Warning from the VA
The Veterans Administration announced that an employee had taken home data containing identifying information for up to 26.5 million veterans without authorization. The employee’s home was burglarized and the data was stolen.
The authorities believe it is unlikely the perpetrators targeted the items or are even aware of the information they possess. However, the VA is working with members of Congress, the news media, veteran service organizations and other government agencies to help ensure that those veterans and their families are aware of the situation and of the steps they may take to protect themselves from misuse of their personal information.
Unfortunately, this impacts all veterans discharged after 1975 and not only those receiving benefits. Veterans discharged prior to 1975 with a VA claim are also affected. As a precaution, veterans are urged to monitor their bank accounts and credit card statements. The VA has set up a manned call center where individuals may call to obtain information concerning this situation or learn more about consumer identification protections. The toll free number is 1-800-FED-INFO (333-4636) and will operate 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (EDT), Monday to Saturday, as long as it is needed.
Hearing aids/eye glasses
Veterans with a service connected disability of 10 percent or more are eligible for eye glasses and hearing aids. They may also qualify if they were a former prisoner of war, Purple Heart recipient or require glasses or hearing aids for treatment of a zero-percent connected condition. For example, if a veteran is rated at zero percent for hearing impairment, he is eligible for a hearing aid.
Free health care
The VA will provide cost-free health care services to veterans for conditions possibly related to combat service occurring after November 11, 1998. Eligibility is for two years beginning on the date of their separation from active service. If the care provided is not related to their military service, copayments may be applicable. At the end of that two year period, VA will reassess the veteran’s information and make a new enrollment decision.
Billing of private health insurance
The VA is required to bill private health insurance providers for medical care, services, supplies and prescriptions provided for a veteran’s non-service connected conditions. VA cannot bill Medicare, but they can bill any Medicare supplemental health insurance. Veterans will not be responsible for paying balances of claims that is not paid nor covered by their health insurance.
The second edition of the Veterans Newsletter should be released in mid-June. There will not be any mailing to individuals. When released, the publication will be available in the Office of Veterans Service on Kuhio Highway.
Volunteers are needed to assist in the re-painting of the Kauai Veterans Center on Kapule Highway. Work begins at 9 a.m. every Monday until its completion. Sign-up is not required and volunteers are asked to report to the center. Lunch will be provided.
Women in combat
Nearly 400 female service members have been wounded in Iraq during a war where women have been more exposed than ever to combat. At least 11 have had amputations, and more than 50 others have been killed, according to the Department of Defense. Although barred from direct front-line fighting roles, female soldiers have often been under fire at base camps, scurrying for bunkers as mortar rounds rain down. Many others have been attacked in supply convoys.
Election of council officers
New officers have been elected for the Kauai Veterans Council and will be sworn in by Judge Trudy Senda at the monthly council meeting on June 21. Ed Kawamura will assume the position as the Commander on July 1. Assisting him will be the newly elected Deputy Commander Frank Cruz, Adjutant Johnette Chun and Treasurer Paul Endo.
As a refresher, this column will feature one veteran organization with their point of contact. This month, the Kauai Veterans Council, consisting of the president or commander of each of the island’s veteran clubs, is featured. The 14 clubs on Kaua‘i include the Club 100, 442nd Infantry, American Legion Posts (Posts 2, 51 and 54), Kauai Merchant Marines, Disabled American Veterans, Kauai Veterans Club, Kauai Vietnam Era, Korean War, Marine Corps League, Military Intelligence, Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. A veteran affiliated government organization will also be featured each month.
Fourth of July celebration
The annual veteran’s round up will be held at the Kauai Veterans Center on Kapule Highway on Tuesday, July 4. Veteran counselors will be available starting at 9 a.m., and the festivities begin with lunch from 11:30 a.m. The cost for the event will be $4 per person, or $12 for the family.