VA Maryland Health Care System Invites Women to Continue Making History with VA

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This Women’s History Month, the VA Maryland Health Care System invites women veterans to continue making history with VA. “For the Department of Veterans Affairs, Women’s History Month means more than just celebrating our women veterans – it means making sure they’re proud of the role we play in the remaining chapters of their story,” said VA Chief of Staff Pam Powers. “We will continue to build on the legacy that America’s women veterans have carved out by listening to them, respecting them, and serving them with the dignity this country owes them.”

Women comprise about 10 percent of the veterans VA serves nationwide, and that number is set to increase, as women are about 20 percent of our military forces.

For decades, VA’s principal patient base was men. But today’s VA facilities provide comprehensive primary care for women, as well as gynecology, specialty care and mental health services. In the last fiscal year, 41 percent of all women veterans were enrolled in VA, and we expect that number to keep climbing as customer service and patient experiences for women veterans continue to improve.

Since VA started tracking outpatient satisfaction in 2017, we’ve seen women’s trust in VA climb higher and higher. In 2019, 83.8 percent of female veterans trusted the care they got at VA, and initial data in 2020 is on pace to see that trust score rise to nearly 85 percent.

“The VA Maryland Health Care System offers a host of services geared toward women veterans,” said Zelda McCormick, Women Veterans Program Manager at the VA Maryland Health Care System.

Services include, but are not limited to designated women’s health providers throughout our facilities offering primary care for acute and chronic conditions, preventive care such as immunizations, cancer screenings, and gender specific care, including family planning and preconception counseling, and osteoporosis screening and management.

In addition, women veterans can access wellness programs such as health coaching, peer support and community resources, among others.

“Although we don’t deliver babies at our facilities, we do support obstetric care delivered by community partners and provide women veterans with necessary items such as breast pumps,” said McCormick noting that the health care system has hosted three annual baby showers for expectant or new mothers enrolled in VA health care.

The VA Maryland Health Care System also offers mental health and specialty care, providing treatment for depression, mood and anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use, addiction treatments, intimate partner violence, in addition to management of chronic and complex conditions.

The VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) provides a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, mental health and outpatient care to veterans at three medical centers and five outpatient clinics located throughout the state. More than 52,000 veterans from various generations receive care from VAMHCS annually.

Nationally recognized for its state-of-the-art technology and quality patient care, VAMHCS is proud of its reputation as a leader in veterans’ health care, research and education. It costs nothing for veterans to enroll for health care with the VA Maryland Health Care System and it could be one of the more important things a veteran can do.

To enroll for VA health care, interested veterans can call 877-222-8387 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or they can visit va.gov and click on “Apply now for VA health care.”

SOURCE: VA Maryland Health Care System

COVID-Related Help Available for Veterans through DAV

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Older veterans and those with disabilities are a particularly vulnerable population and DAV (Disabled American Veterans) is offering help while they shelter at home during the COVID-19 crisis.

There are three ways veterans can get help, while still allowing them and others to maintain social distancing:

1. VolunteerforVeterans.org: Veterans needing assistance with everyday tasks, such as groceries or yard work, can use a free service to request such help. DAV’s VolunteerforVeterans.org connects veterans with community volunteers. Veterans are encouraged to request their needs, and families and other individuals may also register on behalf of a veteran.

2. Virtual Job Fairs: Veterans who have lost their jobs or are looking for meaningful employment can participate in free virtual career fairs that DAV is holding throughout the country.

Applicants can also get free job-seeking advice, such as tips for dressing for an online interview and best practices on writing a resume. A list of these career fairs can be found at dav.org/veterans/employment-resources/job-search-events/.

3. VA Benefits & Other Resources: DAV offers a range of additional services, such as connecting veterans with mental health professionals and helping them navigate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to access their military and health benefits. Support is also provided for families of veterans and their caregivers.

To access these services, visit dav.org/veterans/resources/ or call (877) I AM A VET (1-877-426-2838).

Coronavirus update from the VA regarding appointments, visits

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VA has implemented an aggressive public health response to protect and care for Veterans in the face of this emerging health risk. We are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal partners to monitor the outbreak of the coronavirus.

VA has administered over 100 COVID-19 tests nationwide while taking aggressive steps to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

These measures include outreach to Veterans and staff, clinical screening at VA health care facilities, and protective procedures for patients admitted to community living centers and spinal cord injury units.

What should Veterans do?

Any Veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should immediately contact their local VA facility. VA urges Veterans to call before visiting – you can find contact information for your closest VA facility.

Alternatively, Veterans can sign into My HealtheVet to send a secure message to VA or use telehealth options to explain their condition and receive a prompt diagnosis.

Calling first helps us protect you, medical staff, and other patients. Ask your VA health care team about the option of care by phone or video instead of an in-person visit.

We also ask that visitors who feel unwell postpone their visits to VA facilities.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the latest coronavirus information, including Symptoms, How To Protect Yourself, and What To Do If You Are Sick.

You can also read about VA’s public health response.

Continue on to The Department of Veterans Affairs to read the complete article.

Suicide Prevention: One Marine’s Story

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Jason Mosel remembers the hardest day of his life. It was the day his friend and fellow Marine, Geoffrey Morris, was blown apart by a rocket-propelled grenade. This memory almost killed him.

Mosel served three tours of duty, two of them in Iraq. After he came home, he thought he was the same person he’d always been. But his wife, his friends, and his family knew better. As time passed, Mosel tried to ignore the fact that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was drinking too much, and all the while his mind was slowly convincing him to do what nearly two dozen soldiers and veterans do every day in the U.S.

And in 2005, Mosel very nearly became part of that grim statistic.

But Mosel’s life began to change in 2013, when he participated in an obstacle course that pushed him physically and mentally.

As a Marine accustomed to adapting to survive, he found a way to fight against his suicidal thoughts: burpees.

He discovered that he could build his own recovery through extreme exercise.

“I did not know this moment would change my life,” Mosel says. “I found something that was missing, a community of people and a sense of accomplishment by pushing myself to a limit that I didn’t think was possible, then going beyond that.”

Mosel attempted to set a new Guinness World Record of 5,000 chest-to-ground burpees in 12 hours, stopping only to eat, hydrate, go to the bathroom, and rest for a minute or two between sets.

But he refused to stop.

He had made a promise to his friend Morris, a promise to fellow soldiers and veterans, a promise to himself.

But why? Mosel said that extreme physical activity saved him. A strong body helped him build a strong mind.

He realized he couldn’t change the past but could control the future. “Slowly I started to put down the bottle and lace up my running shoes,” Mosel said.

“Though it sounds cut and dry, it was anything but that.”

Mosel described the daily battle he endured while fighting off his demons and confronting himself in the mirror. His turning point came through acceptance of his new reality. He emphasizes that this is what drives him to push harder and overcome the inevitable obstacles life throws in his way.

Service Dogs: A Solution to The Veteran Suicide Crisis

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By Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO, American Humane

The number of military service members and veterans in the United States is declining, but their suicide rates are increasing.

It’s clear that addressing the military and veteran suicide epidemic will take bold new solutions beyond marginal improvements to the status quo. All ideas to protect these brave men and women off the battlefield should be on the table.

One low-risk, high-reward potential solution is pairing combat vets with service dogs who are specially trained to mitigate post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, which commonly affect ex service members and contribute to suicide.

About 1 veteran in 6 suffers from PTSD. According to research in the Journal of Depression and Anxiety, 28 percent of those who reported a past traumatic event had attempted suicide. Another study found that those with TBI, which affects about the same portion of veterans, are nearly twice as likely to die by suicide.

There’s long been anecdotal evidence that service dogs can help treat these mental health afflictions.

Service dogs can be trained to perform countless tasks that mitigate these conditions, including retrieving medication, searching homes for perceived threats, grounding handlers during a stressful episode, aiding with memory-related tasks, and even turning on lights during a night terror.

Now emerging scientific research is also pointing to the promise that service dogs offer. A Purdue University study released last year found that veterans coping with PTSD performed better on a variety of mental health and emotional well-being metrics, including reduced symptoms of PTSD and depression if they were paired with a service dog. Veterans with service dogs also missed work less and performed better while there than their dogless counterparts.

A separate Purdue study also released last year measured the stress-mitigating hormone cortisol in PTSD veterans with and without service dogs. Those with service dogs produced more cortisol than those without, mimicking the amount expected in adults without PTSD. Those in the service dog group also reported less anger, less anxiety, and better sleep.

While these studies didn’t directly test those with TBI, its similar symptoms suggest significant promise for suicidal vets with this condition as well. Unfortunately, waiting lists for veterans in need of service dogs are long. The process is time-consuming and expensive, costing as much as $30,000 per dog. With the VA refusing to endorse service dogs as a PTSD and TBI treatment–while awaiting the results of its own in-depth study – funding is scarce.

In the meantime, nonprofit groups are doing what they can to fill the void. For instance, American Humane’s Pups4Patriots program finds dogs in need of homes and trains them to become service animals for military veterans struggling with the invisible wounds of war, potentially saving lives at both ends of the leash.

Dogs have always boosted emotional well-being. Now studies are confirming what veterans have been saying for years: Service dogs can have an even greater impact. With the veteran suicide rate rising unabated, it’s time to stop tinkering and pursue creative new solutions to this crisis.

Nothing has so much potential lifesaving impact as greater access to service dogs.

Source: American Humane

Suicides among U.S. Special Operations Command tripled in 2018 while suicides among active duty Marine Corps and the Navy reached a 10-year high. The veteran suicide rate is 50% higher than the general population, adjusting for age and gender.

The veteran suicide rate increased by 26% between 2005 and 2016, the latest year that data is available.

More than 6,000 veterans commit suicide each year.
Source: Department of Veterans Affairs

Treatments for PTSD

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PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months.

If it’s been longer than a few months and you’re still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.

If thoughts and feelings from a life-threatening event are upsetting you or causing problems in your life, you may have PTSD.

Here’s the good news: you can get treatment for PTSD—and it works. For some people, treatment can get rid of PTSD altogether. For others, it can make symptoms less intense. Treatment also gives you the tools to manage symptoms so they don’t keep you from living your life. PTSD treatment can turn your life around—even if you’ve been struggling for years.

Therapy

PTSD therapy has three main goals:

  • Improve your symptoms
  • Teach you skills to deal with it
  • Restore your self-esteem

Cognitive Processing Therapy

Teaches you to reframe negative thoughts about the trauma. It involves talking with your provider about your negative thoughts and doing short writing assignments.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Teaches you how to gain control by facing your negative feelings. It involves talking about your trauma with a provider and doing some of the things you have avoided since the trauma.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Helps you process and make sense of your trauma. It involves calling the trauma to mind while paying attention to a back-and-forth movement or sound (like a finger waving side to side, a light, or a tone).

Stress Inoculation Training

Talk therapy that can help you recognize and change incorrect and/or negative thoughts that have been influencing your behavior. Coping skills are also used such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation training and role playing.

Alternative Treatments for Veterans With PTSD

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health programs offer alternative techniques with conventional therapies while many non-profit organizations throughout the country have seen improvement in vets through alternative measures.

These six alternative treatments are showing increased popularity for veterans with PTSD:

  1. Acupuncture—A 2014 study of 55 service members concluded that acupuncture “was effective for reducing PTSD symptoms.” Patients using acupuncture with traditional treatment “showed significantly greater improvements” over patients who had usual care only, the Healthcare Medicine Institute reported. Acupuncture appears to be a safe treatment to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, the researchers noted.
  1. Yoga and meditation—These practices have been used in the military and at VA medical centers, according to Social Work Today. Yoga helps to relieve pain and bring comfort throughout the body. Yoga and meditation need to fit the needs of patients who have experienced trauma, including the creation of a safe space to provide relaxation for an overactive nervous system.
  1. Service dogs—Bonding with animals provides benefits for veterans with PTSD. A program under Warrior Canine Connection has vets with the disorder training service dogs for fellow vets afflicted with physical injuries. It provides veterans with companionship but also results in stress reduction, reduced blood pressure, and improved relationships.
  1. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)—A self-healing method, it combines cognitive therapy and exposure therapy, which exposes patients to anxiety sources without causing any danger, with acupressure on points throughout the body. One controlled trial found more than 85 percent of veterans with PTSD had no obvious symptoms after six sessions of EFT, according to the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies.
  1. Swimming with sea creatures—Dolphin swims are enjoyable for the population at large, but they are also used as alternative treatments for vets with PTSD. At the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, veterans swim with whale sharks and are accompanied by dive masters in a huge tank, The New York Times The sharks get their name from their immense size and mainly eat plankton. The quiet underwater environment helps vets forget bad memories.
  1. Outdoor therapies—Horseback riding, hiking, and rafting are among activities that can help vets overcome symptoms of PTSD. The Rites of Passage Ranch Long Term Care Program in Washington state combines cognitive behavioral therapy with relaxation exercises, physical activity, and healthy food.

You’re not alone

Going through a traumatic event is not rare. At least half of Americans have had a traumatic event in their lives. Of people who have had trauma, about 1 in 10 men and 2 in 10 women will develop PTSD. There are some things that make it more likely you’ll develop PTSD — for example, having very intense or long-lasting trauma, getting hurt, or having a strong reaction to the event (like shaking, throwing up, or feeling distant from your surroundings). It’s also more common to develop PTSD after certain types of trauma, like combat and sexual assault. But there’s no way to know for sure who will develop PTSD.

Where can I go to get help?

If you’re a Veteran, check with the VA about whether you can get treatment there. Visit va.gov/directory/guide/PTSD.asp to find a VA PTSD program near you. If you’re looking for care outside the VA, ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health care provider who specializes in PTSD treatment, or visit findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to search for providers in your area.

Get Help If You’re in Crisis
If you feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else:
• Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) anytime to talk to a crisis counselor. Press “1” if you are a Veteran. The call is confidential (private) and free.
• Chat online with a crisis counselor anytime at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
You can also call 911 or go to your local emergency room.

For more information and resources visit the National Center for PTSD website at: ptsd.va.gov

Find out about PTSD and PTSD treatment from Veterans who’ve been there at: ptsd.va.gov/aboutface

7 stress resources Veterans can use right now

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As a Veteran, you might experience difficult life events or challenges after leaving the military. The VA is here to help no matter how big or small the problem may be.

VA’s resources address the unique stressors and experiences that Veterans face — and we’re just a click, call, text, or chat away.

Seven mental health resources Veterans can use right now

  1. Just show up to any VA Medical Center. Did you know that VA offers same day services in Primary Care and Mental Health at 172 VA Medical Centers across the country? VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has made Same-Day 24/7 access to emergency mental health care the top clinical priority for VA staff. “It’s important that all Veterans, their family and friends know that help is easily available.” Now, all 172 VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) provide Same-Day Mental Health Care services. If a Veteran is in crisis or has need for immediate mental health care, he or she will receive immediate attention from a health care professional. To find VA locations near you, explore the facility locator tool.
  2. Make the Connection is an online resource designed to connect Veterans, their family members, friends and other supporters with information and solutions to issues affecting their lives. On the website, visitors can watch hundreds of Veterans share their stories of strength and recovery, read about a variety of life events and mental health topics, and locate nearby resources.
  3. The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, and text messaging service. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  4. Vet Centers provide community-based counseling for a wide range of social and psychological services, including confidential readjustment counseling, outreach and referral to eligible Veterans, active duty service members, including National Guard and Reserve components and their families. It offers individual, group, marriage and family counseling. And you can get a referral and connection to other VA or community benefits and services at no cost. Vet Center counselors and outreach staff, many of whom are Veterans themselves, are experienced and prepared to discuss the tragedies of war, loss, grief and transition after trauma.
  5. Coaching Into Care provides guidance to Veterans’ family members and friends on encouraging a Veteran they care about to reach out for mental health support. Free, confidential assistance is available by calling 1-888-823-7458, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, or by emailing CoachingIntoCare@va.gov.
  6. The Veteran Training online self-help portal provides tools for overcoming everyday challenges. The portal has tools to help Veterans work on problem-solving skills, manage anger, develop parenting skills, and more. All tools are free. Its use is entirely anonymous, and they are based on mental health practices that have proven successful with Veterans and their families.
  7. AboutFace features stories of Veterans who have experienced PTSD, their family members, and VA clinicians. There, you can learn about PTSD, explore treatment options, and get advice from others who have been there.

Learn more

For more information about VA’s mental health resources and behavioral health services, please visit VA’s Mental Health Services website at MentalHealth.va.gov, or the Vet Center website (for combat Veterans) at www.vetcenter.va.gov. For a more detailed view of VA mental health service offerings, explore the VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Guidebook.

Global Edition Telehealth Veterans Affairs, Walmart open latest telehealth pilot site

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and retail giant Walmart have opened the latest location as part of a joint effort help Vets in rural areas get better access to medical services, the first location for a new telehealth pilot program.

WHY IT MATTERS
The store, located in Asheboro, North Carolina, is part of a public-private affiliation whereby Walmart donated equipment and space allowing Veterans to meet with a VA provider in a private room through video technology.

It’s all part of the VA’s Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations, or ATLAS, services initiative, which will provide clinical services – which the VA notes will vary by location – including primary care, nutrition, mental health and social work.

Other telehealth pilot sites are located in Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, and the VA noted there were more than 1.3 million video telehealth encounters with more than 490,000 Veterans last year.

In addition to Walmart, ATLAS sites are currently located at American Legion posts and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Posts, allowing Vets to connect through the VA Video Connect platform.

It’s part of the VA’s Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations, or ATLAS, initiative, which will provide clinical services including primary care, mental health and social work.

The app also works on a wide range of device that have an Internet connection and a web camera, including Windows-based PCs and laptops, Windows mobile devices, iOS mobile devices and Android mobile devices.

The VA has also been working with companies like T-Mobile and Philips to pave the way for additional telehealth services for Vets.

THE LARGER TREND
Despite the department’s advances in telehealth services, Veterans Health Administration medical facilities are facing an enormous challenge as they scan and enter medical documentation into patients’ electronic health records.

According to an audit from the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs, VHA medical facilities have a cumulative medical document backlog equivalent to more than five miles of stacked paper, with nearly 600,000 electronic files dating back to 2016.

Continue on to Healthcare IT News to read the complete article.

Kean University Student-Veteran Receives K-9 Service Dog

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Jason Pryor of Elizabeth received the K-9, named Keen, as a gift from the Kean Office of Student Government.

A special Veterans Day ceremony was held on Kean University’s Union campus as senior Jason Pryor, a U.S. Army veteran, introduced the K-9 service dog that he received through an on-campus fundraiser.

Pryor, a senior from Elizabeth majoring in exercise science, did tours in Iraq and Honduras and suffers from PTSD. He received the K-9, named Keen, at the start of the Fall semester as a gift from the Kean Office of Student Government.

“Being with Keen has taught me to be more patient,” said Pryor, whose dog accompanies him to class. “Keen is used as a measure to help prevent me from going through the symptoms and effects of spiraling down, by me tending to his needs and having him tend to me.”

Kean is ranked first in the nation among large public schools for its programs supporting student-veterans, according to the Military Friendly Schools survey.

Student Government raised nearly $20,000 to support service dogs through Rebuilding Warriors, a volunteer non-profit organization whose mission is to provide trained service dogs to veterans. The bulk of the funds raised went toward training Pryor’s dog, and the rest was donated to Rebuilding Warriors to help train other K-9 dogs.

At the ceremony held outside Miron Student Center, Vito Zajda, director of Veteran Student Services at Kean and a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, called Pryor a remarkable student.

“He has been a big support and influential person in our program,” Zajda said. “He has helped open our eyes about how the University can best support its vets.”

Vice President of Rebuilding Warriors Jeff Mullins, also a veteran, said post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can’t be seen by others. ”It’s invisible, stays with you your entire life, and it’s not easy sometimes,” he said. “Our goal is to provide veterans and first responders with a service dog to help them achieve their new normal.”

The University’s Veterans Day event included a color guard, a performance of the national anthem by the Kean Gospel Choir, and the presentation of other honors.

Juan Leon Torres, a senior from Spotswood also studying exercise science and a U.S. Navy veteran, received the 2019 Kean Veteran’s Award for OutstandingK-9 Keen service dog to U.S. Army Veteran pictured sitting next to his new owner Mentor. He develops transition opportunities and initiatives, and mentors a student-veteran each semester.

“Being a veteran and going back to school is super hard because you go from one community to a different lifestyle,” Torres said.

Zajda noted that it is important to support veterans at all times. “The importance of Veterans Day is to recognize that it’s 365 days a year, as veterans go through different highs and lows in their lives,” he said.

K-9 Keen, the service dog accompanying student-veteran Jason Pryor (pictured at top, left of center, in red shirt), is part of the Kean University community. The Kean Office of Student Government raised funds to donate the dog.

About Kean University

Founded in 1855, Kean University is one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, with a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment serving more than 16,000 students. The University’s six undergraduate colleges offer more than 50 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic subjects. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers six doctoral degree programs and more than 80 options for graduate study leading to master’s degrees, professional diplomas or certifications. With campuses in Union, Toms River, Jefferson and Manahawkin, New Jersey, and Wenzhou, China, Kean University furthers its mission by providing an affordable and accessible world-class education. Visit kean.edu.

Gillette SkinGuard For Military: Protecting the Skin of Those Who Protect Us

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Following the Navy’s recent policy changes in regards to its shaving guidelines, Gillette has a solution for those of your readers who have experienced chronic skin conditions like PFB as a result of mandatory shaving while in the service.

As a part of Gillette’s commitment to helping every man be the best they can be, we are making more than 40,000 complimentary SkinGuard razor samples available to active and retired service members who want to try this razor that was specifically designed to protect their skin from irritation– and feel the difference for themselves.

Servicemen can visit Gillette.com/military if they’re interested in a product sample.

The Gillette SkinGuard Razor is clinically proven for sensitive skin and specifically designed to reduce the symptoms generally associated with PFB such as razor bumps and irritation.

Results from a recent clinical study revealed that the incidence of men’s razor bumps were reduced on average by 60 percent after 12-weeks daily shaving with Gillette SkinGuard.

What You Need To Know About VA Dental Benefits

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By Dr. Greg Grillo (dentably.com)

Dental care for veterans can be confusing and difficult to navigate. As a dentist for over 20 years, and a veteran myself, I’ve talked with dozens of veterans who didn’t understand or know what types of benefits they deserve. To aid with that, I’ve put together this article which will hopefully help veterans understand and utilize the benefits they have earned.

What Type Of Care Can I Expect

The care you receive largely depends on which class you qualify for, but generally looks to treat and deal with serious issues. Certain classes might only receive care related to other qualifying health issues, while some classes can receive any dental care needed. That’s why it’s important to understand which class you fall into as each one varies in which types of procedures are covered.

Dental Care Classes

Probably the thing that trips up the most veterans the is the wide range of classes that make one eligible for dental benefits. Each of these has their own specific requirements, so read over them carefully to see which class you might fit into.

I: If you have a service related dental condition or disability then you are eligible for any dental care that is needed.

II: You can receive one time care if you:

-Did not receive a dental examination upon discharge

-Were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable

-Apply to receive care with 180 days of discharge

IIA: If you have a non-compensable, service related condition that is the result of combat wounds you are eligible for all care to keep your mouth healthy.

IIB: If you are a homeless veteran receiving care under VHA directive 2007-039 then you are eligible for select care procedures to treat major infections, relieve pain, secure employment, or treat severe gum disease.

IIC: If you were a former prisoner of war you are eligible for any dental care needed.

III: If a VA dental care provider determines you have a dental issue linked to a service related health condition, and that health condition makes the dental issue worse, you can receive treatment for the issue.

IV: If you have a service related injury that is rated as 100% disabling you are eligible for any care needed. Note this doesn’t include situations where the 100% rating is only temporary.

V: If you are part of a VA vocational rehabilitation program under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 31 then you can receive dental care that makes participating in and successfully meeting the goals of the program possible.

VI: If you are receiving VA care for an issue that is being made worse by an oral issue you can receive treatment for that oral issue.

This is a pretty big list, and it’s okay to be a bit confused on where you fit in. When in doubt, you can always contact your local VA, and they’ll be happy to guide you through the process and see what care you might be eligible for.

Other Dental Care Options

Unfortunately, not all veterans will be eligible for care under these rules. While that can be disheartening to hear, there are many other options that can help make dental care easier to receive and more affordable to non-VA care eligible veterans.

One of the more popular options is the National VA Dental Insurance Program. This is insurance specially offered to veterans, and it’s offered at a reduced price as compared to traditional insurances. This can help cut down both your monthly premiums as well as co-pays, which can make dental care much more affordable.

sign that says veteran benefitsThere are also a number of dentists that offer reduced or sometimes even free services to veterans. This depends on where you live, but it’s not a bad idea to do a little research for veteran friendly dentists in your area. You can also reach out to your local VA as they may be able to point you in the right direction.

While dental benefits can be difficult to navigate as a veteran, it’s very important to keep up with your oral health. I’ve mentioned your local VA a few times, and that’s because they are a great resource for determining your eligibility and utilizing your benefits. Keep them in mind as you look over your benefits, and never be afraid to reach out with any questions.

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