Soon, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF, Task Force) will post for public comment a draft research plan on interventions to prevent opioid use disorder on our Web site. You are receiving this email because you and members of your organization may wish to provide feedback on this draft research plan and receive updates on this topic. If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you and your colleagues to sign up for the USPSTF email list to get alerts on public comment opportunities on this and other Task Force topics. Alerts will also be sent when final materials are posted or published, including the release of final recommendation statements. Signing up for the USPSTF email list ensures that you never miss a Task Force topic update.
Task Force recommendations are improved when groups who are knowledgeable about particular topics share their expertise. We solicit outside input to ensure that final recommendations are relevant and useful to health professionals, patients, and family members.

To learn more about the Task Force, visit the About the USPSTF page of our Web site.

Together, we can work to improve the health of all Americans.

Sue Curry, Ph.D.
Chair, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine that works to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.

Soon, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF, Task Force) will post for public comment a draft research plan on interventions to prevent opioid use disorder on our Web site. You are receiving this email because you and members of your organization may wish to provide feedback on this draft research plan and receive updates on this topic. If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you and your colleagues to sign up for the USPSTF email list to get alerts on public comment opportunities on this and other Task Force topics. Alerts will also be sent when final materials are posted or published, including the release of final recommendation statements. Signing up for the USPSTF email list ensures that you never miss a Task Force topic update.
Task Force recommendations are improved when groups who are knowledgeable about particular topics share their expertise. We solicit outside input to ensure that final recommendations are relevant and useful to health professionals, patients, and family members.

To learn more about the Task Force, visit the About the USPSTF page of our Web site.

Together, we can work to improve the health of all Americans.

Sue Curry, Ph.D.
Chair, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine that works to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.

A new change contained in the 2019 defense bill now allows 100 percent disabled veterans to travel Space-Available aboard military and military-contract flights within the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories. According to an article in, the disabled veterans must possess a Defense Department ID Card (DD Form 2765) in order to not only fly Space-A but to access military installations. The rule change halfway accomplishes Resolution 419 from the 112th VFW National Convention; only halfway because dependents are not eligible to accompany them. The article also states disabled vets have limited destinations, whereas other Category 6 travelers (military retirees) have worldwide eligibility. That discrepancy will be addressed.

The VFW has worked with congressional leadership in the House and Senate to reintroduce and work toward quick passage of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, which would restore benefits to Blue Water Navy veterans and expand benefits for Korean DMZ and Thailand veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. Stay tuned to the VFW Action Corps Weekly for updates on this important bill.

Read House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano’s statement on reintroduction.
Chairman Takano Introduces Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019
Jan 8, 2019 Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) released the following statement after introducing H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019:
“The 116th Congress has officially been sworn-in, and thousands of veterans are still waiting for their government to deliver on its promise and grant them the benefits they have earned. The fact that politics got in the way of our duty to care for veterans affected by toxic exposure is a disservice to the 90,000 Navy veterans who served in the coastal waters of Vietnam, and an insult to all veterans who served with the expectation that their country would care for them if they were wounded while serving.

“We must get to work and finally secure the benefits our Blue Water Navy veterans earned over 40 years ago. As Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I am committed to working in a bipartisan manner to ensure this remains a top priority for this new Congress. It is time we right this wrong.
“It is up to Congress to ensure that we repay our debt to the veterans of this country by upholding our responsibility to provide treatment and care for injuries and illnesses sustained while they served.”

Read Ranking Member Phil Roe’s statement.
Ranking Member Roe Introduces the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019

Washington, January 3, 2019 | Molly Jenkins (202-225-3527)
Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs introduced the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, H.R. 203.
“The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 would ensure that our Vietnam Veterans receive the benefits they deserve. This bill mirrors the language of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018, which passed the House 382 - 0 during the 115th Congress. One of my final acts as Chairman in 2018 was holding a bipartisan press conference to urge the Senate to pass H.R 299. Needless to say, despite the endless efforts of Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee Chairman Isakson and Ranking Member Tester, the Senate never passed the legislation. This is why I have introduced this bill that mirrors the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018 and I encourage my colleagues in the House to once again swiftly pass this bipartisan piece of legislation.

"Currently, Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans are unable to receive the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange because VA’s presumption policy extends only to those who served on land in Vietnam or in Vietnam’s inland waterways. This legislation would extend the presumption of exposure of Agent Orange to our Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans. I hope that my colleagues in the House and Senate waste no time in passing this bill and sending it to President Trump so we can ensure that Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans receive the benefits they deserve.”
Agent Orange is a herbicide used during the Vietnam era that has been known to be associated with certain health issues in people who have been exposed to the chemical. The Agent Orange Act of 1991 said that if a veteran served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 and has a disease that has been associated with exposure to Agent Orange, they are automatically presumed to have a been exposed to it and therefore qualify for disability compensation. The Blue Water Navy Veterans Act of 2019 would extend the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange to veterans who served in the Blue Water Navy

If you strive to live an altruistic lifestyle, there are a variety of different ways to be more charitable without spending money. Here are some ideas to try.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie will speak on the state of VA, community resources for Veterans, department priorities, and address questions from the last community town hall.
The online town hall will broadcast live on January 17, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET.
The Secretary will be joined by a panel of VA leaders, including:
Dr. Richard Stone – Veterans Health Administration
Dr. Paul Lawrence – Veterans Benefits Administration
Randy Reeves – National Cemetery Administration
Cheryl Mason – Board of Veterans Appeals
Dr. Lynda Davis – Veterans Experience Office
Dr. Kameron Matthews – Community Care
Dr. Keita Franklin – Suicide Prevention
The Secretary and panelists will discuss how VA is focused on becoming the leader in customer experience and improving services to our nation’s Veterans. In addition, the Secretary and panelists will address questions submitted by the more than 150 Community Veterans Engagement Boards around the country.
If you have questions, compliments, or concerns about VA benefits and services, please call the White House VA Hotline at 855-948-2311.


March 07-16
April 11-20
May 16-25

Reminder: We now accept families with infants & toddlers!

Overview: Set in a secluded location in Montana, SOF Families enjoy the privacy and discretion required to honor what matters most in their personal lives. Removed from the intensity and pressures of their journey, Families begin to focus on their relationships, their priorities, and most importantly, their happiness.

During the ten-day workshop, Families receive tailored programs designed around their experiences, values, and goals. Participants learn to better understand, harness, and translate strengths throughout the full spectrum of their lives, particularly as they relate to family and personal goals. Through a series of powerful applications, The Station guides participants to build effective lines of communication, create cohesive teams, and strengthen trust at all levels. Together, we restore consistent quality in our personal lives and return home with the resources necessary for success.

Requirements: Applicants must be members of the Special Operations Community who seek an opportunity to ease the pressures and reconnect to loved ones. Families must be able to fully commit to the workshop without external conflicts or requirements. This program demands the same level of focus, energy, and dedication expected on a Team.

Application: Please contact Lucey at to receive an application. Please indicate date preferences in your email. Families are selected on an individual basis. Due to the high demand for these services, we recommend submitting your application at your earliest convenience. Based on the importance we place on privacy we limit the number of Families per workshop.

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a multi-part blog series analyzing the final negotiated 2018 Farm Bill, which was released on December 11, 2018 by the leaders of the Farm Bill Conference Committee. Subsequent posts focus on: organic agriculture, conservation, research and seed breeding, and crop insurance and commodity subsidies; previous posts focused on local and regional food and beginning/socially disadvantaged farmers. The bill was passed by the House and Senate this week and sent to the President for his signature.
After a two-year campaign to put the next generation of farmers at the center of the 2018 Farm Bill debate, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) celebrated the inclusion of hard-won provisions that will provide needed support for beginning and socially disadvantaged (SD) farmers into the future. Throughout the farm bill process, NSAC worked closely with members and allies across the country to win support for policies that would help beginning and SD farmers begin and sustain careers in agriculture. With the inclusion of and provision of mandatory permanent funding for the Farming Opportunity Training and Outreach (FOTO) program in the bill, Congress has knocked down some of the most challenging obstacles and blazed a path forward for the next generation.
We applaud farm bill leaders for including FOTO in the final negotiated bill, and to the countless champions of the marker bills that inspired FOTO: the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act and the Next Generation in Agriculture Act as well as the Assist Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers Act. NSAC thanks the Members of Congress who remained stalwart champions of beginning and SD farmers and ranchers throughout the farm bill process, including: Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Susan Collins (R-ME), Doug Jones (D-AL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Tom Udall (D-NM); and Representatives Tim Walz (D-MN), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Sean-Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D-NM), and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM).
The new farm bill includes an ambitious new farmer agenda and makes historic investments in training and outreach initiatives. The bill expands access to crop insurance and other risk management options, and includes new policies to address one of the most pressing issues facing beginning and SD farmers: access to affordable farmland. Coordination among U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies will also be improved so that beginning and SD farmers can receive better and more streamlined support. Additionally, permanent support is provided for the invaluable grassroots organizations that are working in rural communities and cities across the country to train up the next generation of farmers.
Below, we include a summary of the key takeaways on how the final conferenced bill approaches programs and policies that support beginning and SD farmers:
Adopts the Senate’s provision to include and provide permanent mandatory funding for the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach (FOTO) program. FOTO combines two of USDA’s flagship training and technical assistance programs for underserved producers – the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) and the Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (aka “Section 2501”).
Provides $435 million in mandatory funding for FOTO over the next ten years, and establishes permanent baseline to ensure that grants continue into the future. Initial funding starts at $30 million in fiscal year (FY) 2019 and 2020, which will be split evenly between BFRDP and Section 2501. Funding increases to $50 million by FY 2023. Overall, this funding structure will result in a slight increase in funding for 2501 grants and a slight decrease in funding for BFRDP grants over the next few years. However, by 2023, both programs will be funded at $25 million per year.
Strengthens BFRDP (as part of FOTO) by: adding new priorities on food safety and succession planning; including farmer involvement in project design and implementation as an evaluation criterion for grant proposals; expanding eligibility for projects serving retiring farmers and non-farming landlords; and establishing a waiver for the matching funds requirement.
Increases transparency, accountability and responsiveness to stakeholders within the 2501 Program (as part of FOTO) by requiring an external peer review process and strengthening reporting requirements of outcomes. Also, FOTO includes a priority for grants led by community-based and non-profit organizations.
Ensures that all beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers enrolling in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) have the option to receive 50 percent of their cost-share payment up front.
Increases funding for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Transition Incentives Program from $33 million to $50 million over the next five years. This funding includes $5 million for dedicated outreach to connect retiring farmers with beginning farmers, veterans, and farmers of color. The bill also expands eligibility to all CRP contract holders, not just retiring farmers.
Includes a new data initiative on Land Access and Farmland Ownership to ensure that policymakers and the public have access to important trend data on farmland ownership, tenure, transition, barriers to entry, profitability and viability of beginning and SD farmers.
Improves the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program to better coordinate risk management coverage options available for beginning and SD farmers through both Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency programs.
Includes important changes to allow historically underserved farmers to access USDA farm programs, even if they are operating on “heirs property” and cannot prove ownership of their farm.
Creates a National Beginning Farmer Coordinator position at USDA, as well as designated coordinators in each state, to better coordinate USDA outreach efforts to new farmers.
Expands State Agricultural Mediation Grants to support mediation services related to farm transition.
Mixed Bag
Raises the loan limit on Direct Farm Ownership Loans to $600,000 to better reflect the rising cost of farmland across the country. The bill also raises Direct Operating Loans (DOL) to $400,000 and guaranteed loans to $1.75 million. As the declining farm economy has increased demand for these loan programs, there is real concern that increases in DOL and guaranteed loans will result in fewer, but larger loans made to more established farmers. NSAC is therefore pleased that the final bill also includes the Senate provision to increase public reporting on lending trends for beginning and SD farmers, which will be important to ensure that loan funding remains available for these communities.
Improves risk management options for beginning and other underserved farmers. The final bill expands eligibility for 10 percent premium bonus to all beginning farmers in business less than 10 years, but unfortunately limits this change in eligibility to Whole Farm Revenue Protection policies. Additionally, the final bill requires USDA to conduct an analysis on the barriers for underserved farmers in accessing crop insurance.
Reauthorizes, but fails to increase, the five percent conservation set-asides for beginning and SD farmers within EQIP or the Conservation Stewardship Program.
Boosts funding for the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) to $450 million over the next five years and includes policy tweaks to better support new farmers. The bill adds flexibility for land trusts to better access ACEP funds to protect farmland and prioritize easements that maintain agriculture viability; however, it doesn’t make this priority a requirement, nor does it mandate an option to purchase at the agricultural value.
Reauthorizes, but provides no funding for Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Accounts. This program has been on the books since the 2008 Farm Bill, but has yet to receive any funding to launch its innovative asset building and financial literacy program.
Fails to renew mandatory funding for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, which is an important resource that provides new farmers with the loan capital and business training they need to launch new farm-related businesses

In many parts of the country, people who are looking for a final use for their real Christmas trees are donating them to flocks of goats. Goat Dispatch, a landscape management company in Minnesota, is accepting donated trees as feed for its flock for the fifth year. In other locations from New Jersey to Colorado, goat owners accept real trees and wreaths to provide their goats a nutritious and entertaining feed.

You want 2019 to be a great year! If you want to start the new year off on a positive note, check out these seven steps to keep in mind as we dive into 2019.

Deep in the heart of the Corn Belt, a different kind of agriculture is taking root in the city of Peoria, Illinois. With the help of a 2016 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, a vacant lot in downtown Peoria has been transformed into green infrastructure, an urban forest, and a working farm.
Kari Cohen, Director of NRCS’s Conservation Innovations Team, represented USDA and spoke at the June 30, 2018 ribbon cutting for Well Farm at Voris Field .
“CIG is all about innovative solutions to natural resource challenges,” said Cohen. “Greenprint partners and the city of Peoria are showing that they are on the cutting edge of marrying green infrastructure with agroforestry and farming.”
Well Farm is one of the nation’s first stormwater farms, capturing stormwater runoff while growing harvestable timber and growing vegetables. The farm is fully instrumented to measure the site’s success in managing stormwater.
Greenprint Partners' Vice President of Programs, April Mendez, emphasized that her team’s deep partnerships with local organizations were critical to shaping the project design to maximize community benefits. ”Our benefits-driven design approach to green stormwater infrastructure requires us to put down roots in the community,” she says. “As we scale this practice across the US, we'll continue to seek the kinds of local partnerships that made the Well Farm a success.”

Well Farm, covering 1.5 acres, was engineered and contoured to optimize stormwater management. Vegetables and flowers are grown in raised beds and later sold at the Peoria farmers market. The planted trees are hybrid poplars, a fast-growing species that take up a lot of water and can ultimately be harvested for timber.
Partners in the CIG project include the city of Peoria, the GITM Foundation, and the AKRF engineering firm.
The CIG project was funded as part of a cohort of conservation finance projects. NRCS is interested in conservation finance as an emerging sector that seeks to bring non-Federal sources of funding to natural resource conservation.

President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill on December 20, 2018. Numerous organizations have issued statements reacting to the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill. Comments are available from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, from American Farmland Trust, and the National Young Farmers Coalition, among others

The National Center for Appropriate Technology and its partners are offering a series of workshops and webinars on pastured and free-range poultry. In-person classes will be held at the University of California-Davis campus, and the live webinars can be accessed from anywhere.

Partners in the training series include the UC-Davis, UC Continuing Education, the Center for Land-Based Learning, and USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture.
Dates and topics for the sessions are:
Monday, January 7: Poultry husbandry and diseases. Features farmer Tim Mueller of Riverdog Farm discussing pasture management for poultry.
Tuesday, January 15: Coop design, meat and egg regulations, and a farmer panel discussion of economics and marketing.
Wednesday, January 23: Disease prevention and pastured poultry welfare.
Thursday, January 31: Alternative poultry species, with farmer panel and discussion of welfare considerations.
Friday, February 8: Nutrition of pastured poultry and egg quality.
All sessions run from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Visit to learn more about each workshop.
Cost for the in-person workshops, which includes light refreshments, is $15 per session or $60 for all five workshops. Webinars are $5 each and will be broadcast live. Both registration types include educational materials.
No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Contact Anny Huang at if you wish to have the fees waived.
Registration is required and you can reserve your place at
For more information, contact NCAT Specialist Ann Baier by email at or call 530-792-7338.

very ninety days, I need a refill. I have to sit in the waiting room and check off whether or not I am sleeping or eating or feeling irritable. Every time I need a refill on my antidepressant, since I was nineteen years old, a receptionist has handed me this short questionnaire before I see the doctor.

It's usually pretty mundane. I give her my last name, she passes me the paper, and I quietly take a seat. I work through the standard questions on depression and hand it back to her. I play a game on my phone until the doctor calls me in. Until recently, this interaction has always been the same back and forth between us. But a few weeks ago, a receptionist I wasn’t as familiar with broke the script we usually follow.

Like always, I smiled when I approached the front desk, ever polite despite wanting to be elsewhere. I saw the questionnaire next to the receptionist, the section I was supposed to complete already highlighted. Upon hearing my last name, a confused look took over her face, and she eyed me up and down.

"Depression?" She asked, handing me the clipboard. "You don't look like you have that."

Taken off guard, I awkwardly laughed and found a seat in the waiting room. I checked off my answers honestly and felt my body heating up. Her comment bounced around in my mind; the blatant assumption was upsetting me, and I couldn't tell if I was overreacting. I wondered, Should I tell the doctor? Or should I brush it off as an ignorant choice of words?

After internally debating whether to mention it through the entire appointment, I ended up blurting it out to the doctor. She thanked me for telling her, and I felt better knowing that the next patient wouldn't have to hear something similar. I wish this receptionist had considered her words a more carefully. Why do I care? It’s really very simple: there is no face of mental illness.

No face of depression or anxiety. No face of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. No specific look or standard that one can point out in a crowd of people. These illnesses come in every color and in every shape, at different times and through all ages. The receptionist was right. I don't "look" like I have depression because we are encouraged to carry on as best we can given the circumstances. I don’t have any outward signs of my condition but this doesn’t make it any less real. I also don't look like I have two brothers or the ability to wiggle my ears or an addiction to coffee, but I do. I don't look like I can play the flute, or was born in Florida, or have sleeping problems, but that's all true too.

I go to therapy. I take an antidepressant every day. Sometimes I don't eat for days at a time; instead I drink black coffee and red wine, and I cry. I struggle every day to get out of bed. I have tackled so much grief, emotional abuse and insecurity that it often doesn't feel worth it to wake up in the morning. But you wouldn’t be able to tell any of this just by looking at me.

To the receptionist at the doctor's office and anyone else who doesn't understand, let me tell you this: there are hilarious comedians and talented chefs and beautiful fashion designers who are taking their own lives. Someone like me might laugh a lot and wear nice clothes and pay her rent on time; it won't "look" like she's struggling to you, but it doesn't mean she's not.

There is no way to tell what someone is fighting other than engaging in simple conversation. Ask your best friend, your colleague or the stranger next to you how they are doing. Check up on those you are close to, because it's a scary world and some people want to leave. Life is not always beautiful, but sometimes it's extraordinary, and it's worth sticking around for. I know not everyone can be saved. But if we can save even one person, I still think we're doing the best we possibly can.

Brittany Kinsella is a writer in her mid-twenties, living and working in New York City. Her other work has been published on ThoughtCatalog. Brittany is a strong advocate for revealing the current stigma on mental health. Outside of writing, Brittany enjoys reading, running, cooking, and traveling to new places.

Military contractor Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to throw out multiple lawsuits filed by veterans who say they were made sick by burn pits the company used for waste disposal on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a brief filed last week, officials for KBR and its former subsidiary Halliburton urged the court not to restore dozens of the lawsuits filed against the companies, who handled daily operations for many of the bases starting in 2001. Read more in this story.

As we enter the New Year, it is a great time to make plans. Military OneSource is here for you!
The Member Connect website has several options to help with your New Year’s Resolution.
• Concerned about your holiday spending? Take the Holiday Spending Quiz.
• Looking to improve your overall wellness? Call today and schedule to talk with a Health & Wellness Coach.
• Need to boost your memory? Start using Brain HQ in the MWR Digital Libraries.
• Want to relax and unwind? Find a good book to read in RB Digital found in the MWR Digital Libraries.
• Whatever your resolution, contact Military OneSource. We are here to support your best MilLife!
Access Member Connect at
Access the call center at 800-342-9647 or online at
If I can be of assistance in explaining the Military OneSource benefit, please feel free to contact me.
Have a fabulous 2019!
Tabitha Garvin-Betancourt | Montana Military OneSource State Consultant
Contractor | Office: 406-781-4986
Visit or call: 800-342-9647

The next Eastern Montana Veterans Support Group meeting will take place
Friday, January 4th 2019
@ Job Service Billings
Brenda Ludwig will present Montana 211 and how this new service will benefit veterans in Yellowstone and surrounding counties.
Thank you and see you there.

If you want to make a difference in 2019, make giving a part of your New Year’s resolutions. Here are some ideas for how you can create resolutions that give back.

All of us at Whitetail Ranch Center thank you for your generosity and support during 2018. Whether it was volunteering your most valuable asset (your time), spreading the word, or a monetary gift, it helped us get closer to meeting our goal. Please consider us as you make your year-end donations to charitable causes and thank you again for your support thus far.

Since our start, the Montana JCF has supported Whitetail Ranch Center every step of the journey. We are thankful for that support and what they do for Veterans every day. The following came from their newsletter and discusses their recent dinner. Please enjoy.

Dear JCF Family,

First off, we wish You and your Families a very Merry Christmas, and a wonderful Holiday season!

To let you know, Montana JCF held a marvelously successful Veteran & Family in-need Christmas dinner last night. It was at the sixth Avenue Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, who provided a lovely venue to the festivities. We served about 100 Veterans and another 100 of their family members, and they thoroughly loved it! They sat down to appetizers, then the meal was catered by Chili O’Briens, who provided a great chicken cordon bleu meal. The meals were served by dozens of our volunteers, who totally enjoyed the experience, then desserts were provided by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Santa was present, and he handed out gifts donated by anonymous sponsors (most were specifically requested by the Veterans) or bought by JCF, largely from donations received from many businesses and individuals. Not counting the sponsored donations, JCF spent almost $2,500 on those gifts. Then we provided crafts and entertainment for the children attending, giving their parents the chance to relax among others with similar backgrounds and experience.

The evening was topped off by some unexpected, totally fantastic gifts for our Veterans in need! Costco’s employees donated over 40 turkeys, and the Veterans’ Meat Locker donated hundreds of pounds of packaged prepared game meats for the attendees. Since many of the folks didn’t have cooking pans for turkeys, Albertsons donated 40 serving pans and JCF donated aluminum foil and cooking instructions. For many of the attendees, this meal and the upcoming turkeys are the best meals that they will have for the foreseeable future.

All of this was courtesy of the generosity and care of our members, which includes You! If you’d like to see the local coverage provided, see the picture on the front page of the Helena Independent Record at and the TV item found at

Thank You again for your contributions and dedication to our Veterans in need and their Families, and Merry Christmas to You and your Families!


Brandy Keely Steve Garrison
President, MT JCF Co-chair, MT JCF
(406) 447-4550 (406) 461-7971

Pfc. Nichole Bowen-Crawford said she was walking to lunch on her Army base near Nasiriyah, Iraq, in 2003 when she received her daily proposition from a passing fellow soldier.
“Hey, Bowen,” the officer tossed out, “let’s go f--- in the bunker.”
Bowen-Crawford told VOA that while this was the most shocking example of the day-to-day regimen of verbal sexual harassment she experienced while in the Army between 2001-2004, it was not her worst experience — she had been assaulted by a higher-ranking sergeant earlier that year.
When she reported the incident to a male supervisor, she was advised to stay quiet for the sake of her career.
Bowen-Crawford’s experience is not universal, but far from rare. To read more click here

The farm bill is complex and unique package of legislation – like other authorizing bills, the bill’s primary focus is on policies and programs, but unlike most authorization bills, the farm bill also provides direct funding for many of the programs it authorizes. In this post, we provide a high-level overview of some key spending pieces included in the 2018 Farm Bill. Read more by clicking here

If you live an altruistic lifestyle, you can give back and make someone's holiday a bit more joyful. Here are six ways you can brighten someone else's Christmas.

Need to connect with financial, health, employment or other services in your local community? Military OneSource’s state consultants bring help directly to you, offering outreach services to support members of the military community when and where they need it most.
While many Military OneSource services are easily accessed with just a phone call or a click, state consultants can help if you need more in-depth information or support in your own backyard.
What state consultants do
State consultants operate in every state and Puerto Rico. They work with service members, families, military leadership, and military and civilian service providers to make sure the needs of the military community are met. State consultants:
Provide need-based information and referral services to improve the quality of life and readiness of service members, their families and survivors.
Educate service members, their families and survivors on Military OneSource resources and services through small group informational sessions, which can be held in collaboration with other service providers.
Develop and execute state support plans to ensure broad awareness of Military OneSource and its resources including financial, behavioral health, education, employment, health and wellness, and support for deployment and military life. Network with local service providers to raise understanding of the military community’s needs.
Support local events with presentations and resource tables to educate on the services available through the Military OneSource call center and website.
How state consultants provide local support
State consultants provide information about Military OneSource’s services in many ways:
Event support such as deployment events, family days or other large-group activities for service and family members.
Presentations at community meetings such as Joining Community Forces.
Webinars and website tours for service providers, service members and/or family members.
Small-group meetings of fewer than 50 service and/or family members. This is great for an in-depth look at a specific topic.
Who is eligible to receive outreach services?
Outreach services support service members, their families, survivors and military leaders from all branches and components, as well as military and civilian service providers working within the military population. Military OneSource state consultants and outreach assistants are available in every state and territory.
Connect with your state consultant at 800-342-9647 to find out what resources and services are available through Military OneSource. OCONUS? Click here for calling options.

In September 2018, VA released findings from its most recent analysis of 2005–2016 suicide rates for both Veteran and non-Veteran populations. These findings underscore the fact that suicide is a national public health issue that affects communities everywhere. Data is an integral part of VA’s public health strategy and enables VA to tailor suicide prevention initiatives to reach diverse groups of Veterans.
More information on the VA National Suicide Data Report is available at

Key findings from the report include the following:
• In 2016, Veterans accounted for 14.0 percent of all deaths by suicide among U.S. adults and constituted 8.1 percent of the U.S. adult population (ages 18 and up).
o From 2015 to 2016, the overall Veteran suicide count decreased from 6,281 to 6,079 deaths and the Veteran unadjusted suicide rate decreased from 30.5/100,000 to 30.1/100,000.
• Firearms continue to be the prevalent method of suicide. In 2016, the percent of suicide deaths that involved firearms was 69.4 percent.
• The rate of suicide among 18–34 year-old Veterans has increased from 40.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 population in 2015 to 45 suicide deaths per 100,000 population in 2016.
• In 2016, rates of suicide were highest among younger Veterans (ages 18–34) and lowest among older Veterans (age 55 and older). However, because the older Veteran population is the largest, this group accounted for 58.1 percent of Veteran suicide deaths in 2016.
• Women Veteran suicide counts and rates decreased from 2015 to 2016. The women Veteran suicide count decreased from 283 deaths to 257 deaths and the women Veteran unadjusted suicide rate decreased from 15.5/100,000 in 2015 to 13.9/100,000 in 2016.

Veteran suicide prevention is a top priority for VA. As a national leader in suicide prevention, VA developed the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide to guide VA personnel and stakeholders — including other federal agencies, state and local governments, health care systems, and community organizations — so that we, as a nation, can reduce suicide rates among all Veterans.