As Fall is right around the corner (22 September officially) and we begin to anticipate the weather turning cooler, a first reminder that Election Day is approaching and the registration deadline is a little over a month away. One of the ways veterans continue to serve their communities and nation is by voting and this election is very important for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I highly encourage everyone to ensure they are registered, informed of the candidates and the issues, and to vote on election day, Tuesday November 7th. On Saturday of that same week we commemorate Veterans Day and I encourage you to attend one of our local ceremonies and take your friends and families, if possible. While you understand the importance of this day, many do not.

In this update, in addition to voter registration and absentee voting information, I am including information on upcoming events that may be of interest, VA news on claims processing, a proposed TRICARE fee increase, and some Virginia National Guard news. I have also included a link to significant military anniversaries for 16-31 September for those interested in military history.

Voter Registration/Absentee Voting

our friends and neighbors in your local community sincerely appreciate your defense of our freedom and way of life. Your daily sacrifices for us and those of your family can never be fully repaid.

It would be an honor to have your support in the upcoming election for the House of Delegates. However, I encourage you to vote regardless of your political persuasion.

If you are not registered for the 7 November election, the deadline to register is 16 October. If registered and unable to vote in your precinct due to your duties or other absence, you may request a ballot to be mailed to you up until 31 October but be advised of possible mailing delays.

You can check the status of your registration, find information on upcoming elections to include a sample ballot for your local domicile address, specific procedures for Military voting and much more at: http://www.elections.virginia.gov/.

You are encouraged to visit this site and ensure your registration is up to date and get the information you need to vote in the upcoming election.

Upcoming Events

PBS Documentary on the Vietnam War

The PBS promotion states, “Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s ten-part, 18-hour documentary series, THE VIETNAM WAR, premiers on PBS (WCVE/WHTJ) on Sunday, September 17th at 8:00 p.m. The documentary tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film. Visceral and immersive, the series explores the human dimensions of the war through revelatory testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides-Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as combatants and civilians from North and South Vietnam.”

THE VIETNAM WAR features more than 100 iconic musical recordings from greatest artists of the era and haunting original music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross as well as the Silk Road Ensemble featuring Yo-Yo Ma.”

A program preview trailer and interviews with local veterans can be seen here.

Retiree Appreciation Day at Fort Lee

Fort Lee will hold their annual Retiree Appreciation Day on 30 September. The event will start at 8:30 a.m. at the Soldier Support Center Auditorium, 1401 B Avenue, Building 3400, Fort Lee, VA 23801.

The event will feature representatives from several Fort Lee and independent organizations and include free flu vaccinations (if available) and health screenings for retirees and their spouses. Attendees will also have the opportunity to obtain ID cards, update wills and power of attorney, as well as attend a retiree luncheon for free.

This year’s informational briefing topics will be focused on VA benefits, living wills and trusts, TRICARE and Fort Lee updates. For more information, call (804) 743-6555/6973/7345 or click here.

There will also be a Military Retiree Appreciation Ball at the Lee club starting at 5:00 p.m. A Flyer containing additional information and registration form can be seen here.

Veterans In the Vineyard

The 3d Annual Veterans in the Vineyard salute to our military, veterans and their families will be held on 7 October at the Gauthier Vineyard Equestrian Center (5000 Farmers Dr, Barhamsville, VA 23011), rain or shine! The event is no charge and open to all. Music and Mission BBQ will be provided. Bring your family and friends.

For more information or to RSVP E-mail Frank Wickersham at fgwickersham@vsecorp.com.

TRICARE Fee Increase

Last year’s National Defense Authorization Act increased TRICARE costs for military retirees who enter the military after January 1, 2018, and their families. Current military retirees and their family members are exempt from these cost increases, but a proposal recently advanced by the Senate would remove this exemption. This proposal would result in higher TRICARE fees for military retirees, including pharmacy copayments, which are already three times higher than they were in 2011, and enrollment costs for certain plans, such as the new Select plan, would nearly triple. Both the Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) 2018 defense authorization bill and DoD 2018 budget submission will result in increase TRICARE costs for military retirees. If you have strong feelings as to whether military retirees should pay more for their earned health care you might wish to contact Senators Kaine and Warner.

Virginia National Guard News

New Officers Commissioned

The Virginia National Guard welcomed 29 new second lieutenants from Officer Candidate School Classes 59 and 60B Aug. 26, 2017, at a commissioning ceremony held at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Virginia. Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, administered the oath of office to the graduates, and Governor Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran joined Williams in congratulating the new lieutenants in earning their commissions and thanking their families for their support. Brig. Gen. Lapthe Flora, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General for Army Strategic Initiatives, offered advice to the new officers on how to succeed in their upcoming leadership. For more information on the class and the commission ceremony click here.

Helicopter Support After Hurricane Harvey

The Virginia National Guard sent approximately 40 Soldiers and six helicopters to Texas to assist with Hurricane Harvey recovery operations Aug. 31, 2017, and after transporting medical personnel and supplies, they safely returned to Virginia Sept. 6. With the Texas National Guard shifting operations from search and rescue to critical life support and logistics support. Three rescue technicians from the Chesterfield County Fire and Emergency Medical Service Scuba Rescue Team also deployed with the Guard. For more information on this deployment click here.

Other NG News

Other news concerning the Virginia National Guard is always available here.

VA Eligibility Matrix

My office continues to get queries from many veterans with service connected disabilities concerning what benefits they are entitled to. A good listing of VA benefits available to these veteran can be found here.

My office will be working with the Department of Veteran Services to develop a similar matrix for benefits available from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

VA Claims Submission Update

As part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) continued efforts to improve timeliness of services for Veterans and their families, VA unveiled the Decision Ready Claims (DRC) initiative, a disability claims submission option with accredited Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) that promises to deliver faster claims decisions to Veterans and their families.

“The DRC initiative is a collaborative effort between VA and VSOs to help Veterans receive faster decisions on disability claims,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “VA works closely with participating VSOs to make sure they are properly trained in this new process and given the tools they need to participate successfully in the program on behalf of the Veterans they serve.”

Veterans who choose to submit their claim under DRC can expect to receive a decision within 30 days from the time VA receives the claim. VSOs will ensure all supporting evidence – such as medical exams, military service records, etc. – is included with the claim submission. This advance preparation by the VSOs allows claims to be assigned immediately to claims processors for a quick decision

While DRC is currently limited to claims for increased compensation (commonly known as claims for increase), and requires Veterans to work with VSOs. VA’s goal is to expand the types of claims accepted under the initiative and allow Veterans other ways to submit their claim under DRC. More information on this initiative can be found here.

Military History Anniversaries

For those interested in Military History, items of interest for 16-30 September can be found here.

 

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 2017 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.