I hope that all had a happy Thanksgiving and are looking forward to the Christmas season.  As we expressed our thanks for our blessings, I hope we remembered those less fortunate and those service personnel who did not get to share this day with their families. I am truly thankful for their sacrifices-and yours-and wish to again simply say, thank you!
In this update, I am forwarding information on a special holiday program and concert at the Virginia War memorial.  I am also providing a healthcare information resource for both active duty and retired service members, disability information of especial interest to Gulf War veterans, and disability and benefits resources for all veterans.
Virginia War Memorial Program/Concert
“Silent Night on the Western Front, 1914,” a special holiday program and concert, will be presented at 6 p.m., Thursday, December 15th  at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.
Dr. Clay Mountcastle, the Memorial’s director and a noted military historian, will present a multi-media program that tells the story of how French, German and British soldiers fighting along the Western Front during World War I initiated an unofficial truce on Christmas Eve 1914 and left their trenches to exchange greetings, share food, sing carols and even play a game of soccer.
For more information click here.
TRICARE Publications Update
DOD has redesigned most of the TRICARE handbooks, brochures, fact sheets, and guides to make them more user friendly and visually appealing.  These publications are an invaluable resource for active duty and retired military families. To view these updated publications, you may click here.
VA Benefits Hotline (MyVA311)

Recently the Department of Veterans Affairs launched 1-844-MyVA311 (1-844-698-2311) as a 24/7 one-stop information service platform for all VA services.

The VA MyVA311 call center can connect you to disability, pension, health care eligibility, enrollment, and burial benefits.  You can also access the veterans crisis line, the homeless veterans helpline, and a self-service locator to find the nearest VA facility. Now you no longer have to know what number to call for specific programs and services (although if you know it, you can still call direct).

Extension of Presumptive Period Gulf War Illness
 

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it will extend to December 31, 2021 the date by which Gulf War veterans can apply for presumptive disability compensation for Gulf War Illness and other conditions associated with service in the 1991 Gulf War. Conditions include chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and functional gastrointestinal disorders. The presumptive period for these illnesses was set to expire on December 31, 2016. For information on research regarding the causes and effective treatments for Gulf War Illness, visit: http://cdmrp.army.mil/GWIRP.
VA and Social Security Disability

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) launched a new Health IT initiative that enables VA to share medical records electronically with Social Security Disability processors. This secure process will save time and money, resulting in better service for veterans and dependents who apply for Social Security Disability Benefits.

For decades, SSA obtained medical records through a manual process. This new national initiative puts in place an automated process to obtain veterans’ medical records entirely electronically. “This SSA-VA partnership is another example of VA’s leadership in interoperability efforts among federal partners,” said VA Secretary, Robert McDonald. “Increasing federal partnerships to improve operation and resource coordination across agencies is among VA’s 12 Breakthrough Priorities for 2016.”

To learn more about VA health care, visit: www.va.gov/health.

In closing, you can contact me at my district office by emailing delkcox@house.virginia.gov or by calling 804-526-5135, by US mail – PO Box 1205, Colonial Heights, VA 23834 – or by stopping by my Colonial Heights office at 250B East Ellerslie Avenue. I appreciate your views on legislation that will help me do a better job for the people I represent.

Please visit my Facebook page and my Twitter page. These pages, along with my website, have information/links to the 2016 General Assembly Session to include my 44 pieces of legislation, visitors’ photos, my legislative survey, videos of floor remarks, and related topics.

Please forward this Update to your fellow veteran friends and neighbors.