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Service Officer's Corner

Service Officer's Corner
CBD Awareness Project
Some studies have shown promising results for patients who want to use CBD to reduce symptoms of PTSD and chronic pain from injuries. However, since CBD cannot be prescribed by VA clinicians due to FDA regulations, many Veterans aren’t aware that assistance programs for CBD are out there.
Guide to CBD for Veterans
There are over 20 million veterans in the United States, representing just under 10% of the country’s total population. Many veterans live with chronic health issues, including PTSD, anxiety, and pain. This article will help you learn how CBD can benefit those Veterans.
Does CBD Help PTSD?
About half of Americans will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. Of those, a percentage will go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Get Your VA Medical Records Online
Access your medical records online.
You can access and manage your VA health records and documents on VA.gov. This is done by linking either your My HealtheVet account or your eBenefits account. Visit the medical records page of VA.gov today to learn more and gain access to your records.
Find Veterans you served with!
'TWS REUNITES MORE U.S. MILITARY VETERANS THAN ANY OTHER ORGANIZATION'
TogetherWeServed has more than 1.8M members and is designed to reconnect Veterans. The platform links you with others in your listed units who served at the same time, in a virtual 'shadow box' fashion. TWS also has a comprehensive list of unit photos and records to search.
2020 Census Jobs
Earn extra income while helping your community.
The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting thousands of people across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count.
Collin County Veteran Services
The Collin County Department of Veteran Services serves veterans by providing exceptional assistance, guidance and representation in the application process of VA and state benefits for which they are eligible, and advocating for the veteran and their dependents.

The Collin County Veteran Services Office is a department of Collin County. We are not part of the Veterans Administration nor funded by them. We are your ADVOCATE and can assist you or represent you in dealing with the Veterans Administration.

The Veteran Services Office serves veterans and their dependents with the filing of complex claims for the various benefits they are eligible to receive. The Service Officer holds numerous accreditation with a service organization and attend mandatory training conferences two times a year to stay abreast of the ever changing laws and regulations concerning veterans.

The advocacy doesn't stop after the filing of a claim. We continue to follow the progress of the claims process with the Veteran/Dependent throughout the often lengthy time it takes the VA to reach a decision. Services offered include:

  • Compensation or Pension
  • Disability Retirement
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
  • Appeal to Board of Veterans Appeal
  • Hospital and Outpatient Benefits
  • Texas Veterans Land Board Programs
  • Texas Veterans Commission
  • Texas State Cemetery Program
  • Texas Veterans Homes
  • Educational Benefits
  • Vocational Benefits
  • Debt Waivers
  • Obtaining or replacing Military Awards
  • Obtaining Lost Military Records
  • Review of Military Discharge
  • Claims for Insurance Payments
  • Burial Allowance
New VA Eligibility Criteria
VA recently proposed new rules for Veteran community care that include six new eligibility criteria for Veterans under the VA MISSION Act, which was signed into law by President Trump in June 2018.

The new eligibility criteria will be a major improvement over existing criteria in terms of making things simpler: currently, eligibility criteria vary between VA’s community care programs. When the new criteria go into effect, Veterans can expect better access and greater choice in their health care, whether at VA or through a community provider.

The eligibility criteria are projected to go into effect in June 2019 after final regulations are published and effective, so the criteria are not yet final. In addition, key aspects of community care eligibility include the following:

  • Veterans must receive approval from VA prior to obtaining care from a community provider in most circumstances.
  • Veterans must either be enrolled in VA health care or be eligible for VA care without needing to enroll to be eligible for community care.
  • Eligibility for community care will continue to be dependent upon a Veteran’s individual health care needs or circumstances.
  • VA staff members generally make all eligibility determinations.
  • Veterans will usually have the option to receive care at a VA medical facility regardless of their eligibility for community care.
  • Meeting any one of six eligibility criteria listed below is sufficient to be referred to a community provider—a Veteran does not have to meet all of them to be eligible. (Real-world examples of when a Veteran would be eligible for community care are included in the eligibility fact sheet linked at the end of the article).
Free Flights for Disabled Veterans
Service-connected disabled Veterans and Space-A Travel
When congress signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act last year,100% service connected disabled Veterans became eligible for Space Available Travel.
VA Home Purchase Loan Tips
Get Tips for Building a Home using a VA Construction Loan
The VA home loan and other housing programs help Veterans, service members and surviving spouses purchase, build, adapt and renovate homes. One of the most commonly used loans is the VA Purchase Loan, which specifically allows qualified Veterans to purchase a home without many of the requirements of traditional mortgages—there’s no down payment, no private mortgage insurance, competitive interest rates and easier qualifications.
Veterans Assistance Program
If you as a veteran or a veteran you know need help with an unexpected and/or unforseen hardship that you or they do not have the resources to handle on your own then you can apply for assistance through this program.
Gulf War Newsletter
Information for Veterans who served in operations Desert Shield and Deset Storm and their families.
The 2019 Gulf War Newsletter is now available online. Read how the Orlando VAMC uses telehealth services for Environmental Health Registry exams, find yoga classes offered by phone, learn about research findings on yoga and reduced pain in Veterans with Gulf War illness, and more.
Stress relief a touch screen away
Stress can come from many sources for deployed service members – intense focus on the mission, exhaustion caused by continuous exertion and too little sleep, physical pain, depression, or relationship issues. Any or all stressors can impact a service member’s mental health. What if every time the anxiety level began to rise, there were handy tools within reach? Those tools exist in the form of apps for smartphones and tablets
Stress can come from many sources for deployed service members – intense focus on the mission, exhaustion caused by continuous exertion and too little sleep, physical pain, depression, or relationship issues. Any or all stressors can impact a service member’s mental health. What if every time the anxiety level began to rise, there were handy tools within reach? Those tools exist in the form of apps for smartphones and tablets.

Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool for use either on your own or as part of a plan directed by a provider. Breathe2Relax provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing.

“The challenge is to tell service members, ‘Hey, there’s time in your day to take a knee and focus on your own care, or on your coping strategies when things get rough,’” said Dr. Tim Hoyt, chief of the Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch.

Hoyt first saw troops using smartphone apps that delivered coping strategies while downrange serving as an Army psychologist in Afghanistan. Deployed soldiers may not have had easy access to regular behavioral health sessions, but they had smartphones with them. “By getting coping tools into their pockets in the form of mobile apps, they were able to leverage that time between sessions and get reminders of the coping strategies we had worked on,” he said. “These are tools you can use anytime, anywhere to promote psychological resilience and cope with stressors.”

“I was sold on the fact that this has direct applicability to the warfighter,” said Hoyt, calling Breath2Relax and the Virtual Hope Box two “flagship apps” developed jointly by the Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch and Web and Mobile Technology Program Office.

The Breath2Relax app has been downloaded more than two million times, with about 25,000 new downloads per month, according to Capt. Amy Park, a U.S. Public Health Service officer who leads the Mobile Health Clinical Integration Team in the Connected Health Branch. “These are robust numbers showing how many people we’re able to reach. As a provider, there’s no way I’m going to reach 25,000 people a month to teach the diaphragmatic breathing skill set. But through the app, we can.”

Park said Breathe2Relax was one of her favorite apps because it’s simple. “Sometimes simple gets the job done best,” she said. “Built-in feedback in the app helps patients self-adjust their tempo and rate of breathing so they can build their skills, learn, and practice what they learned on their own without having to rely on the provider.”

The Virtual Hope Box, or VHB, contains tools to help patients with coping, relaxation, distraction, and positive thinking. Patients and providers can work together to personalize the VHB with a variety of content – family photos, videos and recorded messages from loved ones, inspirational quotes, soothing music, reminders of past successes, or affirmations of self-worth.

The VHB has been downloaded more than 570,000 times, according to Park. “Really the power of the mobile app is it allows people to tap into resources at their fingertips and helps our service members and beneficiaries get to these evidence-based tools at all times, 24/7,” she said.

Clinical studies (Ethical and Legal Considerations; Smartphone Apps for Psychological Health; Cultural Considerations in Using Mobile Health) have confirmed the effectiveness of behavioral apps like Breathe2Relax and the VHB. In addition to the download rate, user feedback supports the effectiveness of the apps. One user of Breathe2Relax said, “I have an anxiety disorder and this helps me many times throughout the day take a step back and focus on breathing.” Another user said, “I had counselors in the past say I needed to breathe deeply and relax. I thought I already did and that I was a calm person. This app has shown me how to truly relax through breathing.”

Park sees technology’s potential in many other areas, such as for the management of chronic diseases, pre- and post-surgical care, wellness, and prevention. “DHA is at the forefront of integrating technology into clinical care, which is important because service members and their families face unique situational and mission-based stressors,” she said. “By having the option of these apps, they’re empowered to learn the skills needed even in the most austere deployment environment.”

Both Breathe2Relax and the Virtual Hope Box can be downloaded for free on Android and iOS devices.
Maternity Care for Women Veterans
VA maternity care coordinators help women Veterans navigate health care services
Women Veterans deserve and expect high-quality health care to address their needs, and in some cases their needs include deciding when motherhood is right for them. Whether women Veterans are looking to start a family or to prevent pregnancy, VA can help. 

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