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VA Provides Free Medallions

Did you know the Department of Veterans Affairs provides a medallion, by request, to be affixed to an existing, privately-purchased headstone or marker to signify the deceased's status as a Veteran?  This device is furnished in lieu of a traditional Government headstone or grave marker for those Veterans whose death occurred on or after November 1, 1990, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.  Once a claim for a medallion is received and approved, VA will mail the medallion along with a kit that will allow the family or the staff of a private cemetery to affix the device to a headstone, grave marker, mausoleum or columbarium niche cover. This benefit is only applicable if the grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.

      

Benefits After Death

Did you know after a veteran dies, he or she technically no longer has a claim to disability benefits?  However, there are certain circumstances in which a widow, widower or surviving child may be entitled to accrued benefits, or money from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible contact your nearest VSO.

     

If you’re a surviving spouse or child, here are the circumstances in which you would be eligible to file for VA benefits:

     

1. There was a disability claim pending at the time of the veteran’s death.

2. A previously denied claim had new medical evidence in the VA claims file before the veteran died. 

3. A claim of clear and unmistakable error (CUE) was pending at the time of the veteran’s death. 

4. A veteran’s appeal on a denied disability claim was pending at death. 

5. The claim must be filed within one year after the veteran died.

    

Service Connection Update

Did you know VA’s authority to grant medical care and disability compensation largely depends on statues that establish “presumptions” of a service connection for diseases related to exposure to biological, chemical, or other toxic agents at a particular time and place, such as the Republic of Vietnam during January 9, 1962, through May 7, 1975?  The VA uses reports from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and other scientific information available to establish “presumption of service connection,” but that may be difficult to do when exposure data is lacking. Next, VA proposes a regulation regarding the basis of the presumption connection and defines the eligibility criteria. Absent a presumption connection, the individual veteran will have a hard time getting compensation.

   

   

    

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

One Way To Reopen A Claim

Did you know a veteran may reopen a finally adjudicated claim by submitting new and material evidence?  New evidence means existing evidence not previously submitted to the VA. Material evidence means existing evidence that, by itself or when considered with previous evidence, relates to an unestablished fact necessary to substantiate the claim.  New and material evidence can be neither cumulative nor redundant of the evidence of record and must raise a reasonable possibility of substantiating the claim.  New and material evidence received prior to the expiration of the appeal period, or prior to the appealdecision if a timely appeal has been filed, will be considered as having been filed in connection with the claim which was pending at the beginning of the appealperiod.

    

Once a decision is made, if VA receives or associates relevant official service department records that existed and had not been associated with the claim when VA first decided the claim, VA will reconsider the claim. These records may include service records that are related to a claimed in-service event, injury, or disease; additional service records forwarded by the Department of Defense or the service department to VA any time after VA's original request for service records; or declassified records that could not have been obtained because the records were classified when VA decided the claim. This does not apply to records that VA could not have obtained when it decided the claim because the records did not exist, or because the veteran failed to provide sufficient information for VA to identify and obtain the records.

       

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

   

Hiring Preference

Did you know commissaries and military exchanges offer hiring preference for military spouses?  Military spouses and dependents make up the vast majority of the employees in commissaries and exchanges.  All are highly trained and can use their skills from installation-to-installation.

   

VA Mail Delays

Did you know the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) prescriptions mailed by the U.S. Postal Service in the past year (2019-2020) have seen delays of nearly 25%?

       

Pay Increase

Did you know beginning January 1, 2021, anyone who is enrolled in the Tricare Select program and is a recipient of retired pay must pay a monthly enrollment fee or their health insurance will be cancelled?  You are not affected by this change if you use other Tricare programs such as Tricare For Life, Tricare Prime, Tricare Reserve Select, Tricare Retired Reserve or Tricare Youth Adult.  The fee will be $12.50 per month for single coverage and $25 per month for family coverage.

Did You Know?

Creation of New Presumptions of Service-Connected Disabilities

Did you know VA secretary recently concluded the first iteration of a newly formed internal VA process to review scientific evidence to support rulemaking, resulting in the recommendation to consider creation of new presumptions of service connection for respiratory conditions based on VA’s evaluation of a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine report and other evidence? VA’s review supports initiation of rulemaking to address the role that particulate matter pollution plays in generating chronic respiratory conditions, which may include asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis, for Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War and/or after September 19, 2001, or in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War.

       

Veterans Organizations By The Numbers 

Did you know only about 20 percent of the eligible veterans actually belong to a major veterans organization such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), AMVETS, DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Marine Corp League and others?  These organizations, interacting with our Government at the State and Federal level representing the interests of all veterans, have resulted in the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and all of the benefits which veterans have earned by their service to their country.

           

    

     

    

   

    

   

   

   

         

Ready Reserve Force

Did you know the nation’s Ready Reserve force is facing a significant shortage in dozens of critical wartime specialty positions?  As a result,  U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) on July 1, 2021 sponsored a bipartisan Bill that would authorize certain retired members of the United States Armed Forces to be placed in the Ready Reserve, where they would receive retired pay, as well as their pay and allowances for any duty performed.  To address this problem and provide the Armed Forces with an additional tool to fill critical shortages, Rep. Wenstrup introduced the Patriot Retention Act, H.R. 4343, with lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Califronia), which would allow a Service Secretary to select highly trained, retiring active duty service members having a skill in which the Ready Reserve faces a critical shortage of personnel to serve, while concurrently receiving pay for their Reserve duties and their pension, according to Rep. Wenstrup’s information.

         

Medical Malpractice Approved

Did you know after a series of delays, the Department of Defense has finally created an interim rule that will allow members of the military and their families to file claims for medical malpractice? However, the military will still maintain control over who is granted compensation, with much of the process handled behind closed doors.  A single document that contains more than 19,000 words spread over 22 pages is finally ending a decadeslong battle for service members and their families. It lays out the pathway for service members or their families to file malpractice claims for injuries or deaths resulting from treatment within the military system.

        

Change Military Records

Did you know the Department of Defense (DoD) wants to make sure veterans know they can apply to correct inaccuracies or injustices in their military records, including an upgrade in discharge?  For example, veterans who received less than honorable discharges can file an application to request their military records be changed as long as they provide justifiable supplemental information for approval by their military department's Board for Correction of Military/Naval Records or Discharge Review Board.

         

Burial Benefits For Dependents

Did you know the majority of veterans who didn't receive a dishonorable discharge are eligible for a burial benefit?  A dependent spouse or dependent child of a veteran is also eligible and, in some cases, an unmarried adult dependent child of a veteran is eligible for burial benefits.  An experience VSO will know how to get this done.