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Bob Meade - Veteran's earned benefits

  • Published in Letters

There are over 115,000 veterans living in New Hampshire. The federal government has many programs that address their issues and needs. Some of them deal with pension benefits, and a large number of them address a variety of medical issues including, the affects of Agent Orange on Viet Nam veterans, asbestos related mesothelioma, ionizing radiation on Atomic Vets, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), etc . What follows are some highlights of benefit programs that may be available to you, or someone you know. Resources will be included so that the reader may have a contact and telephone number if they think they may be eligible for one of the programs. Please be aware that what follows is not an end all, it is a bit of information that can put a person in touch with the appropriate resource.

Veteran's pensions — Normally, veteran's believe that they must have served 20 or more years to qualify for a veteran's pension. In most cases that is true, but, depending on the veteran's income and when he/she was in the service, it may be possible to receive a monthly pension.

These pensions are non taxable and are available to veterans who were on active duty for a period of 90 days or more, with at least one day being during a time of war. (Those periods are from Dec. 7, 1941 through Dec. 31, 1946, (WWII), from June 27, 1950 through Jan. 31, 1955, (Korea), and from Aug. 5, 1964* through May 7, 1975, (VietNam era). (* Feb. 28, 1961 for those who served in the Republic of Viet Nam.)
If the veteran's annual income is $29,402 or less ($35,284 if married), and if the veteran served during time of war (not necessarily in combat), he/she may be eligible for a pension. If qualified, the surviving spouse may also continue to receive a pension. There is also the potential to receive additional pension money for what is called "aid and attendance", when the person is essentially home bound, or resides in a nursing home. The veteran's surviving spouse is also eligible for these benefits, but at a reduced amount.

Veteran's health care — Most veteran's understand that service related injuries or illnesses may qualify them for VA medical care. However, there are also cases where medical care can be provided to veterans, even for non service related medical problems. The VA has a number of "priority classifications" and each person who qualifies for medical care is assigned a priority number. The level of priority dictates the level of care that can be provided. Some veteran's may be eligible for complete health care services, including surgery, hospitalization, medicines, hearing aids, etc. Others may qualify for less complete coverage but still qualify for medicines and other services. If you think you may qualify for any of these services, you may contact the local VA Service Officer (603-524-3960) or LRGHealthcare's Vet Link manager (603-524-3211) for guidance.

The Veteran's Home in Tilton is an excellent residential facility that serves veterans with varying needs, including dementia and alzheimer's disease. The care provided has been highly praised by residents and families of those in the home. It is always filled to capacity and (caregivers or) those who think they may need the care the home offers, should consider filing an application to see if they qualify so that they can be put on the waiting list for admission. (603-527-4400)

Burial service benefits — All veterans are entitled to burial service benefits that include an honor guard at the time of burial, including taps being played, and an American flag being draped on the veteran's coffin and then folded properly and being presented to the surviving spouse or child. A modest sum is also paid by the VA to help defray the cost of the burial. It is a standard arrangement for the honor guard requests to be handled by the funeral director — just make sure to request it.

There is a beautiful veteran's cemetery and chapel in Boscowan that is available for veterans and their spouses to be interred. (Boscowan Veteran's Cemetery 603-796-2026)

While there is no veteran's hospital in New Hampshire, there are facilities in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. In some cases, local hospitals are certified and may serve veterans who qualify for medical care, but prior approval is needed before entering a non-VA facility. Questions in this regard can be directed to the VA Service Officer (603-524-3960) or the LRGH Vet Link manager (603-524-3211).

The Director of the State Veterans Council is located at 275 Chestnut St. in Manchester (03101-2411). The telephone number is 603-624-9230 or, toll free at 800-622-9230. If the veteran, spouse, or caregiver has any questions not noted in the above information, they can direct their inquiry to the council.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)