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thedrifter
03-03-08, 08:43 AM
George Reilly: Combat vets can get added health care

01:00 AM EST on Monday, March 3, 2008



Veterans who served in combat since Nov. 11, 1998, including veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, are now eligible for five years of free medical care for most conditions from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This measure increases a two-year limit that has been in effect for nearly a decade.

The five-year deadline has no effect upon veterans with medical conditions related to their military service. Veterans may apply at any time after their discharge from the military, even decades later, for medical care for service-connected health problems.

The new provision, part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 signed by President Bush on Jan. 28, applies to care in a VA hospital, outpatient clinic or nursing home. It also extends VA dental benefits, previously limited to 90 days after discharge for most veterans, to 180 days.

Combat veterans who were discharged between Nov. 11, 1998, and Jan. 16, 2003, and who never took advantage of the VA’s health-care system, have until Jan. 27, 2011, to qualify for free VA health care.

The five-year window is also open to activated reservists and members of the National Guard if they served in a theater of combat operations after Nov. 11, 1998, and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

Veterans who take advantage of this five-year window can continue to receive care after five years, although they may have to pay copayments for medical problems unrelated to their military service. Copayments range from $8 for a 30-day supply of prescription medicine to $1,024 for the first 90 days of inpatient care each year.

VA designates $37 million for homeless grants for local providers

The Department of Veterans Affairs has designated $37 million to finance at least 2,250 new transitional housing beds by giving grants to local providers.

“This is the largest one-time designation of funds for the homeless program in VA’s history,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. “This is a great opportunity for community organizations to join VA in its mission of eradicating chronic homelessness among veterans.”

The grants are intended to offset the operating expenses for transitional housing facilities operated by state and local governments and faith-based and community-based organizations that are capable of providing supported housing and supportive services for homeless veterans.

The VA began its national effort to eradicate chronic homelessness 20 years ago by providing $5 million for a pilot program to support contract residential care and to create domiciliary care for homeless veterans in San Diego.

Today, VA supports more than 15,000 beds in transitional housing facilities or in VA residential treatment programs nationwide. The department is the largest federal provider of direct assistance to the homeless, including outreach and case management, treatment, rehabilitation, transitional residential care, therapeutic work and assistance with permanent housing. As part of its homelessness programs, VA also supports special programs for the treatment and rehabilitation of those suffering from mental illness and addictive disorders.

For more information, visit VA’s grant and per diem program Web page at www.va.gov/homeless/page.cfm?pg=3 or call VA’s grant and per diem program office at (877) 332-0334, or e-mail VA at homelessvets@mail.va.gov

Legion sponsors Aid and Attendance benefit seminar

American Legion Post 39, at 1958 Kingstown Rd. in Peace Dale, will host a seminar open to all Rhode Island veterans and veterans’ organizations on March 13, starting at 7 p.m., to discuss the little-known benefit offered to qualified veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs called the Aid and Attendance Pension for Wartime Veterans and Surviving Spouses.

Elderly veterans who are in need of a care provider, but cannot pay for it, may be eligible for Aid and Attendance compensation. Wartime veterans and surviving spouses who have in-home care or who live in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities may be eligible for the benefit. To be eligible, a veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service, one day of which must be during wartime, and have an honorable discharge.

Aid and Attendance is a benefit paid in addition to a veteran’s monthly pension, but it will not be paid without eligibility for a VA pension. To be eligible, the veteran must require the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, bathroom functions, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself or herself from the hazards of his or her daily environment.

Information will be provided at the seminar by representatives from A Peace of Mind Home Care Inc. Inquiries regarding this VA benefit can be directed to (401) 432-7999, or go online to www.apeaceofmindhomecareinc.com

A Peace of Mind Home Care Inc. is a Rhode Island provider of nonmedical companion and homemaker services to seniors including 24-hour live-in care or hourly care.

•Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary

State Commander Michael Corriveau and a delegation of officers will attend the VFW conference in Washington, D.C., from today to Wednesday. Voice of Democracy state winner Michael Rogers will attend to compete at the national Voice of Democracy contest. Euart Auxiliary 602 will hold a chopstick auction on Friday at 55 Overland Ave., Pawtucket, at 7 p.m. Membership Chairman Steve Stewart will conduct a recruiter school for all interested posts on Saturday at the Kelley-Gazzerro Post at 1418 Plainfield St., Cranston, from 9 a.m. to noon; call for reservations at (401) 751-8200. Kelley-Gazzerro Post 2812 will meet Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Also on Sunday, Gatchell Auxiliary 306 will host a bingo at 171 Fountain St., Pawtucket, at 1 p.m.

•Fleet Reserve Association

Blackstone Valley Branch 132 meets this evening at 7 at VFW Post 306, 171 Fountain St., Pawtucket.

•Disabled American Veterans

Maurice Pion Chapter 17 Post will meet tomorrow at Crompton Vets Club, Hepburn Street, West Warwick, at 7:30 p.m.

•Military Police Regimental Association

Rhode Island chapter members will gather Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. dinner at the 99 Restaurant, 1171 New London Ave., Cranston, followed by a meeting at 7 p.m. at the Schofield Armory, 705 New London Ave., Cranston.

•Marine Corps League

The Kent County Detachment will meet Wednesday at VFW Post 449, Providence St., West Warwick, starting at 7 p.m., for officer nominations and election. All Marines and Navy corpsmen are invited, especially Iraq veterans.

•The Reserve Officers Association

The Rhode Island Department’s executive committee will meet Thursday at the Harwood Army Reserve Center, 385 Niagara St., Providence, at 7 p.m.

•The United Veterans Council of Rhode Island

The council will gather Thursday at 7 p.m., in the second-floor conference room B at the state administration building at 1 Capitol Hill, Providence.

•American Legion

Post 12 will meet Thursday at the Saratoga Foundation headquarters, 6854 Post Rd., North Kingstown, at 7:30 p.m.

•Vietnam Veterans of America

Chapter 325 will meet Thursday at 7:30 p.m., at 1958 Kingstown Rd., Peace Dale.

•Pawtucket Veterans Council

The council will meet Friday at Gatchell VFW Post 306, 171 Fountain St., Pawtucket, at 2 p.m., for officer nominations with elections set for April 4. Post delegate changes should be sent to Jack Lucas, executive secretary.

•The Retired Enlisted Association

Narragansett Bay Chapter 79 will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at VFW Post 4487, 52 Underwood Lane, Middletown.

George W. Reilly can be reached at VeteransColumn@verizon.net or by writing to The Providence Journal, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902

Ellie