View Full Version : VA will try to connect disabled vets with state benefits!!!

02-19-07, 02:40 PM
Feb 12, 3:21 PM EST

VA will try to connect disabled vets with state benefits


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson unveiled a plan Monday aimed at ensuring that disabled veterans, such as those severely injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, receive state benefits they might not know about because of a federal privacy law.

VA officials will ask severely disabled war veterans whether they want to be contacted by their states' veterans offices about state-offered benefits. If the answer is yes, the VA will share the information with a state office that will, in turn, contact the veteran.

A federal medical privacy law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, prevents the sharing of such information without a patient's permission.

States offer a number of benefits to veterans, including property tax deductions, scholarships, job training, reduced interest loans and discounted fees for driver's, hunting and other licenses. States also run their own veterans cemeteries and veterans nursing homes, and many states extend benefits to spouses and families of people killed or injured in war.

"We want every service member and veteran who has a severe illness or injury incurred while in defense of our country to receive every benefit to which he or she is entitled," Nicholson said.

Nicholson said the VA would like to provide the service to all retiring veterans eventually.

Some veterans eligible for state benefits don't seek them. For instance, John Garcia, president of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, said it took him 30 years after returning from the Vietnam War in 1969 to muster the courage to ask for his benefits.

"I think each one of us wants to ensure with this partnership that those young men and women coming home from Iraq don't have to wait 30 years," Garcia said.

The effort began with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who visited Iraq and Afghanistan and wanted his state's veterans office to help troops planning on living in Florida. Ten severely disabled veterans were put in touch with the state's veterans office during a four-month tryout of the plan in Florida.

"The largest benefit I've seen so far, which is very huge, is forgiveness of taxes on their homes," said LeRoy Collins Jr., executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.

James Nier, Texas Veterans Commission executive director, said his state already informs National Guard and Reserve troops about benefits to which they're entitled.

"They don't want to come forward themselves. Some have lots of family problems. Those in the Guard and Reserve, sometimes they return to their jobs and their pay is cut in half or they're in danger of losing their home," Nier said.

He acknowledged that more advertising of benefits may mean more costs for the state. "Everything costs money, no doubt about it," he said. "It's just a program that needs to be in place."


On the Net:

National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs: http://www.nasdva.com/

Department of Veterans Affairs: http://www.va.gov

:thumbup: :thumbup:

02-19-07, 09:47 PM
in oklahoma if you are 100% P&T you have some pretty good benefits.:usmc: