Kaua‘i Veterans Corner

Eye treatment from the VA

Eye care services are available at the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center. The following veterans are eligible to receive eye care and eyeglasses from VA: veterans rated 10 percent or more service-connected for any condition; veterans who are rated service-connected for an eye condition that requires corrective lenses; former prisoners of war; veterans currently enrolled in a VA-approved Vocational Rehabilitation Training Program; veterans in receipt of increased VA non-service connected pension based on need of regular Aid and Attendance or by reason of being permanently housebound. For information, call the VA Kauai Clinic at 246-0497.

Air Force Combat Badge

Air Force members may be eligible for the new AF Combat Badge to be available in April. The award will be retroactive to September 11, 2001. The badge will be awarded to airmen who performed duties under fire on the ground as well as in the air. Individuals may be eligible even if they do not return fire.

Combat Veterans

The VA provides combat veterans cost-free care for conditions potentially related to their combat service for up to two years following their discharge or release from active duty. These veterans will be enrolled in Priority Group 6 unless qualified for a higher priority group rating. If veterans do not enroll during this post two-year discharge period, then eligibility will be based on factors that have a compensable service connection rating.

Coverage for Gulf War Syndrome

In December 2006, The VA issued an interim rule in the Federal Register that continues a presumption that veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War with disabilities from undiagnosed illnesses will continue to qualify for health care and other VA benefits. The ruling will continue the coverage until Dec. 31, 2011.

Casualties in Iraq

As of January 2007, there have been 21,649 military personnel in Iraq, actually injured in combat or suffering from hostile injuries inflicted by the enemy. When including accidents and mental or physical illness developed in the war zone, the number increases to 50,508. This casualty report provides information concerning the increased role the VA has in providing care and treatment for veterans.

Gulf War Presumptive Disease

The VA has assumed that those who served in the combat theater and have chronic disabilities from undiagnosed illnesses could receive disability and other veterans benefits. A report by the VFW in August 2006 indicates that since October 2001, 1.5 million veterans have served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There have been 176,111 claims submitted; 136,296 have been processed: 102,460 have been granted; 39,815 are pending and 15,836 have been denied. The number of claims is higher as compared to those returning from WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

VA shuttle service in Honolulu

Veterans should be aware that if scheduled for an appointment at O‘ahu’s VA Medical Center at Tripler, a bus shuttle service is available. The first bus departs the airport facilities at 8 AM and the last bus departs the medical facility at 4:15 PM.

Proper respect for our flag

When in the military, we serve or fight under the flag of the United States. Veterans must be the leaders in rendering the proper respect to our flag. Our nation does have a “flag code.” The code is only a guide and it does not impose penalties.

During the playing of the National Anthem or when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, all personnel place their right hand over their heart.

Men and children remove their head covering, stand at attention and place their right hand over their heart with the head covering over their left shoulder.

Military personnel in uniform remain silent and render the military salute.

Members in civilian patriotic and veteran organizations in the uniform of their respective organizations may recite the pledge while rendering a military salute.

Although not directed in the code, many omit the right hand being placed over the heart. This gesture has not been considered insulting if the individual remains standing and silent allowing others to render their respect to the flag.

Presidential Memorial Certificates

Certificates are issued upon request to recognize the military service of honorably discharged deceased veterans. There is no form or time limit, but requests must include a copy of the veteran’s discharge document and death certificate. Requests can be forwarded to the Presidential Memorial Certificates (41A1C), 5109 Russell Rd, Quantico, VA 22143-3903.

Services for Frank Cruz

In this column, we have not included the names of veterans in illness, distress or those who have passed away. This month, we will make an exception.

We are sad to announce the passing of Frank Cruz on Friday, Feb. 23rd. He had distinguished himself within the veteran community until his illness last year.

At the time, he had been the Commander of the Kauai Veterans Council for several years. He served in leadership positions, both at the local and state level, for the council and several of the veterans organizations.

Viewing will be on Friday, March 16, at the Garden Island Mortuary from 5 to 8 p.m. with the Rosary starting at 6:30 p.m. Visitation will continue at 8 a.m., Saturday, at the Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo, Mass at 11 a.m. followed by burial and military honors at the Hanapepe Veterans cemetery starting at approximately 12:30 p.m.

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