The American Veteran – Episode #1201


[MUSIC] HEINTZ: Hey everyone, thanks for joining us today.
In this episode, we’ll take you to a Brooklyn boxing ring, discuss the new
Forever G.I. Bill, and share with you stories of courage, and a final tribute. HUNTLEY: Known as the cathedral boxing, Gleason’s Gym has trained hundreds of champions.
Gleason’s is now partnering with VA to offer free adaptive training to Veterans. [MUSIC] WILLIAMS: It’s an escape. Escape from problems
maybe that affect me outside of the boxing gym. CAMILO: When I box, I feel like
I’m flowing. Like I soul leaves my body when I’m punching and I’m just looking
from above like, ‘okay you’re throwing the punch right.’ KRAEMER: You want something to keep
you going; you want your reflexes to demand your attention. I think that’s why
a lot of Veterans in general love different kinds of adrenaline therapy —
because it demands you to be in the now. [MUSIC] WILLIAMS: I’m sure a lot of vets get out they got
you know a lot of stuff they go through my stuff they might not talk about. GLASBERG: Many people have a connection to the raw instincts of boxing and learning those
trainings you get a feeling of wellness; feeling like you’re able to move your
hands and move your body in a productive way. [MUSIC] POWELL: Coming back into civilian life — the
transition, and trying to mesh in. sometimes it gets stressful. These combat
sports that the VA offers are a definite release. [MUSIC] CAMILO: I used to box in the
Army, and once I got out, I was like, depressed and, you know, I didn’t really
have that much friends, you know… And I saw this flyer, and I saw boxing. I said, ‘I’m
interested.’ [MUSIC] GLASBERG: There is a level of physicality in training for any military service; there’s a level of physicality in boxing training. So I think those two
really come together, and hit home for our Veterans. [MUSIC] MURRAY: If I chase them around the ring for 20 minutes, their hearts pumping, good cardiovascular work… after a couple of
weeks they really start getting in better shape. KRAEMER: For any Veteran to want to
come box over here, all you have to do is go to the VA — just get a script saying
that you’re good and you’re healthy enough to participate, and box. [MUSIC] GLASBERG: It’s called an
adaptive sports medical clearance, and once they have that clearance, that
clearance lasts for a full year, and they’re ready to get into the program. WILLIAMS: I can come here, I can unleash on the bag for a couple hours, then I can go home to my family. KRAEMER: I came in: frustrated; annoyed; confused;
I couldn’t concentrate, or I just felt scatterbrained… I usually always walk out the same. You leave with ultimate contentedness. CAMILO: When I walked in here, they made me feel at home. No one judged me. I felt like I was back in the unit again. KRAEMER: That camaraderie,
that’s what really makes it. You know, for me, that’s what really makes it. HUNTLEY: To learn
more about how you can take part in non-contact training with the
professionals at Gleason’s, visit VA adaptive sports at va.gov/adaptivesports HEINTZ: When natural disasters bring fear and
devastation, VA is there to respond by bringing critical services to
communities in need. Here’s a recent training exercise in Tampa. [MUSIC] VO: What we have, our
situation – 7.7 magnitude earthquake in the New Madrid fault area
in northern Mississippi. MAN: So, this is an example of a casualty receiving center,
or exercise, and it would be similar to what we might do after real events like
the earthquake in Haiti. WOMAN: My role is just to ensure that the staff and everybody responding is following safe procedures and just to ensure the safety of the entire crew. WOMAN: It’s a really good experience just to know, like, what could potentially happen in real life, so I’ve been really glad to be part of it and be
able to see the team work involved. [MUSIC] MAN: Typically one knee, and on the head count, we’ll lift. [NAT SOUND] And it’s straight up. Then of course I’ll tell you to move out
forward backwards whichever way you gotta go. [MUSIC] WOMAN: This exercise has opened our eyes to
the trauma and the psychological impact that the family members might be
experiencing trying to locate family members. [MUSIC] WOMAN: My responsibility is to scan the
patients as they come in so that we’ll be able to track them from the time of
their arrival, and make sure they get to the specific hospitals that they’re
being directed to. [MUSIC] MAN: Right now, we’re having our treatment and
triage teams working diligently to get all of the patients taken care of
before they’re transported off to the outside facilities. WOMAN: Came here, just as an
observer initially but I got to get pulled in as a patient transporter and
so, got to go on the plane, see a lot of the casualties, seen a lot of team work
here, and it’s been a really good experience. [MUSIC] MAN: That’s one of the biggest things about something like this, this is a good news story showing how we support the
community and support the nation at large, and we want the word to get out. HEINTZ: Even in the event of an emergency or natural disaster, VA continues to provide
services to our nation’s Veterans, and help our emergency response partners in
the community. To learn more visit BLOGS.VA.GOV When we come back…
WORLEY: The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, now being Forever… HEINTZ: The Forever G.I. Bill, and what’s in it for you. [MUSIC] GREG: My name is Greg Smollett. I served in the
United States Marine Corps. I did two combat deployments in support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom. When I first joined and I heard about the VA, to me
the VA was like if you got shot, I had no idea about all the other benefits, and
all that they do to help Veterans to be able to transition out successfully. LOUIS: These were taken it up at Edmonton. Probably, you were about three months old.
DAUGHTER: It’s nice to see you in your uniform. LOUIS: Well, when I came back from Vietnam I
weighed 98 pounds… I look like death warmed over. [MUSIC] LOUIS: A lot of these Veterans just don’t know
where to go when they get out of the service. I know when I got out, I got
a physical and they said goodbye, and you know, your retirement check starts
showing up but beyond that you don’t know. KEITHA: I used the G.I. Bill to get my
bachelor’s in criminal justice. I’ve used the G.I. Bill throughout, even for my
masters. And my children use my G.I. Bill for college, so they’re graduates and
debt-free. GREG: I was able to use the VA home loan two years ago to buy our home with
zero money down. I was amazed that there was so much in place to really help the
Veterans. And the VA serves as that catalyst for all those resources. LOUIS: The VA does a very good job on the medical side of it. I don’t know if anybody who’s been
in the VA system that has any complaints. My primary care doctor is probably the
best doctor I’ve ever had in my life. I could say that — I’ve got a daughter
who’s a doctor and let me tell you, this guy’s as good or better than my daughter. NURSE: Louis is my friend… good patient of mine… he only comes once a week… but I enjoy him . LOUIS: She comes in special… early in the morning… just for me. JAMES: The VA has been incredible to me. The
doctors, the therapists, everybody over there is amazing. You know, they helped me
with a adaptive equipment. Got a hand cycle, so that’s really helped me get out,
get exercise, be around Veterans, learn more, and it’s been great. Four years or
so, we’ve been able to do a lot out here, we have a monthly barbecue every fourth
Wednesday of the month, where we bring a lot of VA in-patients out. JAMES: There’s some
massage therapists in here so get on the list there, they’ll hook you up. They got
magic hands. She’s wonderful. JAMES: Having that kind of connection with the rec
therapist, it’s fortunate. They can bring, one-on-one, Veterans out here. sometimes you think all is lost you know I’ll never be able to do this again but, through meeting others and just getting them together, you know, it really does
wonders to, you know, see that you can do anything. So I’ve been very thankful
for everything they’ve done for me in our great partnership. KEITHA: The first time I
set foot in the VA, I literally left here feeling just so blessed. JAMES: There’s so many things that Vets just
get out, and they transition, they go, ‘oh, I don’t need that’, but in actuality, once
when they understand what’s available to them, their eyes are kind of open wide. LOUIS: I’m pushing 80 years of age. I get the best care I could get anywhere. BEVERLY: I choose VA because I am their top priority. As a Veteran, as a woman Veteran,
they put me and my health care first. LOUIS: That’s exactly why I choose VA. [MUSIC] HEINTZ: In 2017, the Forever G.I. Bill became law,
providing Veterans with expanded access to the education benefits they’ve earned.
I recently spoke with VA’s director of education services to learn more. HEINTZ: What are some of
the changes that the new Forever G.I. Bill offers? WORLEY: The Forever G.I. Bill is really the
most comprehensive set of updates and improvements to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.
The 15-year delimiting date as we call it, or expiration date for the use of
your Post 9/11 G.I. Bill has been eliminated. HEINTZ: For those who lost their
benefits due to a school closure, VA will restore those benefits…. so what are the
first steps that a Veteran needs to take to restore those benefits? WORLEY: Prior to the
Forever G.I. Bill, the VA didn’t have the legal authority to restore a student’s
entitlement should their schools shut down abruptly. The Colmery Act provides us
the authority, to go back and restore entitlement all the way back to January
of 2015, so if an individual was going to a school that closed down, we would be
able to restore whatever number of months of entitlement that they used
while they went to that school. So far we’ve restored, really over 5,800 months of entitlement to nearly 600 of our
beneficiaries that were impacted by school closure. HEINTZ: What are some of the STEM
programs that the new Forever G.I. Bill offers one of the great provisions in
the Forever G.I. Bill is the STEM scholarship. The STEM scholarship is a
way for those that are pursuing STEM degrees, to get nine more months of
entitlement, and up to $30,000 more toward that degree as part of the G.I.
Bill. And this is a provision that’s going to come into effect in 2019, so
there’ll be a lot more information coming out about that… about how to apply
and all that, but it’s again another great enhancement to the G.I. Bill. HEINTZ: How does the Forever G.I. Bill affect spouses and dependents? WORLEY: There are a
number of great provisions and enhancements for spouses and dependents
in the Forever G.I. Bill. First, when I would mention is the Fry
Scholarship. If you’re not familiar the Fry Scholarship, it’s where spouses and
children of those who have been killed in the line of duty received full Post
9/11 G.I. Bill benefits — 36 months, along with the housing, and the books stipend.
One of the great things about the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill is the service member can
transfer it to their spouse or their children before they exit the service. Sometimes, as we know, tragedy can happen, and one of the children that was a
recipient of those transferred benefits may pass away. So, with the Forever G.I. Bill, the individual can then give it to another qualified individual. HEINTZ: what are
some of the changes for the survivors and dependents Education Assistance
Program? I believe that’s called the DEA program… WORLEY: A couple of changes with DEA, and
that benefits the spouses and children of those who are permanently and totally
disabled, or who have died as a result of such a disability.
Prior to this law, an individual could earn 45-months of the benefit. That’s
been reduced to 36-months, but there’s another part of the law, effective in
October of this year, that increases the amount paid to each individual, depending on how on their rate of pursuit in their academic programs. So there’s an increase
in the amount of money, but there’s a decrease in the total number of months
allowed now. HEINTZ: So, are the survivors and dependents enrolling in the DEA program
getting fewer benefits? WORLEY: Well, it’s a trade-off… there are fewer months of benefits but they’re getting paid more while they’re going to school now. HEINTZ: Can you talk a little bit more about the technology programs that the Forever G.I. Bill is introducing? WORLEY: In addition to the STEM scholarship, which we talked about,
there’s a pilot program called… we’re calling it VET TECH, and this is a pilot
for five years, for $15 million a year where the VA will contract with
high-technology training providers — programs or training programs that are
not normally associated with G.I. Bill approval. And so, the VA will contract
with some number of these providers in order to provide high-technology
training for Veterans. And the beauty of this pilot program is,
you can get into this program and not have any of your G.I. Bill entitlement
charged to do it. It’s essentially above and beyond your G.I. Bill, and you get paid
housing while you’re doing it. HEINTZ: What about Purple Heart recipients — are
their benefits expanded? WORLEY: Purple Heart recipients deserve a special debt of gratitude from our nation. And the Colmery Act — Forever G.I. Bill — provides a
little bit of that to our Purple Heart recipients, and by providing them the
full G.I. Bill benefit — Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefit — regardless of how much time they
served. The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill is pretty much geared toward how much creditable
time of service you have. If you served three years of active duty, you’ll be
fully eligible at the 100% level. Anything less than that, then you’re
partially eligible. So, this just says to Purple Heart recipients, you were wounded
in battle; in recognition of that sacrifice that you made, you get the full
G.I. Bill from the get-go. HEINTZ: Are there certain tools and resources
that you would recommend to someone who would like to explore their education
benefits? WORLEY: On VETS.GOV there’s a host of information about the Forever G.I.Bill,
and we also have links to some of our applications for various pieces. HEINTZ: What would you say to a Veteran who hasn’t explored the education benefits that
they’re entitled to? WORLEY: The G.I. Bill comparison tool is a great tool to go to. We do that through our G.I. Bill website on VETS.GOV… it has just a wealth of
information about approved programs that are out there. It has all of all the G.I.
Bill approved programs, to include O.J.T.s and apprenticeships that one might want
to apply for. It talks about issues related to that school, whether they have a
Veterans organization on campus, whether they commit to the principles of
excellence, whether they have complaints against them. There are also many other tools out there for example, choosing a school
guide, on our website. Just kind of walks the individual through all the things
they should be thinking about as they decide on what kind of academic program
and school to go to. Things like: Is the school accredited? How is it accredited? Are
their articulation agreements? Meaning, will they be able to transfer their
credits if they happen to transfer out of that school to another school… if
you’re using your G.I. Bill benefits, go to VETS.GOV GI Bill Comparison Tool. And if
there’s any questions about it, they can either ask them through their website, or
call our call center at 888-GI-BILL-1 There’s just a lot of places to
go to get information and use those benefits wisely. HEINTZ: For the full interview
or to learn more about the Forever G.I. Bill, visit VAntage Point at BLOGS.VA.GOV When we come back, we’ll meet Army Veteran, Ardrina Bailey. An award-winning adaptive athlete. [MUSIC] [Children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance] MALE VETERAN: We grew up together we believed in
something bigger than ourselves. The military took me to one side of the
world, and her to the other. And even though she was always the strong one,
when we caught up years later, I found out she had fallen on some hard times. It
was her call to make, but doing it together made all the difference. POLICE OFFICER. When I
see homeless Vets on my route, I always think to myself, ‘we both swore an oath to
protect our way of life, to protect our community’ with VA hotlines for homeless
Vets, I can get them connected with help. Help to get them back on their feet
again. NARRATOR: VA’s round-the-clock hotline can put Veterans who are homeless in touch
with the resources and support they earned through their military service.
You have the power to help a Veteran facing homelessness. Go to VA.GOV/HOMELESS to print your wallet cards. For Veterans who are homeless, or on the
brink of homelessness, call 877-424-3838 [MUSIC] HUNTLEY: Welcome back to The American Veteran. Each year, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games presents the Spirit of the Games award to the Veteran who exemplifies athletic achievement,
leadership, and support of their fellow Veterans. Let’s meet this year’s winner… BAILEY: OK, this is a good one… OK, OK, this one was in…
Oh June 1977. My maiden name is Sutton. Ardrena Sutton. OK? [MUSIC] BAILEY: I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis
in 1990. November 1990. As my disability increased, I was still mentally confident,
but I became depressed. [MUSIC] It was very hard for me. And I started to go to the VA
hospital where I had a lot of support. I really started getting involved in this
wheelchair games. It gave me a sense of well-being, it made me feel like I was I could do more than what I could do because, when you go to the games and you
see 90% of people in wheelchairs, you’re not alone. VIRZI: Watching Ardrena compete is so cool…
it’s so funny because she’s, you know, the most outgoing, smiley person you’ll ever meet, but once she gets out on the Boccia court,
it’s all business. Her face turns to steel and she’s there to win. [MUSIC] BAILEY: VA has made an attempt to, once a Veteran comes out, to keep them busy, to keep their minds
from becoming stagnant, you know, keep them alert, they keep them out of
depression… [MUSIC] if I didn’t do sports… you know, I’m not physically fit but,
if I didn’t have this to keep me going, I couldn’t make it. You know, with MS and
any debilitating illness, if you don’t have something to keep you going or
motivated — you lose it. You lose everything. So, the little bit I do, it’s a lot. HUNTLEY: Adrena credit sports with given her
moral and mental stability, keeping her busy and moving forward. The 2018
National Veterans Wheelchair Games will be in Orlando Florida, July 30th through
August 4. To learn more about the Wheelchair Games, visit WHEELCHAIRGAMES.ORG HEINTZ: Navy Firemen First Class, Charles Ogle,
was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Unidentified F1C Ogle was interred in a mass grave at the National Memorial
Cemetery of the Pacific until years later, when his remains were identified
using DNA analysis. Last month, F1C Ogle finally came home. [MUSIC] PHILLIPS: It’s vitally important, not only for us today, but those of the past and those of the future, that understand the sacrifice that this gentleman made on Seven December 1941. President Roosevelt said it was a day that will live in infamy. [MUSIC] REEVES: Even 76 years later, we grieve. But as we grieve, we also rejoice. We rejoice in the freedom that was provided, and continues to be provided, for us. [MUSIC] Fireman First Class Ogle was only 20-years-old whenever he was taken from this earth, when his ship was torpedoed
and capsized at Pearl Harbor. We can only imagine the life that he would have been
able to live, had that not happened. We’ll continue to make sure that his name is spoken; that his story is told; we will make sure that he lives forever and is
remembered for his sacrifice to this country. PHILLIPS: It is coming home. Everybody
knows that Mr. Ogle was from Missouri, and so the opportunity to repatriate his
remains right here at Jefferson Barracks was a tremendous honor
for the people here, that serve here. We get to serve Veterans every day, and to have
somebody of his stature, who was killed in action during Pearl Harbor, is tremendous honor. [MUSIC] HEINTZ: VA has partnered with the
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to identify all USS Oklahoma casualties interred at the
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. To learn more, visit BLOGS.VA.GOV HUNTLEY: That’s it for this edition of
The American Veteran. We’re honored to bring these stories to you. HEINTZ: These stories and more can be found
online at VA’s blog, VAntage Point. visit us at BLOGS.VA.GOV for more
stories from the Veteran community. HUNTLEY: Check out the Veterans channel on the DefenseTV app, and please follow our social media channels. HENITZ: And subscribe to our podcast,
Borne the Battle. Available in your App Store. HUNTLEY: Thanks for watching — see you next time. [MUSIC] For more information, visit BLOGS.VA.GOV [END]

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