July 21. 11:15-1:00. Chino Valley’s Women in Business Quarterly Luncheon at the Antelope Hills Golf Course. Speaker: Lori Robenstein, JD. Host: Cheryl Van Demark. More information at www.chinovalley.org
Veterans Battling for Promised Education
“I have given up everything to make this work and to pursue my education and career aspirations,” writes Senior Airman Christopher Shelby, U.S. Air Force Reserves and former active duty service member, in a plea to U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar. “Please help protect my rights and my educational benefits.”
Shelby’s dilemma also affects 39 other enrollees impacted by an admissions suspension ordered by the Veterans Administration (VA) to the Aviation Technology program at Yavapai College. These aspiring helicopter and airplane pilots, previously accepted into the college’s summer session slated to start May 11, were informed April 7.
The suspension involves an “85/15 rule” mandating that veterans comprise no more than 85 percent of VA-paid curricula.
“In the case of Yavapai College, previous program enrollment data submitted by the college did not correctly provide separate calculations for each concentration,” according to VA Spokesperson Terry Jemison. “Upon further review, it was found that the Airplane Operations and Helicopter Operations programs are not compliant with the 85/15 rule. Consequently, those programs were suspended from admitting new GI Bill students, and currently enrolled students will still be allowed to continue receiving GI Bill benefits to finish their program.”
Yavapai College, citing recommendation from legal counsel, declined to comment. However, a similarly suspended Utah university issued a statement.
“The aviation program at Southern Utah University (SUU), in partnership with Upper Limit Aviation, has been under scrutiny following an article by an investigative reporter at the LA Times on March 15, 2015,” the statement reads. “The reporter claimed that there was a ‘loop hole’ in the GI Bill that SUU and other flight schools were using to exploit the VA.”
SUU described submitting required enrollment reports for its winter and summer aviation programs, stating, “on March 23, 2015, the VA requested an alternate student count, using an entirely different methodology. Under the new method, the University is six veteran students over the allowable limit, in proportion to its private pay students.”
Prescott-based helicopter training company Guidance Aviation, partnering similarly with Yavapai College, also was included in the article. Shelby is among 90 veterans comprising the 100 percent veteran enrollees who sought entry to the summer Guidance Aviation helicopter curriculum.
“My educational benefits are solely in the hands of civilians,” Shelby stated. “I cannot pursue my education because 15 percent of my classmates are not civilians. It is not right that veterans wanting to pursue this program have to hope and rely on civilians to pursue this career as well…I was promised certain benefits when I joined and when I signed for the GI Bill, but because of the VA, the very organization sworn to protect our nation’s veterans…my educational aspirations and my life will be demolished.”
Leaving active duty and joining the Air Force Reserves in April 2014 to pursue aviation at Yavapai College, Shelby detailed “a long and arduous journey for me and my wife. We pushed through because we knew that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. Or so we thought. Two weeks after arriving in Prescott Valley, I received the email from Yavapai College that took that light away.”
The couple since has spent more than $15,000 in savings, Shelby’s letter states, while his wife has struggled to “start completely over in a [town] that is not a mecca for jobs. We are now in Prescott Valley with no jobs, no careers and no income. Our savings – what little is left – is not going to last us very long. Had this decision been made sooner, I would not have left active duty Air Force and my wife would not have had to leave her career.”
The hardships of Master Sergeant Patrick Needham, USAF (Retired), involve resigning a $75,000 a year contract position in Omaha; listing his Nebraska home below market for quick sale; sending his wife ahead to Arizona to find a job and a new home; and writing letters to 250 members of Congress as movers packed his then-sold house.
The 85/15 rule “doesn’t make sense to me,” Needham said. “Because where are you going to find aviation experience to the level that we have been trained into? That is in the military. The Army spends $1 million to train a helicopter pilot. There is no expense that (the Army does not) incur. They can spend the money to train to the best level possible. Wouldn’t you want that for your civilian pilots flying people around?”
One reason for the rule, according to the VA’s Jemison, is ensuring that veterans are not specifically “targeted” by schools. “If [at least] 15 percent of the student body comes from the general population willing to pay for that education and those programs at those prices,” he said, “it’s a measure of acceptance and quality.”
Timing of the suspensions stems from a January review by the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Jemison says, and not the California newspaper. The committee’s evaluation had revealed “the extraordinarily costly six-figure expenditures for individuals” pursuing helicopter careers.
Consequently, “VA has begun to systematically examine compliance with the 85/15 rule for all aviation-related degree programs at public institutions of higher learning,” Jemison said. “We’ve undertaken this because in the past few years, VA has noted an expansion in the number of aviation-related degree programs offered by public schools, the increasingly high costs associated with those programs, growth in the number of GI Bill beneficiaries enrolled, as well as advertising focused on Veterans for those high-cost programs. Based on those observations, VA had reason to believe that such programs may not always be compliant with the 85/15 rule.”
The VA’s suspension surfaces as military branches are training fewer aviators, the aviation industry projects a shortage of more than 20,000 airline pilot seats in the next seven years, and the Air Force Times reports exiting pilots being offered $225,000 in bonuses for an added nine-year commitment. That, too, likely has the 40 aspiring aviators at Yavapai College pondering the ways and means of politics. QCBN
Tips for Online Security
On any given day, most people “check in,” post status updates, tweet, or upload a picture on a social media platform. Most people use multiple social media sites to stay in touch with friends, family and acquaintances. However, sharing too much information can create a real risk.
We have included a quick list of tips and tricks to increase your social media safety:
- Avoid sharing personal information. Posting your home address and pictures of where you live can open you up to real-world danger when you go on vacation. Sharing information, such as your birthday or phone number, can give people pieces of information used for identity theft.
- Don’t randomly accept a friend request just because it’s there. Identity theft often starts with collection of personal information. A popular tactic is to set up fake online profiles and “friend” people in order to gather personal information from potential victims.
- Consider limiting the frequency of checking in everywhere you go. Check-ins not only allow your friends to know where you are, but others as well. Frequent check-ins may expose you to being robbed, enable people to stalk you or worse.
- Review apps carefully before you download them. It has become popular to create fake apps in order to gain personal information from users or to install malicious software on your device.
- Check your privacy settings to ensure you are not over-sharing personal information. Privacy settings help you better manage your online image.
Four Ways to Protect Your Data
Physically losing your smartphone, laptop, iPad or other mobile device is never fun, but what about the information on those devices? What can you do to protect your information and to get back to “normal” again? Here are some tips that may help you protect your digital identity, data and files.
- You are a target. Hacking, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and other approaches are becoming part of the Internet. It seems as if a new type of attack or data breach is found every week. In order to help protect yourself, be sure to back up your data. There are a number of services that automatically back up your data. If you prefer a solution with a one-time cost, an external standalone hard drive may be the best option. Storage capacity of hard drives is increasing and the costs are decreasing.
- Entry points for malicious attacks are everywhere. Gaming systems, apps and many games on mobile devices are utilizing “always on” Internet connections. This constant connection to the Internet creates a potential access point to your personal data. Anti-virus software, firewalls, passwords and data encryption should be used whenever offered on any device.
- You get what you pay for. Make sure that the security software you purchase includes all applicable security options. Review the features and functions of your anti-virus software. Make sure it keeps you safe from viruses, worms, malware, Trojans, risky e-mails and problematic websites.
- Encryption is the key. Many people encrypt their laptops and desktops but forget a key area of vulnerability – thumb drives. Thumb drives, often called USB sticks or flash drives, should be encrypted so that the data on them cannot be accessed if they are lost. These small devices are easily lost and easily stolen.
- Avoid using the “keep me logged on” option on websites. This “convenience feature” is great if you are at home, but a potential security issue if you are logging on from a public computer.
- Don’t ignore automatic updates. These updates fix vulnerabilities that hackers use to access your system.
- Never open emails from people you don’t know, or click on attachments or URL links (a website address). This is a tried and true method for delivering malware.
- Avoid searching for celebrity gossip. Malware authors know that people naturally gravitate toward gossip and plan new attacks specifically targeting people looking for gossip.
- Avoid file-sharing sites dealing with copyrighted material. They can open you up to potential hacker targeting.
- Don’t do online gaming. Many of these sites sneak adware onto your PC, and some are fronts for identity theft rings.
- Set your Facebook privacy settings so they are not “open.” If you enter your birthdate, location or even your phone number without changing the privacy setting, your information could be seen by everyone.
- Never connect to unknown wireless networks. In public places like airports and hotels, be careful about logging in – people can eavesdrop.
- Do not use the “save my password” feature. Although it is a convenient feature, anyone using your computer can then access the site with your password.
- Never surf the Web using your “admin” account – create a normal user account. Admin accounts, by their very nature, approve the installation of new programs, which can include Malware. QCBN
Written by Eric Noble, a technology expert at CenturyLink.
Are you ready to consult with an expert about cloud options for your business? CenturyLink, the third largest telecommunications company in the United States and a recognized leader in the network services market, offers global cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions for businesses of all sizes. To learn more, contact CenturyLink at928-776-2581 or visit www. centurylink.com/connected
PET/CT is a Winning Combination
When it comes to high-tech imaging and tracking of cancer, nothing matches the amazing capabilities of today’s PET/CT machine. The technology combines positron emission tomography (PET) scanning with computed tomography (CT) scanning. PET uses small amounts of radiation to show how well various organs are functioning; CT provides detailed images of organs and tissues. The combined result is highly detailed 3-D images of the function and structure of various parts of the body.
The first PET/CT prototype was unveiled in 1998 at the University of Pittsburgh, and it was first introduced into clinical use in 2001. PET/CT has emerged as one of the fastest growing modalities worldwide according to the Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology.
The vast majority of PET/CT imaging is for cancer (oncology) diagnosis and treatment. Oncologists use PET/CT scans to determine how fast a tumor is growing and to track how well chemotherapy or radiation therapy is working. If a cancerous tumor or mass needs to be surgically removed, a PET/CT scan can help a surgeon plan how to best treat or remove the cancer, while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible.
PET/CT has been shown to have a major impact on how patients are treated. For example, a study in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine showed that more than 40 percent of lung cancer (non-small cell) patients had their course of treatment changed when physicians had PET/CT information as opposed to only conventional imaging.
PET/CT imaging may also be used to diagnose and treat heart disease as well as brain disorders, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors and seizure disorders.
The procedure itself is painless and completely non-invasive. Upon arrival at a hospital, cancer center or imaging center, the patient is given an IV injection of the radioactive tracer and asked to rest quietly. The radioactive tracer can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to make its way to the part of the body being scanned. Once the tracer has reached its destination, the patient is asked to lie on the PET/CT scanner table for 30 to 45 minutes as the machine goes to work. Once the scan is complete, the patient is free to resume normal activities.
Today’s PET/CT scanners are more comfortable and faster than previous technology. Future developments promise even more accurate detection and diagnosis of disease at earlier, more treatable stages and with less radiation. QCBN
Michael J. LaBenz, M.D., is a radiologist at Northern Arizona Radiology.
New Art Ranch Offers Many Activities
Lorlee “Lee” Murray has opened her dream studio on her small ranch in Prescot. Murray has more than 21 years in print advertising design and marketing and 12 years as a Fine Arts and Crafts teacher and studio manager.
Murray also has experience for various groups including the Maison de Lumiere Orphanage in Port au Prince, Haiti.
Although Murray’s main focus is teaching children, she also teaches adults.
Art on the Ranch has been a dream of Murray’s for a long time, offering individualized instruction in small groups, private and semi private as well.
The Fine Arts program consists of drawing, painting, mixed media projects and creative crafting classes including jewelry making, mosaics, Japanese art, painting and lettering as well as art journaling.
Classes, parties and activities for many groups can be scheduled. More information is available online.
Understanding Physical Therapy Benefits with Medicare
You may have heard or read about recent budget actions passed by Congress in April of 2015. These actions affect outpatient physical therapy benefits for people who have traditional Medicare Part B as their primary insurance. If you feel that you have a condition that might benefit from physical therapy, it is best to consult with your primary care provider. If your physician refers you to physical therapy, the benefits available to you are outlined below:
- You have $1,940 (based on allowed charges) available in physical therapy benefits for the CALENDAR year of 2015.
- Once the $1,940 level has been reached, the physician and physical therapist will have to determine the medical necessity of going over that amount. If they determine that continuing treatment is medically necessary, then you can continue in physical therapy as needed.
- Home health physical therapy and inpatient physical therapy do NOT contribute toward your allowed amounts for outpatient physical therapy.
- It does not matter whether you attend outpatient therapy at a private clinic or at a hospital outpatient clinic. Both settings follow the same dollar amount thresholds.
Patients with Medicare Advantage Plans (also known as Medicare Replacement Plans) do not usually follow the same threshold amounts as traditional Medicare plans. Each Medicare Advantage plan is different and may have requirements for pre-authorizations, copay amounts or certain networks. It is important to consult your own plan.
If you have any further questions about your Medicare coverage, visit www.medicare.gov, and you can type in the keyword “Physical Therapy” to get more information. You can also call our office for a free insurance verification to understand your benefits with your own insurance company. Knowing your insurance coverage is important as you plan how to use your benefits as well as how to spend your healthcare dollars. QCBN
New Shop Local Campaign Launched by Local Area Chambers of Commerce
Throughout the years, Chambers of Commerce have encouraged residents to “shop local” and keep sales tax dollars within the local economy. Years ago, it was fairly common for a resident of Yavapai County to drive to Phoenix in order to shop. Times have changed! Today, there’s a much different, broader mix of shops, restaurants and other businesses to choose from in the area.
The Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley Chambers have created a new, regional “Shop Local” campaign and are pleased to offer a colorful decal to any business in the tri-city area, encouraging residents and community members to “Shop Local.”
Marnie Uhl, CEO of the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce, approached Prescott Chamber CEO David Maurer and Chino Valley Chamber CEO Arlene Alen, with the idea of developing a regional “Shop Local” campaign. “It seemed logical to involve the three chambers,” Uhl said, “since we know everyone shops throughout the region.” Maurer added, “It also engages the communities with a well-branded and identifiable campaign crossing community boundaries.” Alen pointed out that “Visitors to the area will also notice the common theme plus this program ties well to the Regional Economic Development efforts to attract new business to our region.”
The decal, created by Hope Konoyer (Designs by Hope), a local business, features the wording “Local Business, Local Jobs, Strong Communities.” The decals are available from any of the three Chambers. There is no charge for the decal; limit of one per business. Non-chamber members are welcome to pick up a decal, too, but each chamber will briefly discuss the benefits of chamber membership while you are there.
Join the campaign to help keep business local and support our local economy! Proudly display the “Shop Local” decal on your front door!
The Real Estate Market is Heating up!
As the temperatures down in Southern Arizona start to heat up, so does the real estate market up here in Northern Arizona. Home sales are on the rise, but how long can you really expect to see your home on the market? With the right marketing program, which includes extensive Internet marketing, since 90 percent of buyers are searching online first, the average number of days on the Prescott market has become shorter over past few years. This, of course, is great news for sellers.
The other chart here reflects just how much sellers originally asked for their property, versus how much the sellers ultimately close on a transaction in the Prescott area market. This is shown at a percentage, so if the percentage number shows 96 percent, that means the seller closed at a price four percent lower than what was originally asked for the property. It seems the sellers are getting their listing price, or pretty close to it, and this is not expected to change through the 2015 year. Interest rates remain attractive and potential homebuyers are discovering that stronger offers are necessary as inventory levels of well-priced homes continue to be somewhat of a problem.
There is good news that the real estate market is definitely stabilizing, both locally and nationally. So, whether you are selling or buying, you need to carefully evaluate all of the data surrounding the value of any property so you can either price or bid accordingly. Check out Realty Executives of Northern Arizona’s current listing online or get market charts for Sedona, Prescott and the Phoenix areas. It contains all the tools and information you’ll need to make a wise decision. Find it all at www.realtyexecutivesaz.com. QCBN
By Don Bonnell
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
May 14, 2015
Free Community Seminar: @ 6:00pm
Presented by Dr. Jason C. Campbell, DDS
Start eating the food you love and living the life you deserve! Enjoy
increased chewing ability, clearer speech, and a natural look. To
learn more, join us for our free informational seminar on Thursday,
May 14th from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Refreshments served at
5:30pm. FREE 3D CT Scan & Consultation for eligible attendees.
Seating is limited! Register online at
www.APIDentalRehab.com/register or call 928-776-0239
Future of the Colorado Plateau Forum
May 13, 2015
Reconciliation Ecology — Visions of Flagstaff as a City and Habitat
As climate change impacts the Colorado Plateau, the survival of native plants and animals will hinge on our ability to build communities in a more compatible way with our surrounding ecosystem. Join ecologist and evolutionary biologist Dr. Michael L. Rosenzweig of the University of Arizona, and plant ecologist Ted Martinez of Northern Arizona University, for a lively presentation and community discussion on practical steps of action to live more sustainably on the Colorado Plateau.
Wednesday, May 13, 6:00-8:00 pm
Museum of Northern Arizona
3101 North Fort Valley Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Free public event
Seating is limited, RSVP to 928.774.5213
Museum of Northern Arizona, 928.774.5213, musnaz.org