Articles written by Mike Dryden


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  • State of Alaska offers benefits to veterans

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Apr 1, 2018

    In addition to federal VA benefits, veterans shouldn’t overlook the State of Alaska benefits. Following is a partial list of Alaska Veteran benefits. Veteran license plates The State of Alaska Legislature has designated several special license plates for veterans: recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, veterans who have been a Prisoner of War (POW), veterans who are survivors of Pearl Harbor, and Gold Star Families. Plates are issued free of charge after proof of service or family loss is v...

  • Agent Orange impacted more than just Vietnam veterans

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Mar 1, 2018

    Most Vietnam Veterans are aware VA benefits exists for a wide range of adult onset illnesses that qualify for presumptive causation from the effects of Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War. After many decades of testimony and case law, Congress finally directed the VA in 1991 by passing the Agent Orange Act to re-evaluate their stance on the effects of Agent Orange. Section 1116 of title 38 USC and ss 38 3.307 and ss 3.309 states if you served in Vietnam anytime from Jan. 9, 1962, and Ma...

  • Emergency planning is a year-round priority

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Feb 1, 2018

    With the New Year behind us and February under way, many of us have already forgotten our well-intended resolutions and plans to change something in our lives for the better. The old standbys are losing weight, joining a gym, stopping smoking, and calling your friends and family more. But today, let’s strive to make a resolution that may save your life. Let’s take some baby steps toward self-sufficiency in the unlikely event of a natural disaster that interrupts our normal lives. FEMA and the...

  • Depression hits older veterans hard

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jan 1, 2018

    The holiday season is a joyous and festive time of the year for most folks. But some in our community don’t feel celebratory due to depression. Be it because of long term illness, the loss of a spouse or, worst, a child, the loneliness of deep winter could be the tipping point for someone considering ending their life. September was National Suicide Prevention month, but the holiday season and its aftermath are a particularly vulnerable time for our relatives and neighbors who are going t...

  • Service-related brain injuries

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Nov 1, 2017

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was the most unrecognized disorder for returning Vietnam veterans as well as for the veterans of all previous wars. Not reacting to this disorder cost thousands of lives due to suicide, mental illness and chronic health issues aggregated by PTSD. The outlook started to change in the early 1980s when the VA finally recognized PTSD and started treating it. Gulf War Syndrome was another illness where the medical community was late to address its long-term...

  • When is the best time to plant a fruit tree?

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Sep 1, 2017

    My column has been AWOL for the last couple of issues, and I apologize. I became one of the “walking wounded” in early June after a fall which broke my right arm. Despite having an extensive workplace safety enforcement background, I willfully and stupidly violated the three points of contact rule by not using the hand rails. My fall broke my right arm and rendered me incapable of independent living for several weeks. This article isn’t about my injury, which is healing, and I expect to be at...

  • PTSD and its link to veterans and suicide

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jun 1, 2017

    PTSD is a term used by laymen to explain aberrant behavior by individuals who served in combat. Is this a fair assessment or a misuse of a term that carries deadly consequences? What is this disorder and does PTSD have any correlation to suicide? In the movie “Patton”, General Patton slapped a soldier who had “lost it” in battle and was recovering in the infirmary. He had battle fatigue or was shell shocked, according to the attending doctor. Of course, old “Blood and Guts” Patton couldn’t fa...

  • Baby Boomers threaten to overwhelm the VA

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|May 1, 2017

    The volume of veterans set to reach retirement age in the next decade will put tremendous pressure on the VA healthcare system. The Long-Term Supports and Services (LTSS) is one program the VA is attempting to rebalance and revamp in an attempt to avoid any impact on veterans. LTSS offers client-centered services in the least restrictive setting possible. For the majority of veterans, that place is their home. In the past, the VA’s focus has been on elder care institutions; i.e. long-term care f...

  • Older vets may benefit from a home refinance

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Mar 1, 2017

    As an older veteran, the last thing on your mind might be a home refinancing plan. You may have paid off your house and are basking in the lifelong dream of finally having no mortgage payment. Spending money on house payments are for the younger folks, right. Well, I want you to consider some salient points for pulling some cash out of the old homestead. First, interest rates are at an all-time low. With a little shopping, you should be able to find a VA lender offering rates on a 30-year fixed...

  • Black troops were pivotal in highway project

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Feb 1, 2017

    Since the Yukon gold rush days, a road from the lower 48 states (outside) to Alaska had been discussed but it took WWll to jump start the project. The Lend-Lease Act of 1941, which authorized the transfer of military equipment to our allies before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, necessitated the construction of a land link between airstrips in western Canada and Alaska. These airfields were for refueling and maintenance points for aircraft being ferried to Ladd Field (now Fort Wainwright)...

  • An overview of Vietnam veteran benefits

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jan 1, 2017

    United States military involvement in the Vietnam War officially began on August 5, 1964; however, the first U.S. casualty in Vietnam occurred on July 8, 1959. Approximately 2.7 million American men and women served in Vietnam. During the war, over 58,000 U.S. military members lost their lives and 153,000 were wounded. There were 766 prisoners of war of which 114 died in captivity. The war was officially ended by Presidential Proclamation on May 7, 1975. Following is the latest updates from the...

  • Better to start early on burial benefits for veterans

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Dec 1, 2016

    To all, death must come. The time to get your affairs in order is now and not impose another stressful duty on your loved ones left behind. Some of the items on your list should include the following: a living will, a last will and testament, your wishes for burial and access to your banking account by your executor to pay for the expenses. This article will focus on burial in an Alaska’s two national cemeteries, Fort Richardson and Sitka. As in any quest for your veteran’s benefits, locate and...

  • Traditions originated from veterans' need

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Nov 1, 2016

    Older Persons Action Group and Senior Voice Alaska recognizes and honors veterans every day for their service to our nation. But on Veterans Day, November 11, special thanks are needed. A reprint from the VFW’s website on the origin of the well-known red poppy is appropriate for this edition. Buddy Poppy The VFW conducted its first poppy distribution before Memorial Day in 1922, becoming the first veterans’ organization to organize a nationwide distribution. The poppy soon was adopted as the...

  • Seamless medical care for traveling veterans

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Oct 1, 2016

    You have decided you need a change of scenery and want to explore our wonderful country. You pull out the Rand McNally (I am aware I have just dated myself) and pick a section of the country on your bucket list. Then, reality strikes. You have VA medical appointments, meds about to run out and a lab test scheduled. Your next logical step would be to wait until all of those little situations are sorted before leaving. I have a news flash: There will always be some little appointment, event or...

  • Military retirees take another hit in FY 2017

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Sep 1, 2016

    Numerous Tricare fee change proposals in the FY 2017 Dept. of Defense budget are galloping our way. If you are like me, one of the elite group that in the 1960s received an invitation from the local draft board to join the Army, these new changes aren’t anything like the deal the military said our retirement benefits would be. We all realize we all have to do our part in tough budget times. I can’t speak for all retirees, but I wish the hit squad at the DOD would pack up and move to another dep...

  • Alaska offers its own veterans benefits

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Aug 1, 2016

    In addition to federal VA benefits, veterans shouldn’t overlook the State of Alaska benefits. Following is a partial list of Alaska Veteran benefits. Veteran license plates The State of Alaska Legislature has designated several special license plates for veterans: recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, veterans who have been a Prisoner of War (POW), veterans who are survivors of Pearl Harbor, and Gold Star Families. Plates are issued free of charge after proof of service or family loss is validat...

  • Assistance for housebound, other veterans

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jul 1, 2016

    Some veterans, as they age, find themselves to be in financial straits with little or no resources and in poor health. If this is your case, then I urge you to consider applying for a VA Pension and especially the Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits. Eligible wartime periods Under current law, VA recognizes the following wartime periods to determine eligibility for VA Pension benefits: Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917 for veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, o...

  • Memorial Day's roots go back to Civil War

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jun 1, 2016

    Older Persons Action Group and Senior Voice Alaska solemnly salute all who have fallen in battle in defense of this great nation. This Memorial Day, let us take a few minutes out of the day to thanks those who have fallen in service to our country. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo, NY, was officially...

  • Service-related disability may be VA-covered

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|May 1, 2016

    If you have just received your VA disability notice, you should take advantage of the VA’s disability insurance plan. Veterans who are granted a service-connected disability but are otherwise in good health may apply to VA for up to $10,000 life insurance coverage. The following is a summary of Service Disabled Veterans Insurance. Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance The Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) program was established in 1951 to meet the insurance needs of certain veterans wit...

  • Reviewing VA's Medical Benefits Package

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Apr 1, 2016

    Public Law calls for VA to provide you hospital care and outpatient care services that are defined as “needed.” VA defines “needed” as care or service that will promote, preserve, and restore health. This includes treatment, procedures, supplies, or services. This decision of need will be based on the judgment of your health care provider and in accordance with generally accepted standards of clinical practice. The following three categories contain a list of health care services that are provid...

  • Taxing, spending won't bring back oil wealth

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Mar 1, 2016

    The tagline of our local pretentious Keynesian crowd is, “We can’t cut our way out of this.” Well my friends, “You can’t tax your way back to the good ole days of $100 oil,” either. No informed Alaskan can help but conclude that the state has some hard times ahead. But to think you can move the deckchairs around on the Titanic to solve the problem is crazy. The dilemma for the state is that our future economy will be a zero net sum game. There is just so much money on the table to spend and w...

  • Shocker! Veterans lose ground in budget cutting

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jan 1, 2016

    Military members and veterans lost on almost every big benefit fight waged in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, according to many veterans organizations. However, there was no shortage of bonus money for the disgraced VA employees that put veterans on the waiting list until they died. Or the one who replaced them and who scammed the taxpayers (or more correctly, your kids and grandchildren) out of bogus moving expense money. The legislation is still awaiting a promised presidential...

  • Traditions originated from veterans' need, grief

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Nov 1, 2015

    Older Persons Action Group and Senior Voice Alaska recognizes and honors veterans every day for their service to our nation. But on Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11, special thanks are needed. A reprint from the VFW’s website on the origin of the well-known red poppy is in order for this edition. Buddy Poppy The VFW conducted its first poppy distribution before Memorial Day in 1922, becoming the first veterans’ organization to organize a nationwide distribution. The poppy soon was ado...

  • Seeing the light on state spending priorities

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Oct 1, 2015

    I was pretty hard on the well intending elected officials who are trying to expand Medicaid to the uninsured in the in my article last month. My objections were based on my concern for the cost to the state in a time when future revenues are going to be limited and uncertain. Having been taken to the woodshed more than once in my life, this time I have finally have seen the light. I am not sure if it was a blinding light or a burning bush, but my religious epiphany occurred just the same. I had...

  • Medicaid expansion will be at the expense of seniors, veterans

    Major Mike Dryden AVN USAR Retired, Senior Voice Correspondent|Sep 1, 2015

    Much has been written about the governor’s attempt to expand Medicaid in Alaska and the debate has yet to be settled. While I am sure some of the stakeholders like the working poor, social service non-profits, medical providers, and small businesses are in support of the expansion, seniors and veterans are the big losers. I have been admonished that it is selfish of me to deny coverage to someone who cannot afford health insurance when I have coverage. This line of justification does not wash w...

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