Disabled American Veterans

Blind Veterans National Chapter #1

November-December, 2009 Newsletter

 

"IF I CANNOT SPEAK GOOD OF MY COMRADE,

I WILL NOT SPEAK ILL OF HIM OR HER."

OFFICERS OF THE BLIND CHAPTER

Commander Dennis O’Connell
Phone 516 328-3438
Email: bvnc1@verizon.net

Senior Vice Commander Richard Bugbee
1st Junior Vice Commander Joe Wallace
2nd Junior Vice Commander Ralph Barrett
Judge Advocate Dave May
Chaplain Tony Martino
Phone 847 736 2111
Deaconmart@wi.rr.com

Adjutant/Treasurer Paul Kaminsky

Phone 904 291-0576
pkjax@kaminsky.com

Immediate Past Commander Eddie Humphrey

If you know of any member who is sick or deceased please inform one of the officers whose contact information is listed above.

MESSAGE FROM THE COMMANDER

Did you know? The Blind Veterans National Chapter #1 came about in February of 1925. So, in just in a few months we will be celebrating our 85th Anniversary!

Being this newsletter covers 2 months I would like to wish all members and their families a Happy Veterans Day, a Happy Thanksgiving Day, Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah and a Happy, Peaceful & Healthy New Year.

WELCOME AVOARD!

Seymour Buchsbaum, 9 Canterbury Ave., West Palm Beach, FL 33417
Michael Corcoran, 2731 East Lake Rd., Skaneateles, NY 13152
Donny Dunn, 35183 100 St., Paoli, OK 73074
Junior Farley, 1221 Green Acres Rd., Joelton, TN 37080
Glenn Logan, 921 Green Star Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80905
Charles Poff, 5811 Fieldspring Ave., New Port Richey, FL 34655

Rest in Peace:

George Estill
596 Foxwood Ct
Westville IN 46391-9412

George was a Navy coreman who was assigned to the Marines and served in Vietnam.

Earlier this year Clyde Wyant passed away, he was the last of the atomic veterans

NOTR History

The National Order of Trench Rats was conceived by a group of disabled World War I veterans who were patients in the United States Public Health Service Hospital No. 54 located at Arrowhead Springs, California. Because of the shortage of beds following WWI, this hospital, like many others, had been converted out of a building formerly used for other purposes. This particular building in which the hospital was housed had been a well known hotel located on the side of the mountain about seven miles from the city of San Bernardino. The name "Trench Rats" was adopted as it is symbolic of the rats, which the World War I veterans encountered in the trenches, in France.

Some of the patients were members of the Los Angeles Chapter of the DAV. The hospital was isolated and there were no activities for the patients to pass the time, the majority of whom were ambulatory. A few members of this DAV Chapter conceived the idea of organizing a group of the most active members as a secret, fraternal society and devised an initiation ceremony for fun and amusement and invited for membership only those DAV members who were most active in the Chapter. As a result of this, most of the patients became members of the DAV and its delegates to the National Convention in Salt Lake City in 1924 were able to get the N.O.T.R. officially recognized as an Auxiliary of the DAV.

The N.O.T.R. is a secret, fraternal and honor organization limiting its membership by selection only to those who show their devotion and meritorious service to the DAV and the welfare of the disabled veterans, his widow and orphans. As result of this limitation, non-members have been encouraged to become more active in their Chapters and sign up new members in the DAV, this being one of the qualifications for membership.

The Trench Rats were proud of this contribution to the DAV and the fact that many projects adopted by Dugouts in their local communities have helped publicize and enhance the name and prestige of our organization. The National and State Rendezvous of the Trench Rats have long been recognized as the highlight of the entertainment programs of DAV conventions and have contributed greatly to the attendance. In the early years of the DAV, when it was in financial trouble and having a difficult time supporting and extending its Service Officer program, the N.O.T.R. raised and contributed funds for this purpose. In recent years they have contributed to the Disabled American Veterans Service Foundation to assist the Legislative Programs of the DAV and to the Memorial Honor Roll of Beneficiaries of the Perpetual Rehabilitation Fund.

Much could be said about the difficulties the organization encountered in the early struggle to survive. Recognition should be given not only to those who participated in its founding, but to all of those members who worked so hard over the years helping build the N.O.T.R. to the high position it now holds and to those who continue to sell its aims and purposes. Their names are legion, many have passed away and even to mention a few would be unfair to all the others, but recognition must be given to the responsible for it all and that is the founder, Volney P. Mooney, who was the first Imperial Golden Rodent. He later became Commander of Chapter No. 5 in Los Angeles, Department Commander of California, National Judge Advocate for eight years and was elected National Commander of the DAV in 1934. To him and to all of those living and dead who contributed over the sixty years of its existence, this history is dedicated. Their names are inscribed in the archives of this Order, they were tried and found true to their trusts, to their obligations and their own consciences.

We know that membership in this Organization inspired all of them with the incentives to further the welfare of our disabled comrades and there will always remain in the minds of all members those immortal words.

"Semper Idem Et Semper Fidelis"   

National Order of Trench Rats, District 16 

 

American Legion Supports Bill

American Legion Nation Commander David K. Rehbein  has asked  all Americans to support the Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act.  This legislation already passed the Senate would  block dissemination of images that  could inflame tensions  and incite  violence against U.S. troops. 

Not all Blind Veterans Know:

Not all Blind Veterans (BV’s) are aware of compensation levels. Congress established Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) for veterans with very severe disabilities. The 100% rate was not sufficient to adequately compensate these severely disabled veterans. As a result, Congress passed statutory awards, SMC above the 100% rate. For example: at present, 100% provides $2673 monthly to a single veteran. BV's with vision of 5/200 or a 5 degree field are rated at paragraph L - $3327 monthly, a BV's with light perception only receives paragraph M - $3671 monthly and a totally blind BV receives paragraph N - $4176. Over the years Congress has improved the SMC with mid level ratings and combination rating; for example, a BV with deafness or the loss of an extremity may receive the maximum compensation paragraph O - $4664 monthly.  Some veterans rated at paragraph O, who are in need of consistent aid and attendance, may receive paragraph AR-1 $6669 monthly. In addition, dependent allowances may be added to the amounts listed above for a spouse and dependent children. Other Benefits:  In addition to improvements in compensation, other benefits for BV’s has been secured. Following are two Adaptive Housing Grants. These grants, which were increased in late 2008, provide $60,000 (Section 2101 A) primarily for wheelchair bound veterans.  However, this large grant is also available to BV's with service-connected blindness and the loss of a leg. The smaller Grant, $12,000 (Section 2101 B), is available to service-connected BV's. Initially, the Adaptive Housing grants were one-time grants.  In 2006, the 109 Congress passed legislation permitting eligible veterans who had not used all of their Section 2101 A or B grants to use the remainder again, up to 3 times. A BV who used the 2101 B grant but less than the present $12,000 may be eligible to use the difference. 

Another grant is the Home Improvement and Structural Alteration (HISA) Grant available through your local VAMC. The HISA Grant provides $4100 to SC BV's and $1200 to NSC BV's. This grant may be used for minor alterations to your home in relation to your disability.  

Another nice to know bit of information is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC):  The survivors of 100% service-connected (SC) veterans are eligible if the veteran had been rated at 100% for ten years, five years if continuously since discharge. In 1991 Congress passed the DIC Reform Act.  Now there are two DIC rates. The basic rate for the spouse is $1154 monthly.  The spouse who was married to a 100% SC veteran for 8 years or more prior to the veteran’s death would receive DIC of $1400 monthly. Each minor child would receive $284 monthly in DIC.

NSC Pension: 

Three NSC Pension levels exist:  Basic Pension, House Bound Benefits, and Aid and Attendance Allowance. Presently, the Basic Pension provides $985 monthly to a single veteran, House Bound - $1207 monthly, and Aid and Attendance Allowance - $1644 monthly. These amounts may be increased for each dependent. There is still a significant income limitation. The above listed amounts are reduced dollar for dollar by any incomes, whatsoever, the veteran or his/her household receives. However, there is an annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). Also BV's household earnings can be reduced by the amount of medical expenses the BV incurs. 

For information about any of the above contact the VA Regional Office in your area or talk with your VIST Coordinator.