Veterans not taking advantage of available benefits

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Editor, the News-Herald:

Are you keeping you with your veteran’s benefits? Are you receiving all the benefits and services to which you are entitled?

In recent months many veterans’ activities are being legislated for all veterans. With the war in Iraq, a great deal of interest is focusing on the future veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and also veterans of previous wars and military conflicts.

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Veterans should become members of the veterans’ organizations in their area to stay in touch with their issues. Many issues are being discussed behind the scenes. These organizations, through their national chapters and state organizations try to keep abreast and help influence legislation to help veterans’ causes. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans have a wealth of information as well as a kinship with other veterans. If you have a computer, you should be logged into the Web site military.com, which also keep you informed of veterans’ issues.

A recent article by Rep. Shelley Berkeley (D-Nev.), ranking member on the Disability and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, is circulating word of a recent evaluation of the VA’s Non-Service connected pension program. She found that only about one in four eligible veterans is estimated to be receiving the pension benefits to which they are entitled.

Current recipients surveyed by the VA in 2004 reported that they had been eligible for many years before actually applying for the benefits. In order to qualify for the VA Non-Service-connected pension program, veterans are required to have served during a specific period during WWII, Korean conflict, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. Where you served during those periods does not matter as long as it was at least 90 days and you were honorably discharged. Veterans may receive a Non-Service-connected pension upon reaching the age of 65. Those under age 65 qualify if they are permanently and totally disabled. The disability does not need to have any relationship to the veteran’s military service. You can check with the VA at 1-800-827-1000.

There is a movement on the part of veterans’ organizations in the Suffolk area working to provide transportation for veterans to and from the VA hospital in Hampton. They are working with city government officials and senior organizations to set up some form of transportation.

There are a lot of veterans in Suffolk and surrounding counties, but we do knot know how many use the VA hospital services in Hampton or would use the service if available.

I have set up a listing number at 757-255-0505 and am asking veterans to call and get on the list. Even if you do not use it now, you may need it in the future. The information compiled will be used for negotiations. Confidentiality will be maintained for all callers and the information is very important. Support your local organizations and be on a winning team and above all, stay informed.

Jack M. Price

Suffolk

jmpsatd@earthlink.net