U.S.S. Allen M. Sumner DD-692

Founder's Corner

with Senior Chief "Joe" Gall

Navy Retiree Information Links
  • New kind of emergency room may not be TRICARE authorized
  • DOD, VA move ahead with seamless medical record effort
  • Navy seeks videos, photos from those who've served
  • VA initiative to reduce claims backlog
  • VA to expedite some claims decisions
  • Grants available to help end veteran homelessness
  • Agencies partner to expand access to mental health services
  • Commissaries plan for Monday furloughs
  • Director details furlough plans for DOD schools
  • DOD counters Internet posts on religion issue
  • TV announcements illustrate signs of suicide risk
  • DFAS answers Sequestration questions
  • Making direct deposit changes
  • Change to SBP annuity accounts
  • When to update your account with DFAS
  • DFAS online helpful tools you can use
  • Service area reductions impact few Prime enrollees
  • Make sure there are no health care hiccups, update DEERS
  • Summer fun means sun and vacation safety
  • TRICARE offers new prescription coverage to help kick tobacco
  • Retiree checklist: What survivors should know
  • Retired Activities Office Phone List
  • Ready Reference Contact Information

    Navy League National President's, James H. Offutt, 2013 Independence Day Message
    ; "Independence Day brings our nation together in remembrance of the sacrifices made by our forefathers to make the United States of America what it is today. It is fitting that on this day we celebrate our nation and the brave men who dreamed of a country where men and women could live freely. I hope that as your celebrate with your friends and family that you will take a few minutes to reflect on the continued sacrifice of our servicemembers. Their service truly does ensure that our nation remains the home of the free because of the brave. I am honored to have been elected as President of the Navy League at our National Convention and am looking forward to working with you to deepen our nations understanding of the importance of our sea services. I am grateful for your service and look forward to the great things that we can accomplish in support of the men and women of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. You will hear me say it consistently throughout my tenure, but I think our most important role is as the trusted partner of the Sea Services. We need to continue to cultivate this role by expanding our reach out to the sea service units within our communities. Let us work together to make our councils the leaders in their communities for sea service support. Thank you for your dedication to our sea services and Happy Independence Day!"

    My Shipmates, Mates, & Friends. My darling Dottie has been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her right lung. She will start chemo tomorrow. The regimen is one dose weekly for 2 months. The Dr. says she should not get sick or lose her hair. He says they cannot cure it, but they can control it. When he said they can't cure it, Dottie told him "But the Lord can" The Dr. agreed. Anyhow, at this time We ask for your Prayers. Also, Dottie loves getting cards. Thank you all. "33" Joe Gall CPO, USN (Ret.)
    The wait is over: New crackerjacks are coming.
    The Navy’s top officer has approved the long awaited overhaul of the iconic dress uniform, a modernization that officials say will make them more comfortable and functional. Both dress whites and dress blues, worn by E-6 and below, have been updated after a six year trial-and-error effort. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert “has approved the revised designs for the service dress blues and the service dress whites,” Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, director of military plans and personnel for the chief of naval personnel, said in a May 17 interview. “With the crackerjacks, it has been a long road, and that is for good reasons. We did multiple wear tests. We did tests of both different designs and differing materials.” This is the first update for dress whites — worn by all sailors, with women wearing the combination cover instead of a “Dixie Cup” ­— since World War II. The uniform takes cues from full dress whites, a version of crackerjacks phased out in 1940. The new whites now mirror the blues in appearance: They feature a yoke around the chest and black piping on the back bib and along the tailored cuffs at the end of the sleeves. Two stars rest in the back bib’s corners, just like the dress blues. The look of the dress blues, worn solely by male sailors, won’t change considerably. But the wear may be different. For one, getting in and out of the pants just got much faster — a zipper has been installed in the front, rendering the 13 buttons a purely decorative element. Two front pockets are on both sides of the zipper. No changes have been made to the female service dress blues, which has a white shirt and black tie underneath a black coat, in lieu of a jumper.

    WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West released the following Chief Petty Officer birthday message to the fleet March 28.

    "My fellow Chief Petty Officers, On April 1st, our entire mess will pause to celebrate 119 years of the United States Chief Petty Officer, our honored mess traditions and heritage, and look to our future. But we're not just celebrating another year of chiefs serving the Navy; we're celebrating everything it means to be the chief. Our anchors are the symbol of a culture and a way of life. Since 1893, Chiefs have been charged with the responsibility of ensuring our Sailors are the best in the world, ready to carry out our Navy's mission when our nation calls. We welcome that responsibility and lead by example with pride, character, and loyalty, a strong commitment to leadership, our core values, and the Navy ethos. Our Navy is the best it has ever been and we must continue to build upon the strong legacy that our mess was founded on as we look toward our future. 2012 is a significant year for us all as the United States Navy Memorial hosts the 'Year of the Chief.' The 'Year of the Chief' is a worldwide spotlight on the history and contributions of the Navy CPO mess. The 'Year of the Chief' will officially be launched on our birthday with a kick-off event held April 2 at the Navy Memorial. For more information on the 'Year of the Chief', visit Navy Memorial's web page. Happy birthday shipmates! I truly appreciate your leadership and the hard work you do every day. Anchor up and HOOYAH Navy Chiefs!"



    On June 14, 2011, over 3,000 Sailors will form up on historic Ross Field in the shape of a “100” to pose for a photograph in order to celebrate the Centennial of Naval Station Great Lakes. If you are a current, former or retired American Sailor who served honorably in any capacity at Naval Station Great Lakes, you are invited by the commanding officer of Naval Station Great Lakes to play a part in this historic photograph. Participants will assemble in the Visitors Center parking lot next to Naval Station’s main gate at 610 Farragut Ave., Great Lakes IL 60088on or before 9 a.m., June 14, 2011. Uniform for Veterans: Summer white uniform, or an unadorned white dress shirt, dark slacks and appropriate cover (American Legion hat, ship’s ball cap, etc.). For veterans, by no later than 5 p.m. on May 20, 2011, email the following information to nsgl.pao@navy.mil, or fill out this form and fax it to 847-688-4945, or mail it to:

    GREAT LAKES IL 60088
    Name (LAST, FIRST, MI):

    When You Served in the United States Navy(DATE to DATE):
    When You Were Stationed at Great Lakes(DATE to DATE):
    Your Vehicle Information (Year, Make, Model, Plate Number/State):
    Please bring a copy of your DD-214 (discharge papers) and a state-issued ID card. If you do not have your DD-214, you can easily obtain one from the National Archives:


    Special from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/SW) Rick D. West

    WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West released the following Chief Petty Officer birthday message to the Fleet March 28.  "My fellow chief petty officers, On April 1st, our entire Mess will pause to celebrate 118 years of the United States Navy Chief Petty Officer, and we're not just celebrating another year of chiefs serving the Navy, we're celebrating everything it means to wear the fouled anchors we all cherish. Those anchors are the symbol of a culture and a way of life, representing character, loyalty, a strong commitment to leadership, our core values, and Navy ethos. Our anchors carry with them a responsibility to live up to the tradition of selfless service, while remembering our proud heritage that we've spent 118 years building as we look toward our future.  Thank you Chiefs! Through your leadership of our Sailors, you continue to keep our heritage alive and our Navy strong — and as you know our Navy is the best it has ever been. Continue to make a positive impact on your command, your Sailors, yourself and our Mess. Remember those who have gone before us and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great nation.  Happy birthday Shipmates! I truly appreciate your leadership and the hard work you do every day. Anchor Up and Hooyah Navy Chiefs!"

    News from Patriots Point
    Wednesday, just returned from a meeting in N. Charleston about Patriots Point and the Laffey. Attending the meeting were S.C. State Senator McConnell, Rep. James Smith (grandson of Capt. Paul Smith, USS Laffey WWII), Mac Burdette, Executive Director PP, Bob Howard Director of Operations PP, Edwin Taylor, PP board member, Susan Marlowe, PP board member, Benjamin Smith (Stevens Towing Co.), John Hudak and Sonny Walker. The meeting opened by Mac Burdette bringing everyone up to date on what was happening at Patriots Point. It seems that there are several options as to what they can do but the main topic is to come up with a way to pay back the loan to the state of SC. The board of directors has a group of new members and Mac is the new executive director. Therefore they are looking at the problem with new eyes.  Nothing is going to happen with the Laffey for a while yet as they continue to explore their options. Bob Howard game reports on the conditions of the Clamagore and the Yorktown. Both of which were not good. Ben Smith has a plan to move the Clamagore out and put the Laffey back into the place where the sub is now and put the sub in drydock for repairs.This option was well received by the Senator and showed optimism IF they come up with a repayment plan for the 9 million dollar loan. After listening to the different options, John and I left the meeting feeling better than we have for a while. It could still be a year before the ship comes back but it is looking better. We drove past where the ship is berthed and she looks good. We are trying to set up a work party with Bob Howard. We would have to be housed on the Yorktown and "commute" top work on the ship. I will put out the info after arrangements have been made. Sorry I don't have more specific info but it is still a "wait and see" game. Thanks, Sonny Walker.

    Special from the Chief of Naval Operations
    CNO Adm. Gary Roughead said the following in his message: "I extend my warmest wishes to all Sailors, Navy civilians and their families for a joyous holiday season. Thank you for your dedicated service and the great work you continue to do. Because of you, our nation can celebrate this holiday season knowing the world's most powerful Navy is on watch around the world. For those deployed, you and your families are in our thoughts, and we are grateful for what you are doing. For those at home, now is the time to celebrate with families, friends and loved ones. We work hard throughout the year, and this holiday season is a time for relaxation, reflection and remembrance of those who have gone before. Celebrate responsibly and keep safety at the forefront of all your holiday activities. Getting where you are going and returning safely are the best gifts you can give your family, friends and shipmates. I am honored to serve with you and to witness the undeniable good you deliver across the globe every day. Thank you for your service, and what your families do to support you, and I wish you a wonderful holiday season."

    Looks like no retiree allowance - again!
    By Paul Croteau
    Five more of my numbers plus the Powerball and I won’t have to be concerned about this anymore. According to the website military.com, it appears that 2011 will mark the second year in a row that military retirees and other pensioners will receive no Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). The current Consumer Price Index shows a negative rate of inflation for the first three quarters of 2010. The index is the determining factor for the annual COLA for VA disability compensation and pensions, military retirement, and Social Security. Negative inflation? I wish someone could explain that to my wallet. Really, take Medicare Part B - Sadly, individuals who have either declined participation in Medicare Part B, or canceled it on the advice of someone who was ill-informed, found themselves with unexpected problems. Once a military retiree or the widow of the retiree is entitled to Part A of Medicare, hospital insurance, regardless of age, he or she loses all TRICARE eligibility, including pharmacy. The only way to restore pharmacy and initiate TRICARE For Life is to take Part B. Usually, when an individual becomes eligible for Part A, Medicare sends a card with both Part A and B on it but gives the option to decline Part B because there is a premium for it. Whether you receive the card at age 65 or earlier, you do not want to decline Part B because you will lose your entitlements to all TRICARE, including pharmacy, as well as not having any medical insurance. The Part B premium is more expensive than TRICARE Prime, but there is no choice if one wishes to use military health care benefits at all. Enrollment in Part B is automatically picked up by The Defense Entitlement Enrollment Record System. To check, visit any ID card-issuing facility, or call 1-800-538-9552. TRICARE, meanwhile, has an excellent pharmacy plan so Medicare beneficiaries need not sign up for Medicare Part D — the drug program. Evidently, many folks are being pressured to do so by some pharmacies and drug companies. If you have already signed up for Part D and are eligible for TRICARE, here is what you must do. Call Medicare at 1-800-633- 4227, or the drug company you were signed up with and request a “Notice of Disenrollment” be mailed to you. When received, the notice must be mailed to: DEERS SUPPORT OFFICE, 400 Gigling Road, Seaside Calif. 93955-6771, or faxed to: (831) 655-8317. I’m told that, like most government agencies, contacting Medicare can be daunting. Keep hitting “0” until you reach a person and be prepared to be on hold. TRICARE coverage for retired reserve - Since Sept. 1, members of the Retired Reserve who are not yet age 60, the so-called “gray area” retirees, can purchase TRICARE health coverage for themselves and their eligible family members with the recent launch of the TRICARE Retired Reserve. Retired reservists may qualify to purchase TRR coverage if they are under the age of 60 and are not eligible for, or enrolled in, the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. They also must be members of the Retired Reserve of a Reserve component and qualified for non-regular retirement.

    Medal of Honor to be awarded to living soldier
    2nd Afghanistan war MoH announced by White House this week, by Michelle Tan - Staff writer

    Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will be the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War. On Thursday, President Obama spoke with Giunta, who is assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, in Vicenza, Italy, to inform him that he will be awarded the nation’s highest valor award, according to the White House.

    Giunta, 25, will be honored for his actions during a fierce firefight Oct. 25, 2007, in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. According to the White House announcement, when an insurgent force ambush split Giunta’s squad into two groups, he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover. Later, while engaging the enemy and attempting to link up with the rest of his squad, Giunta noticed two insurgents carrying away a fellow soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other, and provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security. His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands, according to the White House. The Medal of Honor awarded to Giunta will be the eighth since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The seventh, also for actions in Afghanistan, was announced Thursday and will be awarded posthumously to Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller. Miller, of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group of Fort Bragg, N.C., will be honored for his actions on Jan. 25, 2008. Obama will present the medal to Miller’s parents during a ceremony Oct. 6 at the White House. The first six Medals of Honor awarded for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were posthumous awards, including four for acts of heroism in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

    VA Publishes Final Regulation to Aid Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange
    Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving in Vietnam and other areas will have an easier path to access quality health care and qualify for disability compensation under a final regulation that was published on August 31 this week in the Federal Register by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The new rule expands the list of health problems VA will presume to be related to Agent Orange and other herbicide exposures to add two new conditions and expand one existing category of conditions. “Last October, based on the requirements of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 and the Institute of Medicine’s 2008 Update on Agent Orange, I determined that the evidence provided was sufficient to award presumptions of service connection for these three additional diseases,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “It was the right decision, and the President and I are proud to finally provide this group of Veterans the care and benefits they have long deserved. ”The final regulation follows Shinseki’s determination to expand the list of conditions for which service connection for Vietnam Veterans is presumed. VA is adding Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease and expanding chronic lymphocytic leukemia to include all chronic B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia. In practical terms, Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a “presumed” illness don’t have to prove an association between their medical problems and their military service.  By helping Veterans overcome evidentiary requirements that might otherwise present significant challenges, this “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process and ensure that Veterans receive the benefits they deserve.The Secretary’s decision to add these presumptives is based on the latest evidence provided in a 2008 independent study by the Institute of Medicine concerning health problems caused by herbicides like Agent Orange. Veterans who served in Vietnam anytime during the period beginning January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides. More than 150,000 Veterans are expected to submit Agent Orange claims in the next 12 to 18 months, many of whom are potentially eligible for retroactive disability payments based on past claims. Additionally, VA will review approximately 90,000 previously denied claims by Vietnam Veterans for service connection for these conditions. All those awarded service-connection who are not currently eligible for enrollment into the VA healthcare system will become eligible.This historic regulation is subject to provisions of the Congressional Review Act that require a 60-day Congressional review period before implementation. After the review period, VA can begin paying benefits for new claims and may award benefits retroactively for earlier periods. For new claims, VA may pay benefits retroactive to the effective date of the regulation or to one year before the date VA receives the application, whichever is later. For pending claims and claims that were previously denied, VA may pay benefits retroactive to the date it received the claim. VA encourages Vietnam Veterans with these three diseases to submit their applications for access to VA health care and compensation now so the agency can begin development of their claims. Individuals can go to a website at http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/AO/claimherbicide.htm to get an understanding of how to file a claim for presumptive conditions related to herbicide exposure, as well as what evidence is needed by VA to make a decision about disability compensation or survivors benefits. Additional information about Agent Orange and VA’s services for Veterans exposed to the chemical is available at www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange.The regulation is available on the Office of the Federal Register website at http://www.ofr.gov/.

    MCPON Sends 2010 Labor Day Message to the Fleet
    "Shipmates and Navy Families, As we enjoy the last few weeks of summer, I would like to take this opportunity to remind our Sailors and their families to keep safety in mind especially during what is considered to be the unofficial last weekend of summer, Labor Day weekend.  We all need to think about off-duty risk management while planning our Labor Day weekend activities, and not try to cram in too many activities into one weekend which could lead to injury or fatality.  While we have seen success in summer risk management, the loss of even one trained and ready Sailor is unacceptable, and last Labor Day weekend we lost two. As of Aug. 6, 2010, eight Sailors have died this summer during off-duty hours: four in four-wheel motor vehicle mishaps, two on motorcycles and two during recreation mishaps. Based on an average of the last five years, nearly twice as many Sailors are killed on motorcycles during Labor Day weekend than any other weekend. Remember, proper personal protective equipment is a requirement year round, on or off base. Keep in mind that if you are going to play, play it safe … summer sports cause numerous minor injuries every year and 12 Sailors were injured participating in sporting activities last year. I issued a challenge to the Fleet during Fourth of July weekend and that was to keep up the success rate of zero fatalities from Memorial Day, and I'm giving you the same challenge for this Labor Day weekend.  Use caution when driving, participating in water activities, and if drinking, have a plan. Stay safe and enjoy your much-deserved time off with your family and friends, and as always, keep in mind our Sailors who are deployed and can't be with their loved ones. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend and HOOYAH!"


    My name is Jonathan Goldman, a former US Marine, and veteran of the Iraq War and I am currently a website coordinator for three websites: Asbestos.net, mesorc.com, BanAsbestosnow.com. The Website is a resource center for knowledge and information about asbestos exposure and asbestos related diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma. In the past few months I have personally developed pages of content that I believe that you and your site visitors would find most useful and compelling. Our studies suggest that over 1/3 of patients suffering from mesothelioma in this country are veterans of the armed forces. And of those, victims within the United States Navy are the highest number affected. With this is mind I believe providing information regarding this serious disease would seriously benefit you and your community.
    The content designed for veterans is located here:




    Updated WWII service dress khakis approved

    Starting late next year, chiefs and officers will have the opportunity to buy a more professional summer uniform for the office. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead has approved the main design of the service dress khaki uniform, a World War II-style uniform that began development in 2006. The uniform — which will be optional and can be worn in place of the summer white uniform or the service khakis — sports a contemporary design that includes an unbelted waist and peaked lapels. The shirt will have a black tie and come in short- and long-sleeve versions. The uniform is largely the result of feedback from the fleet, including 125 wear-testers in six diverse locations, said Capt. Vince Drouillard, branch head within the Navy’s personnel, plans and policy division. “We really relied heavily on the testers,” he said, adding that preferences for look, styling and comfort drove most decisions. “This uniform will be designed well.”

    Tricare for Life is not being eliminated
    Marshall Hanson, Director of Legislation and Naval Services, Reserve Officers Association

    James Hamby wrote a piece for Military Times published this month entitled "Tricare Help: How will health care reform really affect your Tricare?" ROA has been trying to get the word out for a while that Tricare/Tricare for Life is NOT about to be eliminated. The Reserve Officers Association has been receiving a lot of calls and e-mails with concerns from retired ROA members that the proposed National Health care plan will deny them TRICARE or TRICARE For Life coverage. Anxiety has been increased by both public debate and viral e-mails that are reinforcing apprehension.At this moment there are no real concerns about there being a health care crisis. TRICARE is defined as an “acceptable coverage” satisfying certain requirements in the new health bill (H.R.3200) to exclude TRICARE from certain proposed taxes. Additionally, certain members in Congress are advocating on behalf of the military and military retirees. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), ranking member on the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee, has gotten the House bill amended to insure that military families and retirees don’t have to “pay to play” and has gotten DoD exempted from certain employer requirements.“ The purpose of this amendment is to shield the men and women of our armed forces from onerous mandates and possible coverage deterioration as a result of this bill’s complex new health care governing scheme. Specifically, I believe we must exempt TRICARE from the “pay or play” employer mandate and other benefit mandates that would place an additional burden on this program that serves military personnel and their families,” said Rep. Wilson. The ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), got two amendments accepted by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The amendments would allow veterans, military personal and their families to retain the choice of keeping their respective TRICARE and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) health coverage and obtain additional private or public health insurance, and allow the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veteran Affairs to continue to have sole authority over the respective health care systems. “Under the [original] health care plan, veterans would be subject to taxes because the VA health care plan would not have recognized as an acceptable health care plan,” shared Rep. Buyer. ROA and The Military Coalition has sent a letter to every member of Congress emphasizing “that the unique identity and role of the military TRICARE and VA health delivery systems – including their non-taxable status – are preserved under any national health plan that Congress may develop”. Some members have voiced apprehension that changes to Medicare will have changes to TRICARE and TRICARE for Life. One version of the bill would base provider fees on the Medicare fee scale plus 5 percent, which could stabilize what TRICARE can pay doctors. ROA is trying to further analyze to see what impact, if any, exists. Further, ROA is seeking dialogue with TRICARE contractors to ascertain their perspective on member concerns. The Association is working with 50 other associations, who will be proactive if problems arise.The rumors about TRICARE being axed resulted from a Congressional Budget Officer Report. For more see http://www.roa.org/site/DocServer/2009_TFL_CBO_Response.pdf?docID=18381


    Three Vaccines Now Available at TRICARE Network Pharmacies
    Dec. 29, 2009

    FALLS CHURCH, Va. – TRICARE beneficiaries can now receive select vaccines with no out-of-pocket expense at retail pharmacies. For the first time ever, beneficiaries can visit TRICARE retail network pharmacies to receive seasonal flu, H1N1 flu and pneumonia vaccines at no cost. This expanded coverage is available to all TRICARE beneficiaries eligible to use the TRICARE retail pharmacy benefit. See http://www.tricare.mil/pressroom/news.aspx?fid=581


    NEED A DD-214 FAST

    The National Personnel Records Center has provided the following website for veterans to access their DD-214 online: http://vetrecs.archives.gov. This may be particularly helpful when a veteran needs a copy of his DD-214 for employment purposes. Do the paperwork online, sign the request and receive the information by return mail. For all other requests including requests from the next of kin of a veteran, contact the main URL as follows: http://www.archives.gov/facilities/mo/st_louis.html


    Exposure to Agent Orange linked to prostate cancer in Vietnam veterans
    Public release date: 5-Aug-2008
    Contact: Karen Finney
    REFERENCE: University of California Davis Health System

    SACRAMENTO, Calif.)( — UC Davis Cancer Center physicians today released results of research showing that Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange have greatly increased risks of prostate cancer and even greater risks of getting the most aggressive form of the disease as compared to those who were not exposed. The findings, which appear online now and will be published in the September 15 issue of the journal Cancer, are the first to link the herbicide with this form of cancer. The research is also the first to utilize a large population of men in their 60s and the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to screen for the disease. "While others have linked Agent Orange to cancers such as soft-tissue sarcomas, Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, there is limited evidence so far associating it with prostate cancer," said Karim Chamie, lead author of the study and resident physician with the UC Davis Department of Urology and the VA Northern California Health Care System. "Here we report on the largest study to date of Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange and the incidence of
    prostate cancer."  Chamie also said that, unlike previous studies that were either too small or conducted on men who were too young, patients in the current study were entering their prime years for developing prostate cancer. There was also the added advantage that it was conducted entirely during the era of PSA screening,
    providing a powerful tool for early diagnosis and tracking of prostate cancer. More than 13,000 Vietnam veterans enrolled in the VA Northern California Health Care System were stratified into two groups — exposed or not exposed to Agent Orange between 1962 and 1971. Based on medical evaluations conducted between 1998 and 2006, the study revealed that twice as many men exposed to Agent Orange were identified with prostate cancer. In addition, Agent Orange exposed men were diagnosed two-and-a-half years younger and were nearly four times more likely to present with metastatic disease. Other prostate cancer risk factors — race, body-mass index and smoking — were not statistically different between the two groups.  "Our country's veterans deserve the best possible health care, and this study clearly confirms that Agent Orange exposure during service in Vietnam is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer later in life," said Ralph de Vere White, UC Davis Cancer Center director and a study co-author. "Just as those with a family history of prostate cancer or who are of African-American heritage are screened more frequently, so too should men with Agent Orange exposure be given priority consideration for all the screening and diagnostic tools we have at our disposal in the hopes of early detection and treatment of this disease." Now a banned chemical, Agent Orange is a combination of two synthetic compounds known to be contaminated with the dioxin tetrachlorodibenzo-paradioxin (TCDD) during the manufacturing process. Named for the color of the barrel in which it was stored, Agent Orange was one of many broad-leaf defoliants used in Vietnam to destroy dense forests in order to better visualize enemy activity.  It is estimated that more than 20 million gallons of the chemicals, also known as "rainbow herbicides," were sprayed between 1962 and 1971, contaminating both ground cover and ground troops. Most of the rainbow herbicide used during this time was Agent Orange. In 1997, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reclassified TCDD as a group 1 carcinogen, a classification that includes arsenic, asbestos and gamma radiation.  The study was funded by the UC Davis Cancer Center. In addition to Chamie and De Vere White, study authors were Bryan Volpp, associate chief of staff, clinical informatics, VA Northern California Health Care System; Dennis Lee and Joonha Ok, UC Davis resident physicians with the Department of Urology; and Lars Ellison who, at the time the study was conducted, was an assistant professor with UC Davis and chief of urology with the VA Northern California Health Care System. Ellison is now affiliated with the Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Maine and a major in the U.S. Army Reserve currently serving active duty in Iraq. A copy of the study can be requested by emailing Amy Molnar at amolnar@wiley.com.  Prostate cancer is the second most common malignancy and the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. It is estimated that there will be about 186,320 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States in 2008 and about 28,660 men will die of the disease this year. Designated by the National Cancer Institute, UC Davis Cancer Center is leading the way in identifying the molecular pathogenesis of carcinoma of the prostate, enhancing therapeutic response and identifying chemoprevention. For more information; Visit: www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cancer.

    Our advice to every male who was in Vietnam, afloat or ashore, for whatever duration of time, go and have your doctor check your Prostate and seek a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test at the same time. This will need to be done for the remainder of your life at three year intervals. No buts just do it!

    PS. The term metastatic disease means that the cancer has spread beyond the prostate into bone, lung, liver. The prognosis in these cases is less than ideal; so we need to catch it earlier than this stage of development.



    Often survivors are disappointed when they seek reimbursement of burial expenses for departed veterans. This is because retirees have not informed their loved ones what to do and how much to expect in the event of their demise. You may be eligible for a VA burial allowance if: 
    • You paid for a veteran's burial or funeral ; AND,
    • You have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased veteran's employer; AND,
    • The veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
    Following are the maximum benefits currently available from the VA: 
    • Burial Allowance (SC): VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the veteran’s death is service-connected. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran’s burial expenses may claim reimbursement from VA. In some cases, VA will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-connected veteran to the nearest national cemetery with available gravesites. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims in service-connected death cases.
    • Burial Allowance (NSC): VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral allowance for veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled if they weren’t receiving military retirement pay. 
    Eligibility also may be established when death occurs in a VA facility, a VA-contracted nursing home or a state veterans nursing home. In non service-connected death cases, claims must be filed within two years after burial or cremation.
    • Plot Allowance: VA will pay a $300 plot allowance when a veteran is buried in a cemetery not under U.S. government jurisdiction if: the veteran was discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty; the veteran was receiving compensation or pension or would have been if the veteran was not receiving military retired pay; or the veteran died in a VA facility. 
    The $300 plot allowance may be paid to the state for the cost of a plot or interment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for veteran burials if the veteran is buried without charge. Burial expenses paid by the deceased’s employer or a state agency will not be reimbursed.
    • Headstones or markers: VA will provide headstones or markers to memorialize veterans or mark the graves of veterans buried in national, state, or private cemeteries as well as those whose remains have not been recovered or identified. This includes those buried at sea, those remains donated to science, and those cremated and whose cremated remains were scattered without burying any portion of them. 
    VA will also provide markers for eligible family members interred in a national or State Veteran's Cemetery. When interment is in a private cemetery, the cemetery may require, and charge for, a foundation for the marker and installation of the marker. Such costs must be paid from private funds.
    • Flag: VA will provide an American flag, upon request, for covering the casket; and a memorial certificate, bearing the President's signature, expressing our Nation's grateful recognition of the deceased veteran's service.
    • Other: In addition to VA burial benefits, the surviving spouse or eligible child of a veteran may be eligible for a $255 lump-sum death benefit from Social Security. Local Social Security Offices have details.
    Source: VA Federal Benefits for Veterans & Dependents 2008 Edition http://www1.va.gov/opa/vadocs/fedben.pdf.


    How to Contact the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission

    The purpose of the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission is to carry out a study of the benefits under the laws of the United States that are provided to compensate and assist veterans and their survivors for disabilities and deaths attributable to military service, and to produce a report on the study. The Commission is traveling around the country to various cities getting input. They may not hit your town, but if you have something you wish that they know, visit their website at http://www.vetscommission.org/index.htm  There you will find out exactly the input, and the message format they need, and their e-mail address.

    Tricare National Toll Free Numbers and websites

    Senior Pharmacy Program 1.877.DOD.MEDS (1.877.363.6337) http://www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy/
    TRICARE For Life 1.888.DOD.LIFE (1.888.363.5433) http://www.tricare.osd.mil/tfl/ or http://www.troa.org
        (TFL Help Desk hours of operation are:  Mon-Fri 7am - 11pm, Sat 9am - 8pm, and Sun 10am - 5:30pm (all times EST)
    TRICARE Prime Remote (TPR) (active duty and family members) 1.888.DOD.CARE (1.888.363.2273) http://www.tricare.osd.mil/remote/
    TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan - Deltal Dental  1.888.838.8737 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/tricare/beneficiary/supprog.html or http://www.ddpdelta.org/
    TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) - United Concordia 1.800.866.8499 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/tricare/beneficiary/supprog.html or http://www.ucci.com/tdp/tdp.html
    National Mail Order Pharmacy - Merck Medco 1.800.903.4680 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy/ or http://www.merck-medco.com
    Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting Systems (DEERS) 1.800.538.9552 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/DEERSAddress/
    Active Duty Claims (MMSO) 1.800.876.1131 http://navymedicine.med.navy.mil/mmso/
    TRICARE Claims Information http://www.tricare.osd.mil/claims/default.htm

    Regional Toll Free Numbers

    Northeast (1)  1.888.999.5195 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=1 or http://www.sierramilitary.com/
    Mid-Atlantic (2)  1.800.931.9501 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=2 or http://www.humana-military.com/Region2/home.htm
    Southeast (3)  1.800.444.5445 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=3 or http://www.humana-military.com/home.htm
    Gulfsouth (4)  1.800.444.5445 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=4 or http://www.humana-military.com/home.htm
    Heartland (5)  1.800.941.4501 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=5 or http://hmd.humana-military.com/region5/main.asp
    Southwest (6)  1.800.406.2832 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=6 or http://www.hnfs.net/bene/bw1_0_bene_welcome.asp
    Central (7/8)  1.888.874.9378 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=8 or http://www.triwest.com/
    Southern California (9)  1.800.242.6788 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=9 or http://www.hnfs.net/bene/bw1_0_bene_welcome.asp
    Golden Gate (10)  1.800.242.6788 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=10 or http://www.hnfs.net/bene/bw1_0_bene_welcome.asp
    Northwest (11)  1.800.404.2042 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=11 or http://www.hnfs.net/bene/bw1_0_bene_welcome.asp
    TRICARE Pacific; Alaska and Hawaii   1.800.242.6788 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=12 or http://www.hnfs.net/bene/bw1_0_bene_welcome.asp
    WESTPAC 1.888.777.8343 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=15 or http://www.healthnetfederalservices.com/bene/bw1_0_bene_welcome.asp
    Latin America & Canada  1.888.777.8343 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=16
    Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands  1.888.777.8343 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=17 or 
    Europe 1.888.777.8343 http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/list.cfm?RegionID=13 or http://www.europe.tricare.osd.mil
    NOTE:  If you do not know which TRICARE region you're in, a map is available online at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/regionalinfo/
    TRICARE Web Site at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/main/tollfree.htm

    Finding Lost Shipmates

    If you have been looking for buddies or shipmates down through the years, here are some very helpful Web sites that may be of assistance to you all in finding that long lost buddy you have been searching for. These are excellent Web sites for that

    Veterans News and Information Service 

    Requests For Military Mailing Addresses 

    National VETS Archives 

    Militarily Seeking 

    VetsCom - Home of the VeteransAllianceServiceCenter