- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 2, 2006

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

On the back of my yearly notice of increased service-connected benefits from the VA, there was a notice of a change in legislation. It stated that a surviving spouse who remarries on or after Dec. 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, is now entitled to continue to receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).

I also receive Tricare Health benefits, and I wonder if I would also be able to retain those as well. I have not remarried; however, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t like to. I always felt that I would be penalized for remarrying.

I would appreciate any information that you could forward to me.

Thank you,


Dear Glenda:

Gold Star Wives of America was instrumental in getting this nice benefit for widows who remarry after age 57, to keep DIC and other Veterans Affairs benefits.

Upon remarriage, you need to turn in your military ID card to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). You also need to notify VA of your new name and address. You do lose benefits such as commissary and PX privileges. You also lose your military Tricare medical benefit. You may apply for the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). If, however, you remarry a retired military man, you will be eligible for a Military ID card based on the retired military man’s service.

Shaft notes

In an effort to bring health care closer to where more veterans live, the Veterans Affairs Department recently announced plans to open 25 more community-based clinics in 17 states and American Samoa.

“VA has established itself as one of the top health care organizations in the country,” said Jim Nicholson, secretary of veterans affairs. “By putting health care facilities in more communities, we’re enhancing veterans’ access to VA’s world-class health care.”

With 156 hospitals and more than 700 community-based clinics, Veterans Affairs operates the largest integrated health care system in the country. VA’s health care budget of nearly $30 billion this year will provide services to about 5.4 million people during nearly 600,000 hospitalizations and 55 million outpatient visits.

“Community-based medicine enhances preventive care, allows for closer doctor-patient relationships and makes it easier for follow-up for people with chronic problems,” said Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin, VA’s undersecretary for health.

The new facilities, called community-based outpatient clinics, or CBOCs, will start becoming operational this year. Local VA officials will keep communities and their veterans informed of milestones in the creation of the new CBOCs.

• Health Net Federal Services Inc., one of the nation’s largest providers of health care to America’s military families, will be showing its support for the troops in many new ways this year. With an annual donation of $300,000 to the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), Health Net Federal Services will help sustain many of the educational, recreational and support services provided by ASYMCA to military families at Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg/Pope Air Force Base, Fort Drum, Fort Campbell, Fort Lee and the Navy installations in Hampton Roads, Va.

“Health Net Federal Services and ASYMCA share the same goal of supporting the needs of our country’s military community,” said ASYMCA Executive Director Frank Gallo, a retired rear admiral. “Now that we are working together, we’ll be able to make even greater strides in improving the quality of life for America’s military families.”

The ASYMCA offers essential programs to junior enlisted personnel and their families, such as child care, hospital assistance, spouse support services, food services, computer training classes, health and wellness services, and holiday meals. In 2005 alone, the ASYMCA served nearly 400,000 military family members.

“Health Net has the important job of ensuring quality medical care for military families in the Northeast region every day,” said Sue Schwartz, vice president of beneficiary and congressional relations for Health Net Federal Services. “But knowing the pressures these families face, we want to do more. Giving to the ASYMCA is another way for us to show appreciation and support for our troops.”

• The grave locations of more than 3 million veterans and dependents buried in national cemeteries can be found more easily because the Department of Veterans Affairs has added maps of burial sections online that can be printed from home computers and at national cemetery kiosks.

The latest improvement builds upon a service begun two years ago, in which an online feature permits family members to find the cemetery in which their loved one is buried.

The grave site locator, gravelocator.cem.va.gov, online since April 2004, helps veterans’ families, former comrades in arms and others find the cemeteries where veterans are buried. With the new online feature, people enter a veteran’s name to search, click on the “Buried At” (burial location) link and a map of the national cemetery is displayed, showing the section where the grave is located. For additional information, call 800/827-1000.

• Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail [email protected]

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