Hanapepe unit soldiers to deploy to Kuwait with 29th Brigade

The 29th Brigade, which includes members of the unit in Hanapepe, will deploy to Kuwait from Honolulu beginning Aug. 18 for additional training at Fort Hood, Texas. The Aloha stadium farewell ceremony has been rescheduled for Aug. 16. The unit will leave for Kuwait sometime in October.

According to Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, the state adjutant general, 84 percent of those being deployed from Hawai‘i have already served a combat tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Veterans benefit counselor

A veterans benefit counselor from Honolulu is on Kaua‘i the second Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The next visit will be Aug. 13. In addition to veterans’ issues, the counselor provides a direct link to the regional office on disability claims. Although walk-ins are permitted, priority is given to those making an appointment. Call Lana at 246-1163.

Prescription payments

Veterans who have a civilian medical health plan with TRICARE or health care with the VA may have the total cost of the prescription reimbursed. In June 2006, TRICARE allowed the electronic filing for secondary claims for prescriptions. The local pharmacy would first bill the individual’s private health insurer. The pharmacy would then electronically request co-payments from TRICARE eliminating the necessity of filing written documents for reimbursement. Most pharmacies on Kaua’i are participating in this program

For those eligible for VA care, total reimbursement will be made by the VA and the veteran’s private health insurer.

Agent Orange claims by Navy veterans

Navy veterans who served in Vietnam and claim exposure to herbicide Agent Orange will now bear a heavier burden of proof if they hope to earn disability compensation and health care. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the VA correctly defined “service in Vietnam” as actually setting foot on land or navigating the country’s inland waters, rather than off the coast.

Economic stimulus payments

The Internal Revenue Service is reminding disabled veterans or those in receipt of social security benefits that they have until Oct. 15 to file claims for economic stimulus payments. The IRS reports that as many as 25 percent of disabled veterans and retirees have not yet filed a claim.

Generally, these are the individuals who are not required to have filed an income tax return for the tax year 2007. However, the economic stimulus law contained a special provision allowing recipients of certain veteran benefits and social security payments to count toward the qualifying income of $3,000 and thereby qualify them for the stimulus payment.

A special eight-page 1040A-3 information package is available for individuals who normally do not file a tax return. Individuals must file a tax return this year solely to claim the economic stimulus payment. Some taxpayers may have filed early and may need to file an amended tax return to include the previously unreported benefits to reach the $3,000 qualifying income level.

Online claims applications

On July 16, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that online applications are being accepted from veterans, survivors and other claimants filing initial applications for disability compensation, pension, education and vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits. There will be no requirement to later submit a signed paper copy of the application.

The electronic application will be sufficient authentication of the claimant’s application for benefits. The online application also provides a link to apply for VA health care benefits, service-disabled veterans insurance and much more.

The information and application procedures are on the VA Web site at www.va.gov/onlineapps.htm

First woman

four-star general

For the first time in American history, a woman has been chosen for promotion to four-star general. President Bush nominated LTG Ann E. Dunwoody to head the Army Materiel Command. Dunwoody will have to be confirmed by the Senate. By law, there are only 11 active-duty Army four-star generals.

The last World

War I veteran

A resolution was introduced honoring Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving American Veteran of World War I. The measure authorizes Buckles to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda upon his death and then be interred at the Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Buckles was 16 years old at the time of his enlistment in the Army. He celebrated his 107th birthday on Feb. 1.

Meet a veteran

This month’s featured veteran is Daniel Cordes from Kalaheo. Cordes was elected as the American Legion’s Department Commander for the state of Hawai‘i and assumed the duties on July 1. Prior to his election, he was the state’s senior vice commander since 2006. On Kaua‘i, Cordes is the adjutant for the Westside American Legion post.

After completing his education in Brooklyn, Cordes joined the U.S. Navy and finally retired after 26 years of service from his duty station at Pearl Harbor. Both he and wife Sharron liked the islands and decided to settle down in Kalaheo.

• 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.

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