VA Pensions

Are you, or do you know someone who served in the U.S. military, at least some of which was during a period of wartime, and has financial and/ or physical hardship?   Do they know that they may receive assistance from the Veterans Administration?

Reprinted from the VA website

Veterans Pension

Supplemental Income for Wartime Veterans

VA helps Veterans and their families cope with financial challenges by providing supplemental income through the Veterans Pension benefit. Veterans Pension is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to low-income wartime Veterans.

Eligibility

Generally, a Veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period to qualify for a VA Pension. If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least one day during a wartime period.

In addition to meeting minimum service requirements, the Veteran must be:

  • Age 65 or older, OR
  • Totally and permanently disabled, OR
  • A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
  • Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
  • Receiving Supplemental Security Income

Your yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the Veterans Pension benefit. Learn more about income and net worth limitation, and see an example of how VA calculates the VA Pension benefit.

Additional Pension Allowances

Veterans or surviving spouses who are eligible for VA pension and are housebound or require the aid and attendance of another person may be eligible for an additional monetary payment.

How To Apply

You can apply for Veterans Pension online or download and complete VA Form 21P-527EZ, “Application for Pension”. You can mail your application to the Pension Management Center (PMC) that serves your state. You may also visit your local regional benefit office and turn in your application for processing. You can locate your local regional benefit office using the VA Facility Locator

To apply for increased pension based on A&A or Housebound payments, write to the PMC that serves your state and provide medical evidence, such as a doctor’s report, that validates the need for an increased benefit.

Ask the Chief: interview skills

 The world’s third oldest profession*.

When I was a younger Sailor,  traveling from foreign port to foreign port,  I encountered a lot of outgoing people engaged as vendors, tour guides, shopkeepers and restaurant owners.   Often their families were the wait staff that ran these places or made the things that provided their living.  When your livelihood depends on people, there is an advantage in being a “people person”.

When I was a kid,  I was actually an introvert.  A gangling kid with poor eyesight,  I was not the best athlete nor a glib talker and jokester.  From several moves, a lot of activities that caught my interest,  studying people, and experience in several professions from ranching to construction,  furniture sales and auto parts counter work, I got to talking with and taking an interest in people.  I worked as a bartender and waiter before I went into the military.   One of my dreams, long before I became a technical worker in the telecommunications industry, was opening a bar or restaurant based on what I visited in foreign places.    A kind of dive that had “atmosphere”.   With all that experience of these exotic places and tourists from every part of the world I thought it would be fun.   I had been working in bars and restaurants prior to my military service so it was somewhat familiar.   I learned to speak, or at least communicate in  three foreign languages, Spanish, French and Russian.

The service industry depends on people-skills as well as a strong work ethic.  Marketing.  Being a good listener as well as an observant and diligent service provider.  And have a good memory for people’s names, their likes, and so on.   In France in he early 1990s I saw the “smash sandwich” vendors – paninis as America now knows them – and thought it was a novel idea to bring to these shores.  With the buxom women staffing these kiosks, the Toulon vendors served a lot of sandwiches.   In Turkey, shoeshine boys mobbed visitors, appearing at the dock where our ship’s water taxis deposited them. These  kids knew how to say “shoe shine” and  make small talk about sports, whether you were an American sailor, a Brit, an Arab or perhaps even Chinese tourist.  Even sailors wearing sneakers were not overlooked by boys with pats of shoe polish.    In the markets, almost every vendor spoke some foreign tongue.

Interviewing, like selling,  takes skill and people-smarts

Just as there are people who do not understand the difference between “selling” and “buying”,   there are people who do not understand that the interview is a skill that one perfects.   Preparation,  listening, knowing what and how, to answer a question is part of the interview.   Confidence, balanced with humility,  and understanding the requirements of the job being sought as well as knowing something of you prospective employer, can win the interview.

Technical professionals I have coached have earned an offer of employment, not only from their preparation, but knowing how to “answer the question being asked” with sufficient detail, but not enough to get bogged down.   It is a marketing opportunity to show that you will be an asset to those doing the hiring, but not telling them as much.  And to win their trust, through your personality and likeability.

I know others who are successful gardeners,  pool men, insurance agents and financial counselors.  Some are musicians.  Others are artists and writers.   And still others with a love for and enough experience in hunting, fishing, camping or motor sports, they made professions as guides and teachers.  And they connect with their clients and employers, with the same people-smarts.

 

Commitment and self-improvement

Practicing interviews, such as the “elevator talk” or meeting people in social settings, is valuable.  Listening to people’s names and observing details about those you converse with, not only makes the other person feel valued, but aids in your ability to connect with your message.

Books I have read recently and recommend to everyone,  engineer, actor, or military member in transition,   include  How to Start A Conversation and Make Friends, by Don Gabor (Simon & Shuster),  and the classic,   How to Win Friends and Influence People , by Dale Carnegie.   Another great read and short,  is The One Minute Sales Person, by Spencer Johnson, MD, and Larry Wilson (Harper Collins).  There are also many good books and websites on personal development, the interviewing process in the social media age as well.

 

Selling “you”

In a job interview,  a prepared and confident person builds a relationship and earns trust with the interviewer and the employer.  Beyond the hiring process,  as an employee or consultant, you continue being a student of the company, the people you meet, and learning by asking the right questions.  There is also the times and places you can market yourself for new opportunities in the company, and by demonstrating value – increasing the bottom line,  can use the same interviewing skills to ask for raises as well.

As a manager, you are still engaged in the sales profession.  Whether as team leader, morale booster,  mentor,  recruiter or  discipline agent, you still show the “customer” the value of the company and role that person fills,  which provides their needs and their relationship to the team.

 

People do not want to be “sold” but they do want to “buy”

Just as someone who shops for a new vehicle, kitchen appliance, or bringing on a new team member,  the skill is in recognizing what motivates, interests or is valued by the customer.   A customer looking for the security of business insurance is not going to respond to the agent’s ‘hot buttons’.  And an employer is not going to be encouraged by a prospective employee’s focus on pay rate, vacation earned  or working hours.

Interviewing requires diligent effort and practice.   But the military member also has what many other applicants lack.   Focus.  Endurance.  Attention to detail. And maturity.  As well as experience working under stressful situations and deadlines.  So take charge and carry out your mission.  Interview, interview, interview.  And I have benefited from fifty years of practice.  I am no longer gangling, nor introverted.  I have been a recruiter and meet people everywhere I go.  Though my best friends will tell me I am still not “glib”.

Fair Winds and Following Seas.     – Senior Chief (Ret.)

 

* Wikipedia repeats the quote attributed to Ronald Reagan that a politician is the second-oldest profession.  Prostitution is frequently quipped as the “oldest” profession.

 

Military, Active, Reserve or Retired:

  • If you live in, or are moving to,  the San Diego area,  

  • In the market for a new home, or refinancing an existing one?

Contact Doug Diemer:

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Consider this a personal testimonial as he made my VA Refinance a very smooth transaction in 2016.   I receive no compensation for any referral. 

DoD Announces Policy Change on Transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits

Via DoD Announces Policy Change on Transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits:


CTMCS (ret) Summary: DOD has changed policy to increase retention, mandating service members must be under 16 years TAFMS (or Selected Reserve), to elect a transfer to spouse or kids,  and must have 4 years service obligation remaining in order to transfer benefits.

The Defense Department issued a substantive change today to its policy on the transfer by service members in the uniformed services of Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits to eligible family member recipients.

Effective one year from the date of this change, eligibility to transfer those benefits will be limited to service members with less than 16 years of total active-duty or selected reserve service, as applicable.

Previously, there were no restrictions on when a service member could transfer educational benefits to their family members. The provision that requires a service member to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.

Focus on Retention

“After a thorough review of the policy, we saw a need to focus on retention in a time of increased growth of the armed forces,” said Stephanie Miller, director of accessions policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “This change continues to allow career service members that earned this benefit to share it with their family members while they continue to serve.” This change is an important step to preserve the distinction of transferability as a retention incentive, she added.

If service members fail to fulfill their service obligation because of a “force shaping” event — such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high year of tenure — the change will allow them to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven’t served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.

All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI Bill continue to require a four-year commitment in the armed forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for four years from the date of election, officials said.

The policy affects service members in the uniformed services, which includes the U.S. Coast Guard as well as the commissioned members of the U.S. Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

editor: emphasis added 

Veterans or prospective veterans: Get Hired!

 

My employer is GROWING and looking to hire veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.  Locations across the United States and overseas.   Job Fair information:

ViaSat is hosting a free transition workshop for veterans and their spouses from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on June 14. The event will assist those moving from the military to the civilian workforce.

Hands-on sessions include compensation and benefits, LinkedIn tutorial, resume building, StrengthFinder assessment, interview skills and more.

Lunch is included for all participants. RSVP by June 10 at www.surveymonkey.com/r/ViaSatTransitionWorkshop.

For more information, contact Adrian Haskamp at veterans@viasat.com or call (760) 476-2200.

Taxation but poor representation

On April 6th, 2017 the California Legislature narrowly approved an additional fuel and car registration tax and fees to make up for a “budget shortfall”.  I did not approve.

Poor California.   Run by men and women who steal from the working people of the state to fund everything but quality of life in the Golden State.  The bureaucracy in California, from the local planning commissions, to the Air Quality boards, the education administration and a thousand jobs, bureaus, and committees that take money out of our pockets.   They fund “trains to nowhere” around the state.  They put bicycle lanes in existing roads that diminish the utility for motorists.  They approve Public transit projects that do not provide an adequate ridership.  

There are few streets or highways in the state that are maintained in suitable condition.  In Los Angeles, there are hundreds of miles of highway that are a patchwork of potholes, filled potholes, patches, barriers, cones and flashing signs.   In San Diego, one of the more recent projects did nothing to alleviate a congestion problem of merging lanes but to move the congestion three miles to the west of the original problem.  And the local planning board approved an additional neighborhood development to funnel another five or six hundred cars at any given time into the present congested highway merge point.

In every municipality there have been bond measures – robbing from Peter to pay Paul for school improvements,  fire stations and so forth, but the roads still don’t have improved traffic control and signal lights,  street lights do not get bulbs replaced.  Abandoned and broken down cars in  neighbor hoods are the last item law enforcement investigates due to few resources.

But we continually hear the drumbeat of how the state of California is so progressive.   Democrats — and it is the Democrats, or at least the socialist fringe Democrats who push through legislation or policy and regulations.  There have never been sufficient numbers anywhere in the other 75 percent of the state to express a different viewpoint.  Democrats and their Union/ ethnic/ LGBT lobbyist masters are the ones to blame for all the ills in the state.  Not bad living at an average of $95,000  a year to make others lives miserable.  And the Republicans, Greens, Socialists, and Libertarians are no better at any significant improvement in the management of our state.  The state would be run far better if high school students could run things.  The last generally-equipped-with-common-sense and not (yet) beholden to social justice warriors for opinions and direction.

The California education system loves to implement new methods for teaching but year after year the children in the state come out functionally disadvantaged, indoctrinated in all things to do with gender equality and green technology, but unable to hold responsible working – high paying jobs – because they have to pursue social justice protests and activist politics.

Everyone expects there to be blame assigned and subsequent REMORSE on the part of the worst offenders.  But the social warriors have no delusions about this.  Despite the huge numbers of people who do not HAVE to acquire a working knowledge of the English language, nor a skill to sustain them, nor an understanding of budgets, health care, and other common sense skills that the residents of this state enjoyed up until the 1960s.  we have huge numbers that follow vapid entertainment personalities who present themselves as paragons of virtues,  experts in sexual persuasions,  proper roles of religion in society (none) and absolutely have no regard for Government — that does not follow the continued moral and social decline so favored by the socialists.

In California, the reason that we have rain and the inability to store water for the state in times of drought, is not because of weather patterns existing for millions of years, but because the political policy wonks find money can be leveraged for public-valued works to pet projects.   What hampers growth in the economy – businesses and people- are favored academics who have conclusions FIRST and who then find or create evidence to support their grant money.

When millions of people stream into the state without the education, ability or desire to improve the state community as a whole but look to the state to care for them,  the state – we who fund from our labor – has a problem.   When we cannot discuss it for fear of reprisals, from the very same critics who demand we change everything to suit them – that do not tolerate dissent.

It’s a crazy, crazy place to live, California.  

Oh,  dear state legislators and bureaucrats,   Soon,  I will not afford to drive, the roads are already impassable, the trains don’t come my way;  I still am expected to pay my bills and taxes.  Maybe you can send every state retiree a vacation package for swimming with sharks,  hot-air ballooning, skydiving lessons, or other means to decrease the number of pensioners in the state.   I need YOUR optimism for California – and maybe a solar-powered car to get around.

 For further study: 

http://www.ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/2014-ncsl-legislator-salary-and-per-diem-table.aspx

http://www.taxhistory.org/thp/readings.nsf/ArtWeb/5DDB79194769C2BF852574D5003C28D5?OpenDocument

http://www.nytimes.com/1990/06/26/us/two-votes-show-public-is-wary-of-tax-increases.html

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/la-oew-greene3sep03-story.html

http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/FullBudgetSummary.pdf

Extending a helping hand to veterans

“The Chief will know what to do”  

Last week, I saw a news article about a WWII veteran here in California that was losing his home of forty years.  I had to help.  Today I started compiling a list of resources that may not be known to older veterans or their families.  Friends and relatives with long-ago wartime service,  recently in difficult circumstances have told me about programs that helped them. A resource list is provided here.  

Reader:  Please let me know of other help you may have received or suggestions to improve this list.