RI Veterans: Did you know? 9 December 21 – John A. Cianci

by John A Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer,

                             Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

Did you know VA health care is FREE for five years for combat veterans after returning from a deployment?

Did you know if you were a RI Guardsman and or Reservist deployed and later return back to active duty you should file a claim for any injury or illness occurred while on active duty immediately after you are off active duty?

VETTIP – In 1997 a Veteran service officer reviewed my file for ingrown toenails I had at basic. He filed a claim for the ingrown toenails, which was approved with zero-dollar compensation. Now, 25 years later my feet have worsened, and the VA provides all medical and special equipment needed.

Question – I was denied for my respiratory issues after returning from Iraq and heard a new law was passedthat covers this condition. What do I do to reopen my claim? – Michael, N. Kingstown.

Answer – Michael, As of August 2, 2021, veterans diagnosed with chronic asthmarhinitis, and sinusitis within 10 years of a qualifying period of service in Southwest Asia and certain other areas will have their disability claims processed on a presumptive basis.

VETTIP – Even if after 10 years, recommend you file the claim if you believe any of the above is related to your service.

As a result of this new rule, thousands of veterans exposed to particulate matter in overseas military bases, including Iraq and Afghanistan, can more easily secure VA disability compensation for chronic asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis.

First, I would gather all the VA records for the previous claim filed and denied and place it in a folder marked VA Claim. Read thru the decision; it should detail why the claim was denied. More than likely, reason was NOT SERVICE connected.

Second, recommend you sign up for Once you are signed up, you should be able to access information on previous and current claims. Moreover, you will be able to reopen your claim thru

With this new rule, you can refile.

Any questions, feel free to contact me at, I can assist you in understanding the process and steps you need to take to re-file.

More information on the VA new rule is detailed in this week’s Veterans column.


Understanding New VA Rule on Hazards and Burn Pit Exposures

In August 2021, the VA established new rules for thousands of soldiers who served in overseas and have been diagnosed with chronic asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis.

VA’s new presumption, veterans exposed to particulate matter in overseas military bases, including Iraq and Afghanistan, can more easily secure VA disability compensation for chronic asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis.

This will expand benefits for Veterans who served in:

  • Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria, and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War, from September 19, 2001, to the present, or
  • The Southwest Asia theater of operations from August 2, 1990, to the present

More information from on the rule:

“Airborne hazard” refers to any sort of contaminant or potentially toxic substance that we are exposed to through the air we breathe. While on active duty, military service members may have been exposed to a variety of airborne hazards including:

  • The smoke and fumes from open burn pits
  • Sand, dust, and particulate matter
  • General air pollution common in certain countries
  • Fuel, aircraft exhaust, and other mechanical fumes
  • Smoke from oil well fires

VA understands that many Veterans are especially concerned about exposure to the smoke and fumes generated by open burn pits. 

In Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas of the Southwest Asia theater of military operations, open-air combustion of trash and other waste in burn pits was a common practice. The Department of Defense has now closed out most burn pits and is planning to close the remainder. 

Depending on a variety of factors, you may experience health effects related to this exposure. Factors that may indicate you have a greater or lesser risk of short or long-term health effects include:

  • Types of waste burned
  • Proximity, amount of time, and frequency of exposure
  • Wind direction and other weather-related factors
  • Presence of other airborne or environmental hazards in the area

Many health conditions related to these hazards are temporary and should disappear after the exposure ends. Other longer-term health issues may be caused by a combination of hazardous exposures, injuries, or illnesses you may have experienced during your military service including blast or noise injuries.

VA understands that exposure to airborne hazards like burn pits is a serious concern for many Veterans. We strongly encourage all Veterans who are concerned about any kind of hazardous exposure during their military service talk to their health care provider and apply for VA health care.

VA health care is also available for free to combat Veterans for five years after separation to help ensure continuity of care for health issues related to their military service. If you are enrolled in VA care, you can contact your facility’s Environmental Health Coordinator for more information and resources.

Veterans can also file a claim for compensation and benefits. If you participate in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBPR), you may save and submit a copy of your registry questionnaire to support your claim. Through the claims process, VA evaluates Veterans’ individual exposures, circumstances of service, and needs. 

Open Burn Pits – What Was Burned

  • Waste products commonly disposed of in open burn pits include:
  • Chemicals, paint, medical and human waste
  • Metal and aluminum cans
  • Munitions and unexploded ordnance
  • Petroleum and lubricant products
  • Plastics, rubber, wood, and food waste

Exposure to smoke created by burning these materials may cause irritation and burning of eyes or throat, coughing, breathing difficulties, skin itching or rashes. Many of these conditions are temporary and resolve on their own when the exposure ends.

However, if you were closer to burn pit smoke or were exposed for longer periods of time, you may be at greater risk for longer-term health conditions.

Additional Information:

VETTIP – Additional evidence can be submitted to support your exposure to the burn pits. For example, I submitted photos of my unit burning human waste in half barrels filled with diesel-with me standing in-front of breathing in the smoke.


Upcoming Events

Tuesday, December 11th , 9am to 1130am Northern Rhode Island Veteran Coffee House, American Legion Post #88, 111 Chapel Street , Harrisville RI. Town of Burriville Veteran Service Officer Linda D’Andre Peck available to assist veterans with applications for RI Veterans Home, RI Veteran Cemetery, VA Claims, etc.…NO APPOINTMENT REQUIRED.

Saturday, December 11th , 10am to 3pm Toys for Tots Drop Off, American Legion Post #88, 111 Chapel Street , Harrisville RI, 401-568-0858. Bring a new unwrapped toy and join in at 3:00pm for kickoff of Army-Navy Game. At half time, post will be serving NY style hot wieners.

Saturday, December 11th the North Kingstown VFW Post 152 hosts an Army-Navy game Watch Party at Dan’s Tavern on the Green, 615 Callahan Rd North Kingstown, from 2 PM until the game ends. The cost is $25 for non-post members. Purchase tickets here: Buffet menu included in your ticket will have Chicken and steak skewers, Wings, Nacho Bar, Chili, Pizza, Pulled Pork Sliders, and a cookie tray. Cash bar.

There will be a spirit wear competition, so come dressed to support your favorite team.

Monday, December 13, 2021, Wreaths Across America State House Ceremony , 12 noon in the State Room of the State House, Providence RI followed by the wreath laying in the Garden of Heroes.  The Wreaths Across America State House ceremonies takes place in all 50 states and Washington D.C. and will continue a week-long celebration of America’s veterans and their service to our Country with a particular focus on family during the holidays.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021, Northern Rhode Island Veteran Coffee House, 9-11:30am American Legion Lost #88, 100 Chapel Street, Burrillville, RI. All veteran and their guest invited.

January 22, 2022 , 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).




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 into 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.

1 Comment

  1. Jeff Gross on December 10, 2021 at 12:39 am

    Great Job John!