Veterans: Know your health care rights

Some recently discharged veterans believe there aren’t any reasons to process disability claims at their younger age. Most feel they are healthy and there is no need to burden the Office of Veterans Affairs. These veterans should consult and seek the advice of the older ones.

The Veterans Affairs advises that veterans should file their claims immediately after separation or retirement and as soon as possible if they are aware of any service connected illness or injury. The injury does not have to be the result of being stationed in a combat area. Veterans also should use a trained veteran’s service officer to assist in the claim.

Most veterans are eligible for membership in a veteran’s national organization. These organizations have trained service officers who can help.

The claim should be completely filled and include ample supporting documentation. Claimants should respond promptly to any request for additional information since the claim process stops pending a reply. With more than 1,300 sites, the VA operates the largest integrated health care system.

Veterans are eligible for health and dental care for all service-connected illnesses or injuries throughout their lifetime. Free outpatient-pharmacy services are available to veterans with service connected disability of 50 percent or more.

Those with lesser disabilities or qualified for VA care are eligible with minimal co-payment fees.

VA education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill can be used on active duty or after separation. Generally, eligibility expires 10 years after discharge.

A VA guaranty assists a veteran in obtaining a loan. It protects lenders from loss if the veteran fails to repay the loan.

State veterans home

The state’s veterans home in Hilo is expected to open in August. Those interested in residing in this new facility are encouraged to contact the administrator as soon as possible. They are in the process of ascertaining the needed staff and other projected expenses.

For information, contact Neil Oyama at 927-0950. Coordination is being made to have Oyama at the annual Veterans Round-up on the Fourth of July.


The CHMPDVA is a comprehensive health care program in which the VA shares the cost of covered health care services and supplies for eligible beneficiaries.

This is separate from the TRICARE program, formerly known as the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services.

The spouse and dependent children of a veteran who has been permanently rated and totally disabled for a service-connected disability, or those dependent on a veteran who died from a VA rated service connected disability, are eligible.

TRICARE dental program

A dental benefit program is available to Uniformed Service retirees and includes members of the National Guard and Reserve. The retiree can seek care from a licensed dentist within the service areas.

The program is administered by Delta Dental, that can be contacted at (888) 838-8737 or via the TRICARE Retired Dental Program Web site,


college students

Dependents of active duty or retired service members can be eligible for TRICARE coverage until age 23 if they are enrolled full-time at an accredited institution of higher education. Individuals must be receiving more than 50 percent of financial support from their parents.

Upcoming events include:

Vietnam-era veterans stand down

The annual gathering for Vietnam-era veterans will begin at 11 a.m. on May 27 at the Veterans Center. Veterans and their families are invited to attend. Lunch will be served and there is no cost for attendance. For more information, call Bill Honjiyo at 335-3273.

Memorial Day services

Memorial Day services will be at 10 p.m. May 28 at the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery, 4331 Lele Rd., Hanapepe.

Fourth of July Round-up

Veteran counselors will be available at 9 a.m. for veterans and their families at the annual Fourth of July Round-up, located at the Veterans Center, 3152 Kapule Hwy. Festivities will begin with opening ceremonies at 11 p.m. Lunch will be served at a costs $3 per person or $10 per family.

Membership in a veteran organization is not necessary to attend. For more information, call Ed Kawamura, 245-3524.

• Johnny Rabasa, a Hanama‘ulu resident and Kaua‘i High School graduate, served for 30 years in the Army, retiring as a command sergeant major. He served in Vietnam.


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