February 25, 2005

 

Contents of this issue:

 

n       Tax Time

n       Scam Targets Families of Servicemembers Killed in Action

n       Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary School

n       Sliding Scale For Enrollment Fees

n       Medal of Honor Day, March 25

n       TRICARE Coverage For Guard and Reserve

n       Administration Proposes Fees for VA Health Care

n       Navy Drawdown Announced

n       Retiree Mobilization Update

n       Fourth Cliff Recreation Area

n       Florida World War II Memorial!

n       News You Can Use

o        Guard and Reserve Personnel Activated During Wartime May Be Eligible For VA Home Loans after 90 Days of Service

o        State Veterans' Nursing Home Virtual Tour

o        Volunteers of America’s Florida Veterans Mobile Service Center

o        Request Florida Veterans’ Benefits Guide

o        Military Service Automobile License Plates

n       VA News You Can Use

o        Concurrent Receipt

o        Use of VA’s Electronic Health Records Expanding

o        Facts About the Department of Veterans Affairs

o        More….

n       State Legislation of Interest to Veterans

n       Federal Legislation of Interest to Veterans

n       Register for efloridavetsNews

 

Tax Time – The Basics on VA Benefits and Federal Income Taxes

 

All VA benefits are exempt from taxation and should not be reported to the IRS.  This includes the VA Work Study Program.  Moneys paid to participants in the Work Study Program are educational assistance benefits paid under the same Chapter under which the student is receiving educational assistance.

 

VA does not issue W-2 or 1099 forms, with one exception: amounts of overpayments that are waived by VA are taxable income, and are reported as such to the IRS (1099 form issued).

 

Secondary interest on VA benefits may be taxable.  For example, if a VA beneficiary deposits his or her compensation check in an interest bearing account, the interest is not tax exempt.

 

VA benefits are subject to collection for tax liens, i.e. in cases where the beneficiary owes the IRS.

Military Retired Pay:  Veterans in receipt of military retired pay who are awarded VA compensation benefits retroactively may claim an exclusion for their income in the amount of the VA compensation they would have received had they not been in receipt of military retired pay.  Affected veterans should claim the exclusion by submitting the award letter showing the amount and effective date of compensation they would have received but for the receipt of military retired pay.  IRS instructions tell affected veterans to submit a “VA Form 20-8993.”  VA Form 20-8993 is the award letter.  If the veteran doesn’t have it, VA can provide a letter in lieu of it.

 

 

Scam Targets Families of Servicemembers Killed in Action
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2005 -- Officials with the Department of Homeland Security are warning the public about two new Iraq-related Internet scams, including one directed at the relatives of fallen U.S. soldiers.

"These new Internet fraud schemes are among the worst we have ever encountered," said Michael J. Garcia, assistant secretary of homeland security for immigration and customs enforcement. "Most troubling is the fact that some are targeting the relatives of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. We are also concerned about the fact that these criminals are impersonating (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents and referring to ICE's official Web site in an effort to steal money from Americans who have lost loved ones."

The first scheme involves e-mail sent to relatives of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. Claiming to be a volunteer working with U.S. forces, the sender states that a late friend, who also was a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, was a very good friend of the relatives' slain son or daughter. The sender then goes on to ask for assistance in obtaining funds kept for them by the deceased friend, promising more details when the relative responds to the e-mail. The sender then adds a link to the portion of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's actual Web site discussing ICE operations in Iraq.

In the second scheme, a blanket e-mail is being distributed that claims to be from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official in Iraq who is responsible for tracking down funds looted from the Iraqi Central Bank by Saddam Hussein's son. The sender lists ICE's Web site address in the e-mail in an effort to seem credible. The sender then asks for confirmation of the e-mail address of the recipient, stating, "there is a very important and confidential matter which I want us both to discuss."

The ICE Cyber Crimes Center in northern Virginia, in conjunction with the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility here, is investigating the schemes. Those who receive the bogus e-mail solicitations should ignore and delete them, Garcia said.

(From a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release.)

 

Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary School

 

Posted from the Daily Record newsroom
Ex-Morris vet's name to grace
Florida school

By Rob Seman, Daily Record

When former Morris County resident Hector Cafferata Jr. moved to Florida, the stories of his heroism during the Korean War didn't fade away. They grew into legend.

The former Marine won the Medal of Honor for single-handedly holding off the enemy and saving dozens of his comrades by selflessly tossing away an enemy grenade.

It's a well-known tale that has been told by veterans in Morris County at Memorial Day celebrations and similar events for years.

This fall, Cafferata's story will reach a whole new audience when a Florida public school is dedicated in his name.

The board of education for the Lee County School District selected Cafferata's name as the moniker of one of the eight schools it is planning to open in the fall.

The Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary School in Cape Coral, Fla., will be the first school in the state to be named after a living Medal of Honor recipient.

Cafferata, 75, says he's appreciative, but scoffs outright at his reputation as a "legend" among veterans in Morris County and Florida.

"I always say, 'I didn't do anything and there's a lot of guys who did a whole lot more than me and don't get recognition,'" Cafferata said.

Cafferata said he hopes lending his name to the school will mean that students will be taught more about the history of America's wars.

"If they don't start teaching these kids history, then all these buildings and bridges they dedicate are just going to be places for pigeons to defecate," Cafferata said.

School officials and veterans' advocates in Lee County say that teaching the students about U.S. military history is exactly what they had in mind by attaching the name of a living veteran to the school.

"We wanted to break a mold," said Charley Price, Florida's director of external affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs. "We wanted to name something after a living person and let people enjoy what this person has to offer."

Cheryl Diamond, an advocate for the roughly 70,000 veterans in Lee County, said the push to have a school named after Cafferata became a project of a citizen's Pride and Patriotism Committee, chaired by two school board members.

Although Cafferata lives in Sarasota County, Price suggested using Cafferata's name to the county school board.

Robert Chilmonik, vice chairman of the Lee County school board, said that the conservative county on the western coast of Florida has a deep respect for veterans.

"I thought, 'What a way to reflect what our community feels about our veterans,'" Chilmonik said.

Chilmonik said the school board plans to make active use of its relationship with Cafferata, too.

"Absolutely we would ask Hector to come in and talk to the children and let them know freedom comes at a price," Chilmonik said.

According to the medal citation, Cafferata, a private first class in the Marines, was fighting in Korea on Nov. 28, 1950, when the rest of his fire team became casualties during an attack by Korean forces, creating a gap in the lines.

Cafferata held back the enemy forces by waging a lone battle with rifle fire and grenades, moving up and down the line while under fire.

Cafferata killed 15 Korean soldiers and wounded many more, allowing American reinforcements to move up.

Later that day, Cafferata rushed into an entrenchment where an enemy grenade was thrown. He grabbed the grenade and threw it. The action saved several of his wounded fellow Marines, but part of Cafferata's finger was blown off, and his left hand and arm were wounded when the grenade exploded.

Cafferata kept fighting until he was struck by sniper fire and was evacuated for medical treatment.

In Morris County, Cafferata's story is still spoken of by local veterans such as Bob Tracey, a Korean War veteran from Morristown.

Tracey served in the National Guard and left for the war the same day as Cafferata in September 1950. Tracey still evokes Cafferata's name in local veterans' celebrations.

Tracey described Cafferata as "a guy you'd like to be on your right side, or left side or both sides in combat." Cafferata was a humble, ordinary man who kept to himself, but rose to the occasion in the war and has now become a legend, Tracey said.

"He did it just for his tremendous love for his country, like a lot of us have, but he did it a little bit more," Tracey said. "I think that classifies him as a legend."

Joe Quade, chaplain of the Montville Veterans of Foreign Wars, said that Cafferata did not take advantage of his notoriety, and may not have been as well-known as other medal winners. Quade said that having the school named after Cafferata is an honor well-deserved.

"We're pleased that one of our Montville residents is recognized for his service during the Korean conflict," Quade said.

"I tip my hat and salute the people in Florida who pushed to name it (the school) after him," Tracey said.

Cafferata was born in New York City, but moved to Morris County with his family when he was 9 years old and lived in Lake Hiawatha and Montville. He graduated from Boonton High School in 1949, and was one of the first inductees to the school's Hall of Fame in 1996.

A plaque memorializing Cafferata's service hangs in Montville's municipal building.

After being discharged from the Marines, he became a salesman of weapons and ammunition and once owned a bar in Warren County. He left Morris County in 1970, and moved near Phillipsburg.

Cafferata's notoriety followed him when he moved to Venice, Fla., seven years ago. Diamond said Cafferata has been highly regarded by local veterans.

"He is our hero," Diamond said. "He is our poster child, so to speak. He represents someone very humble who has given every ounce of his being toward his country."

Diamond said having Cafferata's name associated with a school will go a long way toward public appreciation of veterans.

"You just have to remember that before this, there was no real connection with the veterans other than going to the hospital (a veteran's clinic in Fort Myers)" Diamond said. "It's a very positive image that Hector has given to the veterans down here."

 

Sliding Scale For Enrollment Fees

Washington, D.C.-Ensuring that disabled, injured, low income and special needs veterans are given the highest priority, Chairman Steve Buyer (IN-04), on behalf of the majority of House Veterans' Affairs Committee (IN-04) submitted its views and estimates of the President's FY 2006 budget submission to the Committee on the Budget. Of the President's proposals, the Committee rejected the doubling of prescription drug co-payments and adopted enrollment fees of Priority 7 and 8 veterans on a sliding scale based on means.  In total, medical services is increased by $ 317.2 million over the President's budget.

 

Medal of Honor Day, March 25 

 

COL Henry W. Ince, USAR (Ret), Florida Council of Chapters, MOAA, has been kind enough to remind us that March 25 is Medal of Honor Day. One may find more information at http://www.homeofheroes.com/moh/history/day.html.

 

 

Legislation of Interest

 

H.R. 968 (Jim Saxton, R-NJ) would move up the current 2008 implementation date for 30-year paid-up Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage. Current law provides that members who have paid SBP premiums for at least 360 months and who also have attained age 70 will be able to stop paying SBP premiums while retaining SBP coverage for their survivors. Because of budget constraints at the time of its 1998 enactment, Congress delayed the effective date of this provision until October 1, 2008. This legislation would make the provision effective as of October 1, 2005.

 

H.R. 602 (Chris Van Hollen, D-MD) would allow military retirees and their dependents the option to enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP); waive Medicare Part B premiums for retirees who entered service before December 7, 1956; and provide drug coverage at TRICARE network rates to beneficiaries who do not have access to a pharmacy in the TRICARE retail network.  S. 407 (Tim Johnson, D-SD) is the Senate counterpart to H.R. 602.

 

 

 

Florida World War II Monument!  The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs is contracting for placement of the World War II Monument on the grounds of the Gray Building which houses the “Florida Remembers World War II” permanent museum exhibit dedicated on Veterans’ Day 2004.  Please plan to attend the dedication on the 61st Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2005

 

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE

 

Guard and Reserve Personnel Activated During Wartime May Be Eligible For VA Home Loans after 90 Days of Service. VA officials report that there has been a large increase in VA home loans to National Guardsmen and Reservists in recent years. Some guard and reserve personnel may not be aware that being on active duty actually reduces the time it takes for them to become eligible for the loans. Normally, guardsmen and reservists must serve six years before becoming eligible for a VA Home Loan, but that requirement changes to only 90 days of service when they have been called to active duty during wartime. The best way to find out if one qualifies would be to submit an application for a certificate of eligibility to one of two VA Eligibility Centers. The Center in Winston-Salem, NC handles states east of the Mississippi River and the Los Angeles center handles states west of the Mississippi. Click here for more information. [http://www.homeloans.va.gov/] Source: VFW Military update

 

Take a virtual tour of a State Veterans' Nursing Home. The tour includes ten 360 degree fully interactive pictures. No additional software is required to view these images, simply click on the desired picture and the tour begins.

 

Click here for information about the Florida Veterans Mobile Service Center.

 

Click here for a copy of Florida Veterans’ Benefits Guide.

 

Your purchase of the "Florida Salutes Veterans" or one of the recently approved Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard Military Service license plates helps people who need it most, when they need it most.  The entire $15 surcharge goes into a Trust Fund for the Operation and Maintenance of critically needed Veterans' Homes in Florida.

 

VA NEWS YOU CAN USE

 

For useful information on concurrent receipt, we suggest the following website: http://www.crlegislation.com/.

 

 

Ask Benefits Questions Via E-MAIL: For specific Compensation and Pension benefits questions and local regional office issues, the contact list is by state and geographical area of jurisdiction.   

 

Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents (Current Edition) - The current edition of this booklet lists the variety of federal benefits available to veterans and their dependents. Selecting the link above will allow you to download the booklet as a PDF file in English or Spanish.

 

La versión en Español de el folleto "Beneficios Federales para los Veteranos y sus Dependientes", el cual explica la variedad de beneficios disponibles para los veteranos y sus dependientes, se encuentra disponible en versión PDF al presionar aquí.

 

VA - 13 Years as a Cabinet Department - Website contains informational material regarding VA's history as a Cabinet Department

 

VA State Summary for Florida

 

 

Issues and Action: Veterans Issues

 

Find your member of Congress.

 

United States Senate

 

U.S. House of Representatives

 

(Some links require Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded here)

 

Please encourage others to sign up for efloridavetsNews.  Sign up at http://www.floridavets.org/news/newsletter.asp
 

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