Georgia Masonic Veterans Newsletter

Thomas “Rick” Conn, State Chairman, Grand Lodge Veterans Committee

Brothers, first I want to talk to you about a project that I am undertaking at the present. I want to have , what I hope will be, our First Annual Veterans Luncheon on the day of Grand Lodge this year. When Grand Lodge breaks for lunch on Tuesday, all Veterans (who wish to participate) will report to a place to be determined at present time, but will be announced later, for lunch and a “Honor our Veterans” program. I would like some kind of RSVP of how many think that they would like to attend this function. We need to see how many for meal purposes. There will be a nominal fee for this lunch, but it will be a good sit down lunch, not soup and sandwiches. When WB Gary Leazer puts in the info for Grand Lodge in the Messenger there will be instructions of how much to mail to our Grand Secretary RWB Joe Watson to reserve your lunch. If we can get the place set and the meal set and the prices thereof, any monies collected above and beyond what it takes to pay these expenses, I want to donate in the name of the Grand Lodge of Georgia to the ‘Wounded Warrior” program. Brothers, and Comrades in Arms, please help me make this a very special and successful event for our Grand Lodge. And one that we can continue from year to year. You can contact me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by email; 2683 Brocklin Drive, Grayson, Ga. 30017-1432 by snail mail; and (770) 985-1622 phone. Thank you Brothers in helping to set this up.

Your Veterans News for this month concerns a new release by your Department of Veterans Affairs. For immediate release on Feb 22, 2012 VA launched a Personalized Health Benefits Handbook. Veterans enrolled in the health care system of the Dept of Vet Affairs have begun to receive personalized booklets that explain their health care benefits and contain other useful information.

“VA is committed to providing our Nation’s Veterans with consistent, clear information about the services available to them,” reported Secretary of Vet Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

The new booklet, called a “Health Benefits Handbook”, will provide a personalized listing of health benefits based on each Veteran’s specific eligibility. The handbook will also have contact information for their local VA medical facilities, appointment scheduling information, guidelines for communicating with their clinical team and, as applicable, information about copays.

Distribution of the handbooks began in February 2012, with all 8.5 million Veterans enrolled in VA’s health care system scheduled to receive their handbooks by 2013. Veterans will receive updates to their handbook to reflect changes to their benefits or eligibility.

VA operates 152 medical centers and more than 800 CBOC’s and Vet Centers. Last year, inpatient facilities treated more than 690,000 patients, while outpatient clinic registered more than 79 million visits.

If you would like more information on this new booklet, you can visit or if not online you can call 1-877-222-VETS (8387), the VA’s toll free information line.

Brothers, the VA process is a long process at times, sometimes taking more time than necessary. This flustrates most veterans who have applied for there EARNED benefits. I will help in any manner that I can, and your Committee is here to assist in any manner that we possibly may, but we can not guarantee you any shorter results. The results always lays in the BVA and how soon they get your case before them. Please don’t try to handle a VA case by yourself. Contact your Veterans Committee and let us assist you if we can. You need to get a VSO (Veterans Service Officer) to assist you, to represent you before the BVA. This you can not do on your own. Your Committee has a Certified VA Attorney that will be able to help you with any legal needs that you may have at no cost to you. Utilize your committee, Brothers. Notify your Local Blue Lodge VA Committee Rep with any problems you may have and let him assist you.

The VA system is MEANT to frustrate you Brothers; it’s one way that the Government has to get you to drop your case and save them money. Be consistent and appeal every rejection until you get satisfaction, as your case will be retroactive from the date you first applied, so do not let any VA employee talk you into dropping your case and refiling. This changes your effective date and you lose what you have already gained.

Check the link at the top of this article for information that can help, aid, and assist you in your long weary, red tape abundant, and most times frustrating trip through their system. For you Brothers who live in the fringe areas of the VA System, like in Dalton, Georgia who even while in Georgia use the Tenn VA system. Also in Columbus, who utilize the Alabama VA system and Augusta the SC VA system, Savannah area who utilize the SC VA system. Your Grand Lodge Committee can still assist you in gaining information on how to best approach your individual situation. I have contacts of Reps in those areas who will be able to assist you (who are Masons in that State) with your needs.

God Bless each and every one of you, God Bless our Troops and may God Bless America..... AGAIN And may God Bless our Great Fraternity always. .

Rick Conn, State Chairman, Veterans Committee