RockVets February 2015 Newsletter.  Some items this month include: Editorial about PTSD; Buffalo Soldiers; Clarkstown Vets Tax Exemption; Articles:  Hidden Brain Damage; Tricare article;  Upcoming Events; Employment Opportunities
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RockVets Newsletter

Volume 6
Issue 2

 February 2015 RockVets Newsletter 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR...From Jerry Donnellan

When we returned from Vietnam there was no such thing as PTSD. Even if there was, most of us couldn't spell it anyway. Now if you ask the general public, it seems like every veteran has it. It's the usual pendulum swing - over-correcting, and maybe in the future it will come back to a center. However, the VA hasn't been able to wrap its arms around it. Although there are many good and competent mental health professionals in the VA, they are working for a large and regimented system that doesn't pivot quickly. They have to look long and hard at costs, liability, and things that the corporate world would look at. But when treating young veterans with mental health concerns, you need to be more nimble and more sensitive than that federal agency can be.   In terms of administration, the VA is just like the IRS for the veteran that has to deal with the bureaucrats long before she sees a doctor.

If Washington was serious about treating veterans with PTSD, they would actively recruit mental health professionals who are combat veterans or at least veterans. This for their first line of intake interfacing with the young combat veterans. Further, they could develop an express aisle for incoming vets who even if they mentioned anything akin to PTSD, they would see a special person like them. There are very few twenty-something veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan that are going to trust or open up to a middle-aged therapist who has never worn a uniform or been on a battlefield other than Gettysburg.

There are combat veterans who are seen in the VA. Usually, they are the veterans who are able to adapt to the government world and understand the bureaucracy. They are the ones that realize that the same VA that's treating them is also paying their disability benefits, and simply a different department of the same outfit that sent them to war in the first place. So trust is hard to come by. Therefore, it's in their best interest to be just crazy enough without being too crazy. Recovery could mean loss of benefits, while opening up about more stressful concerns could have ramifications in terms of career and personal life. So they become Heller's character, Yossarian, in Catch-22. The mental health professionals in the VA see this Kabuki theater for what it is, but what can they do? The difficulty is the truly stressed-out veterans, the ones we need to reach, are not going to put up with the bureaucracy and the suicide rate will remain high.

The VA Budget today, even if you adjust for inflation, is more than twice what it was 20 years ago. The VA population is half of what it was 20 years ago. In English, there is twice as much real money for each veteran's treatment today as there was then. What if we made the bureaucracy work for the veteran? 41.7% of the current 68.4 billion dollars is discretionary. At the same time, the Department of Defense's (DOD) current Budget is 495 billion dollars. Maybe they could work together to contact people in the military who have a background in psychology, counseling, or an aptitude for that type of thing. Offer them the possibility of a position in the VA Clinics and Hospitals.

Understanding that they're not psychologists or psychiatrists, but will be trained to work enrolling veterans in the VA Healthcare system. At the same time, develop a system whereby the VA can access the DOD computers so that when said veteran shows up at the VA, his/her military records could be accessed. Thereby cutting down on a lot of time and paperwork. So as not to add more stress to a person who is obviously already stressed out. Done properly this could solve a couple of problems. One, obviously to get veterans with PTSD into the VA and to help develop a trust within them, in the system, at least to some degree. It would also offer jobs to people leaving the military who based on our current draw down are going to be many in an economy where jobs are few and far between. Surely, somewhere in that 563 billion there could be a couple of bucks to try something like this.    

Jerry Donnellan, Director
Veterans Service Agency of Rockland County, NY
20 Squadron Blvd., Suite 480
New City, New York 10956


The annual Buffalo Soldier Award was presented on January 29, 2015 to Joseph B. Brown of New City, New York. Joe was born and raised in Spring Valley, New York, attended Ramapo Senior High School, SUNY Rockland, and Pace University as a Criminal Justice Major. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1988 - 1996, as well as during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. After serving his country, Joe continues his service in the county. As a member of the Spring Valley Police Department, Joe participates on the Scholarship Committee (SVPBA) Board, and the Youth and Police Initiative Program (YPI) in conjunction with the Rockland County District Attorney's Office. Joe is also a member of American Legion Anthony Moscarella Post 199, and the Marine Corp League - Rockland Detachment.

The Buffalo Soldier Award is presented annually to an outstanding African-American veteran who resides in Rockland County. “Buffalo Soldier” is the nickname first given to members of African-American cavalry regiments (largely, the Tenth Cavalry Regiment) of the U.S. Army who served in the western United States from 1867 to 1896, noted for their courage and discipline. The Tenth Cavalry also served in World War I, World War II and in Vietnam.


This month's RockVets radio show will air live on Friday, February 6th, 2015 just after 10:00 a.m. – radio station 1300 on the AM radio dial. The RockVets Radio Show is hosted by Jerry Donnellan. This month Jerry has a special guest, John Hussey, who will be live on the show.

Colonel John F. Hussey recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, where he served as the Deputy Commander of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 and Task Force Parwan Commander. In 2005, he commanded the 306th Military Police Battalion at the Abu Ghraib Prison. He holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Iona College and four Master’s Degrees including Masters in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College and an MA in Criminal Justice from John Jay College. John has worked for the NY State Court System for 30 years and is presently employed as the Chief Clerk of the Rockland Supreme & County Courts.

So call in with questions you may have for John about his experiences in Afghanistan. Please listen in and spread the word about the show this month. The direct call-in line is 845-362-0013. You can also hear the program live on the internet at


The veterans' community was very well represented for the public hearing on this legislation on January 22nd, 2015 and the Clarkstown Board of Education adopted the provisions of Section 458-a of the Real Property Tax Law, which will grant a partial exemption from taxation for school district purposes of certain real property situation in the school district and owned and used as the primary residence by eligible veterans (Alternative Veterans Exemption).

1). The Basic Exemption - Tax exemption of 15% of the assessed value of the property, not to exceed $12,000 or the product of $12,000 multiplied by the latest state equalization rate for the assessing unit, whichever is less.
2). Combat Zone - An additional tax exemption of 10% of the assessed value of qualifying residential property of veterans who are documented to have served in a combat zone, not to exceed $8,000 or the product of $8,000 multiplied by the latest state equalization rate, whichever is less.
3). Disabled Veterans - In addition to the above exemptions, where the veterans received a compensation rating from the Veterans Administration or Department of Defense based upon a service-related disability, the qualifying residential property will be exempt to the extent of the product of the assessed value multiplied by 50% of the veteran's disability rating, not to exceed $40,000 multiplied by the latest state equalization rate, whichever is less. 

The original legislation was passed and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and stated that School Districts now may offer property tax exemptions to veterans who served during wartime.


This course is free for SUNY Rockland Student Veterans. For veterans from other schools there is a $25.00 fee, and for all other veterans, $75.00 fee. Spouses and Partners can attend for free.

Today, veterans between the ages of 18 and 30 are twice as likely as other adults in the population to be homeless. Roughly 56% of all homeless veterans are African-American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8% and 15.4% of the U.S. population respectively. To help address this trend, SUNY Rockland and First Niagara Bank have teamed up to offer “Personal Finance for Veterans Program.” It’s a course designed by a veteran for veterans that makes one simple promise: Complete this course and you will have a personal financial plan that could change your life! The next program will begin Saturday, February 7th. To learn more about this course and discounted prices, e-mail Patrick Curran at: Powered by American Business Strategies, Inc.


Register for SUNY Rockland's Certified Production Technician program this Spring:
Nationally recognized certification program through MSSC (Manufacturing Skills Standards Council) and NAM (National Association of Manufacturing) endorsed. Class consists of 4 modules of training: Quality & Measurements, Safety, Manufacturing Processes, and Maintenance Awareness. Class will also cover topics of: Root Cause Analysis, Lean and Six Sigma, 10 Hr. OSHA Certification, and Shop Math.
Class will run 3 days per week (4 hour instructor led) for 12 weeks. Employees responsible for computer led training on their own time. Certification in each module and National Certification upon successful completion of all four modules. For more info. or to register, please contact Ken Hutchings: or (845) 574-4360 or Stephanie Brady: or (845) 574-4730.

Veterans who are interested in receiving tuition assistance can contact Jonathan Barnwell, the RCC Coordinator of Judicial and Veteran Affairs at 845-574-4105 or email him at For information about the Advanced Manufacturing program, contact Ken Hutchings, RCC Advanced Manufacturing Coordinator at 845-240-2203 or email


Service members attending job interviews or skills training in pursuit of employment opportunities can receive free hotels stays at any Hilton brand hotels in the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. For more information on the CDLE Hilton HHonors Military Program please contact: Pete Hall at: (719) 667-3757 or


THURSDAY, Jan. 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The brains of some veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who were injured by homemade bombs show an unusual pattern of damage, a small study finds. Researchers speculate that the damage -- what they call a "honeycomb" pattern of broken and swollen nerve fibers -- might help explain the phenomenon of "shell shock." That term was coined during World War I, when trench warfare exposed troops to constant bombardment with exploding shells. Many soldiers developed an array of symptoms, from problems with vision and hearing, to headaches and tremors, to confusion, anxiety and nightmares.

Now referred to as blast neurotrauma, the injuries have become an important issue again, said Dr. Vassilis Koliatsos, the senior researcher on the new study. "Vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan have been exposed to a variety of situations, including blasts from improvised explosive devices [IEDs]," said Koliatsos, a professor of pathology, neurology and psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But even though the recognition of shell shock goes back 100 years, researchers still know little about what is actually going on in the brain, Koliatsos said. For the new study, published recently in the journal Acta Neuropathologica Communications, his team studied autopsied brain tissue from five U.S. combat veterans. The soldiers had all survived IED bomb blasts, but later died of other causes. The researchers compared the vets' brain tissue to autopsies of 24 people who had died of various causes, including traffic accidents and drug overdoses. According to Koliatsos, the soldiers' brains showed a distinct pattern of damage to nerve fibers in key regions of the brain -- including the frontal lobes, which govern memory, reasoning and decision-making.



January 23, 2015 Article by Kate Horrell

The new Affordable Care Act has a provision that penalizes taxpayers who do not have health insurance and choose not to purchase health insurance via the new health care exchanges. These penalties are happening via the federal income tax return. If you have qualified health insurance, then you show that on your tax return. Unfortunately, the line is small, the labelling is poor, and the instructions are slim. There are three versions of the basic 1040 federal income tax return: the 1040EZ, the 1040A, and the regular 1040. Each has a different level of complexity and lets people include more information to reflect different tax situations. Each one has a line where you state that you have health care coverage, but it is a different line for each form. Fortunately, it is not nearly as difficult as it looks. Each form has a line that says Health Care: individual responsibility (see instructions), and then the words Full-year coverage and then a box. IF you had an acceptable forms of Tricare for the entire 2014 calendar and tax year, then you just check the box and you are done.

To read further: view this link for The Paycheck Chronicles -


SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1st: This year, the Four Chaplains Service will be held on Sunday, February 1st at 2:00 p.m. - Sacred Heart Church, 60 Washington Avenue, Suffern, New York 10901.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7th: Town of Ramapo Hosts 88th Annual Daily News Golden Gloves Tournament. Bouts are in memory of Patrick Faherty, former Principal of Suffern High School. The event will be held at 3:00 p.m. - The Joseph T. St. Lawrence Community, Health and Sports Center, 115 Torne Valley Road, Hillburn, New York 10931. Proceeds will benefit Daily News Charities, Vietnam Veterans of Rockland County, Chapter #333, Ramapo P.A.L. and the DeSimone Family. For further information, contact Phil Tisi at Town of Ramapo (845) 357-5100 extension 201.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7th: The Marine Corps League - Rockland County Detachment Color Guard will be at St. Thomas Aquinas College for a basketball game on Saturday, February 7th at 3:00 p.m. The school is raising money for the Wounded Warrior 360 Project.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20th: The Rockland County Detachment of the Marine Corps League will hold its annual Iwo Jima Commemoration Luncheon at the Platzl Brauhaus, 127 Call Hollow Road in Pomona, New York 10970. Guest speaker will be Col. John Hussey who recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Cocktails begin at 11:30 with lunch to follow at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $40.00 at the door.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28th: The Navy Junior ROTC Unit at North Rockland High School is once again hosting the Annual Sea Raider Challenger, Area 4 Regional Drill Competition. The public is invited to the meet, which will begin at 8:45 a.m. The competition will feature 15-20 schools, including North Rockland High School. For further information contact Senior Chief Mary Cavanagh, 106 Hammond Road, Thiells, New York 10984 at

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28th: Veterans from the Bob Hope Division will visit the Montrose VA Nursing Home at 12:00 noon. Your help is needed. For further information, e-mail Chip Hayes at:


Stonework Company Seeking Skilled Employees
Full-Time and Part-Time Employment as well as Apprenticeships available
For further information, contact: Jake Matthews at (845) 357-8900 or via email:

Legacy Stoneworks, Inc., a stonework company is seeking employees to help with natural stone production and fabrication in Rockland County, NY. Join a growing company and learn an age-old skill and trade right here in Rockland County, NY. Job candidate’s past experiences may have been in building materials supply, stone cutting, drilling stone, construction, heavy equipment operating such as backhoes, fabrication or other physical construction services and trades. Depending on existing skills and past experience, new employee may do the following or be apprenticed and taught to:

•Drill stone with hand held pneumatic (air) drills and move and extract stone from natural setting.
•Operate heavy equipment to move stone for processing and loading.
•Learn to cut and carve natural stone.
Legacy Stoneworks. Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


If you are a veteran who is in the market for employment possibilities or a career change, contact our Veterans’ Representative from the NY State Department of Labor - Natalie 845-356-5429, or via e- mail: or on twitter at NatDOLVetRep.


We would like to keep you up-to- date on events and matters of interest to veterans and will be sending these newsletters regularly. If at any time you no longer wish to receive them, please send a note to Your e-mail address will immediately be deleted from our newsletter mailing list. If you find any of this information useful, please pass it along to others.


You can find information, useful links, and view our webpage at Previous copies of our newsletters are also available on our website at:

You can e-mail us at:
or visit our facebook page:

On the first Friday of each month, just after the 10:00 a.m. news- break, RockVets has a live call-in talk show on Rockland County’s local radio station – WRCR 1300 AM, hosted by Jerry Donnellan. We encourage you to call-in and ask any questions you may have relating to veterans or the military. This is also a good opportunity to promote any upcoming events for your organization that would be of interest to the veteran/military community. The call-in number is 845.362.0013. The show is also live on the internet at: 

So please listen in, and call if you have questions or information to share.
The next radio broadcast will be on Friday, February 6th, right after the 10:00 a.m. newsbreak. Once again we appreciate the support of the Marine Corps League – Rockland County Detachment. If you have information that can benefit the military and veteran community, or would like the community to know about an event your group is hosting, please send it to us so we can publish it in the next newsletter:


If you plan to come to the Veterans Service Agency office, please call to make an appointment so we can give you the time you need - 845.638.5244.

Jerry Donnellan, Director
Veterans Service Agency of Rockland
20 Squadron Blvd., Suite 480
New City, NY 10956
Phone: 845.638.5244 - E-mail:


We are here to care for those who have worn the uniform - no matter where or when they served this nation.  Thank you for your service.



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