Articles written by Mike Dryden Usar Ret


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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...

  • It's a systemic problem of the tail wagging the dog

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Apr 1, 2015

    Former Phoenix VA Healthcare Director Sharon Helman, who was earlier ousted by the administration after the public outcry over the deaths of veterans on a waiting list, has had her $57,000 bonus upheld. An administrative judge ruled Helman’s dismissal was due to taking trips and gifts and not the result of her stellar work at the Phoenix VA. The judge ruled therefore she was entitled to her well earned $57,000 bonus in addition to her $170,000 (never in question) base salary. Factor in her f...

  • Prepare for cuts to TRICARE, commissary, PX/BX

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Mar 1, 2015

    For veterans, seeing temporary politicians take a knife to the military budget is nothing new. For some elected officials, low hanging fruit like retirement pay and TRICARE health care insurance is an easy choice since it directly affects so few voters. For those of us who began their military career with a “Greeting from Uncle Sam” letter from the draft board, we assumed we had a contract with the federal government. That contract was that if we spend 20 years in the military, we would be rew...

  • World War 2's historic African American trailblazers

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Feb 1, 2015

    The Alaskan-Canadian Highway, known now as the Alcan, was one of the highest priority projects in the Second World War after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The strategic value of a highway from the contiguous 48 states to Alaska had been debated for years. The "save the money crowd" said the cost to build the land link was too high for a territory with 75,000 natives and pioneers living in log cabins who hunted, mined, trapped and fished for a living. A coastal route had...

  • Resolve, then act, to be better prepared

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jan 1, 2015

    With the New Year upon us, many of us will make resolutions to change something in our life for the better. The old standbys are lose weight, join a gym, stop smoking, and call your friends and family more. These promises to yourself as well as so many other well intended plans made on New Year’s Day are forgotten by March (I’m being generous here). So let’s strive to make a resolution that may save your life and develop a good practice for the whole year. Let’s take some baby steps toward...

  • Guest columnist raises questions about Alaska Guard

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Dec 1, 2014

    This month I am foregoing my monthly Veteran Healthcare Report to allow the following story to run. The article is the sole opinion of the author and does not constitute an endorsement by the Senior Voice. Self inspection record raises questions about 176th Medical Group By LINDA DUNEGAN, Lt. Col., AKANG, MSC, PhD, Ret. What is the mission of the Alaska Air National Guard? They are citizen airmen / militia. They defend and protect Alaskans from the enemies both foreign and domestic. Alaska’s 1...

  • Flu and its prevention should be taken seriously

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Nov 1, 2014

    Fall in Alaska is that short period of time between summer fun and six months of cold snowy weather that lasts until after you file your taxes. As the leaves turn bright colors and fall from the trees, you remember it's time to winterize everything, pull out the blue tarps and have the sled tuned up. But the most important ritual for the fall should include a trip to the VA influenza clinic and see the Alaska VA Flu Coordinator, Marylou. The Alaska VA could not have made this annual visit any...

  • Apply now for Agent Orange benefits

    Major Mike Dryden USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Oct 1, 2014

    Veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War – 9 January, 1962 through 7 May, 1975 – or near the Korean DMZ between 1 April, 1968 and 31 August, 1971, have been determined to have a presumptive service-connected disability for certain illnesses (see VA and VVA websites for full list) and are entitled to compensation as well as medical care. If you served in-country in Korea or Vietnam during these dates, you are eligible for compensation for many illness including Type ll dia...

  • Supporting the Last Frontier Honor Flight

    Mike Dryden USAR Ret, Senior Voice Correspondent|Sep 1, 2014

    For those of you not familiar with the Honor Flight program, it’s a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing World War ll and Korean War veterans an opportunity to travel to Washington DC to visit the nation’s capital and the various war memorials at no cost to the veteran. Sixty years after the end of World War ll, the country finally built a World War ll memorial after many of the “Greatest Generation” had passed away. We are losing World War ll veterans at the rate of one every 90 seconds. A seat on one of these all expense...

  • VA scandal hits mainstream media – finally

    Major Mike Dryden USAR RET, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jun 1, 2014

    As Senior Voice reported last month, the Veterans Health Administration has been caught in a cover-up of the mismanagement of our veterans’ waiting lists for some of their most critical medical screening services. This scandal now has spread to more than just the Phoenix VA Hospital, with more to come as the layers of the onion keep getting pealed back. The death toll of the gastrointestinal screening exam delays we reported last month now stands at over 100 with retired VA doctors lining up t...

  • The alarming suicide rate of older veterans

    Major Mike Dryden USAR RET, Senior Voice Correspondent|May 1, 2014

    It’s an alarming and disturbing fact but older veterans have a higher suicide rate than the general public, including returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. In fact, veterans over 50 years of age have a 70 percent higher suicide rate than the non-veteran general population. According to Tom Berger, executive director of the Vietnam Veterans of America national health council and a Vietnam Navy veteran, “You know, ‘We’re just old guys, and we’re going to die, so why pay much attention...

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