TITUSVILLE — There has been another change of the number for getting rides from the Disabled American Veterans at Meadville.

You must call the Erie Veterans Affairs office at (814) 868-8661, or toll free at (800) 274-8387, and when you hear the recording, push 6603.

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Last week, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on pending legislation.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Legislative Service Director Patrick Murray testified on the VFW’s top legislative priority of toxic exposure. He stressed the importance of combining the best pieces of each bill to cover as many veterans as possible.

“Since we seem to expose nearly 100 percent of our troops to hazardous substances and environments, it is entirely unreasonable that almost 75 percent of them have their claims denied for exposure. It is time we establish a new framework to take care of veterans who were exposed to hazards both foreign and domestic, now and in the future,” Murray said.

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Veterans who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic now have the opportunity for education or training for high-demand jobs with the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP).

Veterans can use VRAPP for assistance with programs approved under the GI Bill and Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses to include associate degrees, non-college degrees and certificate programs.

If eligible, veterans can receive up to 12 months of tuition and fees, and a monthly housing allowance based on post-9/11 GI Bill rates.

VRRAP will stop making payments on Dec. 11, 2022, or when the funding limit or the participant limit is reached.

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Veterans can now access all their U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and services through one website, VA.gov.

All the functions previously found on e-benefits are now available on the new website; however, e-benefits will remain functional until March 31, 2022.

According to VA, the site usability and security has been improved, especially with the addition of two-factor authentication. Veterans are encouraged to log on and explore the new site.

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To spotlight mental health in May, the VA is sharing 10 ideas to help improve mental health and overall well-being.

The VA encourages veterans to use one or more of these ideas to bring about a better quality of life. Veterans can find more mental health resources online.

Caregivers can connect with VA mental health resources by contacting the Caregiver Support Line at (855) 260-3284. For any veteran in crisis, you are not alone. You can contact the Veteran Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255 and press 1.

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Here is this week’s prisoner of war and missing in action update:

• Army Cpl. Henry L. Helms, 24, of Collbran, Alabama, was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservor. Helms will be buried May 22 in Ringgold, Georgia.

Charlie Castelluccio, a Titusville resident, is chaplain of northwest Pennsylvania’s 28th District of Veterans of Foreign Wars and is a member of Titusville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5958.

 

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