Disabled Veterans eligible for free National Park Service Lifetime Access Pass:  Veterans who have been medically determined to have a disability are eligible for the Lifetime Access Pass—with three options for obtaining the pass:

First, Veterans with disability documentation can order the Access Pass onlinefor a $10 processing fee which includes standard shipping. Documentation required includes:

  • Proof of residency
  • VA disability award letter, VA summary of benefits, or proof of SSDI income

Second, the Interagency Access Pass may be obtained through the mail. Download a paper application from Follow the instructions on the website and pay the document processing fee of $10.  Once the application package is received by USGS, the documentation will be verified and a pass imprinted with the pass owner’s name will be mailed to the applicant.

Passes ordered online or through the mail will be delivered 3 to 4 weeks after receipt of documentation and processing payment.

A third option is for disabled Veterans to visit a participating federal recreation sitewhere interagency passes are issued, present photo identification (e.g., Driver’s license, State ID, birth certificate, Passport, or permanent resident card), provide documentation of permanent disability, or read and sign a Statement of Permanent Disability affidavit. That’s It. The Pass is free and issued at the time of entry.

Key Messages on the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2109 (Pl116-23) Agent Orange Claims:   This is the latest release from the VA about the new Blue Water Navy rules starting on 1 Jan 2020.  Yes they will have people working on 1 Jan to start processing the claims that are already in the stack.  A couple of things to take note of that are not real clear in the attached message/talking points.   
• The veteran or surviving spouse MUST file a claim for exposure to herbicide toxins. They must list the current diagnosis, the ship they were on and when they were on it, to include the location if they know, and where they have or are receiving treatment for the claimed condition(s) 
• The dates for the Korea DMZ have been extended, all of the other current rules still apply the VA just extend the dates of exposure 
• The only thing the VA did for veterans in Thailand is add the condition of spina Bifida for their children if they meet all of the current requirements for tactical herbicide exposure at/on/or near the fence line in Thailand Airbases. 
• Waco RO will be one of the six national ROs that will get extra training and people to handle the development, rating, and promulgation of these claims 
If you believe you meet the criteria for a Blue Water Navy claim or you know of a Surviving Spouse that was denied DIC for a service connected death, please call for an appointment so we can direct you as to what you need to bring us for documentation.  

click here for information

October 2019: VA shares electronic health records:  Veterans will not have to fill out paperwork to share health information:  VA Health Care will be sharing your VA medical electronic records with participating community care providers using the Veterans Health Information Exchange.  You may have received this letter from the VA informing you of this change.  If you want to opt out then you must submit VA Form 10-10164 anytime after 10/01/2019.  If you change your mind at any time you can make the change to opt in or opt out.   This is the link to the form:
This is the link to the VA Press Release dated 10/01/2019:

September 2019:  On-Base Shopping Eligibility Expands January 1:  Beginning in the new year more than 3 million service-connected disabled veterans with VA ratings from zero to 90 percent will be authorized on-base exchange and commissary shopping privileges, as well as access to certain MWR facilities, but you must have a VA-issued Veteran Health Identification Card, or VHIC, to gain access. The VHIC is issued only to veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system. You can apply online, or in person at your local VA medical facility. Family members of the newly eligible veterans will not be authorized to shop, but will be permitted on-base as guests of the VHIC-carrying veteran. Veterans who do not reside near a military installation can still shop online at the four military exchanges. Search for stores at ShopMyExchange, Marine Corps Exchange, Navy Exchange, and Coast Guard Exchange. Caregivers will be processed differently, initially, since they have no military or VA affiliation. The VA will post a memo to for caregivers to be used for access at the front gate, along with a driver’s license. This process is expected to transition to a caregiver-type ID card, which will have scanning swipe capability. One hundred percent disabled veterans, their spouses, and eligible dependents already have access because they are issued military identification cards.

September 2019:  South Texas Veterans Health Care System is going smoke-free on October 1, 2019.  South Texas Veterans Health Care System will become smoke-free beginning October 1 as part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) commitment to a smoke-free health care environment for patients, visitors, volunteers, vendors and employees.  
Smoking will no longer be permitted at the Audie L. Murphy and Kerrville Campuses, all Outpatient and Community Based Outpatient Clinics.  This new policy applies to all cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and any other combustion of tobacco and non-Federal Drug Administration approved electronic nicotine delivery systems including e-cigarettes, vape pens, or e-cigars.
“Although VA has historically permitted smoking in designated areas, creating a smoke-free healthy healing environment is one of the best things we can do for our patients and employees,” said Christopher Sandles, Medical Center Director/CEO.  “Implementation of this policy will help improve the health and overall quality of life for our patients and employees,” said Sandles.
South Texas Veterans Health Care System offers smoking cessation services for employees and Veterans interested in quitting smoking by contacting the Smoking/Tobacco Use Cessation at (210) 617-5300 ext. 16765.  They may also visit the following link for smoke free resources at

January 2019:  Blue Water Navy Veterans Court Decision - Urgent to Submit Intent to File:  Blue Water Veterans must have actually stepped foot on the land of Vietnam or served on its inland waterways anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 to be presumed to have been exposed to herbicides when claiming service-connection for diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure.  Some offshore vessels docked to the shore of Vietnam, operated in Vietnam's close coastal waters and sent smaller vessels ashore, or conducted operations on the inland waterways of Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975. Evidence confirmed through military records must show that the Veteran was aboard one of these ships.  Blue Water Veterans who did not set foot in Vietnam or serve aboard ships that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 must show on a factual basis that they were exposed to herbicides during military service in order to receive disability compensation for diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure.

1. Review the attached list of Agent Orange Disabilities.  If you have been DIAGNOSED with one or more disabilities, continue to the next steps. 
2. Fill out the Blue Water Navy Worksheet.
3. Fill out the attached VA form 21-22 and VA form 21-0966 
(this will lock in your effective date). 
4. Call 830-997-3758 for an appointment to fax in the above 2 documents and be given DBQ's (Disability Benefits Questionnaires) for your private Physician to complete.  
5. To save your effective date in January, documents must be faxed in January OR if approved for the disability you will lose a month's pay if it is received Feb 1 or after.  
6. You will then be scheduled an appointment (when you have the physician documents completed) to process your formal claim.  

JANUARY 2018:  Veteran ID Cards - Link is now available on 

Click here for information brochure. 

This website was first available in Nov 2017 and the system crashed because so many Veterans were applying.   Requesting an ID Card is not mandatory, but may be useful to have a Veterans ID to obtain Veteran discounts (especially if you are not Retired Military or do not have a VA Health ID Card).  
Once you log in at:
·        You have to apply online, 
·        you do not go into a VA facility to get one, 
·        it is mailed to you once you apply on line, 
·        it does not cost you anything.  
On bottom of page click on:  "Apply for printed Veteran ID Card"
Before you start to apply make sure you have photos in your computer of:
 1. Current Driver License
 2. Current Photo of yourself - passport photo size
 3. Photo of your DD-214 that specifies "Honorable Discharge"

NOVEMBER 2017:  National Purple Heart Hall of Honor

The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is requesting that all Veterans who were awarded the Purple Heart Medal to sign up for the Roll of Honor Data Base.  It is free of charge.  This is for living and deceased Veterans.   Visit for more information.     Click here for the application.


MARCH 2017:  Hill Country Mental Health Centers Offer Programs:  "WE Serve Those Who Served US in The Military Forces"   

Click here for Information Brochure.

We provide services for treatment for PTSD, TBI, and Depression.  We offer Confidential, No Cost support for our Veterans and their Families. We have resources to help the Veterans and their families understand the issues that Veterans face each day. We have Peer to Peer supportive services and refer to assistance with filing claims for VA benefits. We also provide services for Veterans in rehabilitation and Health care Facilities as a visitor and a listening ear. We are NOT affiliated with the VA.  Fore more information, contact Hill Country MHDD ~ Hattie Piper ~ Veteran Support Coordinator for Kerr, Gillespie, and Kendall Counties Office via Phone (830) 258-5433 ext. 2029 or Cell - (830) 285-1922 or email:  


JANUARY 2017:  New VA Disability Presumptives for Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water / Submit Claims Now.

Click here for press release.

To clarify:  This affects the water sources of Camp Lejeune which includes MCAS New River, satellite camps and base housing areas.  
1.  If you served there during the dates specified, you need to find proof that you served there for 30 days or more of CUMULATIVE days of active duty (5 days, 10 days, 15 days or continuous 30 days).  Find copies of orders, training certificates, award citations, etc.  Put a copy of the PROOF in your file with my office.   This may require ordering your service records from the National Archives.
2.  If you have a diagnosis of one of the 8 disabilities listed, then the above info applies (find proof of service) and then contact me for an appointment so that I can give you the appropriate (DBQ) Disability Benefits Questionnaire for your physician to complete with supporting private treatment records.  
3.  This will also apply for Surviving Spouses whose Veteran Spouse died from one of the 8 disabilities.  This would be considered a service connected death and the Surviving Spouse may qualify for DIC.  
4.  Applications can be submitted now, and the effective date for claims will be 13 March 2017.  


SEPTEMBER 2016:  VA Plan of Expanded Disability Benefits Eligibility Re: Proposed presumptive disabilities for Veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC for at least 30 days during 1 Aug 1953 to 31 Dec 1987.

** Click HERE for Press Release Information reference proposed presumptive disabilities from Camp Lejeune contaminated water - this will be for active duty, reserves, National Guard and Surviving Spouses. **  You need proof:  DD-214, orders, evaluations, award narratives, etc.   We have been advised that we can start submitting the claims now.  The law will be effective in October/November time frame.

A reminder for Veterans of all branches of service who were stationed or trained at Camp Lejeune, NC: 
a.)  You should sign up for the Camp Lejeune Contaminated Registry. 
The website is:
b.)  VA Website for Veteran info:
c.)  Current study with proposed Presumptive SC disabilities:
d.)  VA website for family members who lived on base:  
e.)  For more information about the health studies and other work done by ATSDR at Camp Lejeune, please visit (

JULY 2016:    New online VA health care application. If you decide to apply online, please give Tami King, Gillespie County VSO, feedback as to how long it takes and if you have any problems.  830.997.3758 office.

Providing health care to our Nation’s Veterans is a vital service of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), one that we must persistently improve.  Through the MyVA transformation, VA is rebuilding trust with Veterans and the American people; modernizing service delivery; and setting the course for long-term, VA excellence, all while continuing to expand access to high-quality care.  Through our improvement efforts, we reviewed many of the steps Veterans must take to receive health care and found that enhancements were necessary in the initial application to better the Veteran experience by removing barriers that hinder access.

Beginning June 30, 2016, Veterans applying for health care will be directed to the health care application on  Veterans and other stakeholders will still have access to VA Form 10-10EZ, which was originally available through the Veterans On-line Application; however, going forward, those applying for health care eligibility will use the online application or call 877-222-VETS (8387).  

Please take a moment to review the new
online form, and, as of June 30, 2016, begin referring Veterans interested in applying for health care eligibility to the new site. 

To learn more about applying for health benefits, please visit VA’s Health Benefits

Gillespie County
Veterans Service Office
102 E San Antonio St
Suite B-2
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624

Telephone: (830) 997-3758
Fax: (830) 997-3245

Located: Annex 2 Bldg
(former clinic building)