The Theft Protection

Myths and Facts About Identity Theft


SPEAKER 1: –Seamone, and
I’m not going to delay it, but I think that one of the big
lessons from the first session on Tuesday is just
how complicated and how sometimes
contradictory this process is. And fortunately,
Major Seamone has offered to be available to
us as a technical assistance consultant. So for those of you who please
submit questions but also with follow-up
questions, I think that this will be a
very helpful resource. So thank you, Major Seamone. I’m going to turn this
over to Kerwin now. KERWIN HENDERSON: Thank you,
[? Carolyn. ?] Good afternoon or good morning, everyone. My name is Kerwin Henderson. I’m a research specialist
here in the Justice Programs Office at American University. And on behalf of our office
and Major Seamone and everyone here, thank you for joining us. For those of you that
missed the first session, the first session should be
posted on our website shortly. We’ll be sending also a link out
on our webinar for those people that you have, those
colleagues of yours that you have that have not been
able to attend this session, we’ll also send a link
out and have this session posted on our website also. I know Major Seamone
has a lot to cover, including a
questionnaire that he wants to dig into and discuss
with some applied examples to build off of what he
discussed in the first session. So without much further ado I
will hand it to Major Seamone. MAJOR SEAMONE: All
right, thank you so much. Everyone who’s returned,
I want to thank you for bearing with this process. I think it was really
important for us to get into the variety of
just general considerations before we try to
go into specifics. And certainly, the
time constraints we have really do limit
what we can go into. So if we think about again,
emphasizing the fact that I’m not representing the
Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Justice,
military, and again, providing only a personal
perspective from experience. I think we’re really
going to be applying today our three missions, which were
after just understanding how many people might
actually be affected by this problem of
stigmatizing discharges that are limiting their ability
to obtain the VA benefits. So now we’re really going to
apply the general lessons we learned to understand how
to address individuals with their own unique
circumstances appearing on the Veterans
Treatment Court docket. So I want to emphasize that– I hope it’s available
for your review. If you wanted to
download it, I’ll definitely walk through it, but
I provided you with something that I call a questionnaire for
a rough estimate of a Veterans Treatment Court participant’s
eligibility for VA benefits. And when I say a
rough estimate– we need to recall
that sometimes, even when the planets align and
it would seem like there’s not a bar to discharge eligibility,
if you have someone with an other than honorable,
an undesirable, or bad conduct discharge, it still could end up
being something where a bar is bound by the adjudicator. But what we’re
trying to do is we’re trying to identify our
populations who may still very well be
entitled to benefits, and also to identify those who
may not likely be eligible, and who will need alternatives,
because they don’t have the full array of VA resources. So it’s on the rough approach,
but it is certainly one that I think could be helpful. And I’ve embedded some
of the considerations we we’re talking about, like
minimum time in service, and what happens when you have
a reservist or National Guard member who did not
serve on active duty, and how that relates to the
minimum time of service. And then we’re going to
talk about just a couple of realistic
hypotheticals to help us think about the
considerations, the different considerations. I do want to show you
what a DD-214 looks like. And if you have an
opportunity to review it, you’ll see that it’s
on one piece of paper, and it’s usually the service
member’s copy is the number four. And that’s actually
provided either in the mail or physically handed
over to the person as they do their
final out-processing, leaving the active duty service
or leaving the military. A DD-214 will list
the type of discharge. It will list the
character of discharge. When we look over here, it says
under honorable conditions, but general, which
tells you that that’s a general discharge. It gives you the
reason for elimination. In this case, we can see it’s
14 12 Charlie, which in the army means that you committed
a serious offense, and you were
discharged on the basis of committing the
serious offense, but with a general discharge. And then you also see other
types annotations there. So this is what the VA
adjudicators are really looking for to help them
make their determinations. Now, while we’re
thinking about this and before we get into the
first hypothetical scenario, because I want to
think about what we should be looking
at in all cases. If you do have access
to the questionnaire, one of the first
things to consider is active duty military service. And I mention that because in
Title 38 of the United States Code, section 5303A,
this is where we see something very important. As of September 7, 1980,
Congress changed the law and imposed a minimum time of
active duty service required. One of the problems–
and remember in 1980, we had lots of returning Vietnam
veterans back in the community, applying for VA
benefits– the concern was that some people who
served in the military were trying to get out
early, just so they could collect VA benefits. And Congress became concerned
and they were very interested that people either served a
minimum time on active duty before they become
eligible, or that they completed 24 months of service. If they did not complete
their full term, it was at least 24 months, or
two years, of active service. Now, if we’re talking
about September 7th and before 1980, so someone who
enlisted before September 7, 1980, or on September
7, 1980, then there’s really no minimum
active duty required. However, if we look to those who
enlisted on September 8, 1980 or after that, there
is a requirement for either 24 continuous
months of active duty service, or completion of your
full period of enlistment. Now, because we have
misconduct as the basis of a lot of these
involuntary separations, I think it’s more
likely that someone with an OTH or another
stigmatizing discharge is not going to have completed
their full term of enlistment. So you’re really looking
for the 24 months. So what we ask is
which branch did you serve in on active duty? And we’re only concerned
first with active duty. And the idea is
that I don’t know how many commissioned officers
in the Public Health Service or National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration end up in Veteran
Treatment Courts, but they very well may also be
entitled to these VA benefits. So you’re asking did you serve
your full period of enlistment when you were on active duty? And that’s a helpful question
to ask, because if they did, then it’s likely that if
they served their full time or they served
more than 24 months and they fall into
that category, then they meet the active
duty and minimum service requirements. Were you discharged for any
reason besides completion of your contractual term? They could say misconduct. They could say it
was a– if they say it was a hardship discharge
or a medical discharge, those two the
important exceptions where, even though you didn’t
meet the minimum time frame, you still may have the
ability to qualify. And then, the question
to ask after that is did you complete more than
one period of enlistment? In other words, did you
re-enlist at any period during your service? There is an official precedent,
opinion, from the VA General Council from 1991. It’s number 6191 that
lays out the rules, which say that you have a prior
term where you were honorably discharged and then you’re
in subsequent misconduct and involuntarily
separated in a later term, you still get benefits
related to the first term. And I can definitely send that
out and provide that to you, because you want to have a
copy of that first honorable discharge to see if you can
base the benefits strictly off of that. And then, if you
were discharged prior to your term of enlistment,
how much continuous time did you spend on active duty? How many DD-214
forms were you given? Do you still have any of them? Now, one of the important things
that I want to talk about is– and we’re going to see
this in a hypothetical– what happens when
the person who’s in your docket making an initial
appearance says, I’m a veteran, but I don’t have an my
DD-214 or maybe a comment like, it’s in the mail, they
told me it was in the mail, but I never got it. And I just want to
[INAUDIBLE],, so I don’t know what my discharge
characterization is. There is a traditional process. There’s also a website. You can use the
form SF-180 to try to request military records. And for DD-214’s, the
general processing time is about 10 days,
but that can vary. However, if you need to make
an immediate determination, there may be another
alternative for you– which I’m going to talk
about out later– which is called the Veterans
Research Search Services. And that was created
in 2012 as a way for– it was actually very much
used by health care re-entry for veterans, the VA employees
who go into prisons and jails to counsel inmates
on VA benefits. And this program does a computer
matching with social security numbers. And if you combine
other information related to the person,
they can very quickly identify if that
individual is a veteran and what kind of discharge
characterization they have. [INAUDIBLE] on the
court that goes to the VA professional that
can be used by court personnel. And we’ll talk about
how to get there. And I highly encourage that
if you aren’t using it, this is a program
worth investigating to help make some of these
determinations easier, and to see if you
can start pushing for tentative eligibility, if
someone is available for that, or expedited services
with this information. Now, the question is, do you
have your military records? Sadly, if someone
has an OTH or a BCD, a lot is going to depend on
the nature of their misconduct. To find out whether there’s a
statutory or regulatory bar, you often might have to have
copies of the separation proceedings. So if it was an
administrative board, you want to get the ruling
of the board members and the nature of the
discharge that they adjudicated and what they based it on. If it’s a court-martial,
you probably want to get the
promulgating order, which is something created after the
conviction and the sentencing. And you also might want
to get the transcript. You want to determine
if there were charges that were dismissed,
because if you had morally turpitudinous charge, like
theft or larceny or fraud, and the person was found
not guilty on that charge, it’s good to know that, because
that could take a bar off of the table, and allow
someone to get benefits based on what they were
actually convicted of. So a lot of times it requires
more than the DD-214. It requires the
actual paperwork, and that takes far
more than 10 days. It could take months to
get court-martial records, and they might not
even be complete. So you’re trying to,
I think, when you’re using this questionnaire, or
if you want to create your own, identify which are the
easiest battles, which ones are pretty clean cut. If it’s under
honorable condition, it should be binding on the VA,
so that’s far less of a concern than if you get into these other
than honorables and desirables and punitive discharges. Now, for reserve duty, it’s
pretty much a different rule. You could have somebody who
goes to drill on the weekends, like one weekend a month and
then they do annual training, and this active duty requirement
actually applies to them. So we care about when they were
mobilized on Title X orders, because that’s putting them
under federal mobilized authority that applies to
active duty service members. We are looking to see
whether they completed their full term of mobilization,
or whether they served for 24 months during the
course of the mobilization, if they didn’t complete
their full mobilization. And we’ll look at
a few examples, but if you have someone
who was only doing drills and never really was put
on active duty orders and didn’t really serve that
long on active duty orders, or didn’t meet the
full time, it’s going to be very difficult
to get them benefits. One exception is if they during
the line of duty, if they were actually in inactive service,
maybe attending drill or doing something related to their
duties, and they were injured, and it was ruled to be
in the line of duty, then they can
still get benefits, but there’s a lot of
concern over that. So ask about the reserves, ask
separately about the National Guard, ask about mobilizations. Question four there is
for all of the times you were mobilized, did you
complete the full term of your mobilization? That starts to indicate
that they probably do meet the minimum
service requirement. If any mobilization
was cut short, please list the reason why. Do you now have an
injury that you sustained while on regular, non-active
status, you weren’t mobilized, but you were injured? And where you want to look for
that is Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section
3.6A is what governs this. Do you know when the line
of duty determination was made regarding the injuries
sustained on non-active duty status? Line of duty investigations
at the military level look to see whether a
person was injured based on their own willful
conduct, that were some kind of misconduct,
or if they were really not at fault. So, you know,
someone’s drinking alcohol and they get into an
accident and they’re injured, even though they’re
injured they were drunk, that might be something
for them to rule out that it’s in the line of duty,
because their accident was in part due to their failure
to adhere to the rules. So that’s what a line of
duty determination might be. Another big issue
where this comes up is someone who’s on leave who
gets injured, if they have a leave slip, that means
the military authorized it, but if they wanted to
travel without authorization and get injured, that
can be often times found not to be in
the line of duty. I want to switch now to the
less than honorable discharges. And the ones we
care about again, are undesirables, other
than honorables, bad conduct discharges, dishonorable
discharges, and dismissals. If you have a less
than honorable discharge in any of
these categories, do you have a DD-214 for
the period of service with either an
honorable discharge or a general discharge
listed on it? That’s the big question to ask. And that’s what you want to see. After that, if you have
more than one DD-214 with a honorable or
general, did your injury or the start of your
mental health condition happen during the honorable
term or the other term? And we know from the VA
precedent opinion 61-91 that as long as
the injuries relate to the prior honorable
term they’re covered, but if the injuries
relate to the term that it is stigmatizing,
then the question becomes, do they fall under a bar or not? So different concerns arise. For a bad conduct discharge,
what level of court-martial did it come from? Was it a general court-martial
or a special court-martial? We know from the statutory
bar in 38 USC, Section 5303a, we know that anything coming
from a general court-martial is going to be a
statutory bar to benefits. So the service member
might not remember. I don’t know. It was a court-martial. There was a jury of
military members. I know I got a BCD. I don’t recall. You may want to
kind of just examine that situation a
bit more by asking, did you have an Article
32 preliminary hearing? Do you remember
anything about that? Because that might suggest that
it was a general court-martial. An Article 32 hearing,
it’s equivalent, it’s something similar to
a grand jury investigation in order to be able to go
for charges with imprisonment over a year. And just because someone
has an Article 32, that doesn’t mean that the
commanding general sent the court-martial to a
general court-martial, but it might be more likely
that a general court-martial was possible and that
BCD could have come from a general court-martial. If the service
member says, I was sentenced to two
years confinement, that would suggest that it
was a general court-martial, because of the maximum time of
confinement going over a year. The next question to ask is
for bad conduct discharge from special court-martial. What were the charges that
you were found guilty of? And here is where
we want to see it if it was either a crime of
moral turpitude or a crime, or series of crimes, involving
willful and persistent misconduct. And again, those are in the
Code of Federal Regulations, because they’re regulatory bars. Aside from your
conviction, did you have any non-judicial
punishment or were you counseled for other
violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice? That question is basically,
OK, you might have a BCD, but do we also have
other misconduct that wasn’t at the court-martial
that can be considered to be willful and persistent? So that’s concerning. And for an other than
honorable discharge, was it based on absence for that
leave for a continuous period of 180 days or more? That kicks in the
statutory bar of Title 38 of the United States
Code, Section 5303a. And of course,
there’s an exception for compelling
circumstances, but if you’ve got someone with over
180 day AWOL or 180 days, it’s going to be hard to
show this exception applies. And then, one of the things
I included in this form is some references for
you for alternatives to help get immediate treatment,
even if a person is not likely to be eligible
for VA benefits or if they’re going
to be requesting personnel records
that could take months or longer to obtain. Well, one of the
things I want to tell you is that your State
Departments and Veterans Affairs are organizations that
are developed through the state to help veterans get
benefits, help alleviate many of the concerns they have. Now, I will tell you
that many of them conditioned of services
on an honorable discharge or a discharge under
honorable conditions, but it’s still
worthwhile to see what’s out there from the
state, and if there are any specific alternatives
that they provide for treatments that are not
linked to the federal VA, it is worth evaluating that. And I’ve provided a link
for you to the website where you can find each of the
state Departments of Veterans Affairs to conduct this
kind of exploration. Now, your vet centers
are another alternative. I think they’re very important. After Vietnam and
as part of studies of the problems of readjustment
for Vietnam veterans, the vet centers were created to
deal with community counseling and to address the problems of
combat veterans specifically. And one of the
key ideas here was that even if someone
would be barred from getting VA benefits,
if they had combat services, they would still be able to
get some kind of counseling, readjustment counseling,
also often times includes family counseling, as well. And so the vet centers
are an alternative. If you have someone who was in
combat and may be [INAUDIBLE],, one of the questions for
someone with an OTH or a BCD or a dishonorable or
a dismissal should be, did you spend any
time in combat? Because if so, don’t
forget that the vet centers can provide veteran-specific
treatment to some level. I would not expect
psychotropic medications, but I would expect at the
very least some kind of group therapy counseling. So this is definitely an option. It is funded by the VA,
but it is a separate entity that is designed to help
combat veterans, specifically readjustment issues. Now, veteran service
organizations and county veteran service offices
are extremely important. I know that I’ve
listed a few here, so Iraq and Afghanistan
Veterans of America, Swords to Plowshares, the
American Legion, AMVETS, et cetera. You also have the
officers within the county who assist people. And the idea here is
that these individuals are very experienced
with the nuances of these determinations,
and sometimes even trying to fight for benefits
in the regional offices. They will likely know about
your own regional office where you are, where your
veterans court is, trends, and ideas on what’s
successful, and how to package a claim to try to
get the greatest benefit from. And so if you haven’t
established a network or relationships with your
county veteran service officers or your veteran
service organizations, that really can be
tremendous as an alternative. I listed one here. It’s the VSO called Vietnam
Veterans Against the War. But what’s really
important about this one is that Ray Parish is a
veterans service officer who worked with some
mental health providers to develop a
network of providers who were willing to come in
and assist with VA benefits evaluations for
people who don’t have fully honorable discharges,
specifically to help them. So you have a list
of resources here. And you can try to see if there
are different alternatives available to you. I’ve given you a website for
all of the local veterans, county veterans
service officers, and then later, the veteran
service organizations themselves. The fourth option for
you is Give an Hour. And this is important,
I would say, because it highlights people
who are putting themselves out into the community, specifically
with the goal of helping veterans with veteran-specific
treatment issues. Give an Hour was a program
developed specifically because there was fear
that active duty service members would feel too
stigmatized seeking help. And so they wanted to
create an alternative where providers in the community
who did not answer directly to the military command could
actually help these service members with their
mental health issues without risking careers
or enhancing the stigma. I mention Give an Hour because
you can use their website to identify providers who
are volunteering their time to treat veterans
in the local area. Now, while the program
is not designed for justice-involved
veterans specifically, you’ve got an
audience that I think would be very
receptive to the idea that if you have veterans
in conflict with the law, maybe they need services in
a much more timely manner and they’re the most at risk. And certainly, if
you haven’t explored the option of finding these
providers who are offering free treatment services,
this can be another way to accomplish your goals without
fearing a laborious process through the VA that may
only lead to more confusion. One other thing I did
for you on the bottom of page six of this
form, is I gave you an excerpt from the VHA–
that’s the Veterans Health Administration– handbook. And even though it’s from 2009,
this policy is still in effect. And it basically talks about if
you have an OTH or a BCD what’s supposed to happen. And I draw your
attention to the note. It says, “If the DD-214
indicates OTH or BCD as the character of discharge,
VHA must submit a specific form and request the
regional office to take appropriate action to obtain
an adjudicated decision.” And that’s the character
of service review process. “Eligibility status will
be pending verification until a decision is rendered.” And I think this really
answers the question that was posed, not only in my
words, but in the words of the organization
that matters most. They’re not going to
treat it as ineligible. They’re going to say, we’re
waiting to see what happens. So they’re not discounting
eligibility for benefits until one of these
review processes occurs. And there is a very
clear authority you can use to raise that point. Now, I do want to
emphasize this point, which is if you would like to do
explore local veteran service organizations and
try to sit down with stakeholders to create more
alternatives beside standard VA channels, that’s
something we’re here to do as technical
consultants, and we can try to arrange something,
find people, and discuss some frameworks that would
offer more opportunities for you to meet the objectives of your
own specific veterans treatment court docket. With this in mind, I’d like to
go into our first hypothetical. This is not a real person,
but I think sometimes when we see a picture it
becomes more relatable. So this is a person that I’m
calling Private Ray Hobson. And let’s assume that Ray
Hobson entered the military before September 8th, 1980. He had an enlistment
period for two years. During his enlistment, he
was deployment to Vietnam. He received a bad
conduct discharge at a special court-martial
six months into his tour. And at the time
he was discharged, he served a total of 10
months on active duty out of his 24 month enlistment. The question first is,
based on the facts above– and I’d love for you to
give some of your thoughts on this– does it matter that
he only served 10 months out of a 24 month enlistment
period, and why? If you could type
in any answers, I’d really appreciate that. Thank you so much. So if we have any
thoughts on this, I think the answer is because
he entered military service before September 8,
1980, there really isn’t any minimum service
requirement that he would have. So the fact that he spent
only 10 months of his 24 month enlistment period is not
necessarily something that would discount him
from being available. Does his bad conduct
discharge bar him from receiving all VA benefits? And that really
focuses on the fact that it was a special
court-martial. So the question is, is
it a bar to benefits to have a bad conduct discharge
from a special court-martial? And if we consult Title 38
of the United States Code, Section 5303a, what we’ll see
is it is not a bar to benefits just to have a BCD from
a special court-martial. It’s only in the
general court-martial that is the statutory bar. So right now I don’t
see a statutory bar. At the time he was– so if you
go down to the next question, what if it was a
special court-martial– actually, what if he received
a bad conduct discharge from a general court-martial? I think the answer
there is that he would be barred from
benefits because then he falls within the
statute that says any kind of discharge from
a general court-martial is a statutory bar. But if it was a
special court-martial and the crime was
larceny of a Jeep, we don’t have the statutory
bar for a discharge coming from a general court-martial,
but the problem there would be one of the few very
clearly moral turpitude bars. For the regulatory
bar of moral turpitude is larceny, theft,
fraud, any kind of crime like that has
already been deemed to be a crime of moral turpitude. So he would likely we be
barred on that regulatory basis of having committed a
crime of moral turpitude that led to his discharge. Instead of a crime
involving stealing a Jeep, if it was assault of a senior
non-commissioned officer, that probably isn’t
morally turpitudinous and that would probably be
a good contender for someone who might not be
barred from benefits. If the only thing was a BCD
from a special court-martial for the non-turpitudinous
crime of assault, that would probably be a
contender for some kind of benefit eligibility. And then, the
final question here is, what if this guy had a
prior special court-martial in addition to the one that led
to his discharge for assault? Suppose he was not kicked
out of the military. It is possible to have a
court-martial and being retained. So you just have
federal convictions, but you don’t get
kicked out the military. If this was the case and he
was retained, but was convicted for sleeping on guard
duty eight months into his tour and
35 days of absence without leave six
months into his service, is there any significance
to that event? And the answer to that
question is, probably yes, because we see
different incidents. We have an AWOL, which the
Board of Veterans Appeals likes to consider to be willful
and persistent misconduct, because it substantially
interferes with the performance of your duties. So when you have just
a court-martial from– a special court-martial and it’s
just a bad conduct discharge, that’s not too threatening. That sounds good if it’s
not moral turpitude. But if you start adding
other offenses that could be considered in
different time frames within that term of service,
you could very likely still have a bar based on willful
and persistent misconduct. So these are all
considerations to think about. Something in the actual handouts
and materials I provided before, but it’s worth
emphasizing here– and this is something to note– anyone with a bad
conduct discharge is barred to health care
benefits from the VA, and that’s from a
public law in 1977. If you wanted to look this
up, it’s Title 38 in the Code of Federal Regulations, Section
3.360b, small b, lower case b. And so what we see here is
a bar based on a bad conduct discharge will stop health care. Would it stop vocational
rehabilitation? No. Would it stop the ability to
get disability compensation? No. We’re only talking
about health care. So even though
someone with a BCD faces many hurdles
in health care, if it’s not identified
as health care and they’re found to
be under conditions other than dishonorable, then
they can still get something, and they still may be entitled
to a lot of different benefits. So please keep that in
mind for anyone with a BCD. Now, I would like to
move to the next slide. Actually, let’s move back. So this is Private
Lisa Carpenter. She enlisted in the
Virginia Army National Guard on December 9, 2003. In 2004, she was put
on active duty orders to deploy to Afghanistan. This was a deployment
that included three months of
training stateside and 12 months in Afghanistan. And after nine months, she
was administratively separated with an under other than
honorable conditions discharge. And the crime was violating
a general order that prohibited unlawful
cohabitation, which is basically, if you enter
the housing trailer of someone of the opposite sex, you’re in
violation of a general order. That’s a very common offense
in deployed environments. So when we look at this, we know
that she came into the military and enlisted after 1980. So we do have some concerns
about minimum service requirements here. First question is, has she met
the minimum service requirement to be considered a veteran? And the answer would be, if
this is her only time activated, even if we add the time
she spent on the training stateside and the
deployment, it’s not 24 months of continuous
service, and unfortunately, it’s not a completion of her
orders for mobilization. So she would not
likely be considered a veteran because of those
minimum service requirements. The next question,
number two is, let’s suppose that she had
no misconduct in Afghanistan, and she successfully completed
that mission in Afghanistan, but later in a different
deployment in 2006, she had the same misconduct
and she was in Iraq this time, and she was terminated
before the end of her tour. What kind of
considerations apply there? Well, clearly, she
had a completed term of honorable service from her
first deployment in Afghanistan two years earlier, so
we would be looking to that for her eligibility,
even if she would not meet the requirements elsewhere. What if under the same
circumstances above, her current mental
health condition stems from the second
deployment, rather than the first? Well, we know that
because of these rules, if she had a term
that’s characterized by an other than honorable and
the service was not complete, then she’s going to
have problems there. Whereas, if anything
resulted from the term she honorably
completed, she would be able to get benefits
for the prior term. So our final question here is,
assume that it was only one instance, and she needs help. And she’s barred
because she has an OTH, and she didn’t fully
complete the term. What if she said she was
sexually assaulted while on duty during that deployment,
the one where she got the OTH, would this change anything
regarding her eligibility? Perhaps. Again, I did not
include it in the form, but it’s important to consider,
just like we considered, hey, were you a combat veteran? Well, she would be
a combat veteran, so she could go to a vet
center, even if she wouldn’t be eligible for everything. In addition to that,
someone who claims to have been sexually assaulted,
there’s a Veterans Health Administration
Directive 2010-33, and it’s based on
some provisions about specific terror related
to military sexual assault and trouble and trauma. And so the limitation is
health care will be provided, but usually it’s limited only
to the military sexual trauma. So if there was PTSD
related to combat, then they may not be
willing to help there, only the issues relating
to military sexual trauma. So amnesty is worth asking
about, even for males. We’re learning that there’s
a significant number of males in the military who
were also either whether it’s hazing or just
sexual assault in general, who are also victims
to this treatment. So it’s worth asking
about combat service. And it’s worth asking about
military sexual trauma, especially for those who would
not otherwise be eligible. I’d like to move now to the
example of Private Ted Rafanz. For Private Rafanz, he’s saying
he joined active duty Marine Corps in 2005 on a
six year enlistment. He deployed three times
to Iraq as a sniper. He was involuntarily
separated from the Corps after being apprehended by local
police placed on a deserter warrant, and he was gone
for a total of 100 days. He vaguely recalls the process
by which he was eliminated, and thinks he may have waived
his right to a separation board in order to
avoid a court-martial. And at the time
he was discharged, Rafanz served three years
of his six year enlistment. When he was out-processed
from his unit after his administrative
discharge, he vaguely recalls being told
to expect a DD-214 in the mail. The documents never came. For the last two
years, he’s believed he’s ineligible for any
kind of VA benefits, so he doesn’t
really care too much about his DD-214 for anything. At this stage, can you
estimate the likelihood of Rafanz’s eligibility
for benefits? And the answer is, we don’t know
what his character of discharge was. We don’t know whether it
was an OTH, a general. It could have been
anything, so we really need more information before
we estimate what happened? The question is, is
there any expeditious way to confirm his time in service? And we’ll talk now
in a few seconds more in detail about
that VRSS program. If he has an other than
honorable conditions discharge, would it make a
difference if he was separated based on desertion
or absence without leave? And the answer is, yes. If you are eliminated from the
military based on desertion, and you have an other than
honorable based on desertion, you are essentially
barred from benefits, but one key point
here, is it has to be the basis of being eliminated. So it has to be on that
the proceeding linked to that discharge has to say
it’s because of desertion. If it’s absence without leave,
it’s less than 180 days, so you would not have
that statutory bar coming into play for the 180
days period of AWOL. So it does make a difference
in this particular case. If Rafanz’s offense
is desertion, but he has two bronze
stars and a Purple Heart, could the VA take that into
consideration as mitigation? And we would hope
the answer’s yes, but that is not built
into the system. The VA is not
looking to see, oh, what is there to
mitigate this or we have special things
we can consider and avoid imposing the bar. The desertion bar is
something that’s statute and it does not
articulate any exceptions. The 180 day AWOL for
an other than honorable does indicate an exception
of compelling circumstances, but that’s very rarely given. So in a lot of these
cases, even though you may have someone who
did very heroic things, that may not have
the opportunity to grant benefits, or weigh in
the favor of the former service member. Now, in terms of
the SF-180, which is the traditional way
of obtaining forms. You know, there is a
computerized website where you can request the forms. Sometimes they require
something signed and faxed. But you have the
traditional routes of obtaining records I
just wanted to show you. You may be using those. The VRSS, this is
the website for it. It is a program that is
accessible by VA employees, and it is a way to provide the
information shown there, which includes a name, social security
number, date of birth, gender. With that information they
can conduct a records check, where they look at military
personnel information that’s stored on electronic databases. And they can easily find through
a computer match information relating to a specific person. And that’s all you need, those
key demographic indicators. It was developed
in April 25, 2012. And I’m giving you the
example of California, because it’s a pretty
serious and powerful tool. The California prison system
used this as a test pilot. They initially had estimated
that 2.7% of the population of inmates in prisons
had veteran status or had served in the military. And by using the
VRSS system, they realized it was actually 7.9% of
their inmate population, which really translates to
over 5,000 inmates that they did not correctly
anticipate were veterans. And that’s really a
very powerful indicator that a lot of people will not
volunteer their veteran status. It would be very hard to
identify veteran status. And the beauty of this is, not
only does it say whether or not that person had military
service in the past, it provides details to the
VA representative regarding the character of
service, as well. They don’t
automatically give that to the judge or the court
personnel of the warden, but it is accessible,
and it is accessible in a much, much faster way. So I’m interested to know if
anyone who’s participating here has actually used this
system or was aware of it. Certainly, it would
be beneficial to work with especially the health
care re-entry for veterans personnel, because they probably
frequently use this system. Now, I know we again,
covered a lot of information, but I hope that I’ve
brought a little bit more of a practical
perspective to this. And at this time,
I’d love to answer any questions you might have. KERWIN HENDERSON:
Doesn’t look like we have any questions immediately. I guess we’ll wait
a little bit longer. But thank you for
the information. Thank you for the
presentation, Major Seamone, extremely helpful. And the practical examples
that you gave I’m sure will be extremely informative
to those jurisdictions out there that are
trying to figure out what other resources they can
tap into if the VA will not treat their justice
involved veterans. So again, thank you
for the presentation. So I guess we’ll wait a couple
more minutes for any questions. If anyone wants to ask any
questions from either the first session or this
follow-up session, feel free to go ahead– looks like we got one in. Let’s see. Arthur [? Alarcon ?]
says data presented is very detailed and
technical for new members to the Veterans Treatment
Court as a mentor. He says it’s very
good info however. MAJOR SEAMONE: Yeah, it’s
intimidating to lawyers. It’s intimidating to regional
office administrators. I appreciate your willingness
to think about this. This is not easy,
because you have so many different regulations
in different places. Right? You’ve got the Code of
Federal Regulations. The VA has it’s own internal
operating rules to follow. And then, you’ve got
the law, the statutes. One of the points
is, that’s why it’s vital to try to reach out
to someone who’s a veterans service officer who works with
claims on a regular basis, and maybe even to try to bring
that person for [INAUDIBLE] thoughts, use their time,
which most of these individuals are so dedicated and just
giving of themselves. They really see
how often benefits are denied and sometimes
on arbitrary bases. They want to make a change. So I think this is
a population that would have an interest if
invited to actually come and participate in the
docket, and maybe even meet with those individuals who
have stigmatizing discharges, and will look into
their situations. It’s a type of
expertise that they’ve developed over the course
of years of dealing with regional offices. And my suggestion is try to
use those resources rather than attempting this yourself,
when it’s so hard to grasp and there’s so much going on. But having a general
idea of what to expect can help you
identify populations that need that kind of
intensive assistance. I hope that offers something. And again, I’d be more
than happy to, depending on where you are, see if someone
would be willing to come out there and provide some
of that needed guidance and participate,
if you wanted that. SPEAKER 1: And this
is [? Carolyn. ?] I just wanted to stress
that it is intimidating. It’s so intimidating to even
the most seasoned people, let alone the poor
veterans who, you know, have no idea how to
wade through this stuff. So that’s why please, we’re
so grateful to Major Seamone for working with us and at least
helping provide some guidance. So if you come into
situations, feel free to send them
on our list serve. And to the extent others can
share experience, that’s great. And Major Seamone can
weigh in, as well. KERWIN HENDERSON:
So Major Seamone, it looks like Mr. [? Alarcon ?]
followed up, and said that he’s a former
employee of the Denver RO. That was a good suggestion. So– So we have a couple more
minutes for any more questions. So if there’s any other
questions out there, once again from either this session
or the first session, please feel free,
or about anything related to Veterans Treatment
Courts, free to ask, please. I don’t want to put her
on the spot, but Monica, did you have anything to
add or anything to ask? MONICA: No, nothing
for me to add. We will be sending out the link
to today’s recording, as well as the PowerPoint slides and
the questionnaire that Major Seamone developed, as well
as a few other supplemental documents. And we will also
have them posted on our website, our Justice
Programs Office website, as well. Thank you again, Major,
great, great presentation. MAJOR SEAMONE:
Thank you so much. KERWIN HENDERSON:
And I’d just like to add too that Major
Seamone will be back. I know we are in talks of
holding another seminar upcoming on the use of
jail pods for veterans. We’re still in the
preliminary stages of figuring when that will be,
but keep posted to our list serve, and spread the word, and
keep an eye on our list serve. And we’ll send out announcement
out about that shortly. Well, I think that’s
it for questions. So once again, thank you
all for joining us today. And as I said, be
on the lookout. We’ll be sending some
more announcements out about our upcoming
webinars with Major Seamone and also with other consultants. I know we have a
webinar coming up on the role of the judge in
Veterans Treatment Courts. So be on the lookout for
those through our list serve. Thank you all again, and
have a great afternoon.

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