- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

My mom was married to a U.S. military man for more than 14 years and was his first wife. He passed away more than a year ago, and she is the Social Security beneficiary.

My mom never remarried and will turn 80 on March 27. She would like to find out about any benefits she may have.

Thank you for your time and looking forward to hear from you.

John L.
Cape Coral, Fla.

Dear John:

It is important that your mother apply for benefits to determine her eligibility. More information can be found at www.vba.va.gov/bln/dependents/spouse.htm.


Shaft notes

Congratulations to Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Florida Republican, who recently was named vice chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

The position will allow Mr. Bilirakis to play a vital role in providing veterans access to the benefits they have earned and deserve. At 1.7 million, Florida has the second-largest population of military veterans in the United States.

“It is an honor to continue to serve, not only the veterans in my district, but also those throughout the nation,” Mr. Bilirakis said. “As our men and women in uniform continue returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, this committee has an important role in ensuring that their needs are met.”

In addition to providing veterans with access to the appropriate benefits, the committee also oversees and evaluates the operations of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the second largest of the 14 Cabinet departments.

“I look forward to improving efficiency in the current system and know that this Congress in particular will give us that opportunity,” Mr. Bilirakis said.

Mr. Bilirakis has served on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee since joining Congress in 2007 and is co-chairman of the Military Veterans Caucus. Mr. Bilirakis has established himself as a strong advocate for veterans’ concerns and has introduced legislation to address the concurrent receipt of military retirement pay and VA disability payments and to expand the Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC). He also has worked to establish new programs to help those with traumatic brain injuries and other mental health needs.

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