- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I recently read that many veterans are now eligible for VA compensation as a result of legislative changes that have eased some of the previous restrictions. In most of these cases, veterans will receive back pay for missed retirement payments as well as medical charges that they accrued since their discharge.

Each veteran with a disability rating above 50 percent will qualify to purchase life insurance coverage through the Survivor Benefit Plan; lifetime commissary and military post exchange privileges; eligibility for Combat-Related Special Compensation; tax free retirement payments; and lifetime medical care for themselves, their spouse and their children up to age 18. Is any or all of this true?

James R.
Via the Internet

Dear James R.:

Spouses or children of a veteran who has been adjudicated by the VA as having a permanent and total service-connected disability or disabilities are eligible for health care through CHAMP-VA, the VA’s health care program for certain dependents and survivors of veterans. It’s not completely free, but would be a valuable benefit to someone eligible.

If a spouse or surviving spouse is eligible for Department of Defense-sponsored health care, i.e. TRICARE, then they are NOT eligible for CHAMP-VA. See CHAMP-VA info here. I highly recommend that any veteran who may be entitled to benefits for his or her family should file a claim with the VA.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I have read your column, and you have put out good info. I hope that these people will follow your advice.

Thank you for your service.

Sincerely
Milan L.
USA (Retired)

Dear Milan L.:

From your pen to God’s ears.

Shaft notes

• The Sarge strongly agrees with the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in urging the entire military and veterans’ community to “Join the Fight” to stop the Defense Department from penny-pinching service members to the point of dismantling the all-volunteer force.

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