Employment and training outreach
The Veterans outreach counselor will be available from 9 a.m. to noon at the Veterans Center on Kuhio Highway in Lihu‘e on April 4, and April 18 and at the Office of Veterans Services (OVS) at the Kauai Veterans Center on Kapule Highway in Lihu‘e on April 11 and 25. He will also be at the Workforce Development Satellite Office in Waimea every Thursday from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended by calling the Vet Center 246-1163, OVS at 241-3348, or the Satellite Office at 274-3056.
In the previous column, we indicated that a description of one priority category would be published each month. Instead, a decision has been made to offer a brief description of all the programs. Veterans desiring a more detailed explanation are asked to register at the Community Based Outpatient Clinic.
• Priority 1: Service-connected disabilities rated at 50 percent or more or have been determined to be unemployable due to service- connected conditions; • Priority 2: Rated at 30 percent to 40 percent disabled; • Priority 3: Rated at 10 percent at 20 percent or awarded a Purple Heart Medal; • Priority 4: Receiving aid and attendance or housebound benefits; • Priority 5: Receiving VA pension and eligible for Medicaid program. Income and assets are below VA means and thresholds; • Priority 6: Veterans of World War I/Mexican Border War with 0 percent disability, but receiving VA compensation.
Veterans seeking care for Agent Orange exposure or from Gulf War illness. Veterans who served in the Gulf War or during a period of hostility after Nov. 11, 1998, are eligible for two years following discharge; • Priority 7: Income and/or net worth above the VA means test threshold and income below the geographic means test, but agree to pay specified co-payments; • Priority 8: Income and/or net worth above the VA geographic and means test threshold. Veterans in this priority group are ineligible for both prescriptions and medical care. Those enrolled prior to Jan. 16, 2003 are eligible for continued care.
Questions on VA billing
The VA has consolidated replies to queries on a veteran’s VA bill. Answers will be provided by a specially-trained VA staff member at the toll-free number 1-866-347-2353 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
TRICARE retiree dental
The TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan (TRDP) was created in 1997. All military retirees are eligible to enroll. Many Guard and Reserve retirees are unaware that they, too, are eligible. Changes made in 2005 allowed that these retirees who enroll within 120 days be provided with immediate coverage that includes cast crowns, restorations, bridges, dentures and orthodontics for both adults and children. Gray-area retirees (those not entitled to retired pay until age 60) are also eligible to enroll.
Good bye to MASH
The Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) is being phased out and replaced by the Combat Support Hospital (CSH). The advantage is that portion of the newer hospital can be detached and moved closer to the front lines. Veterans and the public were introduced to MASH with a movie by the same name, and later followed by a weekly TV show of the same name, in 1972. The last MASH was being used in Pakistan, and recently given to Pakistani officials by representatives of the U.S. government.
Air Force memorial
The U.S. Air Force is the only branch of service that does not have a memorial in the Washington, D.C. area. Yet, they have the second-highest combat casualties of the four armed services.
Leaders of the Air Force Memorial Foundation (AFMF) has been given a location. Although $38.2 million has been collected, this is $3.2 million short of the goal. The memorial project is expected to be completed by September. Donations may be mailed to the AFMF, 1501 Lee Hwy., Arlington, VA 22209-1109.
Air Force stops Good Conduct Medal
The U.S. Air Force officials are no longer awarding the Good Conduct Medal. They have determined that awarding a medal for good conduct is not necessary. Airmen who have previously earned the medal are still authorized to wear it.
The state conventions for the national veteran’s organizations are held in June. They are rotated between the four major islands. Members interested in attending are asked to attend their organizations’ monthly meeting.
VA home loan
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan guaranty limit has been increased. Effective Jan. 1, changes will allow veterans to get no-down-payment loans up to $417,000. The previous ceiling was $359,650. VA-guaranteed home loans are made by representatives of banks and mortgage companies.
• Johnny Rabasa, a Hanama‘ulu resident and Kaua‘i High School graduate, served for 30 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a command sergeant major. He served in Vietnam. He also retired from the U.S. Postal Service, was postmaster at the Kaumakani post office, and worked at the Lihu‘e post office. He writes this monthly column exclusively for The Garden Island.