)
Apparently this was very common in the central highlands. One of my ROTC instructors just died from this.
Do a GOGGLE search on "liver flukes" to gem info on the parasite.
Vietnam veterans may want to get a Blood Test for this parasite ASAP;
VA study shows parasite from Vietnam may be killing vets
HERALD , W.Va. — A half a century after serving in Vietnam, hundreds of veterans have a new reason to believe they may be dying from a silent bullet — test results show some men may have been infected by a slow-killing parasite while fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
The Department of Veterans Affairs this spring commissioned a small pilot study to look into the link between liver flukes ingested through raw or undercooked fish and a rare bile duct cancer. It can take decades for symptoms to appear. By then, patients are often in tremendous pain, with just a few months to live.
Of the 50 blood samples submitted, more than 20 percent came back positive or bordering positive for liver fluke antibodies, said Sung-Tae Hong, the tropical medicine specialist who carried out the tests at Seoul National University in South Korea.
"It was surprising," he said, stressing the preliminary results could include false positives and that the research is ongoing.
Northport VA Medical Center spokesman Christopher Goodman confirmed the New York facility collected the samples and sent them to the lab. He would not comment on the findings, but said everyone who tested positive was notified.
Gerry Wiggins, who served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969, has already lost friends to the disease. He was among those who got the call.
"I was in a state of shock," he said. "I didn't think it would be me."
The 69-year-old, who lives in Port Jefferson Station, New York, didn't have any symptoms when he agreed to take part in the study, but hoped his participation could help save lives. He immediately scheduled further tests, discovering he had two cysts on his bile duct, which had the potential to develop into the cancer, known as cholangiocarcinoma. They have since been removed and — for now — he's doing well.
Though rarely found in Americans, the parasites infect an estimated 25 million people worldwide.
Endemic in the rivers of Vietnam, the worms can easily be wiped out with a handful of pills early on, but left untreated they can live for decades without making their hosts sick. Over time, swelling and inflammation of the bile duct can lead to cancer. Jaundice, itchy skin, weight loss and other symptoms appear only when the disease is in its final stages.
The VA study, along with a call by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York for broader research into liver flukes and cancer-stricken veterans, began after The Associated Press raised the issue in a story last year. The reporting found that about 700 veterans with cholangiocarcinoma have been seen by the VA in the past 15 years. Less than half of them submitted claims for service-related benefits, mostly because they were not aware of a possible connection to Vietnam. The VA rejected 80 percent of the requests, but decisions often appeared to be haphazard or contradictory, depending on what desks they landed on, the AP found.
The numbers of claims submitted reached 60 in 2017, up from 41 last year. Nearly three out of four of those cases were also denied, even though the government posted a warning on its website this year saying veterans who ate raw or undercooked freshwater fish while in Vietnam might be at risk. It stopped short of urging them to get ultrasounds or other tests, saying there was currently no evidence the vets had higher infection rates than the general population.
"We are taking this seriously," said Curt Cashour, a spokesman with the Department of Veterans Affairs. "But until further research, a recommendation cannot be made either way."
Veteran Mike Baughman, 65, who was featured in the previous AP article, said his claim was granted early this year after being denied three times. He said the approval came right after his doctor wrote a letter saying his bile duct cancer was "more likely than not" caused by liver flukes from the uncooked fish he and his unit in Vietnam ate when they ran out of rations in the jungle. He now gets about $3,100 a month and says he's relieved to know his wife will continue to receive benefits after he dies. But he remains angry that other veterans' last days are consumed by fighting the same government they went to war for as young men.
"In the best of all worlds, if you came down with cholangiocarcinoma, just like Agent Orange, you automatically were in," he said, referring to benefits granted to veterans exposed to the toxic defoliant sprayed in Vietnam. "You didn't have to go fighting."
Baughman, who is thin and weak, recently plucked out "Country Roads" on a bass during a jam session at his cabin in West Virginia. He wishes the VA would do more to raise awareness about liver flukes and to encourage Vietnam veterans to get an ultrasound that can detect inflammation.
"Personally, I got what I needed, but if you look at the bigger picture with all these other veterans, they don't know what necessarily to do," he said. "None of them have even heard of it before. A lot of them give me that blank stare like, 'You've got what?'"