******A Veteran - whether active duty, discharged, retired, national guard, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including my life." - (anonymous)******

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20 March 2010

Benefits - Veterans Benefits Administration
VA to Provide Payments to Eligible Surviving Spouses                                      
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced immediate actions to quickly identify and pay surviving spouses who are eligible to receive the deceased veteran’s VA compensation or pension benefit for the month of the veteran’s death.  

This benefit is only payable to surviving spouses of veterans who were receiving VA compensation or pension benefits at the time of their death. 

Because VA does not always know if a veteran is survived by a spouse, some surviving spouses have not received the month-of-death benefit to which they are entitled. 

If you are a surviving spouse of a veteran who was receiving VA benefits at the time of death and believe you may be eligible for the month-of-death benefit, please go to and provide the information requested.  VA will determine your eligibility. 

When you reach the web page to ask your question, please select:
·          “Question” for the Type of Inquiry.
·           “Survivors Month of Death Benefit” for your Topic. 

On the second page of the web form, please make sure to include:
·          Your full name, address and contact preference (e-mail, phone number, or US Mail),
·          And, the veteran’s
o         First and last name,
o         Social Security Number or VA claim number,
o         Veteran’s date of birth,
o         Branch of service,
o         Service number, if you have it, and,
o         Service dates, if possible.

VA has also established a special Survivors’ Call Center for spouses who believe they may be entitled to this retroactive month-of-death benefit. 

Surviving spouses are encouraged to contact the Survivors’ Call Center at the toll-free telephone number, 1-800-749-8387.  Call center agents will assist surviving spouses in providing VA with the information needed to determine their eligibility. 

The Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm central standard time.  


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Applications are pending for over 12 months.

Everyone is aware of this problem. The VA and certainly the Veterans.

This is an outrage! Approximately 1/3 of the applications submitted are by Retired Military Personnel and therefore a problem to the Retired Military Councils.

The other 2/3 are Veterans that have served their country and deserve a decision.

Many have conditions that are aggravated by non treatment. We can do better.

The current omnibus bill, and especially the MILCON-VA provisions, covers a number of important priorities, including: $1.7 billion to allow VA to hire 1,200 additional claims processors to address the nearly 397,000 claims backlog.

(On January 20, 2010 the Federal Times reported the backlog at 489,345.)

This will require; first approval, then hiring, followed by training, and then they can start working on the problem! Looks like about 12 months before they start processing the actual applications. Our veterans deserve better treatment than this. We need to change the way the processing is accomplished.

One possible answer may be: take 200 military personnel clerks, 20 Personnel NCO’s and 5 Warrant Officers and take 95% of the pending applications and process them.

This is not rocket science, there is an established criteria to decide which applications get what percentage and it doesn't have to be done by VA Civilians. The VA may welcome the help. We realize the Active Army is stretched thin, but these veterans need help. This is not the only answer, but it is one solution.

GI BILL POST-9/11: Dependents.

This is the House of Representatives bill to adjust Educational Assistance for Retiree's.
H.R. 3577: Education Assistance to Realign New Eligibilities for Dependents (EARNED) Act of 2009 to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide authority for certain members of the Armed Forces who have served 20 years on active duty to transfer entitlement to Post-9/11 Educational Assistance to their dependents. Latest Major Action 9/24-2009 House committee subcommittee actions. Status:
Subcommittee Hearings Held.


Dental program for Emergency situations for Retiree’s could be initiated at the Installation or the VA level to solve only the emergency problems.


There is vision/eye coverage for Retirees who use Tricare for life thru NOSTRA, they an get glasses but the coverage does not cover the eye exam. This is provided by the Navy. See the handout for details. TRICARE Prime has coverage for both the exam and glasses every 2 years. Recommend equal coverage through out the Services.


Increase the pay for doctors who handle VA Cases or use Contract services to get the job done. We need to incentivize Doctor participation. The current level of waiting is not treating our former warriors with the respect they deserve. We have sent a letter to Dr Toppo for Input.


The phasing out of Social Security Numbers on ID Cards has begun and will be one solution to the problem of Identity Theft.

This problem was brought up by Col Rast (USMC Retired) of Amorgosa


Discussion revealed a consensus of opinion that Active duty combat tours are too many. We recommend 2 tours in a combat zone in a 7 year period for combat personnel and not more than 3 tours for combat support personnel in the same 7 years.

Discussion: There are 1.1 million personnel in the Army alone. The war has lasted 8 years, Some people are on their 5th tour. This is unprecedented in our history and certainly creates stress. If nation building is the goal, use the civilian agencies to build the new country such as Dept of Agriculture to teach crops, Dept of Education to establish schools etc. and leave the soldiers to provide security for the Americans, and put down insurrections. If we stop some of the Stress we may cut down on Suicide.


PTSD cases are now taking 4 months for an appointment in VA Clinics in rural areas. Recommend increasing the funding and/or contracting services from people that can help. Personnel who have PTSD may not have 4 months before they do something irrational. We can do better.



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