A Community Service Project

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Military Banner's Program at Emporium, Cameron County, Pennsylvania

VA Seeks Partnerships to Build and Improve Health-Care Facilities

VA News Release
October 19, 2017

VA Seeks Partnerships to Build and Improve Health-care Facilities

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking interest from potential partners who want to support efforts to build world-class health-care facilities for America’s Veterans.

Public Law 114-294, the Communities Helping Invest through Property and Improvements Needed for Veterans Act of 2016, also known as the “CHIP-IN Act,” authorizes VA to accept donations from up to five non-federal entities to help fund and expedite the construction of health-care related capital projects.

The CHIP-IN Act aligns with VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin’s efforts to modernize the department and enhance service to Veterans by streamlining and instituting infrastructure improvements to health-care facilities.

“Our strategic partnerships are one of many valuable tools that allow us to provide assistance to our Veterans,” Shulkin said. “Donations through the CHIP-IN Act will help us deliver health-care facilities for our Veterans in a faster, more cost-effective manner.”

The first CHIP-IN Act partner is helping to build a new Ambulatory Care Center in Omaha, Nebraska. The center will provide a much-needed facility to Veterans in the region faster than a traditional funding and construction timeframe, and with a reduced burden on the taxpayer.  VA is looking forward to developing similar partnerships for future CHIP-IN Projects through the RFI.

The RFI, available on the Federal Business Opportunities website, is seeking interest from non-federal entities, including 501(c)(3) nonprofits, private entities, and donor groups, for the remaining four partnership opportunities. The donations must be: (1) real property that includes a constructed facility or that is to be used as the site of a facility constructed by the donor, or (2) a facility to be constructed by the donor on VA-controlled property. Interested parties must respond by Jan. 15, 2018.

The CHIP-IN Act will help VA forge even closer bonds to the community by developing strategic partnerships with existing and new partners that have close ties to the communities they serve. The CHIP-IN Act is also a roadmap for communities that want to support VA’s efforts to address the emerging needs of Veterans in a collaborative, cost-efficient manner, which will benefit taxpayers and communities broadly.


Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime for Making Telephonic Threat to Shoot Congregants at the Islamic Center of Greater Miami

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime for Making Telephonic Threat to Shoot Congregants at the Islamic Center of Greater Miami

The Justice Department announced that Gerald Wallace, 35, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to threatening to shoot members of a mosque in Miami Gardens, Florida. Wallace pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to one count of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by making the threatening call.

During the plea hearing, Wallace admitted that on the evening of Feb. 19, he left a voicemail message for the Islamic Center of Greater Miami, located in Miami Gardens, Florida.  The defendant admitted leaving a hate-filled and profanity laden message against Islam, the prophet Mohammed, and the Koran, during which he threatened to go to the mosque, and stated, “I’m gonna shoot all y’all.” He further admitted that by leaving this threatening message, he obstructed congregants who worship at the Islamic Center from freely exercising their religious beliefs.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate threats of hate violence, which threaten whole communities’ sense of safety and security,” said John Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division.  “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes so that all people, no matter how they worship, the color of their skin, or their country of origin, can live their lives freely and without fear.”

“Hate crimes, no matter their form, engender fear and have no place in our society,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg. “By leaving a hate-filled and profanity laden message against Islam and threatening to shoot the members of the mosque he targeted, Gerald Wallace obstructed the free exercise of religion. Hate crimes not only violate our laws, but they are contrary to our country’s most fundamental principles. We will not tolerate the targeting of any community in our society. We will continue to prosecute hate crimes aggressively to ensure that all members of our community can live without fear.”

Wallace faces a maximum statutory penalty 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his guilty plea to the hate crime charge.  Sentencing is set for Jan. 17, 2018, in front of U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke. 

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Area Corruption Task Force and the Miami Gardens Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry C. Wallace, Jr. of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Samantha Trepel of the Civil Rights Division.

IRS Tax Tip For Taxpayers Who are Victims of Domestic Abuse Should Know Their Rights

Taxpayers Who are Victims of Domestic Abuse Should Know Their Rights

Domestic abuse often includes control over finances. An important part of managing finances is understanding one’s tax rights. Taxpayers have the right to expect the IRS to consider facts and circumstances that might affect the individual’s taxes.
Taxpayers have the right to:
  • File a separate return even if they’re married.
  • Review the entire tax return before signing a joint return.
  • Review supporting documents for a joint return.
  • Refuse to sign a joint return.
  • Request more time to file their tax return.
  • Get copies of prior year tax returns from the IRS.
  • Seek independent legal advice.
Taxpayers also have the right to request relief from the liability shown on a joint return. This is known as innocent spouse relief. Here are a couple of examples:
Example 1:
  • A taxpayer signs a joint return with their spouse.
  • The taxpayer thought their spouse paid all taxes due.
  • The IRS contacts the taxpayer because the taxes shown on the joint return were not paid.
Example 2:
  • The taxpayer signs a joint return with their spouse.
  • The taxpayer didn’t know about their spouse’s unreported income or erroneous deductions.
  • The IRS adjusted the taxes due because of their spouse’s improper items.
To apply for Innocent Spouse Relief, a taxpayer fills out Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief.   More Information:
Share this tip on social media -- #IRSTaxTip: Taxpayers Who are Victims of Domestic Abuse Should Know Their Rights.  https://go.usa.gov/xnCmk

VA OIG: Healthcare Inspection – Opioid Agonist Treatment Program Concerns VA Maryland Health Care System Baltimore, Maryland

10/18/2017 08:00 PM EDT

OIG conducted a healthcare inspection in response to allegations made by a confidential complainant in 2015 regarding the Opioid Agonist Treatment Program (OATP) at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, one of three VA Maryland Health Care System campuses, located in Baltimore, MD.

 The complainant alleged the OATP lacked quality controls necessary to ensure patients received treatment planning and monthly counseling as required, which resulted in patient deaths.

 We substantiated that the OATP lacked effective quality controls necessary to ensure patients consistently received required treatment planning and monthly counseling. 

We determined the failure to provide consistent treatment planning and monthly counseling was due, in part, to a lack of counseling staff supervision.

 We did not substantiate that OATP patients died as a result. 

We also determined the OATP lacked a clear policy on cardiac risk management and quality controls to ensure appropriate cardiac monitoring. 

We identified a concern related to the role of the OATP Medical Director. 42 CFR § 8.12 (b) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration require that the medical director be responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations.

 However, the OATP policy describing the medical director’s duties did not include regulatory compliance responsibility or define a sufficient number of hours to ensure regulatory compliance.

FTC Cool on “Hot Degrees” List for Military

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information

by Carol Kando-Pineda
Attorney, Consumer & Business Education, FTC

When servicemembers think about a civilian career, they often consider getting more education – but they need trustworthy information to make good decisions. That’s why the FTC just announced a proposed settlement with Victory Media, alleging its school search tool promoted schools that paid the company, while claiming it gave independent advice.
Read more >

Victory Media Settles FTC Charges Concerning Its Promotion of Post-Secondary Schools to Military Consumers

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The Federal Trade Commission and Victory Media, Inc. have reached a proposed administrative consent agreement resolving allegations that Victory Media violated Section 5 of the FTC Act in connection with its promotion of post-secondary schools to military consumers.

Victory Media reaches servicemembers through its magazines G.I. Jobs, the Guide to Military FriendlySchools, and Military Spouse, its websites, including militaryfriendly.commilitaryspouse.com, and gijobs.com, and on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. 

According to the FTC’s complaint, some of the company’s advice and tools deceptively promoted schools that paid the company for those promotions, including some schools the company had deemed not “military friendly.”

“Servicemembers and their families put themselves on the line every day to protect our nation,” said Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. “We owe it to them to make sure that when they look to further their education, they get straight talk instead of advertising in disguise.”

Among other offerings, Victory Media helps servicemembers find the right educational choice through an online Matchmaker tool that purports to search schools it deems “military friendly,” a designation Victory Media created based on publicly available data and a voluntary survey related to the educational needs and interests of military students. 

According to the complaint, beginning in mid-2015, the company has included schools as possible search results for its Matchmaker tool only if the schools paid it to be included, regardless of whether the company has designated them as “military friendly” under its criteria. Victory Media also has endorsed individual schools in certain articles, emails, and social media posts it creates discussing educational opportunities without disclosing that, in many cases, the schools paid the company to be endorsed in those specific materials.

The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint and to accept the consent agreement was 2-0. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through November 20, 2017, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit comments electronically by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $40,654.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

Nicole Jones
Office of Public Affairs

Nikhil Singhvi
Bureau of Consumer Protection

Stephanie Cox
Bureau of Consumer Protection

Submit a Comment

More news from the FTC >>

Old Town Trolley Tours Says "Thanks to our Veterans!" with FREE ADMISSION Offers

Historic Tours of America Logo
To all those who've served, Thank You!
Celebrate Veterans Day with Old Town Trolley Tours & Patriot Service Dogs
Each year on Veterans Day, Old Town Trolley Tours offers specials to all veterans, active duty military personnel and police officers*. Today and every day, we thank these brave men and women in uniform for their service, and for the sacrifices they've made for our country.
Enjoy Free* Admission to the following:

Washington DC

Trolley Tour in DC
November 11-13, 2017
Please obtain Free Boarding Pass at our sales depots at the Welcome Center or Union Station.

San Diego

Trolley Tour in San Diego
November 11-13, 2017


Trolley Tour in Nashville
November 11-13, 2017

Patriotic Pups

Old Town Trolley Tours will be donating $1 from each ticket sold on Veterans Day to help sponsor a puppy with Patriot Service Dogs. To date, Historic Tours of America has sponsored six puppies who are assisting returning veterans with their day to day lives.
Patriot Service Puppy