Do you ever wonder where veterans and families get their in-depth knowledge about VA and medical benefits?
It’s a vital part of achieving financial independence. Some of the information comes from joining veteran’s support organizations like MOAA, the American Legion, the VFW, the DAV, AmVets, or the IAVA. You could read the Military Times website health page and subscribe to Military.com e-mails for small daily doses. You could read all 400 pages of “The Military Advantage” benefits book. You can drop in at your local military base’s Retired Activities Office to browse through their literature or even volunteer to help with their programs. RAOs at military bases like Pearl Harbor run quarterly newsletters and annual seminars for retirees of all military branches. You could ask questions of bloggers like me, and we’ll track down the answers.
But you can do a lot of it on your own with just one e-mail every two weeks.
James “EMO” Tichacek is a retired Navy lieutenant. These days his title is “Associate Director, Retiree Assistance Office, U.S. Embassy Warden & IRS VITA” in Baguio City in the Philippines. He’s a member of a dozen different veteran’s organizations. Over the years he’s built up a RAO Bulletin on veteran’s benefits, VA initiatives, other military news, and Medicare/Medicaid issues. It’s a gold mine of a newsletter.
At first, his bulletin seems intimidating– a PDF of 60-80 pages. However, you can scan the table of contents and scroll to the subjects that interest you. After the first few newsletters, you learn to read the parts you care about in 10 minutes. I prefer the biweekly e-mails (arriving on the 1st & 15th), but parts are also mirrored on a website.
He’s gone to great lengths to obtain permission for the main PDF attachment to include copyrighted material from Military Times– some of the bulletin’s articles are not easily found unless you have a paid subscription to their newspapers. That means I can’t include a copy of the e-mail’s main PDF on this blog, but I’ve attached a sample of its table of contents.
Each e-mail also includes fascinating in-depth supplements: a rundown of a specific states’ veterans benefits, or lists of state legal assistance offices, or the Congressional status of all national veteran’s legislation, or a guide to getting help from various state agencies. It updates research & programs on PTSD, Iraq burn pits, Gulf War Syndrome, atomic bomb testing of the 1950s, and veteran’s jobs. It includes a military history calendar, WWII posters, aviation art, and perhaps an in-depth personal military history of a battle or an event.
The RAO Bulletin is free to all veterans, dependents, and military/veteran support organizations.
EMO describes how the e-mail came about:
“The Baguio Retiree Assistance Office [RAO] is an ‘answer place’ for all U.S. military veterans and expatriates. There are no longer any U.S. bases in the Philippines and the embassy is 180 KM away, so over the last 18 years the RAO has become the unofficial source for just about everything related to U.S. government programs impacting on those residing in this geographic area. Because of our remote location the majority of veterans’ assistance is provided by email. … The variety of questions, and subsequent research to answer them, has resulted in the development of a library of articles on over 5,000 subjects and a 115+ page alphabetical index of article titles available for recall upon request. As of 1 JAN 2013 the bulletin is being sent to 92,000+ email addees for dissemination of the newsletter to other RAO/RSO’s, military fraternal organizations, and interested veterans worldwide. The objective is to provide veteran related information to at least one member of every veteran’s group worldwide who can act as a point of contact to pass on any information felt germane to that organization’s membership. Through their involvement, the Bulletin info reaches approximately half a million veterans and/or dependents.”
Here’s how to subscribe:
“First add the RAO email addee ([email protected]) to your address book and/or white list. Then e-mail to this addee your full name plus either the post/branch/chapter number of the fraternal military/government organization you are currently affiliated with (if any) “AND/OR” the city and state/country you reside in so your addee can be properly positioned in the directory for future recovery. AOL and Netscape users should provide an alternate non-AOL/Netscape email addee (if possible) to receive the Bulletin due to their spam policies and filters.”
If you prefer to read the Bulletin at a website, one URL is at Veteran’s Resources. However, EMO Tichacek doesn’t appear to maintain his own RAO Bulletin website (perhaps because of the copyrighted material) and other websites won’t include the copyright articles.