Veterans may have situations where they need legal assistance. The American Bar Association has a directory, and the veteran service organization may have members with expertise. Some may operate pro bono for veterans.
The Mesothelioma Center provides the following information for veterans and their families to get educated and find support for veterans affected by mesothelioma. Thanks to Samatha Litten of the Public Outreach Department of the Mesothelioma Center for providing this information:
Countless veterans are currently suffering from life-threatening illnesses that are a result of exposure to asbestos, a material that was commonly used in hundreds of military applications, products, and ships because of its resistance to fire. Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma even qualify for special benefits from the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs.
We recently published an educational guide about mesothelioma prognosis:
Combat-era vet support
Veteran Service Organizations
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Post (VFW)
- American Legion maintains a list of American Legion Department Service Officers
- Disabled American Veterans
- Fleet Reserve Association
- Information on veteran service organizations via the United States Congressional committee on Veterans
World War II
Wartime Veterans’ Pension and Survivor’s Pension
Directory of veterans benefits, by state
Follow the link below to a directory compiled by military.com for veteran benefits, by state.
ask the Chief
disability compensation questions
Becoming an expert in any specialty in the military takes time. The nature of military assignments is such that individuals transfer and often take that expertise with them! This is particularly aggravating in the specialties that relate to service members career and health administration. Because the military is a large bureaucracy, with volumes of policies, regulations and procedures for virtually everything, obtaining answers to specific situations is very difficult.
military service and service-connected disabilities
If you are on Active Duty getting close to your EAOS, a veteran with health issues possibly connected to your military service, or transitioning or enlisting in the Reserve as a veteran of Active Duty, you may find the following example from actual experience helpful. This example is from a family member, a former soldier, who in the last year and a half of his Active Duty enlistment was plagued with shin splints, and an injury that incurred during training in a military culture that treats infirmity as a lack of physical and mental toughness. In most respects an excellent soldier, medical complications and the command climate influenced him to not consider re-enlisting.
From the author’s experience, the process of post-enlistment transition is much improved since the 1990s. The Army referred the soldier for transitional job training, and recommended him for a re-enlistment eligible discharge at his End of Active Obligated Service (EAOS). But there is some ambiguity in that transition. Whether assumptions made or questions went unasked, the service member knew that an initial enlistment contract in the military was a commitment to eight years of total service. Three, four or six years of an Active Duty service and the balance served in the Active or Inactive component of the Reserve. But it is apparent that the soldier was not aware that inactive or IRR service was the default to serve out the balance of the contract. In an inactive status, the service member does not drill nor receive compensation, but annually is only required to inform the military of any changes in status or address.
evaluation by the VA for disabilities
However, as part of the soldier’s transitional assistance he was recommended to go to the Veterans Administration off-post to be evaluated for the medical conditions resulting from, or aggravated by, military service. Once processed out of the Army and possessing a DD214, the official record of military service for veterans, the Veterans Administration determines he has a service-connected disability. Further, the severity of the disability finding is such that the veteran receives a 100 percent rating and compensation for injuries and illness sustained while in the military service.
Can a disabled veteran still serve?
There are different categories of service-connected disability, and either the service branch or the Veterans Administration may determine a disability exists. Unless the member or his command requests a Medical Review Board prior to the service member’s discharge, and the service branch makes a determination, the veteran can go to the Veterans Administration for a medical evaluation. Either may result in a finding of service-connected disability which may be eligible for compensation.
the DD214 is key to benefits and reenlistment
There is no prohibition on its face, for a veteran receiving compensation from the VA for a disability to reenlist in the Reserve component. For the military branch, the re-enlistment code on the DD214 is the clearest indicator of eligibility. Getting a clear answer from the military service representative is difficult. As any veteran can attest, expertise is a rare commodity. Rumor, half-answers and lack of knowledge dominates. The individual affected or a specialist, like a service-organization (VFW, DAV, or AL) representative, may find the answers more readily.
Unless a veteran is in receipt of a classification of 100 percent disability / unemployable, a veteran receiving compensation for 100 percent disability, may serve in the Active Reserve, unless the Reserve determines that the member needs to be medically evaluated and screened for enlistment. This apparently can become, unintentionally, bureaucratically cumbersome, where the member cannot receive military pay and a VA compensation. Suspending ones compensation, or a finding by the military branch that the members disability rating is less than what the VA has determined, can be confusing at best.
U.S. military veterans of past conflicts have the same opportunity to receive care and compensation for disabilities incurred or aggravated by military service. While some medical and service records have been damaged or lost from a several decades-old fire (1973) at the national archive when records were stored on paper, most veterans have access to records that assist them when requesting benefits. Current policies evaluate a list of symptoms, dates and locations stationed with compensation – or medical-treatment- eligible illnesses.
Even a finding by the Veterans’ Administration of a Service-Connected Disability, rated at 0 (Zero) Percent, allows the veteran to obtain benefits for herself or her family. It can be reviewed and re-evaluated based on additional evidence, including civilian medical records documenting conditions a physician attests to military service. Many times, a veteran has received benefits that retroactively are granted back to the period of the veteran’s discharge.
If there is one piece of advice that any service member or veteran should heed, it is to get evaluated. Physical and emotional ailments can be treated before they cause further disabilities. Suicide among veterans, homelessness, PTSD, and drug addiction are among the most severe problems affecting men and women who
no substitute for becoming informed
Visiting or becoming a member of a veterans’ service organization is the best source for information to support a veteran of the armed forces. (Spouses can also become auxiliary members of these organizations.) The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) are the most well-known. Vietnam veterans and Iraq-Afghanistan veterans have service organizations as well. They have expertise, first-hand experience and the resources to assist veterans with claims to the VA and benefits the veteran may be unaware of. And personally becoming educated is no less important. The following links are reference material to support obtaining a medical discharge, supporting a veteran’s request to change military status and official records (DD214), and understanding the policies and options for a veteran. The veteran in this example is still working through the bureaucracy, though VA compensation has continued uninterrupted.
Guide to Obtaining a Medical Discharge (unofficial)
Medical Evaluation Board (PowerPoint)
The national parks offer lifetime entry to veterans with a service- connected disability.
This was the welcome message I received on this federal holiday. In the mountain chill here near the park entrance, I am getting more than I asked. Peace of mind. Spiritual refocus is the intangible benefit.
Cold War service certificate
A veteran friend of mine reminded me that veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who served during the period of the “Cold War”, September 2, 1945 – December 26, 1991, can apply to receive a certificate of recognition. The Department of the Army Human Resources Command is managing the issue of these certificates (there is NO DOD medal nor ribbon associated with this.) I thought it would make a nice addition to my “I Love Me” wall.
Following normal online searching methods, I went to the Department of the Navy public website, and entered a query. Information returned on “Cold War Certificate” – among many other search returns- indicates that the Department of the Army manages the issue of these certificates for all military branches. However, the link provided leads nowhere. Even when entered with an “https://” it still is a broken path.
Going to the main official Army website, does not provide a link – though every search term does return a series of possible websites that are not “cold war” but “cold” weather, or “war” or personnel certificates for various education achievement. Fortunately, I had a clue where to look. The Human Resources Command of the US Army.
And in that specific website, when I entered the same search terms I had used all along, I found the application for Cold War service recognition.
And you, my fellow veterans, continue to hope that the Federal Government – or any bureaucracy for that matter – has the tools and wherewithal to manage our earned benefits?
You have to know where to look.
Support “Blue Water” Vietnam Veterans
As a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), I am motivated to act upon issues that affect my fellow veterans. This is an action request for American citizens to send to your Senators urging them to support a measure to provide health care to eligible Vietnam veterans, so-called “Blue Water Veterans”. We know of the exposure to Agent Orange and others by troops on the ground, but there are those whose exposure is from the handling, transport and storage of defoliant offshore, as well as use in the Korean DMZ and elsewhere.
“Background: During the Vietnam War, veterans who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam drank, bathed in, and cooked with water contaminated by Agent Orange. They are now arbitrarily and unjustly denied benefits for illnesses associated with Agent Orange exposure. On July 25, 2018, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018. This bipartisan legislation would end the injustice of denying care and benefits to veterans who suffer from life-threatening health conditions.“
Please copy and send the following letter via email, or print and send. Your Senator ‘s contact information is found here.
SUBJECT: Please Take Action on Blue Water Navy Bill
Honorable Senator ______:
As your constituent, I write to request you to urge the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and the full Senate to swiftly pass H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018. This bipartisan bill was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives nearly three months ago and would end the injustice of denying care and benefits to veterans who suffer from life-threatening health conditions.
Recent statements by the Department of Veterans Affairs dispute scientific evidence that veterans who served in the coastal waters of Vietnam during the Vietnam War were exposed to Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide that has been found to be associated with the development of rare cancers and other health conditions. However, the National Academy of Medicine (formally called the Institute of Medicine) study entitled Veterans and Agent Orange (Update 2014) found that existing evidence shows possible routes of exposure for Blue Water Navy veterans, which means existing evidence should not be used to exclude Blue Water Navy veterans. One thing is undeniable: thousands of Blue Water Navy veterans are suffering and dying from the same conditions as veterans who served in-country during the Vietnam War. Time is running out for many Blue Water Navy veterans. The Senate must not delay further while Blue Water Navy veterans sicken and die from diseases related to exposure to Agent Orange.
The brave men and women who wear the uniform of our nation are asked to serve in the roughest and most dangerous environments on Earth. When they are injured or made ill as a result of such service, a grateful nation must provide them the care and benefits they need to cope with their disabilities. The Senate must do the right thing by passing H.R. 299 before the end of the year.
<your name / mailing address>
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
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.
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.
Who better to lead
When I chose to make the military my career, I vowed to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Never in my nearly sixty years of age, did I think that, disagreements on policy priorities and governance aside, that our two-hundred forty year old nation would be so divided internally, and so poorly governed.
Since the first Gulf War, in 1991, the members of Congress in particular, and the Government bureaucrats and advisers, generally, with military service -especially wartime combat service have declined. With a world view fueled by lifelong academics with little to no experience abroad, the men and women who are seeking to “fundamentally transform America” ( then-candidate Barack Obama) do not have American interests, nor practical American foreign policy concerns at heart.
Whether it is the shortsighted foreign policy objectives or the politically-encumbered execution of military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, military men and women have been sent into harm’s way. And the bureaucrats, industrial lobbyists, politicians, academics, and news media corporations, all vie for primacy while the American soldier, sailor, airman, marine, and our border enforcement agents all are treated shabbily.
When I heard today that Jeff Bezos of Amazon donated millions to a PAC, With Honor, I started to look into it. The idea that military, particularly combat-veterans, should run for political office and senior bureaucratic offices at all levels of government, cheers me. It sounds intriguing. I have served with some who have held offices in state governments and have brought a lot of wisdom and value to serving their constituents. But with electoral campaigns running into the millions of dollars, few can compete without well-connected benefactors. There needs to be effective support systems that are independent of party affiliation. And with veterans in the workings of government, there may be better opportunity to provide well-earned services to our veterans, and to provide some sober judgement about policies that may send others into harms way.
More to come.
Google Introduces Job Search Tool for Veterans at USO in San Diego – Times of San Diego
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.
WASHINGTON –12 July 2018
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