PSA: All Veterans Now Have Shopping Benefits!

 

My friends – this new benefit development is huge.  Now any veterans can use all the shopping and discount travel benefits that only Active Duty and Retired members could use before this passed… I urge any veteran or caregiver to look into this immediately.

As always if you have any question I can be reached at rkohberger@gmail.com.

Reed

According to the Department of Defense, starting Jan. 1, 2020, all service-connected Veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war (POW), and individuals approved and designated as the primary family caregivers of eligible Veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) can use commissaries, exchanges, and morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) retail facilities, in-person and online.

For more information regarding these privileges and access to military installations, visit http://www.militaryonesource.mil/expanding-access

Who is eligible Jan. 1, 2020?

  • Veterans
    • Purple Heart recipients
    • former prisoners of war
    • Veterans with 0-90% service-connected disability ratings

(For former service members who have not yet sought disability compensation from VA, visit https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/)

  • Medal of Honor recipients and Veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings are already eligible under existing DOD policy.
  • Caregivers
    • On Jan. 1, individuals approved and designated as the primary family caregiver of an eligible veteran under the PCAFC will be eligible for these privileges.
    • For information about primary family caregivers in the PCAFC, visit https://www.caregiver.va.gov/.

Required credentials.

  • Veterans
    • On Jan. 1, Veterans eligible solely under this act who are eligible to obtain a Veteran Health Identification Card must use this credential for in-person installation and privilege access. The card must display the Veteran’s eligibility status (i.e., PURPLE HEART, FORMER POW or SERVICE CONNECTED). Apply here:  https://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vhic/index.asp.
    • Veterans eligible solely under this act who are not enrolled in or are not eligible to enroll in VA health care, or who are enrolled in VA health care, but do not possess a Veteran Health Identification Card will not have access to DoD and Coast Guard installations for in-person commissary, exchange, and MWR retail privileges, but will have full access to online exchanges and American Forces Travel.
    • Medal of Honor recipients and Veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings are eligible for DoD credentials under DoD policy.
  • Caregivers
    • Eligible caregivers will receive an eligibility letter from VA’s Office of Community Care.
    • If you are a primary family caregiver under the PCAFC and lose your eligibility letter, please call 1-877-733-7927 to request a replacement.  Please allow two weeks for processing.

Find out more about military resale privileges.

Something To Chew On…

I received a letter from an old friend who is, and has been for years, closely associated with both the Pitt administration and the athletic department – here are some of his views on Pitt football and its current position.  These are very well informed thoughts and opinions and, I believe, right on the mark as it echoes conversations I have had in the past with my contacts about the future of Pitt football.  Some of this is surely controversial but should make for good discussions.

“I’m really afraid that Pitt’s football program may run out of options in the next ten years if that.  The administration with the strong support of Lyke wants football to succeed but there are issues that need to be addressed:

1.  ACC money will grow during the next five years for sure but then what will happen as media contracts will coincide with dropping cable and satellite subscriptions; broadcast media has declined to less than half what it was 20 years ago; and streaming is the growth area.

2.  Heinz Stadium is fine and saved Pitt football which couldn’t argue for Pitt Stadium renovations but that 30 year lease now requires making decisions for the future.  Meanwhile even NFL attendance is declining as is college football attendance, so what decisions need to be made to renovate, reduce, and provide both sufficient parking and other amenities.  Does anyone really expect Pitt to be a major player in those decisions? Does anyone really think the Steelers alone can force the Stadium Sports Authorities to pay more without the argument that Pitt also is dependent on Heinz Field?  The Rooney Family does not own Heinz Field but are very influential.

3.  Pitt’s salaries for head coach and assistants have risen to acceptable grade now as a Power 5 program.  But the national powers such as PSU, Clemson, LSU, Alabama, Ohio State etc.  are raising salaries at a prodigious rate.  Pitt can’t and won’t ever exceed $4.5 million for a head coach.

Considering that Franklin was $5.6 million a year and now has a sizable increase to probably near $7.5 million a year in the new contract, Pitt cannot keep pace! What this means is that Pitt will never be competitive with top programs as the alumni and fan support is not there.  It is more likely that another shakeup of conferences is on the horizon.

4.  Pittsburgh and Western PA has changed forever!  No longer a heavy manufacturing mecca, the area has seen increased hard times for the small towns and budgets.  Football and other extracurricular activities are suffering so the backyard recruiting is diminishing along with the population.  So with so many other programs raiding for those fewer and fewer top athletes, how does Pitt compete?

Pitt lost any local media attention by 1990 so Pitt is just perceived as another program but not a glamorous one.  When local establishments won’t even consider showing a Pitt game, how can Pitt succeed? Pitt, its alumni, and whatever number of fans can’t seem to mobilize to pressure businesses to carry games or even to improve game attendance.

5.  Where did Pitt error in the recent times? Pitt failed immensely in not recognizing the changing landscape of college football from 1986 through the conference expansions.  Now Pitt is in a southern dominated conference that treats Pitt, Syracuse, and BC like waifs at the table.  These three programs were probably added solely for their basketball additions to a powerful basketball conference.  Hmmm, shades of the old Big East!

To date none of these three have been shown much respect or even acceptance by the ACC’s Carolinas-Florida axis.

Oh how Pitt might have benefited from getting into the Big10.  Currently I would not be surprised if Pitt finds itself looking at membership in an AAC-MAC merged conference or simply dropping football within ten years. “

Have at it my friends… 

Reed

Veterans Day 2019 PSA

My good friends. Mike was gracious to allow me some space to share some Veterans Day info with you – and hopefully you will share these bits with anyone you know who is a veteran themselves.

I was asked to be the keynote speaker for three separate Veterans Day ceremonies this last week – I put together a not-too-long speech for those gatherings and it is posted below – I’ve delivered it two times in the last three days and will once more tomorrow at a rather large gathering – its been pretty well received so far (fingers crossed for the last one).  Here is the speech and one of the flyers:

You can tell I got pretty choked up at the end there – this stuff hits home hard sometimes.

Vet 1

Vet 2.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are tons of opportunities for anyone who wants to get involved with volunteering with Veterans issues and  with today’s military. Currently I’m working with two different hospices to provide ‘End of Life Recognition” ceremonies. That entails going to hospices, hospitals or the veterans’ home, wherever they are spending their last days, and presenting him or her with a certificate of recognition for their military service. I try to find out as much as I can about what they did in-service then I take time to have a honest conversation, thank them formally, pin a special service medal on them then give them a last salute.  So far I’ve done 33 of those this year.  Our WWII vets are almost all gone now so we are scrambling around to find those who we can help.

I also work with local homeless shelters and we beat the woods to find veterans who may qualify for VA benefits they either don’t know about or are scared to pursue.  Sadly there are many out there – here in Howard County, MD alone I’ve worked as a liaison between the Disabled American Veterans ( DAV – a great place to start the process) and 12 homeless veterans to get them VA Disability benefits – two of those Vets had families living in tents with them. Now they all have at least enough money to get a place to live and feed themselves.  There are more out there in every part of the US – we just have to find them and get them what they deserve.

The reason I go into detail above about these efforts is to show that in just this small part of our country there are many, many vets who need help… and those are just two of many ways to do so.

I guess you can see why I’ve been really too busy to enjoy and talk about football much …but how about those Panthers, huh! We could see our first nine win season in some time and kudos to the staff and players. I’ll have to watch the NC game on Thursday. (I’d get Patti into the mix big time in Spring Drills though).

As always I strongly encourage all Veterans to go onto the Veterans Administration website and create an account so you can start accessing ALL of your benefits.  As always if anyone has any questions whatsoever please get in touch with me at rkohberger@gmail.com  and we’ll discuss your situation and I’ll work my ass off get you or whoever you know the help they need. Nothing is more important.

Please don’t think asking for help is in any way a sign of weakness or receiving some sort of charity – nothing is further than the truth.  These are benefits you both earned and paid your taxes into – if you qualify for it then it is yours to have. Again, if you have any doubts whatsoever and contact me. I myself have a severe case of PTSD from my years in Search and Rescue (it’s great when you find them and pure Hell when you don’t) and it is nothing at all to be ashamed of.

Here are a few links to get  you or someone you know started – first I suggest every person who served in the military for any length  of time to create account an on VA.Gov and get a hard copy of their DD-214 Discharge Papers. Once that is in hand we can move forward. Here are some VA links to help get you informed:

PSAs For Our Veterans & Families

When I was I Pittsburgh last winter I looked into this organization because I wanted to see what sort of Veteran’s’ programs were available in Western PA. This is a gem of a place – The Veterans Leadership Program of Western PennsylvaniaIt is top shelf stuff all around and I urge veterans, along with family members, to reach out and participate – there are volunteer opportunities all over the place.  Here is one I’ve found that I might drive up to PGH for. This place allows you to both help others and receive help as needed. Good stuff…

Hey, the Pitt game is at Duke that day so you can always listen  to the Panthers on the radio as you give others a leg up!

Veterans Stand Down.JPG

Another valuable website for local WPA Veterans and their families is the Allegheny County Health Department website – Service Members, Veterans and their Families.

Vets Allegheny.JPG

Here are a couple of interesting items for veterans and their families in my local Maryland area. First is a Veterans and Active Duty Writing Workshop at our branch library in Ellicott City, MD – it runs six consecutive Tuesdays evenings. This is a great way to get a bit out of our normal routine and spread our  intellectual wings. I’m taking it even with the writing experience I already have.

Vet Writing

The next is a more focused and shorter event – a Resume Writing class also at our library…

Veterans Resume

I taught one of these last year at a different County library  system and realized a very important thing – even veterans who have been in the workforce for many years and are looking to move up in their profession usually have no idea how to tie their military service and experiences to their profession’s  requirements and then couch that in understandable terms so that it separates them from someone without that experience.

Remember that you did things that most other never did. One is that you volunteered to serve your country – you stood up as others stood by.  Second, you were ready for orders to go and to execute missions anywhere in the world in a matter of days (and sometimes only hours). Right there are two things most people never experience or succeed at – brag about it!

As always please reach out to me for any info you may need – I will drop what I’m doing to help right away – it is that important to me and to you.

Best and HTP!

LCDR Reed Kohberger, USCG, Ret

rkohberger@gmail.com

Great News for a True Pitt Fan!

Fellow POVerts:

Some time ago, Commander Reed was kind enough to post a request to the POV community on my behalf. I have a kidney disorder that has resulted in my being placed on a national list for a transplant, and the post was a plea to help me locate a donor.

At that time and since then, I have received an outpouring of support from the POV community. Although no POVer was able to give me their kidney (seeing some of you at Fran’s Tailgates, that’s maybe a good thing), I heard from many of you. And you should all know that I appreciate every call, email and text. 

I want to thank everyone who reached out to me, and special thanks specifically to UPitt, Big B, Ike, Fran and Joe L. And of course to Reed, for posting my original plea for help.

I’m happy (and relieved) to let you all know that my transplant surgery is scheduled for September 10. Please note that this will enable me to attend at least one Fran and Friends tailgate. 

Unfortunately this prevents me from attending the Pitt-PSU game.  Not sure if that’s a bad thing, really. I’ll be watching either from a hospital bed or god willing, from home.

Hail to Pitt. Looking forward to seeing many of you on August 31 when we crush the Hoos.

Eric (MissingWlat)

POV PSA: Great Veterans Shopping Benefits

POV PSA: Great Veterans Shopping Benefits

A while back the Armed Forces Exchange Services (their shopping venues) opened up the ability for any person who was Honorably Discharged from any branch to shop at their online exchange.  This is regardless of how much time the beneficiary served – years, months or even days – as long as they had been awarded a honorable discharge.

It used to be allowed for only Active Duty members, military Retirees or Disabled Veterans but that has changed.

This is a huge benefit because the Exchange system is mandated by law to sell their wares at Cost + 5% overhead pricing.  Plus there is no tax levied on purchases no matter how big the sale is.  That right there saves a ton of money on large buys.

Here is the website with the detailed information:

https://www.shopmyexchange.com/veterans

I hope readers share this info with anyone you know who served honorably no matter what the age. It is a fantastic benefit to have – but note it applies only to online shopping, not the brick and mortar Exchanges on the military bases.

I’m posting this because in my work with veterans I have found almost no one knows about this even though it was put into place back in 2017.  Here is a letter explaining this.

Thanks guys and HTP!

Reed