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AKAKA Urges surviving spouses to ensure that they received month-of-death benefits

October 14, 2010

Hello Everyone,

Information to pass on for Veteran’s spouses

AKAKA URGES SURVIVING SPOUSES TO ENSURE THAT THEY RECEIVED MONTH-OF-DEATH BENEFITS

Over $124 million paid out to widows and widowers after Akaka oversight revealed error

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) is urging widows and widowers of deceased veterans to check to be sure that they received VA compensation for the month of their spouse’s death. According to new figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 196,030 widows and widowers have received a total of $124,348,136 in month-of-death back payments since Senator Akaka uncovered a VA accounting error in December 2008.

“Nearly 200,000 widows and widowers have finally received their benefits, but I want to be sure that all surviving spouses receive the compensation they are eligible for. I urge the survivors of disabled veterans to contact VA if they did not receive compensation during the month of their loved one’s death,” said Akaka.

For almost 12 years, surviving spouses of veterans were wrongfully denied benefits. In 1996, a law was enacted instructing that when a veteran receiving VA benefits died, the spouse would be entitled to a payment for the month of death. However, due to an error, VA wrongly demanded the money back from many surviving spouses. Senator Akaka learned of the problem when a Maui widow contacted him for assistance after a payment for the month of her husband’s death was taken from her bank account by the Treasury Department.

Looking into this case, Akaka discovered that VA had failed to adjust its computer programs and notification letters to surviving spouses after the law was changed. As a result, surviving spouses were still being told that the check they received was an overpayment which needed to be returned to VA. In cases where the money had been spent, such as for funeral expenses, the Treasury would withdraw the money from the widow or widower’s bank account.

VA has implemented new notification letters and changed its practices. However, surviving spouses should ensure that their month-of-death benefit was paid as promised. In some cases, VA may not be aware that the veteran had a surviving spouse, as marital data is not always collected if the veteran’s benefit does not take a spousal amount into account. (This occurs when a veteran’s monthly compensation check is based on a disability rating of less than 30 percent, or when a veteran does not tell VA that he or she has married after VA benefits are commenced.)

For more information from the Department of Veterans Affairs, click here: LINK


The Wonderful Red, White, and Blue

October 11, 2010

Our country has been blessed with many beautiful things. The Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, The Washington Monument, blue skies, green fields, and the most gorgeous of all, the flag of the United States of America.

You see, before Tyler’s passing, the flag was just there. It was a combination of red, white, and blue that flew to symbolize our country. I didn’t think much of it.

But after September 12, 2009, I saw the flag in a different light. It became one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I suddenly loved the combination of red, white, and blue more than I ever had before. I loved 13 stripes representing the 13 original colonies, and I loved how the 50 starts stood for the 50 states.

Another thing that makes the flag special is that it represents freedom and liberty, two very important things that very few countries have the luxury of. In America, we have freedoms like freedom of speech, the press, religion, and the freedom to assemble peacefully. In some countries, you are only allowed to believe certain things, and if you are caught practicing a religion that the government does not approve of, you are sent to jail. That is just one way to show how America is one of the greatest countries on Earth, and the flag helps represents that.

To me the flag also represents all of the people who have ever fought for our country. It represents Tyler. When I see it, I think of Tyler and of his homecoming and funeral. Believe it or not, but I have caught myself tearing up when looking at the beautiful flag a few times. When I see it, I can’t help but think about how beautiful it is. One of my favorite things to see is the flag swaying in the wind. Thanks to Tyler, the flag now holds a special place in my heart.

What does the flag of the United States of America mean to you? Before you answer that, I want you to think about some stuff. What do you think the flag means to the soldiers? Soldiers who put their lives on the line for what the flag stands for. What do you think the flag means to a gold star mother as she mourns the loss of her child due to war? What does the flag mean to a child who lost their firefighter parent on 9-11? For anyone who lost a loved one on 9-11, what do you think the flag means to them?

At my house, we fly our flag in memory of Tyler and for ALL that the flag represents: all the men and women who have put their lives on the line for our freedoms, including the freedom to fly our country’s flag. Show your patriotism by flying your flag.

Until my next blog,
Young Patriot

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 5718


Terry L. Gould

October 5, 2010

I would like to invite everyone to read…. “How can you mend this Purple Heart” written by Terry L. Gould. Terry is a “friend” on this site. This book has made me cry, laugh, angry, contemplative…just many emotions. It is a book on men who were injured and shared their Honest, gut wrenching experience of hospital healing.

I cannot tell you how much you will love this book!

Terry Gould was born in Akron, Ohio and spent his childhood in rural towns across Missouri before joining the Navy in 1968. Following a thirty-year career in business, Terry finally had the opportunity to write the story that haunted him for more than forty years. Through his story, How Can You Mend This Purple Heart, Terry hopes to inspire all Americans to recognize and honor the veterans of all wars; but especially the veterans of the Vietnam War. For they truly deserve recognition, an unconditional recognition so long overdue, for their love of country, their commitment to duty and their unselfish sacrifices at a time when it was shamefully unappreciated.

http://www.purplescribe.com/


Sandra Miller Linhart

October 5, 2010

Do you have children who have parents, grandparents, friends that are currently deployed and they don’t quite know what to make of it or you don’t know what to say? I have had the opportunity to meet Sandra Miller Linhart and she has written these children’s books that are truly gifts to families, the words, the graphics. We encourage everyone to visit Sandra’s website at http://www.smlinhart.com


CRSC - Combat Related Special Compensation

September 28, 2010

Hello Everyone,

Just wanted to put out a quick note for all. If you’re a 20 year or more combat retiree, or a chapter 61, medical board combat retired veteran with less than 20 years service you need to check into CRSC – Combat Related Special Compensation.

This program is set up to allow combat veterans who meet the criteria, to receive their military retirement pay AND their VA disability pay without offset. For some veterans, this means you get to draw BOTH your retirement pay AND your VA disability.

Combat Related Special Compensation eligibility includes disabilities inclurred as a direct result of:

1. Armed conflict (gunshot wounds, Purple Hearts)
2. Training that simulates war ( exercises, field training)
3. Hazardous Duty (flight, diving, parachute duty)
4. An instrumentality of War (combat vehicles, weapons, agent orange)

I highly recommend that you either Google thru the internet CRSC for additional information, or speak to your Service Officer for additional questions on this program.

Have a good one.

Julie


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