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News & Events: Chapter and Community News

 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

CliffsNotes for the CARES Act from the MOAA Financial Education Team

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) key individual provisions.

Do not expect any payment prior to mid-April. Processes must be developed.

Stimulus $$

• Individuals with adjusted gross income (AGI) less than $75,000

• Couples less than $150,000

• Individuals: $1200 Couples: $2400

• Parents will also receive $500 for each child under 17

• Payments will decrease for AGI above $75K/$150K and will be $0 for AGI above $99/$198K

• Government will use 2019 tax return if already submitted, otherwise it will use 2018 as a reference.**

• Adjusted gross income: In the United States income tax system, adjusted gross income is an individual's total gross income minus specific deductions. Taxable income is adjusted gross income minus allowances for personal exemptions and itemized deductions. For most individual tax purposes, AGI is more relevant than gross income.

**Veterans only on VA tax-free disability compensation and/or those on Social Security will also be eligible. The Treasury/IRS will work with the VA and Social Security to identify people on those payment programs.

Tax filing extension

• The federal filing deadline has been extended to July 15.

• The IRS also says that people who have filed or plan can expect to receive a refund if they are owed one.

• States must determine their own tax laws and policies. Check with your state for its income tax deadline.

Retirement Accounts

• Waives the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty on retirement account distributions for taxpayers facing virus-related challenges.

• Withdrawn amounts are taxable over three years, but taxpayers can recontribute the withdrawn funds into their retirement accounts for three years without affecting retirement account caps.

• Eligible retirement accounts include individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401Ks and other qualified trusts, certain deferred compensation plans, and qualified annuities.

• Waives Required Minimum Distribution rules for certain retirement plans in calendar year 2020.

Unemployment assistance

• States will continue to pay unemployment to people who qualify

• CARE bill adds $600 per week from the federal government on top of whatever base amount a worker receives from the state.

• This boosted payment will last for four months.

• For example, if an out-of-work person is receiving the national average of about $340 per week, under the new federal program their take-home pay will be $940.

• The legislation also adds 13 weeks of additional unemployment insurance.

Student loans

• Employers can provide up to $5,250 in tax-free student loan repayment benefits. • Employers can contribute to loan payments and workers won't have to include that money as income.

• All loan and interest payments deferred through Sept. 30 without penalty to the borrower for all federally owned student loans.

• Students who drop out of school as a result of the coronavirus won't have time away from school deducted from their lifetime limits on subsidized loan and Pell grant eligibility.

• Those students would also not be asked to pay back any grants or other aid they've already received.

MOAA Educational Assistance

• Offering a special 6-month hardship deferment for COVID-19 related issues (layoff, reduced work hours, unemployment, etc.) Form will be available on our website on or about 3/30/2020.

Health Insurance coverage

• CARE requires all private insurance plans to cover COVID-19 treatments and vaccine and makes all coronavirus tests free.

Currently Serving members

• The DOD started a new pay called "Hardship Duty Pay - Restriction of Movement", or HDP-ROM

• Allows Services to pay up to an additional $1500/month for members who are impacted during PCS or must acquire temporary lodging that goes beyond normal TLE limit (which is 14 days) because of COVID-19.

• Each Service will implement their own process and pay.

03/31/20/ WNC MOAA/ COVID-19/

Four Seasons Foundation

31 March 2020

To Our Valued Four Seasons Constituents:

For over forty years, Four Seasons has been a trusted care provider in our community. Today as we live in a world where everyone is affected by the global pandemic of COVID-19, we want to assure you that Four Seasons continues our commitment to providing the highest quality of care possible for you and your loved ones.

The Four Seasons Leadership Team is staying abreast of the latest best practices and policies. We are following the guidance of both Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). We are also receiving recommendations, in alignment with the CDC and CMS from Teleios Collaborative Network and the National Partnership for Hospice Innovations, as well as our local health departments and governmental agencies.

While providing high quality care to those we serve, we are also taking extra measures to protect our staff. Our clinical teams are working hard to assure our patients are cared for and supported and our administrative team is assuring our employees remain healthy and cared for as well. We are leveraging Telehealth to ensure all patients and family’s needs continue to be met daily in addition to traditional visits and in doing so we are consistently utilizing Personal Protective Equipment so all remain safe. As you have likely heard, there are limited supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, gowns, etc). Fortunately, while supplies continue to be highly limited, we have placed orders for these supplies and expect shipments to begin arriving this week.

Through staying in place, social distancing and good hygiene skills, we can and will get through this unprecedented time. Together, we are strong, we are wise, and we appreciate your support.

We are Four Seasons, the Care our Community Trusts!

Important facts to know about Covid-19:

80% who are affected have mild symptoms; roughly 17-20% will need hospitalization for respiratory support/pneumonia

Be aware of the clinical symptoms- fever (77-98%), cough (42-86%), malaise or fatigue(11-50%) and shortness of breathe (3-31%)

Incubation period typically 4 days but can be longer

If you or anyone in your family has these symptoms, go to one of the drive by testing sites. (Blue Ridge Community College, UNC-Asheville, & Biltmore Church).

more...
03/31/20/ WNC MOAA/ COVID-19/

Buncombe County Veterans Services

17 March 2020;

Buncombe County Veterans Services will be working remotely until further notice. This means Veterans will not be able to access services at 40 Coxe Ave. We will be accessible by calling 828-250-5726 and also by email.

Heath Smith

Veterans Services, Supervisor

03/17/20 12:57:00/ WNC Webmaster/ COVID-19/

Haywood County Health Department

Director Dr. Mark Jaben

Dr. Mark Jaben, Director of the Haywood County Health Department, offers a status update in Haywood County and provides some common-sense guidance for keeping safe.

03/30/20/ WNC MOAA/ COVID-19/

North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

March 20 2020

The safety and well-being of North Carolina’s veterans, their families, and our staff is the number one priority of the NC Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

In response to Governor Cooper’s Executive Order and preparedness plan to slow the spread of COVID-19, the NCDMVA has implemented the following policies and procedures at all of our service offices, veterans homes, and memorial cemeteries.

All NCDMVA offices, veterans homes, and cemeteries, will operate at reduced capacity until further notice. Our service offices are taking appointments on an individual basis for immediate emergency needs only. Walk-ins are prohibited. All offices are operational, but veterans should call their local facility for assistance. Our service officers are prepared to help veterans via remote delivery services by phone and other electronic means. To find a local office, please visit NCDMVA offices.

In person visits at our veterans homes are suspended, with accommodations provided in exceptional cases by management on an individual basis. NCDMVA is encouraging visitors to communicate with veterans home personnel and family members via video conferences and or telephone. Modified operational procedures are in place to ensure the safety and health of all residents and staff at our veterans homes.

Currently, all NCDMVA memorial cemeteries continue to remain open for burials. At this time, visitation of the cemetery grounds is permitted, however, public committal services are suspended. Walk-Ins are not permitted at cemetery offices. Families should call staff at the cemeteries for assistance with burials. For more information regarding burials or eligibility, please click here to contact the cemetery staff.

Please note that the NCDMVA may implement additional changes to operations and procedures as this public health crisis continues to develop. NCDMVA will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on a continuing basis.

For more information about North Carolina’s response to COVID-19, visit NC 2-1-1 and NCDHHS .

03/23/20/ WNC MOAA/ COVID-19/

Suspension of Group Gatherings (ongoing)

10 March 2020

Blue Ridge Honor Flights suspended until further notice.

12 March 2020

Buncombe County Veterans Council (BCVC) : March meetings suspended

April BCVC meetings - TBD

15 March 2020

WNC MOAA:

April Board and Chapter meetings postponed – standby for updates

Board business will be conducted by remote means

16 March 2020

We Honor Veterans pinning ceremonies suspended

Four Seasons Volunteer Services will notify WNC MOAA President when pinning ceremonies will resume – stand by for updates

16 March 2020

VRQ Teams meal prep and serve activities are suspended – stand by for updates.

16 March 2020

Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) announce the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, originally scheduled for 27 March at the Haywood County Courthouse, is cancelled.

17 March 2020

Haywood County Veterans Council (HCVC) has cancelled the March meeting.

The April HCVC meeting is currently scheduled to resume depending on guidance at that time.

18 March 2020

MOAA Smoky Mountain Satellite Event scheduled in Franklin for 7 April 2020 has been cancelled. As the coronavirus is mitigated, we shall establish a new date, time and location and proceed to "Never Stop Serving!"

David E McCracken

Chair, WNC MOAA SMS

828.550.5980

03/16/20 20:02:26/ WNC Webmaster/ COVID-19/

Charles George VA Medical Center

Director's Update for Monday March 30

From the Director:

As we begin a new week, several changes are taking place. The state of North Carolina will be under a Stay at Home Stay Safe order effective 5 p.m. today. We have put many processes into place to protect each of you and our Veterans. We have also been diligent about continuing to provide quality healthcare to those we serve. Inevitably, we have received our first COVID positive Veteran. The processes we have implemented were successful in limiting access to the facility. The Veteran went through screening at the appropriate check points and was followed daily for changes. Unfortunately, we are saddened to report the Veteran has passed away from complications to this virus. The Veteran was not in the care of our VA Medical Center and had sought inpatient treatment elsewhere. This news is incredibly heartbreaking, and serves as a reminder that our ability to provide care for our Veterans and support them during this pandemic is more important than ever. We ask that you continue to be a source of comfort and support for our Veterans during this time but continuing to provide the exemplary care that we are known for. It is also important that you each pause and take time for yourself. Please remember we have EAP services available to those who may need it, as well as daily mindful moments in order to assist you in finding time for yourself.

In regards to the processes we have in place, many of you have questions about steps we are taking to prepare for COVID-19. Below is a layout of the plans we have in place and planning continues to evolve. In our continued efforts to be transparent, we hope this will help answer some questions you may have. As always, reach out to your supervisor or Service Chief if you have additional questions; the COVID-19 Team is also available if needed.

Screening Process Changes:

* All visitors to include employees, Veterans, contractors, and visitors to any of our facilities are screened and have their temperature taken prior to entering the building.

* For Veterans who screen positive, we have implemented a multilevel evaluation which includes screening in their car or the Viral Screening Tent.

* Employees are screened weekly by their Supervisor/delegate.

* If screening is negative, the employee is given the sticker of the week for their fast pass red badge.

* If screening is positive, employees are to notify Employee Health to receive guidance on whether to remain home, report to the Viral Triage Tent, or go home. Those employees must also communicate with their supervisors to determine the appropriate leave to enter.

* Reminder, please remain home if you are sick or have a fever, and alert Employee Health as well as your supervisor for guidance on when to return to work.

* Supervisors are now responsible for signing staff up to assist with screening. If you are interested in assisting, please alert your supervisor.

* Staffing for the Viral Screening Tent is coordinated by our clinical team.

Surge Plan

* Incident Command has been working hard to develop a surge plan so that we may be able to handle as many COVID-19 positive Veterans as possible, the plan includes:

* Reviewing areas in our hospital and other surrounding buildings to expand our surge capacity.

* We are reaching out to other VAs to discuss how we can work together to ensure our Veterans are protected and cared for.

* Reviewing staff competencies to determine how staff can assist in an influx of COVID-19 positive patients

* Our supply levels are being monitored and at our current utilization rates we have adequate supplies on hand to meet recommended CDC usage guidelines

* We are working with other VAs to review innovative ways to use the materials we have on site.

* We are also in contact with sites in various stages throughout the US to glean good practices and lessons learned.

* Appointments clinically reviewed and transitioned to virtual care when possible.

* Scripting is available for staff to use when discussing why care should be done virtually versus face to face.

* We have a team comprised of Nurses, Doctors, Infection Control, Facility Management, and other administrative staff to review ways we can increase our capacity for hospital beds.

Virtual Care

* VA continues to expand its capabilities for telehealth.

* We are currently looking into the use of recently approved programs to optimize our virtual care options.

COVID testing

* Dr. Buck and the lab team are continuously reaching out to various testing labs to select the ones with the best turn around times. Unfortunately, some labs promised turn around times that that they could not meet. Tests were taking 5-10 days which is not ideal. Dr. Buck has been actively looking at alternatives to dramatically decrease these turnaround times and has found some better options. One identified lab is sending results in 2 days. This weekend we received an option to complete resulting in our own lab for a limited amount of tests—Thanks to the hard work of Karen Jones and Susan Padgett).

Other

* We are actively looking for ways to decrease the foot traffic in our hospital. This includes expansion of telework, moving some clinics outside such as Pharmacy pick-up, and reducing hours for certain face to face programs such as the Canteen and Agent Cashiers Office.

* We have a very resourceful Supply Chain Management Service Chief, Craig Holbert, who has been able to find supplies that are hard to find globally. For example, Mr. Holbert was able to work with a local agency to procure hand sanitizer for our facility as well as all VISN 6 facilities! Additionally, his notable skills are now being utilized by VISN 6 to more efficiently manage supplies for all VA’s across our region. Mr. Holbert and his team are working tirelessly to ensure that all staff are protected during this time.

* Service Chief are receiving updates daily from the Incident Command Team and Executive Leadership.

* Business is no longer business as usual, staff will be resourced appropriately to provide care to our Veterans.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we progress through this new and challenging landscape of Veteran healthcare. We continue to look to each of you for your support and understanding during this time, while our Veterans continue looking to each of us for the best healthcare during this journey. We appreciate you. We see you. Thank you for all you do.

Sincerely,

Steph Young

Medical Center Director

03/30/20/ WNC MOAA/ COVID-19/

Charles George VA Medical Center

MyHealtheVet

While our facilities remain under restrictions, here are some good links for setup with MyHealtheVet for Veterans. MHV allows for premium account access, so Veterans can reorder prescriptions online, get health records and other services through MyHealtheVet.

If you need assistance accessing MyHealtheVet or enrolling in it you can contact the My HealtheVet Coordinator, Scott Pittillo email Scott

The MyHealtheVet Service Page on our website explains the process and here are a couple of PDFs that explain the online upgrade process:

Quick Remote Proofing Guide

MHV Reference Document

03/17/20 20:17:58/ WNC Webmaster/ COVID-19/

Circular 26-20-7: VA Home Loan program; Special Relief for those Potentially Impacted by COVID-19

16 March 2020

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working with other federal partners to assess next steps in response to recent reports of cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States. To keep Veterans and stakeholders safe while continuing the mission of VA Home Loan program, VA is providing the following information. Please note, VA is continuing with normal program operations and information will be shared as updates are made available regarding the VA Home Loan program.

This Circular has been posted here: VA Home Loan Modifications due to COVID-19

Sincerely,

Loan Guaranty Service

03/17/20 21:26:30/ WNC Webmaster/ COVID-19/

Veterans Benefits Offices to Close March 19

Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Regional Offices will be closed to the public starting March 19.

Regional offices will remain open, but will no longer accept walk-ins for claims assistance, scheduled appointments, counseling and other in-person services. This decision protects our older Veterans and those with underlying conditions as well as our employees.

Veterans can continue to get information about benefits or file a claim for benefits by visiting our website at www.va.gov . Veterans with claims specific or other questions may request information via Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS) or telephone at 1-800-827-1000.

VBA benefits and services provided to Veterans, families, and survivors will continue to be delivered throughout the duration of COVID-19 impacts.

Please continue to check www.va.gov for updates. You may also follow us on Facebook and Twitter .

03/18/20/ WNC MOAA/ COVID-19/

Charles George VA Medical Center

Update for Monday March 30

VAVS Family,

As we continue to weather the storm, it reminds us that In today's world it is not business as usual. Something that does not change---our Mission. We are honored to serve Veterans and they are the reason why we exist. During this pandemic, we stand ready to support both the physical and psychological needs of our Veterans. We are strongly encouraging Veterans to use VA's telehealth and virtual care options to meet their non-urgent needs. We encourage Veterans to "stay home and phone" by contacting their primary care team remotely before visiting. Our goal is to reduce the risk of exposure and keep staff safe and ready to respond to our Veterans. What some may view as routine may quickly evolve to be serious if not managed and there are times that these needs require a face-to-face visit. Such visits are conducted with the utmost caution in the current environment. The medical facility is guided by CDC protocols and VA guidance that's designed to mitigate risk to staff and Veterans.

This is a sampling of measures we have put in place to mitigate risk and keep in front of what is unfolding:

* Behavioral Health has moved their group visits to telehealth.

* Pharmacy has implemented a drive-through for medication pick-up (Friday they served 30 Veterans and each person had a visitor with them-which reduced the persons in the building by 60).

* Clinical staff are reviewing appointments and providing guidance on what appointments can utilize telehealth options. We have drastically reduced face-to-face visits at our main facility and CBOCs.

* An option is being created for oncology patients to enter into a less-traveled area of our hospital to ensure further safety.

* CLC remains locked and limited access to those team members who care for our most vulnerable Veterans.

* "No visitor" policy implemented. Exceptions are for compassionate visits such as hospice which has a separate entrance.

* Limited entrances.

* Screening at entrances, including temperatures .

* Staff are screened additionally weekly by their supervisors and carry a fast pass with changing colored dots.

* Screening questions are being asked to Veterans that call into our facility.

* Extra cleaning of high touch areas.

* Weekly Townhall for employees.

* Incident Command Center is up and running.

* Surge planning and preparing.

* Lab working tirelessly to ensure we have the best turn around time for lab results.

CHAPLAIN'S LINE AVAILABLE

There is now a 24-hour call-a-chaplain line. The line is open to Volunteers, staff, Veterans, and family members who need someone to talk to. You may be feeling anxious, fearful, sad, or any number of feelings and just need to vent. You might need an encouraging word, a scripture, or someone to pray with you. This is not the Veterans Crisis Line, that number is 800-273-8255 and press 1. Our Chaplains are here to support you in these uncertain time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and this year 366 days. The number again is 828-298-7911 extension 2143. You will get a reassuring, live person on the other end of the line.

We have heard from many Veterans thanking us for our concern for safety and they appreciate the items we have put in place during this uncertain time. Striking a balance between safety and ensuring our Veterans feel valued can often be tricky. Our Veterans are just as stressed as many of us.

Our team members are really stepping up to the plate and make things happen. Adversity can build character or it can reveal character. As healthcare workers we need to ensure that we have what it takes to be our best in such times.

Vicki Eatmon

Voluntary Service

Charles George VAMC

828-298-7911 ext. 4117

03/19/20/ WNC MOAA/ COVID-19/

Feeling sick? Here's the process for COVID-19 testing

From The Mountaineer 19 March

Patrick Johnson, Haywood County's public health services director, issued these steps for those who believe they may have contracted the coronavirus COVID-19.

If you have no symptoms, there is no reason to be tested.

If you have fever or cough or trouble breathing, testing may be indicated, and you should contact your primary care physician. Call your provider first to be assessed. Do not show up in person without a phone assessment.

There is no “screening” test for COVID. It is a diagnostic test for symptomatic people who have been exposed to the virus.

The criteria to be tested is having a fever (temperature of greater than 100.2), cough or shortness of breath and a negative flu test.

The test is a specimen collection, not an on-site test. It involves placing a swab inside one nostril, leaving it in place a few seconds to absorb secretions and then place the tip in a viral medium and send it off to a lab for processing, which can take two to four days.

Anyone tested for COVID-19 is immediately placed under home isolation until test results are returned, at which point their situation will be reassessed.

Haywood County Health Department is working with community partners to explore the feasibility of establishing drive-through testing in the near future.

Those with questions can call the North Carolina Coronavirus Helpline at 866-462-3821. This line is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

03/19/20/ WNC MOAA/ COVID-19/

Space Force, We Have a Seal

Jan. 24, 2020 | By Rachel S. Cohen

President Donald Trump on Jan. 24 unveiled the first official Space Force seal, an early step in the new service’s attempt to craft its own culture.

The seal features an arrowhead symbol over a globe, encircled by a stylized design of an orbit around the Earth. Twenty-three stars adorn the black background, and along the bottom runs year 2019 in Roman numerals: “MMXIX.” (continue reading...)

01/25/20/ WNC Webmaster/ Fun/

Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas

Museum Announces Closing for 2 Weeks Beginning March 15

Following the policy of Transylvania County Schools and for the safety of the community, the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas will be closed today, Sunday, March 15 until Wednesday, April 1.

All scheduled events at the museum are cancelled during this period and will be rescheduled at a later date. We will update plans at the end of March.

Thank you for understanding and helping to keep our community healthy and safe.We look forward to seeing you again as soon as possible.

03/20/20/ WNC MOAA/ COVID-19/
Western North Carolina Chapter of the Military Officer's Association of America.
WNCMOAA, Inc., P.O. Box 1984, Hendersonville, NC 28793 • info@wnc-moaa.org  

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