RI Veterans: Did you know? 6 January 22 – John A. Cianci

by John A Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer,

                             Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

Did you know veterans receiving disability received a 5.9% increase?

The table below reflects the 2022 pay increase for a veteran with no dependents.

VA 2022 Pay Chart

Combined VA Rating2022 VA Disability Pay Rate2021 VA Disability Pay Rate

If you have a 30% to 100% disability rating and you have dependents, including children and dependent parents, your compensation rate goes up. At the 80% disability rating each additional child under 18 adds an additional $69 a month.

If your spouse is receiving Aid and Attendance to help out with the caretaking, they would receive an additional $129.

Did you know if you served on active duty for more than 90 days consecutive and have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)  the Veterans Administration assumes because of your service ALS was a result of your service. Moreover, you  will be compensated estimated $3500 to $4500 a month for the rest of your life.

Whereas, more than likely, ALS will be cause of death your spouse will be eligible for a monthly compensation, estimated $1400 to $1500 monthly, from the VA since your death would be considered service connected.  

VETTIP – A veteran is not compelled to use the VA for treatment for his or her ALS before or after filing for VA compensation for ALS, however, more than likely, after filing will have to attend an examination to be diagnosed with ALS. Simply put, if the veteran has private medical treatment for his or her ALS, they can continue and still receive VA compensation.

ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease Linked to Military Service For Veterans Serving More Than 90 Days

Not a typo, every veteran who served for 90 consecutive days of active duty who is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease the veteran’s service is considered to have caused ALS.

One has to wonder, what is every Marine, Army, Navy, Coast, or Air Force service linked to that could be the cause of ALS. Some have suggested the number of vaccines military people receive, but from the ALS Association:

Military service. Studies indicate that people who have served in the military are at higher risk of ALS. It’s unclear what about military service might trigger the development of ALS. It might include exposure to certain metals or chemicals, traumatic injuries, viral infections, and intense exertion.

This is known as an Environmental Factor.

Established risk factors for ALS include:

  • Heredity. Five to 10 percent of the people with ALS inherited it (familial ALS). In most people with familial ALS, their children have a 50-50 chance of developing the disease.
  • Age. ALS risk increases with age, and is most common between the ages of 40 and the mid-60s.
  • Sex. Before the age of 65, slightly more men than women develop ALS. This sex difference disappears after age 70.
  • Genetics. Some studies examining the entire human genome found many similarities in the genetic variations of people with familial ALS and some people with noninherited ALS. These genetic variations might make people more susceptible to ALS.

Environmental factors, such as the following, in addition to the Military Service one, might trigger ALS.

  • Smoking. Smoking is the only likely environmental risk factor for ALS. The risk seems to be greatest for women, particularly after menopause.
  • Environmental toxin exposure. Some evidence suggests that exposure to lead or other substances in the workplace or at home might be linked to ALS. Much study has been done, but no single agent or chemical has been consistently associated with ALS.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has recognized ALS as a service-connected disease, which means that the V.A. provides financial and medical support to veterans with at least 90 continuous days of active duty. If you qualify for these benefits, they can provide significant assistance in obtaining medical care, assistive devices, and financial support. 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease (after the Baseball player), is a motor neuron disease that breaks down the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing the cells to die. These neurons control voluntary muscle movement, most often in the legs, arms, and face. The destruction of the neurons causes difficultly walking, chewing, speaking, using your arms, and breathing. ALS is a progressive disease meaning it will worsen over time.

One of the environmental risk factors for ALS is Military Service. It is unclear what exactly triggers ALS from service in the Military, but studies show that military veterans have a higher risk of developing ALS.

In 2008, the VA implemented a presumption of service-connected for veterans diagnosed with ALS. This presumption is one of the most powerful presumptions in the VA.

Under 38 C.F.R. § 3.318, to be eligible for the presumption a Veteran must have served for at least 90 continuous days on active duty and be diagnosed with ALS. Unlike other presumptive conditions in the VA, which must manifest during a certain period, the diagnosis of ALS may come at any point after service. This means the veteran could be diagnosed with ALS the day after being discharged or 20 years after being discharged and the presumption will apply.

Under 38 C.F.R. § 4.124a, Diagnostic Code 8017, those eligible for the presumption are automatically service connected at a 100 percent Permanent and Total rate. Because ALS does not have a cure and it is a progressive disease the rating is considered permanent and total and cannot be reduced.

Additionally, as the disease progresses and becomes worse, the Veteran may be eligible for Special Monthly Compensation. Special Monthly Compensation is an additional benefit for Veterans whose service-connected conditions resulted in severe impairment. There are also other VA, State, and Local benefits for Veterans that have a 100 percent Permanent and Total rating from the VA.

For more information on ALS, go to: – there is also a chapter in Rhode Island.

What does a veteran do if he or she is diagnosed with ALS?

Filing Your Claim

Choose one of three ways:

  • Apply online, using the VA’s VETS.GOV website, or
  • Work with a Veteran Service Organization. These groups know the intricacies of dealing with the VA and can help you ensure your submission is complete and correct. They will provide free assistance, anyone who charges you for help filing a VA claim is ripping you off.
  • Go to a Providence VA Medical, 830 Chalkstone Ave, (basement), DAV and other Veteran Service Organizations will provide free assistance on filing a claim.
  • In addition, Providence VA Regional Office, 380 Westminster Street, 2nd floor, has Veteran Service Officers available to assist you in filing the claim.

VETTIP – The second Tuesday of every month, 9am-100pm, Town of Burrillville Veteran Service Officer, Linda D Andre Peck and the Italian American Veteran Service Officer, John Cianci, provide walk-in assistance filing their claims at the Berard Desjarlais Post #88, 111 Chapel Street, Harrisville RI. Appointments are available to veteran’s schedule by calling (401)677-9828, which include nights and weekends. ALL SERVICES ARE FREE AND SERVICES ARE OFFERED TO ALL MEMBERS, NON-MEMBERS, AND FAMILIES.

After You File Your Claim

OK, you’ve filed your claim, now you sit and wait. It can take months, but usually the VA will send you a letter when:

  1. they get your claim,
  2. they start working on your claim,
  3. if they need more information,
  4. around every month or so while they are working on it,
  5. when they make a decision on your claim.

If you submitted a claim online you can check the VETS.GOV website for the status. If you filed through a Veteran’s Service organization you can check your claim’s status through them.

The VA may have to contact the DoD for records or if they need more medical information, they may ask you to provide it. The VA may also schedule an examination for you to assess the disabilities you claimed. If the VA requires you to undergo a medical exam to support your claim be sure to show up for the appointment, or risk having your claim delayed by several months. The VA may schedule you for multiple medical appointments depending on how many or what type of disabilities you claim.

Other than attend scheduled examinations, you don’t need to do anything else unless VA sends you a letter saying it needs more information.

VETTIP – Recommend veterans sign up for ebenfits.

What is eBenefits?

eBenefits is a joint VA/DoD web portal that provides resources and self-service capabilities to Veterans, Service members, and their families to research, access and manage their VA and military benefits and personal information. eBenefits uses secure credentials to allow access to personal information and gives users the ability to perform numerous self-service functions. It also provides a list of links to other sites that provide information about military and Veteran benefits. It is an essential way for Veterans, Service members, and their families to receive access to and service from VA and DoD.

What can I do in eBenefits?

Some of the features within eBenefits allow Veterans and Service members to access official military personnel documents, view the status of their disability compensation claim, transfer entitlement of Post-9/11 GI Bill to eligible dependents (service members only), and register for and update direct deposit information for certain benefits.


Registration open for Providence Clemente Veterans’ Initiative (PCVI), now in its 4th year, is accepting applications for the spring semester, which will begin on January 20th. We meet on Zoom on Monday and Thursday evenings, 6pm to 8pm.

The PCVI is a free humanities program that is open to all Rhode Island veterans (Bristol County MA too), regardless of deployment, disability, education and discharge status.  The goal is to provide a meaningful intellectual community to veterans who are trying to process their thoughts and experiences, and grappling with readjustment to civilian life.  

Those who participate are eligible to earn 6 college credits.  Books and school supplies are free, and computer/internet assistance is available.  In 2020 the PCVI won the “Innovation in the Humanities” award from the RI Council for the Humanities.

The course enrolls 12-15 veteran-scholars, and is taught by faculty from UMass-Dartmouth, URI, and the Rhode Island School of Design.  In the fall we explored the ancient Greeks and the American Civil War through history, literature, philosophy, art history, theater, and creative writing.  In the spring, we’ll pick up with the World Wars, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  New students are very welcome to join us!  

To apply online, please click here. 

If you have any questions, or if you would like a paper application mailed to you, please email Dr. Mark Santow, PCVI Academic Director, at 

In addition to our online classes, we meet up for visits to museums, monuments, historical societies, and plays.  All are free.  Brochure below:

January 12, Tuesday 9am-100pm, Northern Rhode Island Veteran Coffee House, 111 Chapel Street Burrillville RI. Open to all veterans and their guest.

January 22,  2-8 p.m., Rhode Island National Guard Reunion, Orlando Florida, 13110 Lake Mary Jane Road, Orlando FL., $20 per person. More information contact Patti Ryan, If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci,, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838).



Applebees Applebee’s – Military Discount … With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2028

Denny’s, Hartford Save Johnston Offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty . Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain.  Last verified 07/31/2028 (PS I had breakfast there on Saturday).

Outback Steakhouse 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021

99 Restaurant & Pub: The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID


Advance Auto Parts 10% for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 07/28/2021

Bass Pro Shops: Bass Pro Shops offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source).

BJs Wholesale Reduced membership fee. J’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021

Lowes. Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to Activate Your 10% Discount

Our way of saying “Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items.

Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner, is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe.

GameStop is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through 

Home Depot Home Depot offers a 10% OFF military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer.

Kohls 15% Kohl’s offers active military, veterans, retirees and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type.


We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 15% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at select locations listed below:

Tioque Ave, Coventry RI

Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI

Park Ave, Cranston RI

Michaels . Michaels Stores offers a 15% OFF military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans and family members. How to get,

  1. Create an Account. Log in or create a Michaels Rewards account.
  2. Get Verified. Provide your military information to get verified instantly.
  3. Go Shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign in to your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout.

O’Reilly Auto Parts 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21.

If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward ,  the business’s name , location, and military and Veteran discount offered

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci,, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)


To read all columns in this series go to:

John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.