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Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Presidential Proclamation on the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Obama speaking in the East Room
A proclamation by Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America on the anniversary of the American's with Disabilities Act When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, a founding truth of our Nation was realized for persons living with disabilities -- that all our citizens are entitled to the same privileges, pursuits, and civil rights.  As we mark the 20th anniversary of this historic legislation, we renew our commitment to ensuring that everyone with disabilities can live free from the weight of discrimination and pursue the American dream.

Across our country, Americans with disabilities have enriched and strengthened our Nation.  Each day, individuals living with disabilities contribute immeasurably to every aspect of our country's national life and economy, from art to law, science to business, education to technology.  Through steadfast determination, they have worked to make our communities more accessible, while empowering others to exercise independence and self-determination in all aspects of their lives.  They have also brightened futures for countless young people.  Today, children and youth with disabilities have a place in our classrooms alongside their peers, and are graduating with the knowledge and skills needed for postsecondary education and beyond.

Yet, despite the progress made in removing barriers and eliminating discrimination based on disability, on this 20th anniversary of the ADA, we must renew our commitment to achieving equal opportunity for, and the full inclusion of, all people with disabilities.  My Administration has taken important steps towards achieving this goal.  We have expanded funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so that all of America's children have access to the tools to succeed.  Under the health care reforms enacted in the Affordable Care Act, unfair practices like discrimination based on health status or pre-existing conditions will be eliminated.  This landmark legislation also creates the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Program to assist Americans with disabilities to live independently.  Additionally, the Affordable Care Act provides States with more tools and financial incentives, such as the Community First Choice Option, which will support individuals with disabilities living in the communities of their choosing.  These and other initiatives build on the "Year of Community Living," which I launched in 2009 to support independent living.

The Federal Government is committed to leading by example in hiring people with disabilities, with focused efforts to recruit, retain, and support these public servants.  In partnership with the many Federal agencies and departments with ADA responsibilities, my Administration will uphold strong and meaningful enforcement of the ADA to eliminate discrimination in employment, housing, public services, and community accommodations.  I urge all Americans to visit for comprehensive disability-related information and resources.

I am also proud that the United States has in the past year joined the international community in signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  In so doing, we affirm that these rights are not simply principles to safeguard at home, but also universal rights to be respected and advanced around the world.

In honor of and in solidarity with all Americans with disabilities and their loved ones, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ADA, and recommit to build a more just world, free of unnecessary barriers and full of deeper understanding.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim Monday, July 26, 2010, the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  I encourage Americans across our Nation to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this civil rights law and the many contributions of individuals with disabilities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

Barack Obama

Thursday, July 15, 2010

AMVETS applauds VA's new PTSD rules

Press Release from AMVETS For Immediate Release

VA Eases Evidence Requirements for PTSD Service-Connection
WASHINGTON, July 15, 2010—This week VA published new criteria for veterans seeking service-connected benefits and care for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. AMVETS applauded the rule change, which drops the “additional evidence” requirements for veterans suffering from the invisible wound. VA has published a Q&A on the new guidelines, which is available on the VA Web site by Clicking Here.

“VA’s new rules will ease the path for veterans to receive the care and compensation they deserve as a result of PTSD,” said AMVETS National Commander Duane J. Miskulin. “AMVETS has been asking VA to waive this requirement for quite some time and we’re happy to see that Secretary [Eric K.] Shinseki is listening.”

AMVETS leaders believe that the new guidelines will eliminate a significant evidentiary hurdle for veterans of all generation who have suffered from PTSD. Before the new guidelines were published in the Federal Register, veterans seeking service-connected benefits for PTSD had to compile evidence of a combat stressor that triggered the condition. Now, veterans must only provide sufficient evidence of serving in a combat zone—such as a DD-214, with the presumption that they were exposed to a traumatic event.

Veterans must also have a diagnosis of PTSD from a VA doctor—a caveat that AMVETS hopes VA will reconsider.

AMVETS leaders would prefer to see VA also accept outside diagnoses of PTSD, similar to how VA accepts other outside medical evidence.
VA clarified that outside medical opinions would be considered in the overall claim, but that a VA doctor must still have the final say. AMVETS leaders said they will continue to work with VA in an effort to ensure that no veteran suffering from PTSD slips through the cracks, regardless of diagnosis.
Cmdr. Miskulin has made military mental health a personal priority for his year as AMVETS National Commander, helping to commission AMVETS Warrior Transition Workshops alongside Freedom & Honor. AMVETS’ workshops offer recently-returned veterans experiential peer-to-peer support outside of VA and Department of Defense channels, allowing veterans to contextualize their experiences, fostering a smooth transition from warrior to citizen.

If you are a veteran in crisis, AMVETS encourages you to call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press “1” to speak with a live counselor experienced in working with veterans. AMVETS also reminds veterans of the current conflicts that you are entitled to five years of free health care through VA regardless of service-connection.

A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit

Thursday, July 1, 2010

21 Dogtopia locations offer free dog washes to Service and Assistance Dogs

Dogtopia, a national dog day care business is giving back this summer to dogs who work year-round. Through charity dog washes taking place simultaneously July 17 and July 18, Dogtopia has set out to raise $20,000 for working canines.

From California to Virginia, every single Dogtopia franchise location – 21 stores in 10 states – will participate in the company's sixth annual charity dog wash that will raise money for all types of working animals, including Service and Assistance Dogs, police dogs and military dogs serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Budgets in local and national government agencies are strapped right now, which is why it's more important than ever to ensure working police and military dogs get the supplies necessary to do their jobs in as much comfort as possible," said Amy Nichols, CEO and Founder of Dogtopia. "Each year, this charity wash has grown and I am thrilled to see so much participation this summer."

Many Dogtopia franchises have chosen local organizations to partner with for the charity event. In California, for example, the San Marcos location will help raise money for Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities through trained assistance dogs.

Several Dogtopia locations will also give back to their local police departments' dogs, which play an important role in detecting narcotics and explosives, search and rescue operations, evidence recovery and criminal apprehension in their communities. In addition, the dog is responsible for protecting their police handlers. Proceeds from the Dogtopia dog washes will defer costs for equipment such as ballistic vests, safety harnesses and the outfitting of cars. For dogs serving in the U.S. military, donations go toward money for toys, treats and other comforts such as cooling pads and goggles to deflect the desert sand.

Nichols began her campaign to raise awareness for military dogs, as well as working dogs of all kinds in July 2005. To accommodate the success of the campaign, she established a permanent charitable wing of her company called K-9 Support. To date, K-9 Support has raised more than $45,000 for working dogs, as well as sending more than 7,000 lbs of supplies overseas.

This year, locations in San Marcos, CA; Temecula, CA; Pleasanton, CA; Highlands Ranch, CO; Houston, TX; Waco, TX; Austin, TX; Wilmington, DE; Omaha, NE; Munster, IN; Nashville, TN; Cary, NC; N. Raleigh, NC; Charlotte, NC; Tysons Corner, VA; Alexandria, VA; Dulles, VA; Manassas, VA; Woodbridge, VA; North Bethesda, MD and Clarksville, MD will participate in the dog wash with a goal of washing at least 100 dogs per location.

Owners can bring their dogs in for a bath, where both can enjoy food and games. Several local businesses have committed to the fifth annual dog wash through donations and representation, including major players in the local canine industry. A $10 per dog wash donation is requested. Proceeds will go to the local Dogtopia franchisee's organization of choice.

About Dogtopia®
Founded in 2002, Dogtopia® prides itself on being a place where pets are valued as family and­ where dogs enjoy endless playtime and spa treatments in a positive environment. Dog owners have the assurance of leaving their beloved pets in the hands of trained professionals. Dogtopia® staff willingly nurtures each pet with attention and love. Each location offers a variety of fun activities, sociable training and comfortable boarding for dogs of all ages, shapes, sizes, abilities and temperaments.