Of Note


WBRC Celebrates 40th Anniversary


The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center will celebrate its 40th birthday October 18-20 in Palo Alto, California. Festivities will also include a reunion of BRC alumni during the final two days.

Activities throughout the anniversary celebration include an open house, speakers, an historical presentation, banquet, and dance. The Alumni Reunion will consist of tours, workshops, a white cane walk, and a local outing.

For more information or an RSVP form, contact Beth at 650-493-5000, Ext. 6454.

Winter Clinic Apps Now Available


Applications for the 22nd Annual Disabled American Veterans/Department of Veterans Affairs Winter Sports Clinic March 29-April 5, 2008 are now available.

The event will occur at Snowmass Village in Aspen, Colorado, where the base elevation is 8,104 feet and the summit elevation is 12,510. It promotes rehabilitation by instructing physically challenged veterans in adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and will provide an introduction to other adaptive activities and sports. Open to male and female military service veterans with spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputation, visual impairments, certain neurological problems, and other disabilities, the clinic will give first priority to veterans with current inpatient or outpatient status at a VA medical facility.

Activities throughout the five days will consist of ski lessons provided by qualified adaptive ski instructors, a challenge race, adaptive sports workshops, educational classes, and sponsored self-directed alternate learning experiences. Medical care supervision will be provided throughout the event.

Eligible veterans can apply by contacting Teresa Parks, Grand Junction VA Medical Center, 970-263-5040. The mail-only registration deadline is November 30.

Extra Social Security Earnings for Service


Veterans who served on active duty in the Military from 1940 through 2001 may qualify for a higher social security payment than they realized. The payment is not just for retirees but for anyone who has served.

Specific and detailed information about the payment, which varies depending on the time period in which the individual served, is available at http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/military.htm. Potential recipients must request the benefit and bring their DD-214 to a Social Security Office.

COLA 2008 Update


A surprising mid-summer decrease in energy prices drove a downturn in the July Consumer Price Index, the measure used to determine the annual Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) for military retired pay, Social Security, and other federal annuities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation still rose a cumulative 2.3 percent during the first ten months (October 1, 2006-July 31, 2007) of the fiscal year. If projections for the remainder of the year hold true, the 2008 COLA will have a range of 2.3-2.5 percent.

VA Initiates Suicide Hotline


VA has begun operation of a national suicide prevention hotline for veterans. According to Secretary Nicholson, the hotline ensures that veterans with emotional crises have round-the-clock access to trained professionals.

“Veterans need to know that these VA professionals are literally a phone call away,” he said. “All service members who experience the stresses of combat can have wounds on their minds as well as their bodies.”
The hotline is made possible by a VA partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services and staffed by mental health professionals in Canandaigua, New York. Operators will take calls from across the country and work closely with local VA mental health providers to help callers.

The toll-free hotline number is 800-273-8255.

Free Service Offers Literature Gold Mine


Some 400 classic and contemporary book titles can now be read entirely free of charge via email and RSS installments.

The service, DailyLit, allows readers to choose how often and at what time they want the email messages sent to them. Books on DailyLit can be read any place that a reader receives email, including on a PDA, Blackberry, iPhone, or Treo. Each installment can be read in less than five minutes and, if a reader finishes a particular installment and chooses to read on, the next installment of the book can be received immediately.

“We have received fabulous feedback from members of the blind community that this service is a great resource for those who have computers with screen-reading software,” said DailyLit founder Daisy Kline.

Youth Seeks Vet Autographs


Military enthusiast Kyle Nappi, a 17-year-old high school junior from Ostrander, Ohio, is looking for autographs from veterans, especially those from World War II, to add to his collection that now numbers nearly 1,500.

Kyle began his collection, which also includes military medals, patches, badges, insignia, and field gear, more than five years ago. He recently contacted BVA in an effort to locate veterans to whom he could send a questionnaire, which includes space for an autograph.

“I decided to collect autographs and information about veterans to honor their sacrifices,” he is quoted in a January 2, 2006 story in The Columbus Dispatch.

Kyle has autographs from Pearl Harbor survivors, D-Day veterans, airmen, POWs, USS Indianapolis survivors, Holocaust survivors, and even German soldiers. He has recently branched out to the German side of World War II, attempting to contact U-Boat captains, Panzer Tank Commanders, Luftware Aces, conspirators within the Third Reich, and the last people to see Hitler alive in the Berlin bunker.

Reportedly, Kyle’s collection also includes a myriad of items secured in stores and on eBay, including a prayer book abridged for Jews in the U.S. Armed Forces and a Hitler youth knife. He has uniforms, helmets, replica ammunition, and dozens of model airplanes.

“As soon as I learned about Kyle’s enthusiasm for veterans and the military, I gave him a call,” said George Brummell, Mid-Atlantic Regional Group. “I found him to be very sincere and genuinely interested in all things related to the military.”

Kyle can be contacted at 740-363-8095 or at knap607@yahoo.com.

DoD Initiative Provides Mental Health Screenings


The Mental Health Self-Assessment Program (MHSAP) offers veterans, service personnel, and their family members the opportunity to take anonymous mental health and alcohol screenings online, via the telephone, and through special events held at installations.

More than 1.5 million military families in all branches, including the National Guard and Reserve, are eligible to be screened. The initiative’s objective is to help individuals identify their own symptoms and access assistance before a problem becomes serious.

The tests available address common yet often undertreated problems such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol use. Once individuals complete an assessment, they receive referral information including services provided through both VA and DoD.

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