Medical care for combat veterans
In last month’s column, we mentioned the availability of cost-free VA care for returning combat veterans for conditions potentially related to their combat service. Further clarification is provided. The veterans will not have any co-payment for service-related medical conditions. This includes a medical problem made worse by or during military service or the condition did not exist prior to active service and started before leaving the service. After this two-year period, the veteran will be moved to the appropriate priority group and if placed in Priority Group 8 (The only category ineligible for VA care), their VA enrollment will continue.
Medical coverage for
Veterans who have retired from the military have TRICARE medical coverage. Upon attaining age 65, they are covered by Medicare which becomes the primary provider. Medicare pays on a vast majority of the claims. TRICARE would pay the unpaid balance. There are three unusual circumstances in which the veteran will have out-of-pocket expenses.
• The particular service is covered by Medicare, but not TRICARE.
• The service is covered by TRICARE and not Medicare. In this case and to the advantage of the veteran, TRICARE will process it as a first payment issue.
• The service is not covered by either Medicare or TRICARE.
Some veterans have medical insurance provided by a civilian employer. When considering that the veteran may also be eligible for care under the Veterans Administration, the individual would have four medical plans. If there are costs for the medical insurance provided by the civilian employer, the veteran should evaluate whether this coverage is necessary.
The VA affirms the patient’s right to make decisions concerning his/her medical care including the decision to discontinue treatment, to the extent permitted by law. Within the civilian community, individuals may create a living will. With the VA medical providers, there is a similar document which may be retained as part of the veteran’s individual medical record.
The patient has a right to complete a form known as an “Advance Directive,” a written statement that is completed in advance of a serious illness on which medical decisions should be made if the veteran can no longer make those wishes known. For more information, contact the Social Worker at the VA CBOC at 246-0497.
VA home loan
Veterans are eligible for the VA guaranteed home loan program. In addition, veterans of Hawaiian ancestry are eligible to apply for the VA Native American Direct Loan Program. The individual must first comply with the legal requirements set by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. If interested, homebuyers are advised to contact a local advisor from the Office of Veterans Service or the Veterans Administration.
Combat Related Special
CSRC provides tax free monthly payments to eligible retired veterans with combat-related injuries. With CRSC, the veteran can receive the full military retirement pay and VA disability compensation, if the injury is combat related. The Department of Defense has made several improvements to the CRSC claim form so it is easier to apply for compensation. The form can be downloaded at http://www.crsc.army.mil.
Besides the veteran, the spouse and dependent children may be eligible for burial in a veteran’s cemetery. The veteran does not have to pre-decease the spouse or dependent. The documents required will be the veteran’s discharge certificate and proof of relationship to the veteran.
For burial of a veteran and upon request, the Department of Defense will provide military funeral honors consisting of the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of Taps. A military firing squad rendering the three traditional volleys are provided only to certain veterans. Kauai is the only island with a volunteer group providing a firing detail to all veterans.
If buried outside a veteran cemetery, veteran survivors may be eligible for a $300 plot allowance. The VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the veteran’s death is service connected. A burial flag will be furnished for the deceased veterans.
The widow or dependent children of deceased veterans with wartime services are eligible for a death pension. The veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and service must include at least one day of which was during a war. The death pension only provides a monthly payment to bring the eligible person’s income to a level established by law. The level for a surviving spouse was $7,094 in 2006. The payment is reduced by the annual amount from other sources such as Social Security.
Last WWI combat veteran laid to rest
The nation’s oldest and the last combat veteran of World War I, Corporal Howard Ramsey, died in his sleep in Portland, Ore. There are seven other World War I veterans still living, but they served their time in the United States. Corporal Ramsey was 108 years old and was to have celebrated his 109th birthday on April 2nd.
Government agencies on Kaua‘i
The government-related agencies on the island available for veterans are the Kaua‘i Community-Based Outpatient Clinic at 246-0497, Military ID Card Services at 335-4493, Office of Veteran Affairs at 246-1163, Office of Veteran Services at 241-3348 and the Workforce Development Division at 274-3056.