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SGT. SHAFT: Will going to a nursing home diminish disabled vet’s benefits?

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Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I am a totally disabled veteran from service-connected disabilities. If I were to go to a nursing home, will the government or VA take any of the pay I get from veterans or from Social Security?

Thanks kindly,
W.T.N.
Via the Internet

Dear W.T.N.:

This is a difficult question to answer. There are too many variables about your personal situation to be certain; it's a complex issue depending on a lot of individual financial factors.

Generally speaking, vets with 70 percent disability ratings are eligible for VA-funded domiciliary care. Would you be going into a VA-funded facility? If so, the VA may charge you a daily co-payment for care and that could indirectly reduce your compensation amount. If you are eligible for Medicaid and go into VA-sponsored domiciliary care, the VA could reduce you all the way to $90/month for personal expenses, such as toiletries and snacks. If you go into a Medicaid-sponsored care, the state may reduce your Social Security benefit after a Medicaid spend down.

Shaft notes

• Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, recently stated his opinion on the upcoming full committee hearing, "Examining VA's Pharmaceutical Prime Contract Vendor":

"In the past few months, questions have been raised about the Department of Veterans Affairs' pharmaceutical purchases. Allegations have been made regarding off-contract purchases, safety, and contracting issues. The Committee plans to investigate this matter fully.

"To that end, we will hold a hearing on February 1, to ensure that the government's contracting laws have been upheld, that veterans' prescriptions are safe and effective, and that taxpayer's dollars have been spent wisely and in accordance with the law.

"We are interested in quantifiable facts, not anecdotes. Our utmost concern is that our veterans are protected and that no wrong-doing has been committed in the purchasing of pharmaceuticals that are vital to securing the health of those the VA serves. I will ask these difficult questions and these questions must be answered. The Committee looks forward to having a frank and open conversation with VA on this matter."

• Modular medical apparel (patent pending), being manufactured in the U.S. under the trade name of BarryBasics, has been gifted to wounded warriors and veterans for two years through the Al Barry Foundation. The apparel will now be available online at www.barrybasics.com. The apparel is designed for patients recovering from injury or surgery, and accommodates medical devices and the challenges of a patient's temporary or permanent limited mobility.

Liz Taylor-Barry lost her husband, Albert P. Barry (Lt. Col., USMA, Retired, 1936-2007) to brain cancer in 2007 and one of his last wishes was that she find a way to help others because so many had helped them during his yearlong cancer treatments. For career information on Mr. Barry, please refer to www.albarryfoundation.org.

In March of 2008, Mrs. Taylor-Barry met with Clemson Apparel Research and the process began. In late 2008, Mrs. Taylor-Barry founded the Al Barry Foundation, a 501(c)(3), to serve wounded warriors and veterans recovering from injuries. Since that time, the foundation has gifted more than 2,000 pieces of the apparel to wounded warriors at Walter Reed, Bethesda, and Land-stuhl, Germany, military hospitals; and to veterans across the U.S. In 2012, the foundation will expand its reach to serve cancer patients and patients with severe mobility issues in the general population.

The apparel is made in the U.S.A. using U.S. textiles, products and services. Pattern-making and manufacturing has been provided by Clemson Apparel Research (Clemson University) in Pendleton, S.C.; Hemingway Apparel, S.C.; and Creative Outlet, N.C. Fabrics are produced by Alamac American Knits (N.C.), Hamrick Mills (S.C.), and Domestic Fab-rics (N.C.).

The shirts and pants for men are constructed with and without plastic snap fasteners to accommodate a patient's needs and medical devices (casts, braces, tubing, medical equipment and other devices). The design with hidden snap fasteners provides dignity for patients in recovery and offers easy access to the body during medical treatment. The apparel slips across the body avoiding the need to pull pants up the body and shirts overhead.

Men's apparel includes: T-shirts, critical-care shirts, boxers, shorts and long pants. Tops and pants in several styles for women have the same utility as the men's apparel. Women's apparel includes: tops; T-shirts, boxers, Capri pants, and long pants.

Mrs. Taylor-Barry worked for the Small Business Administration (1994-2003) in Washington, D.C., and S.C. The last position she held in the U.S. Senate (2004) was as Senior Policy Advisory to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Entrepreneurship. Her career also included positions in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate; and the McNair Firm in Washington, D.C. Born in South Carolina, she grew up in Charleston and worked in South Carolina, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.. She now resides in Columbia, S.C.

• The Department of Veterans Affairs is offering free credit monitoring to more than 2,200 veterans whose personal information, including Social Security numbers, was posted on Ancestry.com following the mistaken release of data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

"VA places the highest priority upon safeguarding the personal information of our veterans," said Jerry L. Davis, VA's chief information security officer. "When lapses occur, we will immediately take prompt remedial action, such as notification."

The family history website, which provides access to genealogical and historical information, had requested information from VA about deceased veterans. Under FOIA, VA is obligated to release requested records upon written request unless they may be withheld. Therefore, VA provided the website with the data on March 18, 2011.

On Dec. 13, 2011, after the information had been posted on the history website, VA learned that it included data about some living veterans because some of the death reports provided to the website were inaccurate.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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