Meet our new intern: Brian Rodrigues

We’re excited to introduce Brian Rodrigues, our new VA Work-Study Intern at VFW Post 3063. Brian is a Navy veteran currently pursuing a master’s degree in social work. He’s been attending classes at Seattle Central and plans to transfer to the University of Washington this fall.

Brian brings a unique flair to our team, with a passion for both fashion and sports. Don’t be surprised if you see him sporting a different, colorful outfit every time you meet him!

Brian will be in the office to assist our service officer and perform outreach regarding VA benefits on the following days and times: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Through the VA work-study program, veterans who are three-quarter or full-time students in a college degree, vocational, or professional program can “earn while they learn” with a VA work-study allowance. This program allows veterans to gain valuable work experience while continuing their education.

We’re thrilled to have Brian on board and look forward to the energy and expertise he will bring to our post. Please join us in welcoming him!

Service Officer Update (May 2024)

By Joseph Mesa

In 2023, several critical issues concerning veterans have come to the forefront. Some of the key areas:

Disability and Retirement Pay:
1. Last year, Congress passed a significant benefits expansion for veterans affected by toxic exposure injuries during their service.
2. However, the focus this year is on ensuring that veterans who suffered injuries while on duty receive all the compensation they deserve.
3. The issue revolves around concurrent receipt and the Major Richard Star Act.
4. Currently, veterans with a disability rating of at least 50% receive both their full military retirement pay and disability benefits. But those with a disability rating below 50% face dollar-for-dollar offsets, resulting in reduced payments.
5. The Major Richard Star Act aims to allow combat-wounded veterans medically discharged before serving 20 years to receive both retirement and disability pay, without any offsets.

Mental Health Crisis:
1. Veterans experience high rates of mental health conditions, including PTSD, depression, and substance use.
2. Suicides among veterans increased significantly from 2006 to 2020.
3. Innovative treatment strategies are urgently needed, and addressing mental and metabolic health simultaneously may lead to better outcomes.

VA Workforce Challenges:
1. The Department of Veterans Affairs faces a flood of new cases due to the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act(PACT Act).
2. Claims processors are strained, leading to workforce challenges and impacting veterans’ access to services.

Finally, all veterans, including those exposed to toxins and hazards during military service, are now eligible for VA health care. Veterans who are exposed to toxins or hazards during training or active duty in the United States are also eligible. Eligible Veterans can enroll directly in VA health care without needing to apply for VA benefits.

Commander’s Corner (October 2023)

By Alyson Teeter

Fall is here so that means we’re in the midst of Post 3063’s fundraising season. As the Seelig family knows, planning and executing a fundraising event is no easy feat. Please show up and support your fellow veterans on Oct. 21! It only takes 15 seconds to RSVP here so do it now. (So far we have less than 15.)

Here are a few events coming up this week:
Oct. 3 at 5:30 p.m. – Deployment care package assembly with the Fremont Rotary at the post
Oct. 4 at 3:30 p.m. – Public comment about the Memorial Stadium Memorial Wall landmark status; contact me for details.
Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. – Monthly Business Meeting

Another big item on our radar is the VFW’s Youth Essay Program. We have the high school level Voice of Democracy contest, middle school level Patriot’s Pen contest, and the VFW WA Department-sponsored elementary school level Youth Essay contest. Encourage your family, neighbors and friends to participate and submit their essays to the post by Oct. 31.

Looking ahead to next month, we’re in the early stages of planning a Veterans Day event at the post. If you want to help with the planning, let me know at [email protected].

Five and Five Discussion Group

Comrade David Tyner, a veteran new to VFW Post 3063, felt a deep concern for the loneliness that plagues many veterans. He devised a solution: the “Five and Five” discussion group. It launched Sept. 21 and provided a safe haven for veterans to share their military experiences without fear of judgment. Thank you to everyone who participated! Stay tuned for future Five and Five discussion group opportunities.