By Brian Boyd
Between increased healthcare costs, help around the house, and long-term care, there’s a lot to pay for as a senior that you didn’t have to worry about when you were younger. Unfortunately, these new expenses come at the same time as you’re switching to a fixed income in retirement.
Financial planning is important for everyone approaching their senior years, but especially for veterans. There are a lot of valuable benefits available to U.S. veterans, but not every veteran qualifies for every benefit. If you don’t take advantage of the benefits available to you, or plan to receive a benefit only to discover you’re ineligible, you could face undue financial stress during the retirement years.
These are five veteran’s benefits you might not know about along with information on eligibility so you understand the resources at your disposal as a senior veteran.
VA Healthcare and TRICAREThe Veterans Health Administration provides low-cost healthcare at VA medical centers and clinics. Most veterans are eligible for VA health benefits, however, due to limited resources, veterans are subject to a priority groupsystem that affects their access to benefits. Veterans in the highest priority group receive priority for care and the lowest cost-sharing requirements, while low priority groups may face longer waits and higher costs for care. Veterans in the lowest priority groups may not be enrolled in the VA healthcare.
Veterans should know their priority group and what it means for their access to VA care. If you’re in a low priority group, most of your healthcare is likely to come from the private sector, not the VA. TRICARE offers some coverage for community-based care through its premium-free TRICARE for Life program, but only as a secondary insurer to Medicare. That means veterans receiving non-VA care need adequate Medicare coverage to reduce out-of-pocket costs. TRICARE for Life also lacks coverage for vision and dental. Veterans who want insurance coverage for these services should opt for a Medicare Advantage plan through a company such as Humana, which provides many additional benefits.
Aid and Attendance Pension Aid and Attendance is a monthly supplement to a veteran’s pension to help pay for long-term care services. Only veterans who receive a pension and require assistance with the activities of daily living or are visually impaired can receive Aid and Attendance.
Housebound PensionLike Aid and Attendance, housebound pension is a supplemental monthly pension provided to veterans with disabilities. Veterans who are confined to their residence due to disability may receive Housebound benefits. A veteran can’t receive both Aid and Attendance and Housebound payments.
Home Accessibility GrantsVeterans with disabilities have another great resource to help them live safely: housing grants. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers three grant programs to help veterans adapt an existing home or buy or build an accessible home.
Specially Adapted Housing grants and Special Housing Adaptation grants are available to veterans with service-connected disabilities, while the Home Improvements and Structural Alterations grant is open to veterans with service-connected and non-service-connected disabilities. Eligible veterans may receive both a HISA grant and an SHA or SAH grant.
Burial Benefits and AllowancesThese benefits help seniors cope with financial challenges during retirement, but what about end-of-life? Veterans benefits offer assistance here too, with burial allowances that defray the cost of funeral arrangements. Eligible veterans who choose a burial in a state or national veterans cemetery also receive a gravesite, headstone, grave opening and closing, and burial flag at no cost. Veterans buried in a private cemetery may also receive a free headstone and burial flag.
Veterans burial benefits don’t cover the cost of a funeralor memorial service, a casket, cremation, or other end-of-life services, so veterans should plan for these arrangements separately. Final expense insurance is a low-cost way to make up the difference and, depending on the size of the policy, can also be used to cover other outstanding debts. Veterans should plan what type of final arrangement they prefer in order to budget accordingly and purchase the right size insurance policy.
These benefits don’t cover every expense a veteran will face during the senior years. However, they do help aging veterans overcome the greatest financial challenges during retirement: affordable healthcare, accessible housing, long-term care, and an honorable exit from the world.
Image via Pixabay
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Written by Jack Smith
Asbestos has been known to cause certain cancers such as Mesothelioma, lung cancer, and various other skin complications. Because of this realization, the use of asbestos materials ceased in the 1970’s in the United States of America. Unfortunately, not all asbestos materials have been recovered and disposed of properly. In addition, certain individuals including military veterans were exposed to the material for extensive periods of time causing a decline in health later in life.
For the benefit of military veterans, asbestos and its link to Mesothelioma will be examined below.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos can be comprised of one or more of the following fibrous materials: chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. These fibers were highly prized in building materials because of their exceptional fire-resistance, high durability, and lack of breakdown when exposed to various chemicals. Until the mid 1970’s, asbestos materials were used abundantly in roofing shingles, floor tiles, ceiling materials, cement compounds, textile products, insulation, ships, vehicle repair, and building military equipment. Nearly every area, building, vehicle, and machine found in the military was rich with asbestos material. That is why the United States military veterans make up approximately 30% of Mesothelioma patients today.
What Is The FACT Act?
It is important to know what issues may arise when filing for compensation for an asbestos-related illness. The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act, or FACT Act, is an anti-asbestos act that can keep victims suffering from asbestos related medical conditions from receiving the appropriate compensation. Under the FACT Act, military veterans with asbestos-related medical conditions like Mesothelioma are required to submit quarterly reports on the payouts that are made as well as personal identification on the individuals that received them. This information is then displayed on a public database. The FACT Act is a large deterrent for those seeking justice for their asbestos-related condition.
The FACT Act was first introduced in January 2015 and has been approved as of January 2016.
Why Are So Military Veterans Suffering From Asbestos-Related Illnesses?
As stated above, Military veterans make up approximately 30% of all Mesothelioma victims today. This is an astounding statistic because fewer than 10% of U.S. citizen have ever enlisted for and served in any branch of the U.S. military. Unfortunately, this is due to the high number of vehicles, building materials, construction, and heat-resistant equipment that was needed to function properly in the military. Veterans were exposed to these materials every day for long hours. The likelihood of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos related illnesses increases as the level of exposure increases. While individuals working a variety of domestic jobs could take frequent breaks from their asbestos-filled environments, military veterans often could not.
Military veterans cannot go back and prevent their exposure to asbestos in the military environment. It is important that these American heroes are well-informed and well cared for should they be suffering from any asbestos-related illnesses. The information above is just a short insight into Mesothelioma and its link to Military veterans. For more information, check out this site.
Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are often treated with medication and psychotherapy. But a research survey at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center is hoping to find out if spiritual therapy might be of interest as well.
Dr. Nagy Youssef, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at Augusta University who often treats PTSD, is conducting the survey through the VA in hopes it might show whether there is interest in exploring spirituality-based therapy. The research is being done in conjunction with the Durham VA and Duke University, he said.
Anywhere from 11-20 percent of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD within a given year, compared to 12 percent who served during Desert Storm and 30 percent who served in the Vietnam War, according to the National Center for PTSD at the VA. Often patients are treated with medication, which can help reduce nightmares and flashbacks, and with psychotherapy to address the trauma. But about a third of those patients don’t respond to either approach, Youssef said. And those approaches do not address spirituality, he said.
“None of this addresses moral injury and inner conflict,” Youssef said. “Somebody goes to combat, seeing friends being killed and killing others. Spirituality can be affected. It might go against their moral beliefs. That’s hard to reconcile when they come back.”
Working with a colleague at Duke who is an expert in spirituality in medicine, Youssef was part of a big group that helped to put together manuals on every major religion that might be incorporated into therapy. The survey will not only ask about PTSD symptoms but about what role if any spirituality plays in the life of that veteran and gauge the interest in having that therapy available, he said.
Youssef is hoping to get about 125 veterans to take the survey by March and has already recruited about 40 or so. The hope in the future would be for a randomized control trial to compare current psychotherapy approaches with one that incorporates the spiritual element, he said. The therapy, he said, would be voluntary and incorporate the patient’s own religion and religious texts.
“For a Christian, for instance, it would be including verses from the Bible about forgiveness and that will help to relieve inner tension,” Youssef said.
It might help to address some of the problems with the current trauma-based therapy, he said. For instance, there is a high “drop rate” of patients who just don’t show up for it, Youssef said.
“People don’t come,” he said. “Perhaps they don’t think that addresses their beliefs. That’s what we are going to find out from that survey. If their beliefs are incorporated into the therapy, maybe they show up more for the psychotherapy.”
There may also be things that spiritual therapy can offer them that other treatment methods cannot.
“Some patients have feelings that God will never forgive me, that I am going to Hell no matter what I do,” Youssef said. “That cannot be addressed by therapy or medication. That means bringing them evidence, from the Bible or the Torah, whatever their religion is, that there is forgiveness. There is always a second chance.”
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213
Did you know that 12 percent of all annual charitable giving occurs in the last three days of the year?
If you are still wondering what you can do to help those in need, please consider devoting your time, treasure or talents to help reduce the suicide rate among our nation’s veterans.
The media has documented the limits of the Veterans Affairs medical system to meet the needs of our wounded and sick veterans. President-elect Donald Trumphas made fixing the VA health care system a priority in his first 100 days.
But the growing suicide rate among our veterans remains a terrible problem. More veterans have taken their own lives since 2001 than have died in our most recent war.
A friend and classmate of mine from West Point, Major General Dan York, founded an organization that is doing something about this disturbing trend. Dan is a tested leader, an author of eight books, a composer of seven albums and a captivating speaker.
I will let him tell you about how you can help our veterans have a brighter tomorrow in 2017.
Major General York founds VetRest
Major General York: One day about four years ago, I received three separate emails in the span of two hours, each announcing in somber print that yet another American soldier had taken his own life. At the time, I was serving as Commanding General of the 104th Training Division, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Overwhelmed after receiving the third email, I laid my head on my desk and wept. That was the genesis of VetREST, a nonprofit organization I launched with the help of my wife, Kathleen, and several other ordinary Americans committed to making a great difference.
Our mission is to provide coaches who will help our nation’s veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) discover the cause of their PTS in order to facilitate healing in a supportive environment.
Nearly a year after receiving those three email suicide notifications, several of us on the VetREST team drove to Idaho to look for property for our retreat center. The first property we looked at belonged to a 70-plus year old owner in remote Benewah County, Idaho. When we explained the purpose of our visit, he softly professed that he, too, had PTS from his time as a fire chief in Las Vegas. “I cannot undo the tape [of a deadly hotel fire] that runs in my head every night,” he told us.
Days later, we looked at a home and acreage that overlooked beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. I explained to the realtor what VetREST is all about and she began to cry. She shared with us that on Halloween night of the previous year, her brother, a veteran, had put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, leaving behind a wife, a baby and an extended family overcome with unspeakable grief. At that moment, standing with the realtor looking out over the lake, and also thinking back to that former fire chief from a few days earlier, we realized how important it is to identify and embrace the 5 percent to 7 percent of Americans who suffer from PTS.
What can be done to reverse the trend
Statistics reported by the Veterans Administration show that in 2014, an average of 20 veterans per day took their own lives. We ought to take a deep breath and ask ourselves, “why?” In many cases, the answer to that question is startlingly simple: Fear, moral injury (shame or guilt), trauma caused in the field (IEDs, battle wounds, etc.), or even early childhood abuse may be the underlying cause of a veteran’s PTS.
Next we ought to examine what can be done to reverse this unacceptable trend? Our focus at VetREST is on the clear linkage between those suffering from PTS and suicides. If we can help Veterans suffering from PTS, we believe we can reduce the Veteran suicide rate.
While there are 45,000+ nonprofits committed to helping veterans, only a handful are — like us — committed to coming alongside our suffering soldiers, earning their trust and forming long-term friendships to help work through their PTS.
Healing from PTS is not normally a neat, quick process. Each veteran’s PTS will vary in severity and complexity. For example, we know that a veteran who suffered trauma or abuse as a child is typically less resilient than a veteran with a safe upbringing.
However, don’t believe it when someone says a person cannot be cured of PTS. Much can be done to reverse this problem. We owe it to our Veterans to stay committed to helping them find peace from their hidden battles.
VetREST hopes to expand nationwide
To that end, VetREST is seeking to found chapters nationwide that are populated with coaches who are able, after gaining the trust of veterans, to find the why behind their PTS. Coaches then help the veterans put in place a four-fold path towards recovery: spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental. PTS does not have to be a hopeless condition.
As we approach New Year’s Day, please keep in mind those Veterans who may not have friends and family around for support. Consider supporting an organization like ours, VetRest, dedicated to helping Veterans on your behalf. Thank you for considering this message of hope, healing and health for our Veterans in need.
Peter DeMarco is founder and president of Priority Thinking, an executive coaching, organizational consulting, strategy advisement, and ethics education company. He was named to the 2014 and 2015 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trust by Trust Across America.
On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump spoke a great deal about the challenges facing America’s 21 million veterans. Now, looking toward day one of his administration, he must place these challenges high on his priority list. Veterans need Trump to turn campaign promises into presidential action.
The issues impacting veterans are significant. Many have health problems directly related to their military service. These range from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan and from complications related to amputation to living with a traumatic brain injury.
Twenty percent of veterans who served since 9/11 are estimated to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Among Vietnam veterans, 30 percent are estimated to have had PTSD at some point in their lives. Twenty veterans take their lives every day, most of whom never seek help from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
And despite numerous high-profile efforts promoting employment of veterans, many still find it difficult to secure meaningful employment upon leaving the military.
As Trump builds his veterans agenda, here are five steps he can take in the first year of his administration that can change the lives of countless veterans and their families.
First, work with Congress to strengthen and reform the VA healthcare system, where the greatest challenge facing veterans today is access to timely care. More than two years after the waiting list scandal broke, far too many veterans still cannot get a medical appointment when they need it.
Congress passed the Veterans Choice, Access, and Accountability Act of 2014 to create a short-term solution that would allow more veterans to get care in the community. But the program has no’t worked as hoped and it is set to expire next year.
The time is right for strong presidential leadership to transform the VA health care system. The major Veterans Service Organizations, the VA, bipartisan leaders in Congress and, most recently, the independent Commission on Care, have agreed on the best path forward: Create local, high-performing health care networks, led by the VA, that combine the best of the agency with the best of community care.
This will ensure veterans can access quality care, designed to meet the unique needs of veterans, and get an appointment when and where they need one.
Second, ensure that all veterans have access to timely and effective mental health services, especially for war veterans or veterans who have experienced trauma. Increase funding for VA mental health programs at hospitals, clinics and Vet Centers, for peer-to-peer programs, and for new, evidence-based treatments for PTSD and suicide-prevention efforts.
Third, Trump must use his influence and the power of the White House to educate employers about the value of hiring veterans, particularly those with disabilities. A recent survey by the Disabled American Veterans organization, Monster.com and Military.com reveals that 30 percent of employers worry about hiring veterans with PTSD.
Fourth, ensure that women veterans have equitable access to all of the benefits they have earned through their service. There are more women than ever serving in the military in all occupational specialties, as well as in combat.
Like their male counterparts, too many women who leave the military face the prospect of unemployment or homelessness and often wind up dealing with mental health issues or even contemplating suicide.
The President-elect must work with Congress to introduce and pass a comprehensive women veterans’ bill to ensure gender-specific medical care is available at all VA facilities. The legislation must ensure all benefits, programs and services are designed to be equally effective for women veterans.
Finally, Trump must work to ensure that caregivers of veterans from all generations receive benefits. For countless veterans, family caregivers are the unsung heroes that help them recover and become productive citizens.
It is shameful that while caregivers for veterans who served after 9/11 receive benefits, caregivers of veterans who served in earlier eras, such as World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, do not receive these same benefits. The President-elect can fix this in his first budget.
America has promised to stand by the men and women who wore the uniform, who sacrificed for our freedom. Trump must implement a strong veterans agenda and ensure we keep this promise.
Garry Augustine is a Vietnam-era, combat-wounded Army veteran and Executive Director of the Washington headquarters of Disabled American Veterans, an organization that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families, helping more than one million veterans in life-changing ways each year.
Leader Time: This Veterans’ Day 2016, help stop Veteran Suicides
Veterans’ Day originated in 1919 as “Armistice Day,” a means for honoring veterans of “the war to end all wars” (World War I). As the twentieth century progressed, however, and it became clear that the United States’ position of leadership in the world would require greater military sacrifice, the scope was expanded to include veterans of all wars. There are many worthwhile traditions that have been established over the past 90+ years for honoring those on Veterans’ Day who have sacrificed so much for our common good.
But, this year, I believe, the situation demands more of our time and attention. The media has documented the limits of the Veterans Affairs medical system to meet the needs of our wounded and sick Veterans. And, a “Commander in Chief” forum with Veterans highlighted the growing cost of war and a growing suicide rate among our veterans. Could it be that more Veterans have taken their own life since 2001 than have died in our most recent war?
With that disturbing question in mind, please consider helping our most recent Veterans, especially those who served in combat, by sponsoring an organization focused on helping Veterans who are struggling to reintegrate into day-to-day life.
A friend and classmate of mine from West Point, Major General Dan York, founded an organization that does just that. Dan is a tested leader, an author of eight books, a composer of seven albums and a captivating speaker. I will let him tell you about an important issue facing our Veterans today, and how you can help.
Major General York: One day about four years ago, I received three separate emails in the span of two hours, each announcing in somber print that yet another American soldier had taken his own life. At the time, I was serving as Commanding General of the 104th Training Division, stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord. Overwhelmed after receiving the third email, I laid my head on my desk and wept.
That was the genesis of VetREST, a nonprofit organization I launched with the help of my wife, Kathleen, and several other ordinary Americans committed to making a great difference. Our mission is to provide coaches who will help our nation’s veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) discover the cause of their PTS in order to facilitate healing in a supportive environment.
About a year after receiving those three email suicide notifications, several of us on the VetREST team drove to Idaho to look for property for our retreat center. The first property we looked at belonged to a 70-plus year old owner in remote Benewah County, Idaho. When we explained the purpose of our visit, he softly professed that he, too, had PTS from his time as a Fire Chief in Las Vegas. “I cannot undo the tape [of a deadly hotel fire] that runs in my head every night,” he told us.
Days later, we looked at a home and acreage that overlooked beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. I explained to the realtor what VetREST is all about and she began to cry. She shared with us that on Halloween night of the previous year, her brother, a Veteran, had put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, leaving behind a wife, a baby and an extended family overcome with unspeakable grief. At that moment, standing with the realtor looking out over the lake, and also thinking back to that former fire chief from a few days earlier, we realized how important it is to identify and embrace the 5% to 7% of Americans who suffer from PTS.
Statistics reported by the Veterans Administration show that in 2014 an average of 20 Veterans per day took their own lives. We ought to take a deep breath and ask ourselves, “why?” In many cases, the answer to that question is startlingly simple: Fear, moral injury (shame or guilt), trauma caused in the field (IEDs, battle wounds, etc.), or even early childhood abuse, may be the underlying cause of a Veteran’s PTS.
Next, we ought to examine, “what can be done to reverse this unacceptable trend?” Our focus at VetREST is on the clear linkage between those suffering from PTS and suicides. If we can help Veterans suffering from PTS, we believe we can reduce the Veteran suicide rate. While there are 45,000+ nonprofits committed to helping Veterans, only a handful are – like us – committed to coming alongside our suffering soldiers, earning their trust and forming long-term friendships to help work through their PTS.
Healing from PTS is not normally a neat, quick process. Each Veteran’s PTS will vary in severity and complexity. For example, we know that a Veteran who suffered trauma or abuse as a child is typically less resilient than a Veteran with a safe upbringing. However, don’t believe it when someone says a person cannot be cured of PTS. Much can be done to reverse this problem. We owe it to our Veterans to stay committed to helping them find peace from their hidden battles.
To that end, VetREST is seeking to found chapters nationwide that are populated with coaches who are able, after gaining the trust of Veterans, to find the why behind their PTS. Coaches then help the Veterans put in place a four-fold path towards recovery: spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental. PTS does not have to be a hopeless condition.
As you observe Veterans’ Day this year, make sure you call your family or friends who have served. And please consider participating in the Department of Defense’s BeThere Suicide Prevention campaign, or giving to an organization like ours, VetRest, dedicated to helping Veterans on your behalf. Thank you for considering this message of hope, healing and health for our Veterans in need.
Send your questions via email to LeaderTime@PeterDeMarco.com, or use the submissions form at www.PeterDeMarco.com/LeaderTime. Follow Peter on Twitter at @Peter_DeMarco or subscribe to the Leader Time newsletter. Submissions may be edited for clarity, length and confidentiality.
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. --William Shakespeare
I took a group of individuals who are each a part of VetREST to look at property in southwest Colorado. The effect of that place was mesmerizing to the point that when we left we felt like a family. Looking at the Sangre de Cristo mountains from inside the lodge, I'm pretty sure I saw tears in Phil's eyes. He and the rest of the team collectively were moved by the majestic scenery, the solitude, and the reality that this was a place where veterans could come and heal from their post traumatic stress (PTS) in a sanctuary. With one voice, the team said, we have to go "all in" and buy this place.
We are so grateful to all of you who have given financially to help us secure our 91 acre retreat with its cozy home. You have helped us raise over $100,000. Yes, there are closing costs, furniture we will need to purchase, a van to transport veterans, and other odds and ends that come with buying a place. But, the reality is, you have helped us reach a level that seemed pretty daunting when we started.
Lift off is not easy. The challenge of starting a new organization is ridiculously hard. As I reflect back on the past several years several points come to mind. First, a clear vision and what we call in the military commander's intent, is essential. Second, we have to effectively communicate our intent to gain understanding and "buy-in" from those who potentially could join and help us. Third, we have to have a viable sustainment plan. Without individuals and corporations willing to sponsor us, VetREST does not have a chance of succeeding. Finally, we HAVE to make a difference in the lives of our vets suffering from PTS by providing them qualified coaches. This is the So What! This is what we owe you who have put your faith, time, energy, heart, and money to help us lift off! Thanks for caring!