VA Burial Benefits S. 4511, Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020

VA Burial Benefits S. 4511, Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020

Veterans Families Get Modest Increases

Recently passed, the Moran Act holds many Veterans benefits increases. S. 4511 was incorporated and enacted when President Trump signed it into law in October, 2020. “Its past time for the other victims of Veteran suicide to get some more substancial aid from the VA.” says Dave Barbush, CEO of Once A Soldier. “Veteran suicide is reinforced as the VA top priority in S. 4511. We would like to have seen some more creative and valuable support for Veterans suicide families.”

PTSD was also given a priority and help for Veterans suffering from it are now fingered out into more of America’s heartland. Places where the VA can’t reach, or don’t want to be reached, are now in view and hopefully this $174 million infusion will help suicide prevention. There is nothing in S. 4511, Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020 for postvention. Congress needs to create a new loan program ala the GI Bill only for Veterans suicide families to borrow up to $5,000 to bury their Veteran with pride and dignity.

soldier rests

Veteran suicide is on the rise ever since we started tracking it in 2016. Prevention fails approximately 22 times a day.

S. 4511, Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020 for Burial Benefits

Veteran suicide is on the rise ever since we started tracking it in 2016. Prevention fails approximately 22 times a day. What the new burial benefits don’t keep pace with is the dollar amount awarded as benefits. They continue to fall way short. If these increases are any indication of how much our legislators think of postvention support for the families of Veterans suicide, then it is going to be a hard road to travel indeed.

 

Burial Benefits. 

 

Several sections of S. 4511 would increase burial and death benefits for

veterans. The changes in those benefits, which are paid from mandatory appropriations,

would increase direct spending by $444 million over the 2021-2030 period.

 

Death Benefit. 

 

Section 202 would increase VA’s standard death benefit beginning in 2023.

 

Under current law, VA pays the surviving family of eligible veterans a monetary benefit to cover funeral and other expenses. The amount of the payment depends on whether theveteran was hospitalized by VA at the time of death, and whether the veteran died from a service-related condition. The standard VA death benefit is $300 for veterans who were not hospitalized by VA at the time of their death and whose death was not the result of service related conditions. The bill would increase that amount to equal the rate for veterans who were hospitalized by VA at the time of death, currently $796. 

Under section 202, that amount would increase with inflation each year. Using information from VA, CBO estimates that about 39,000 veteran families would receive $855 in 2023, an increase of $555. That gap compared to the current benefit would continue to grow, and CBO estimates that by 2030 an additional 46,000 families would receive an additional $700. In total, CBO estimates section 202 would increase direct spending by $212 million over the 2021-2030 period.

 

Outer Burial Receptacles

Section 203 would allow VA to pay the cost of an outer burial receptacle, such as a crypt or grave liner, for casketed burials that occur in state or tribal cemeteries. VA would begin providing that benefit in 2023. An outer burial receptacle is a container that is designed to protect the casket in the grave. Under current law, VA only provides outer burial receptacles for casketed burials in national veterans’ cemeteries. Using information from VA on the number of burials in state and tribal cemeteries and the cost of outer burial receptacles, CBO estimates that VA would provide an average of 12,400 additional outer burial receptacles per year at an average cost of $850, beginning in 2023. In total, CBO estimates providing outer burial receptacles for casketed burials in state and tribal cemeteries would increase direct spending by $88 million over the 2021-2030 period.

 

Burial Urns and Plaques. 

VA provides headstones or grave markers for veterans who are interred in cemeteries. The department does not provide those benefits for veterans who are not interred in cemeteries. Section 207 would require VA to provide an urn or memorial plaque for those veterans upon the request of their families. Veterans who served on or after April 6, 1917, and who otherwise were eligible for burial would be eligible for the new benefit. That change would be effective beginning in 2023.

 

CBO Cost 

Estimate S. 4511, as ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

On the basis of information from VA about the number of headstones and markers providedannually, as well as data on burial and cremation trends, CBO estimates that in 2023 about 48,000 eligible families would request an urn or plaque under the bill. Under current law, CBO expects that those families would forgo requesting a headstone or grave marker because they would either retain the remains or scatter them. CBO estimates that 24,000 families would choose an urn and an equal number would choose a plaque. Because the percentage of people choosing cremation is expected to increase, CBO estimates that the number of urns and plaques also would rise—to 28,000 each by 2030.

Under the bill, the families of some veterans who will have died before the bill is enacted could also request urns or plaques. Using information from VA and data on trends in burials and cremations, CBO estimates 86,000 families would request urns, and 203,000 would request plaques over the 2023-2026 period for veterans who die before the date of enactment.

Over the 2021-2030 period, CBO estimates, 294,000 urns would be provided at an average cost of $175 each, and 410,000 plaques would be provided at an average cost of $59 each. In total, those urns and plaques would cost $76 million, CBO estimates.

Implementing section 207 would also affect discretionary spending. 

Transportation to State and Tribal Cemeteries.

Under current law, VA may pay the costs for transporting the remains of deceased veterans to the nearest national cemetery. Section 201 would allow VA to pay for the costs of transporting the remains of deceased veterans to state or tribal cemeteries, up to the amount it would cost to transport those remains to the nearest national cemetery. That change would be effective beginning in 2023.

On the basis of information from VA on the number of remains that receive the transportation benefit fromVA to national cemeteries, and the number of burials in state and tribal cemeteries, CBO  estimates an average of 11,000 additional veteran remains would have transportation costs covered by VA annually beginning in 2023. Using information on the average cost to provide transportation for deceased veterans to national cemeteries, CBO estimates transporting a veteran’s remains to state and tribal cemeteries will cost an averageof $710 beginning in 2023. In total, CBO estimates that the cost of transporting the remains of deceased veterans to state and tribal cemeteries would increase direct spending by $61 million over the 2021-2030 period.

Headstone Inscriptions.

Under current law, VA will inscribe on or replace, upon request, a veteran’s government-provided headstone or gravesite marker that is located in a national cemetery in order to include information about the veteran’s spouse or dependent children following the spouse’s or child’s death. Section 204 would allow VA to replace any headstones or gravesite markers it has provided for veterans, regardless of the type cemetery in which they are located. That new benefit would be available to veterans who die after October 1, 2019.

On the basis of information from VA on the number of headstones provided for veterans buried each year in non-VA cemeteries, as well as other demographic information such as marriage and mortality rates for veterans, CBO estimates that about 3,000 deceased veterans would be eligible for replacement headstones in 2021 as a result of the death of a spouse or dependent child.

Using data from VA, CBO estimates that the families of 25 percent of those veterans—about 750—would request replacement headstones. The number of eligible veterans would increase to about 24,000 by 2030, with about 6,000 families requesting replacement headstones in that year. In total, VA would replace about 31,000 additional headstones over the 2021-2030 period, at an average cost of about $230 per headstone. In total, replacing those headstones would cost $7 million, CBO estimates.

 

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. Together, we will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

Postvention Veteran Suicide To-Do Checklist

Postvention Veteran Suicide To-Do Checklist

How To Manage the Minutes and Hours After a Veteran Suicide

Postvention is what called after veteran suicide prevention fails. This failure is usually discovered by a family member. Natural reactions such as shock and the fight or flight response kick in. Once the initial shock simmers, other less natural reactions take over. The urge to call the police, the EMTs and then a funeral home. But what is really happening in those calls will set the course for the rest of the burial process. And they may not be in your best interest. This checklist for what to do after a veteran suicide is one of our most effective tools in limiting the scars of a veteran suicide. See why we’ve chosen this as our mission.

Coroner or Medical Examiner  – make sure you tell them that your loved one was a Veteran. The VA Report on Military Suicides needs better information next time they update it. This will help.

Did they have a PTSD or depression diagnosis? Request that they put that on the death certificate.

Don’t Rush to a Funeral Home – Coroners or Medical Examiners will hold the body for up to 2 months. Once you pick a funeral home and whether to cremate or not, you’re locked into their service or pay a large transfer fee. We have experience in negotiation on your behalf.

Funeral Homes – Not a good fit for families we talk to. Professional but expensive. They’re also cash and carry – some won’t let you see your loved one until their bill is paid-in-full.

Life Insurance Payouts – Most funeral homes will offer to act as a holding/transfer agent for you with the insurance company. They will subtract their fees for your service out of yourmoney. Ask if they charge for that. Don’t like their answer? Contact your agent directly. Their response times can vary significantly.

Biohazard Clean Up – Homeowners insurance may be able to pay or repay the biohazard clean up costs. Landlords or management companies may also have this insurance.

Funeral Homes – Can be helpful, but they are in business to make as much money as possible no matter the circumstances. They should be able to connect with a crematorium if they don’t have one on-site or locally. Many don’t offer that service on-site

Direct Cremations – “A direct cremation all included” is exactly what you should ask for. It is the most affordable service with ashes delivered in one or more urns. Urns start at $75.

Other Financial Resources

County Social Services – Every county in America has a social services office. Call them. They often can help with reasonable funerals, psychadelic.

Local Military Nonprofits – Start with the branch related to your Veteran served. 

Local Faith-Based Outreach Groups

TD Foundation
www.TDFoundation.org

They grant modest financial aid like us, and they focus on children’s needs, so reaching out to them if you have kids may turn out good. Check out their website and you want to talk to Tom Deierlein – Co-Founder.

Military Aid Society offers grants and loans interest free to retired Veterans. There are two main MASs.

Army Emergency Relief (AER)
7117 Baltzell Ave. Bldg. 7
Ft. Benning, GA
(706) 545-4043 

Contact: Lionel Grant – Military Aid Society

Navy and Marines
There is an equivalent and that information is coming soon.

Go Fund Me – Consider starting a Go Fund Me page. Other families have had success here. Hit or miss but definitely worth the time invested.

Emotional Healing

Your emotional healing may never be complete, but on our site we offer free and drug-free ways to clear your mind and find some peace. Here are some links below to get you started and feel free to roam our blog and the rest of our site for anything that may help.

Click here for PTSD and depression options.

David Lynch Foundation Resilient Warrior Program for learning Transcendental Meditation. 4 in-person lesson. They are currently revising this program during the pandemic.

TAPS.ORG – they are the largest in the nation and it may take a while to hear back from them.

The WATCH Program at 22 Kill – this is a newer program that is similar to Taps’ networking opportunities.

Please feel free to stay in touch in any way that makes you feel better. 

May you find the peace you deserve.

Can One Single Dose Of Magic Mushrooms Be A PTSD-Killer?

Can One Single Dose Of Magic Mushrooms Be A PTSD-Killer?

More Research Findings in Favor of Magic Mushrooms

They didn’t have PTSD and they are not Veterans, but Native American tribes and Mexican tribes have known the secret of how to kill PTSD for years. Small groups online, and in real life, also know. Once A Soldier advocates that it is time to shine a bright and clear light on this hidden gem of a secret. Magic mushrooms grow naturally all around us and has “magical” effects on rewiring your brain. It’s not secret that current PTSD and veteran suicide prevention methods are working. Magic mushrooms are extremely effective in treated those with mental health issues.

Veterans with PTSD who are killing themselves need fast-tracked access and locally-supplied sources. Once A Soldier believes that magic mushrooms, when microdosed, can kill PTSD. Many Veterans agree as our recent blog post confirms.

magic mental health mushroom

Psilocybin — the active component in so-called “magic” mushrooms — has been shown to have profound and long-lasting effects on personality and mood. But the mechanisms behind these effects remain unclear. Researchers at Copenhagen University were interested in whether changes in neuroplasticity in brain regions associated with emotional processing could help explain psilocybin’s antidepressant effects.

Here is the abstract from their published research findings. No, I don’t understand much of it either, that’s why we include the link to the research paper itself, as well as a link to the more consumer-friendly online article. 

“A single dose of psilocybin, a psychedelic and serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR) agonist, may be associated with antidepressant effects. The mechanism behind its antidepressive action is unknown but could be linked to increased synaptogenesis and down-regulation of cerebral 5-HT2AR. Here, we investigate if a single psychedelic dose of psilocybin changes synaptic vesicle protein 2A (SV2A) and 5-HT2AR density in the pig brain. Twenty-four awake pigs received either 0.08 mg/kg psilocybin or saline intravenously. Twelve pigs (n = 6/intervention) were euthanized one day post-injection, while the remaining twelve pigs were euthanized seven days post-injection (n = 6/intervention). We performed autoradiography on hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC) sections with [3H]UCB-J (SV2A), [3H]MDL100907 (5-HT2AR antagonist) and [3H]Cimbi-36 (5-HT2AR agonist). One day post psilocybin injection, we observed 4.42% higher hippocampal SV2A density and lowered hippocampal and PFC 5-HT2AR density (−15.21% to −50.19%). These differences were statistically significant in the hippocampus for all radioligands and in the PFC for [3H]Cimbi-36 only. Seven days post-intervention, there was still significantly higher SV2A density in the hippocampus (+9.24%) and the PFC (+6.10%), whereas there were no longer any differences in 5-HT2AR density. Our findings suggest that psilocybin causes increased persistent synaptogenesis and an acute decrease in 5-HT2AR density, which may play a role in psilocybin’s antidepressive effects.”

What Veterans Say About Magic Mushrooms 

“I actually use CBD gummies to help me sleep and CBD lotion on my shoulder where I was wounded. It works so damn well. The gummies are amazing. I don’t have to take my Prazosin anymore and the massage oils and lotion I use works wonders on my shoulder and my ankle I broke 6 years ago. I’m not a pothead by any means but marijuana as a whole has changed my life and bettered it. I don’t have to eat opiates like I used to and I don’t have to get fucked up to make it work. I do smoke a bit but just when I need a boost to help me eat when I’m having a bad day. It is literally a medicine to me. Fuck big pharma.”

“Mushrooms saved my life.”

“People have this misconception that trips are all about having fun, giggling and laughing, etc. It can be. Personally, I hate tripping. It’s uncomfortable, I feel like shit, I get sick, and it’s terrifying. That being said, I’m able to work some shit out that I otherwise couldn’t have. I only touch that shit when I’m not doing great emotionally and need a reset.”

“I do microdose on occasion. Nothing more than 0.3 of a gram. Maybe once a month. I cannot notice any effects except that my aggression seems to be mitigated. People that use them to trip are just out for a good time and all this negative press of them have severely hampered the acceptance and research of hallucinogens as a medication.”

“Yeah, I did that for a while as well. Really helped with my anxiety, but when I went in on a few grams, I stopped having anxiety and panic attacks completely after the fact.

It’s worth mentioning that that particular experience was terrifying as fuck, extremely uncomfortable, and exhausting and I haven’t touched them since simply because I haven’t needed to.”

“That’s how you know they work and are non-addictive. There’s this great natural organism we can consume to help us, but it’s also illegal. If one dose can cure you and you never feel the need to take it again, where’s the money?”

Psychelics Glossary

Psychedelics, also known as psychedelic drugs, hallucinogens, or hallucinogenic drugs are chemical substances that induce hallucinations and other sensory disturbances.

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

Links for More Information:

 

Rutherford PAWS Act Helps K9s For Warriors Charity

Rutherford PAWS Act Helps K9s For Warriors Charity

Congressman Hopes To Deal With PTSD, Veteran Suicide and K9s For Warriors

On the heels of the 2020 Moran Act appropriating funds anew for PTSD veteran services organizations, Congressman John Rutherford (R-FL-04), announced the reintroduction of H.R. 1022, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2021, which will increase access to Service Dogs, like those supplied by K9s For Warriors, for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Rutherford’s PAWS Act, previously killed because there is not evidence from the VA research that shows they stop PTSD, establishes a competitive grant program through the Department of Veterans Affairs for organizations to pair service dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD. Rutherford and Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH-01), Michael Waltz (R-FL-06), Al Lawson (D-FL-05), and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) continue to push forward for Veterans and their families living and dying with PTSD.

soldier rests

Service dogs are just one arrow in the quiver to fight PTSD.

K9s For Warriors Service Dogs Are Useful, Cute & Expensive

Ponte Vedra’s K9s for Warriors charity is committed to meeting the demand of veterans for service dogs. They rescue dogs to rescue veterans and they are expanding and need your help to complete the Mega Kennel and reduce the wait time for a service dog. Donate.

Why do they need a mega kennel? The average cost to breed, train, house, feed and transfer a PTSD service dog runs between $20,000 to $60,000. The veteran who will receive the dog also needs to be screened for a match and then trained once he is “given” his service dog. Once they become an owner, they have to budget for the annual costs that any dog owner must expect. Click here if you’d like to get on a list for a dog.

Once A Soldier’s stand remains the same as it was in the past. Hearing veteran suicide stories from the survivors motivates us to say that anything stopping a Veteran from throwing his family into the downward spiral after a suicide is great. More of it at any cost. We can afford wars and companies profit from it, so we can afford whatever it takes for Veterans. However, reintroducing the PAWS Act falls into the category of lazy legislation. We wish it a speedy journey from bill into law, but don’t support it. Prevention is not working with the weapons  we have now. More of the same if not enough. 

Congressional Bills Don’t Speed Up Waiting Lists

 

And while we’d like to see a new postvention bill versus another one of hundreds introduced for prevention, Veterans have been waiting long enough. Veterans wait for years to get a service dog from those places that will benefit most from PAWS such as K9s for Warriors, Pawsitivity, Retrieving Freedom. It’s time to let the dogs out.

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

Why We Help After a Veteran Suicide

Why We Help After a Veteran Suicide

My Motivation & Love for the OAS Mission

I don’t know anyone who committed suicide. I am not a Veteran. My dad, Jake, did four years as a Navy lifeguard, but that was before any of us were born. None of my immediate family served after him. My neighbor’s kid joined the Navy recently, but that’s about it. Not the typical backstory for this kind of service. I have ulterior motives, yes, and in truth, we hope to show why we need to go slow into sending our troops overseas. But why do we have a love for Veteran familes after a suicide?

Lost to PTSD and suicide, Chad Defrates seen here fishing with his neice Michelle.

When the Co-Worker Met the VA Suicide Report

To answer that, meet Mallory.  A graphic artist and wife of a Navy helicopter pilot. Mal and I were working together in Jacksonville when the VA published their 2016 report on Veteran suicide. I was shocked when I heard it. And then angry after I put the two together. What if Mallory’s husband acquired PTSD and decided to kill himself? Who’s there to help her? 

In society, nonprofits fill in the cracks that people fall into. Not enough food, housing, awareness. My Google searches, phone calls and emails all said the same thing: there is no one there on the scene after a Veteran suicide. That’s not unusual. Suicides happen all the time, but to me, this ending for Mallory was unacceptable and would be met with a fierce partner to get them through it.

TAPS is a nonprofit with a postvention mission, like Once A Soldier. We deal with the hours and days immediately after a Vetearn suicide. TAPS offers annual events and grieving support. Many families find comfort via their long-term mental health support programs. They can network and find like families. That makes us happy. Together, and with the VA support somewhere in the middle, families get some help standing back up.

We know we can do better. Not just as a nonprofit filling this niche, but as a country. Despite Washington’s best efforts, the problems only getting worse. Help only kicked off in 2018 when the report’s legislation got appropriations. I honestly don’t think we should be surprised that more Vets are killing themsevles. Coming home from Afghanistan is hard. Coming home with or developing PTSD is a ruthless foe. Hard to beat. 

But there’s hope. More and more legislation and research findings are pointing towards psycholdelic and natural drugs as PTSD killers. We’ve been advocating for a national plan of using ketamine IV drips for suicidal veterans. 

The rewards that come with meeting the families and their friends expand every day. We reach 100 new people every day looking for veteran suicide statistics, research and data resources. We’re hearing more stories about being referred by word of mouth. That’s mindblowing.  OAS will continue to fight and we will continue to love our job.

 

 

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.