About NJ Veteran Journal:
The New Jersey Veteran Journal is an official publication of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is intended to serve New Jersey's veterans, their families, friends and concerned individuals and groups. All correspondence should be sent to the editor at:
NJDMAVA, PAO-V, PO Box 340,
Trenton, NJ 08625-0340
Leaders Learn about Current Issues
Dwayne Honeycut, acting director of the regional Veterans
Affairs office in Newark spoke at the Leadership Call.
The news was good, funding for veterans programs is up both on the state and federal level, but the more than four dozen leaders of veteran’s service organizations were reminded to keep the discussion of benefits going in Trenton and Washington, DC.
“You are the big stick for the department,” said retired Col. Stephen G. Abel, Deputy Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, host of the semi-annual Veterans Senior Leadership Call on April 28.
The upcoming state budget, Governor Jon S. Corzine has proposed an additional $2.1 million for Department programs. The largest single increase is $1 million to assist the nation's newest veterans returning to the state after serving in the Global War on Terrorism.
A Yellow Ribbon panel is being formed by Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, The Adjutant General of New Jersey, to determine the best ways to use the funding to assist veterans. The panel will include epresentatives from various services, recent veterans, family members and health care professionals to name a few of the diverse group that will be involved in the planning process.
An additional $500,000 allocation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) counseling and outreach increases the total appropriation to $1.3 million. This level of funding helps to insure that the needs of veterans and their family members are properly and expeditiously accommodated.
The PTSD issue and concerns over Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has the federal Veterans Administration pushing forward to serve those veterans in need according to Dr. Michelle Stenfanelli of the Department of Veterans Affairs, N.J. Healthcare System. So far 74 TBI case have been dentified.
To insure proper care, case managers will be limited to 25 patients.
Meanwhile on the paperwork side of the federal VA, progress is being
made to reduce the inventory of claims said
“A year ago there were 5,600 pending claims now it is 4,300,” noted Honeycut as he spoke about the average number of claims waiting to be processed. The regional VA office would like to get the decision process down to the 160-day range, right now it takes 180 days to make a determination on a claim.
The balence of the Governor's funding increase, $600,000, will go to the New jersey Youth ChalleNGe program at Fort Dix. This program targets high-school dropouts, and offers them a chance to complete their high school education in an atmosphere that stresses sel-discipline, self-esteem and community service.
“Our kids need mentors and being a mentor is a way you can help,” said retired Col. Ken Prossick, Director, New Jersey Youth ChalleNGe Program, while addressing the assembled veteran leaders.
“We reclaim young high school dropout’s lives,” added Prossick as he talked about how 92 percent of the cadets graduated with a GED in the last year.
Besides the need for mentors, the Youth ChalleNGe Program is looking to attract prospective cadets from Hunterdon, Sussex, Morris and Cape May counties. Prossick asked the veterans to get the word out about the program that teaches leadership and life skills with a strong commitment to ommunity service.
During the open forum at the end of the Veteran Senior Leadership Call the question was posed by John LeGates of the Vietnam Veterans of American asking if the current egulations to award state medals could be changed to honor former New Jersey residents.
“They deserve the recognition and at times recognition can go a long way in healing your PTSD,” said LeGates. Currently you need to be a resident 50 percent of your life to qualify for burial at the Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle eterans Memorial Cemetery.
“Should we have the legislature enact that kind of rule when it comes to the Distinguished Service Medal and other service medals,” asked Abel to the crowd, who responded quickly with yes.
The department will draft legislation and look at the costs involved in providing medals to former New Jersey residents.
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