To obtain help from a VA financial counselor, veterans can call VA
toll-free at 1-877-827-3702.  Information about VA's home loan guaranty program can be obtained at

U.S. Department of Labor Initiative Aids Employment of Veterans With
Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a new online resource to
help employers in their employment of veterans with traumatic brain injury(TBI)
and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), two increasingly common battlefield conditions. The new America's Heroes at Work Web site ( provides information about TBI and PTSD as well as tools and guidance on how to implement workplaceaccommodationsand other services that benefit affected individuals. In addition, the
Website includes the toll-free phone number of the Job Accommodati on Network,
which employers can call to receive personal assistance relating to job
accommodations for veterans with disabilities.

"This America's Heroes at Work initiative focuses on the employment
challenges of returning service members who are living with traumatic
brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder," said Secretary of Labor
Elaine L. Chao. "One of the best ways we can help these courageous men and
women and honor their sacrifice is to help them return to full, productive
lives through work. Employment can also play a role in their recovery."
Chao unveiled the initiative at the National Press Club, along with a
number of federal and private partners including: representatives from the
Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Society
for Human Resource Management.

Although their injuries may not be visible, people with TBI or PTSD may
facesome difficulties--especially with respect to employment. In many cases,
a few reasonable workplace supports can help resolve these issues. Through
America's Heroes at Work, employers can leverage a variety of promising
practices, such as job coaching and mentoring programs to create a
positive, successful workplace experience for disabled veterans and non-veteran
employees, such as first responders, who have experienced traumatic
events.  America's Heroes at Work is managed jointly by the Department of Labor's
Office of Disability Employment Policy and Veterans' Employment and
Training Service, in collaboration with other federal agencies engaged in TBI and
PTSD programs, including the Department of Defense, the Department of
Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services,
the Department of Education, and the Social Security Administration.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at

The information in this news release will be made
available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc)
from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release
when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor
Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees
with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws
and regulations. For more information, please visit .  SOURCE U.S. Department of Labor

PH for PTS?

The recent Pentagon's decision not to issue a Purple Heart medal to those suffering from PTS was expected, but still very disappointing.  In doing so, the Pentagon (unintentionally, I believe) has added to the burden that those who have suffered wounds of the mind carry with them everyday.

Stating that it is not a wound intentionally caused by the enemy from an ʽoutside force or agent,' is bogus.  That is like trying to say that when a group of combatants are injured by a bomb or mortar, that those injured by the bigger pieces of shrapnel are more important than those who are injured by the smaller pieces.

Just because there is no "bloodshed" doesn't mean they do not 'bleed'.  They bleed inside and their bleeding goes on for a much longer time than a typical wound.  For some, that wound is ripped open on a daily basis.  For others, not as often, but no less significant.

Those with PTS are only asking for recognition and respect for their wound - the unseen, invisible consequence of combat.  Recognizing it as a wound would go a long way in taking away the stigma that is currently attached to the diagnosis of PTSD.  This stigma hinders, even prevents those who need help to seek it or to get it.  The lack of respect for this wound means that most who have it feel that it is somehow less worthy or matters less than a typical wound.  That is so wrong.  And those feelings make their wound so much worse.  Combat PTS/battlefield stress needs to be recognized as a distinct combat wound, such as TBI is known.  That alone will go a long way in taking away the stigma, embarrassment, and guilt (all undeserved) associated with PTS.  If not the Purple Heart, then it should be another medal. 

No matter the disappointments and setbacks, The Silver Star Families of America will continue in our mission of getting the recognition and treatment our wounded and ill servicemembers/veterans deserve.  At the heart of SSFoA and interwoven into the fabric of the Silver Star Banner and Flag are these sentiments:

We recognize and honor the sacrifice you have made
and continue to make every day

                                                                                           ~ KL

"Innovation Competition" Begins at Veterans Affairs
VA Employees Asked to Submit Recommendations for Transforming Service to

WASHINGTON (Sept. 10, 2009) - To speed its transformation into a 21st
Century organization that is Veteran-centric, results-oriented and
forward-looking, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched
one of the largest innovation competitions in the agency's history.  The
competition solicits ideas from VA employees and co-located Veterans
Service Organizations who are on the front lines of the Veterans
Benefits Administration (VBA) and encourages them to submit entries
addressing everything from claims processing times to better process

"The men and women of VA know that many Veterans are often asked to wait
too long for the critical services they have earned while defending our
Nation," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said.  "These
employees who grapple with the claims process every day have the first
hand knowledge and experience necessary to help us understand
inefficiencies and improve the system.  We are confident that our team
will come forward with many creative and original ways to accelerate
processes and better deliver services for our nation's Veterans."

The on-line proposal period began on Tuesday, Sept, 8, and will conclude
after Veterans Day.  Employees from the agency's 57 regional offices
have been encouraged by the Secretary to submit entries via a secure
online platform.  At the close of the competition, VA administrators
from each regional office will select the winning ideas, which will be
reviewed by a team chaired by Patrick W. Dunne, the VA Under Secretary
for Benefits.  The final selections will receive full funding for
project development and execution at the Regional Offices submitting the

President Obama announced the innovation competition while speaking to
the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August. "We're going to fund the best
ideas and put them into action, all with a simple mission: cut those
backlogs, slash those wait times, deliver your benefits sooner," said

VA and the White House will share the winning entries with the public
after selection.


Executive Veteran Affairs Director
Kathy Landess
Position Statement
Silver Star Families of America

As an organization recognizing ALL war wounds (including PTSD, effects from Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome), we are dismayed by the recent e-mail written by a VA employee.  In the e-mail, the suggestion was put forward to not use the diagnosis of PTSD due to the cost of compensation that would be paid to the veteran/patient.  This is unconscionable.

The cost of treatment and/or compensation should not be a part of the diagnosis procedure.  Every veteran/patient should receive proper, complete testing so that they receive an accurate diagnosis.  However, since most veterans are at crisis when they seek help for PTSD, it should not take months for them to be accurately diagnosed.  If VA employees do not have time to test the veteran/patient, then either more employees should be hired or the process needs to be streamlined.  Afterall, the #1 job of VA employees is to have time for our veterans, their patients.

Kathy Landess
Executive Veteran Affairs Director
California State Coordinator
Silver Star Familes of America

Disclaimer                         Privacy Policy
Copyright 2005-2010
All Rights Reserved
The Silver Star Banner and Flag is in no way connected to the Silver Star Medal

The Silver Star Families of America is a non-partisan, not-for-profit charitable organization committed to supporting the United States Wounded Military Members and Veterans from all wars, past and present,  and honoring their sacrifice with Silver Star Banners.Content within this web site is the sole property of  The Silver Star Families of America"All photos and letters sent to the SSFOA become the property of the organization to be used in any way we deem appropriate." SSFOA reserves the right to conduct the day to day business of the organization as they deem appropriate. State Coordinators and Reps will be chosen at the discretion of  SSFOA National Headquarters. SSFOA is an all volunteer 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit public charity organization. See your tax advisor. For more info on deductions see:
Questions/Comments Pertaining To This Web site CONTACT US


HOMELESS VETERANS: To see a list of of stand downs planned for 2008 and other homeleses Vets resources. SSFOA is also participating with  CHALENG In 1994, the VA launched Project CHALENG (Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups) for Veterans, an innovative program designed to enhance the continuum of care for homeless veterans provided by the local VA and its surrounding community service agencies.

INCARCERATED VETERANS   The Silver Stars will never forget any wounded Veteran be they homeless or incarcerated.  We are there.
WOMEN VETERANS   See a list of resources to benefit women veterans.
VA COMPLAINTS   Process for complaints and VA Hotline
Kathy serves as SSFOA Rep for California and also as Executive Veteran Affairs Director. She has worked with Veteran Affairs and assists with VA issues as they arise. Kathy complies a listing of helps and resources to benefit our wounded Veterans.

She has been involved with military support activities for over 26 years. Her support of our troops began as a way to honor her fiance who was KIA in Vietnam. She has had 100s of penpals over the years, ranging from raw recruits up to Colonels, in nearly every service branch. 

Besides SSFOA, Kathy belongs to and is associated with:  StarSupportMilitary Group, Adopt-a-Soldier/Adopt-a-Platoon, Operation Military Pride, Soldier's Angels  and co-coordinate of Operation:  Mail Support, a penpal program.  She happened to find SSFoA's website by accident and very soon realized that she had to belong to this organization.  Supporting our military is important, but supporting/honoring our wounded/our vets is even more so.  Kathy feels very privileged to be part of the SSFOA cause and all the wonderful people in the group.

Silver Star shining for sacrifice, honoring wounded, ill and dying members of our Armed Forces, and bringing remembrance to those so deserving of our thanks.
We will never forget . . . WELCOME HOME!

The Silver Star Families of America's mission has been and continues to be directed toward our wounded, injured and ill troops and veterans.  However, the overall health and safety of our troops remain a directing factor to our organization.  Thus, SSFOA strongly urges the cessation of the use of burning pits.

In a memo dated 12/20/06, the then bioenvironmental flight commander at Joint Base Balad, wrote:  "In my professional opinion, there is an acute health hazard from individuals.  There is also the possibility for chronic health hazards associated with the smoke."  Air Force bioenvironmental engineers are experts in occupational and environmental workplace hazards.  The military has no standard operating procedure or training policy for ensuring the burn pits are operated properly.  Consequently, per the above referenced memo, the following items have found their way into the burn pit at Balad:  paint and solvents; styrofoam; unexploded ordnance; petroleum products; plastic; rubber; dining facility trash; and medical waste (including amputated limbs).  The memo further states other contaminants that troops may have been exposed to include:  benzene (an aircraft fuel known to cause leukemia); arsenic; dichlorofluorometha ne (Freon); carbon monoxide; ethylbenzene; formaldehyde; hydrogen cyanide; nitrogen dioxide; sulfuric acid and xylene.  

While the above information specifically pertains to the burn pits at Balad, burn pits are being used all over Iraq and in Afghanistan.  A total of 41 incinerators have been approved for use at U.S. bases in Iraq, but only 17 are presently fully operational.  Another 17 are being built with 7 awaiting funding.  An additional 22 are planned.  Incinerators for Afghanistan are still being planned/designed.

The DAV has been gathering information on this issue.  There are currently 182 combat vets on their database.  Of these, 48 have lymphoma, luekemia or another type of cancer; 55 have pulmonary ailments including asthma and asthma-like symptoms; and others report multiple sclerosis, sleep apnea and heart problems.  At least 16 veterans on this list have died.  This is another Agent Orange or Gulf War Syndrome situation in the making.   

Burn pits are unacceptable refuse disposal method for any permanent military installation here in the States or elsewhere in the world.  The Silver Star Famiies of America believes there is more than enough evidence to suggest that burn pits are and will be detrimental to the health of our armed forces.  Thus it is our position that the practice stop or be revised. 

This position statement will be included in written testimony to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Kathy Landess