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New 24-Hour VA Hotline
The Veterans Administration launched a My VA Hotline, which is now the starting point to all VA contact centers and will help veterans find the right person to address their needs. Veterans can call 1-800-MyVA411 (1-800-698-2411) with the option to press 0 to be directly connected with a customer service agent to answer questions or connect to the appropriate VA expert. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. VA also maintains the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-2738255, by chat at veteranscrisisline.net and by text message at 838255. The VA also maintains the White House VA Hotline at 1-855-948-2311 which can be used “…for Veterans and their families to share compliments and concerns,” per the VA news release
Catawba Valley Chapter has received 2020 MOAA Levels of Excellence 4-Star Award!
DOD’s Military OneSource MilTax Offers Free
Tax Services to Service Members and Families
The Department of Defense recently announced the annual launch of Military OneSource’s MilTax suite of 100% free tax services for the active-duty military community and the Guard, irrespective of activation status! The tax services include personalized support from tax consultants, easy-to-use tax preparation and the e-filing software, and current information about filing taxes in the military.
MilTax tax preparation and e-filing software is now available through mid-October for service members, their immediate families, and surviving spouses. Provided exclusively by the DoD and designed specifically with the military in mind, it addresses combat and training pay to deployments, housing and rentals, the secure and confidential MilTax software walks users step-by-step through a series of questions to help them complete and file their federal return and up to three state tax forms.
MilTax services include unlimited access to tax consultants trained to help with complex tax situations specific to service members and their families. Tax consultants are available year-round to answer questions related to extensions and deadlines, refunds for surviving family members, the 2020 Social Security tax deferral, and more. For more info, call 800-342-9647 or start a live chat anytime to schedule an appointment to speak with a MilTax consultant, or visit the Military OneSource website to get started filing your taxes: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/all-the-ways/
DoD Guidance on Expired/Expiring ID Cards During COVID-19 Crisis!
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, the DoD has implemented a temporary grace period for recently expired and soon to expire dependent and retiree ID cards. The below information was obtained from the Daily News page of website www.military.com (April 8, 2020, Amy Bushatz) and is their clearly and concisely expressed interpretation of a recent DoD memo that implemented this temporary policy. Essentially the same information is expressed in a more complex and detailed manner on the Army.mil website. If affected, you really need to call your servicing ID card renewal office to clarify and verify your specific ID card expiration situation. That said, here’s the general ID card guidance during the COVID-19 crisis:
"To ensure DoD ID card offices are postured to maintain continuity of operations, and to minimize the number of non-essential required visits at DoD ID card offices, the following guidance is in effect through September 30, 2020," the memo states. The new ID changes include:
ID card expiration date will be extended. If a user is still enrolled in DEERS, their ID card will be valid through Sept. 30, regardless of the printed expiration date, the guidance states. If a user is no longer enrolled, their ID card expiration date will not be extended.
Base officials will review enrollment. Rather than simply confiscate an expired ID, base officials, including gate guards, will first confirm whether the holder is still enrolled in DEERS.
Some ID cards will be available by mail order. How ID cards will be issued by mail varies by service. The memo allows new family member enrollment, as well as eligibility updates and first-time or replacement ID cards to be processed remotely by mailing or faxing copies of documents and application forms. Users should mail only copies of their official documents, such as marriage or birth certificates, not originals.
ID cards issued by mail will typically be set to expire in one year. Although individual services might have their own rules, the memo requires the cards to last no more than a year. Currently, ID cards are automatically set to expire every four years. To stay enrolled, users will be required to bring the original versions of their ID documents to an ID card facility.
The age when children must get a military ID card is raised. Currently, military kids must get an ID when they turn 10 years old. The memo bumps that age to 14.
Guard and Reserve family members should keep their current ID cards. When a Guardsman or reservist is mobilized, their families typically are issued a different ID card reflecting that status. The memo instructs those families to instead keep their current IDs.
Unlike dependent and retiree ID cards, common access cards (CAC) used by uniformed troops and Pentagon civilian employees must still be obtained in person within 30 days of their expiration date, according to the memo. The guidance also puts on hold receiving a new CAC due to rank or name changes.”
Exactly how users should go about turning in information for their mail-order ID cards varies by service. Contact information for ID card offices can be found on the RAPIDS website; a link to that website is on the “Useful Links” page of our chapter website: .
VA Authorizes Local Urgent Care
VA now offers an urgent care benefit that provides eligible Veterans with greater choice and access to timely, high-quality care. When using the urgent care benefit, Veterans must go to a contracted urgent care provider in VA’s network. Upon arriving, Veterans must state they are using their VA urgent care benefit. The urgent care provider will verify the Veteran’s eligibility before providing care. If a Veteran arrives at an urgent care network location and has difficulty receiving care, just call 866‑620‑2071 for assistance. To find an urgent care location in VA’s contracted network, search by ZIP at website: https://vaurgentcarelocator.triwest.com
PRIORITY VA PROCESSING FOR PURPLE HEART RECIPIENTS
Beginning April 1st, the VA will provide priority disability benefits claims processing for the initial claims from discharged combat Veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart Medal. “Those who hold the Purple Heart, the recognition of wounds taken in battle, will now receive priority consideration when it comes to claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Secretary Wilkie. The Veterans Benefits Administration will amend its priority processing categories to include initial claims received from Purple Heart recipients on or after April 1, 2019. Purple Heart recipients are already treated on a priority basis at VA hospitals and are exempt from co-payments for their medical care. The Purple Heart award is the oldest U.S. military decoration and is awarded to U.S. service members for wounds suffered at the hands of the enemy. General George Washington awarded the first purple-colored heart-shaped badges to soldiers who fought in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. In 1932, it was revived to commemorate Washington’s 200th birthday.
Military Retirees Still Subject to UCMJ
The U.S Supreme Court recently determined that military retirees are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Although the retirees are no longer in uniform, they can be court martialed if they commit an illegal act, even if that crime is not related to military service. This became the Supreme Court’s official position by virtue of their rejecting an appeal (petition) regarding a military retiree who was court martialed and subsequently sentenced for an illegal act not related to his military service.
Along those same lines, U.S. Code Title 10, Armed Forces, Subtitle A. General Military Law, Part II Personnel, Chapter 47 Uniform Code of Military Justice, Section 802, Article 2. Persons Subject To This Chapter, states that persons subject to the UCMJ include: (4) Retired members of a regular component of the armed forces who are entitled to pay. (5) Retired members of a reserve component who are receiving hospitalization from an armed force.”
IRS Tax Fraud & Identity Theft Protection
Prevention, Detection & Victim Assistance
(Click on relevant button to IRS website)
NEW VETERANS IDENTIFICATION CARDS (VIC)
The Veterans Administration recently announced availability of the new Veterans ID Card (VIC) to be used in lieu of the standard DD-214 to show proof of military service. The VIC is for Veterans who do not carry a military retiree or Medically Discharged ID card. For further details and the procedures for obtaining a VIC, visit:
AAFES ON-LINE SHOPPING FOR ALL VETERANS
A recent DoD policy change allows 16 million honorably discharged veterans to shop on-line for discounted military exchange products starting on Veterans Day this November. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is expanding on-line exchange shopping to all honorably-discharged veterans with access to computers for essentially two reasons: One is to reward their service with exchange product savings that, on average, will be near to 20 percent versus commercial department store prices when military exemption from state and local sales tax are considered too. The other purpose is to increase exchange revenues to help offset sales declines due to the drawdown of active duty forces and base closures. (Paraphrased from MOAA news item)
AAFES will soon be providing procedures for Veterans to verify their service and start shopping on-line in November. All the details will be posted on their website as they become available.
More NC Specialized
Military License Plates!
Thanks to two recent unanimous approvals by the NC General Assembly, there are now fifty specialized plates relative to those who have served in the military, including one for the Merchant Marine Academy that some military officers have attended. The most recent addition is the Veterans plate for those who have served in the military, a specific plate for each branch of service. There are also three forms of disabled Veterans plates with the handicapped-parking symbol, none of those can be ordered on-line. Plus, a few others can’t be ordered on-line due to proof of eligibility requirements. Further info and ordering procedures are at www.ncdot.gov. Click on License Plate; then click on Specialized & Personalized Plates.
Veterans Administration App Store
The VA Mobile App store has a collection of thirty-seven different Apps (programs) developed specifically for Veterans care, such as: Concussion Coach, PTSD Coach, PE Coach. When visiting the VA's on-line App store, you not only see a description of the App, you can also view a short imbedded video explaining the nature and use of each specific App. All Apps work on web-based platforms (desktop, laptop, notebook, etc.). iOS and Android mobile devices (smartphones) can handle many but not necessarily all of the Apps. Once on the VA App store screen, click on the "App Store" tab, then “Platform” tab, and then on your category of device to see what Apps it’s capable of handling. You then know what Apps can be downloaded directly to your device. The VA Mobile App Store is at:
(Or click on below button)