Veterans are an integral part of our society. Whether dead or alive, these brave ex-service men had once given their all in the service of this nation. Aaron is my dad’s younger brother. I remember him from back in the days when I and my little brother used to go a-fishing with him whenever he was around. I remember the dinners we had together after his extended period of absence from his family. I remember all the gifts he brought for us, of which my favorite was a carved wooden boat from Afghanistan. You see, my uncle was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, and he was always out on some missions in different parts of the world.
It so happened afterward, that during his last mission, he got shot at the knee of his left leg. The family was devastated and my dad was sad. As for me, I cried my eyes out on seeing my uncle confined to a hospital bed for about two months. When he was discharged, he became confined to a wheelchair or crutches at times whenever it was suitable for him.
It’s been a few years since then, and I am all grown up now. I took time out from my busy schedule to visit my uncle. He was looking neat and in good shape. We discussed at length about my life and how things were going for me. At a point, I switched the topic and inquired about how he has been faring with his health. It was at this stage he mentioned something along the lines of benefits accruing to war veterans. I pressed further, and he gave me a break-down of these veteran benefits:
- Car or Home Adaptations: As Aaron had explained to me, for a veteran to be eligible for this benefit, he has to be down with a disability related to service that makes it impossible for him or her to carry out their day to day activities. This benefit is handed out by the Veteran’s Administration to veterans in the form of a loan or a loan guarantee. With this, veterans can purchase a house or make certain modifications to an already owned house or a car. Apart from this, Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants are also given to veterans that have been disabled in the course of their service to the nation. These grants are used to pay for modifications to their homes in order to suit their present conditions. The house or the car doesn’t need to be owned or driven by you as far as you are living in the house or you are being chauffeured in the car.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: This benefit is one paid monthly to the surviving dependents of certain wartime veterans. To be eligible for this, he must have died during active duty to the nation or from a service-related injury or one who died from a non-related service injury but was being paid VA compensation due to a service related disability that rated as being totally disabling. Surviving dependents would only be eligible if they were married to a member of the service who died during active duty or validly married to the war veteran on or before the 1st of January, 1957. Also, the spouse is to have had a child with the veteran and must have cohabited with him/her continuously until the death of the veteran. If they had separated before then, the surviving spouse must not have been the cause of the separation and at current, must not be remarried.
Surviving children of the veteran are capable of receiving this benefit only if they are under the age of 18 or attending school and between the ages of 18 and 23.
- The Veteran Death Pension Benefit: This benefit is paid to all dependents of eligible veterans. For dependents to be eligible for these benefits, the veteran must have been discharged or any other reason other than dishonorable discharge, he or she must have served for no less than 90 days of active duty with one-day active duty at least during a time of war. Other than this, the law stipulates that veterans’ who were enlisted after 9/7/80 are to serve for no less than 24 months. Also, dependents to receive these pensions must be surviving spouse or unmarried children of the veteran, and with a yearly countable income below the limit set by law. The amount payable under this benefit is the difference between a dependent’s annual countable income and the annual income limit established by the Veteran’s Administration.
- Death Gratuity: This death gratuity is a one-time payment payable to dependents of veterans who were members of the armed forces and died while on active service or during authorized travel. It is also payable to any member of the reserve officers training corps who while performing an authorized annual training during a period of more than 13 days, dies or who dies while on an authorized trip to or from the annual training duty.
The eligible recipients of this gratuity are either the lawful surviving spouse of the officer or the children of the officer where there is no surviving spouse. It is to be shared equally amongst the children, not regarding age or marital status. Where none of these are available, the parents of the veteran or brothers and sisters are in line to collect the gratuity.
- Burial Benefits for Veterans: Under this particular benefit, the Department of Veterans Affair (VA), will provide a gravesite, headstone and in few cases, a funeral allowance to help out with the funeral expenses. As a veteran, you can be buried in any of the national cemeteries or the cemetery of your state of residence at the time of your death. For the grave site and the headstone marker, you family would not be required to pay anything. In a situation where the Veteran dies due to a service-related disability, the V.A would pay a sum of about $2,000 so as to cover any burial expenses. On the other hand, if the cause of death isn’t service related and the veteran is already on a veteran’s pension or dies while receiving care in a V.A hospital, a sum of $700 would be given for funeral expenses. Another amount of $700 would be paid for the cost of an interment space.
I wish though that my uncle was not disabled. Probably, he would still be in active service for the military or even as an undercover agent or special agent for the government. In any case, let’s help our veteran in any how we can.
Photo Credit: Military.com