- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

My wife and I are both approaching the age that long-term health care may be needed, even though we are both in the best of health and physical condition.

Insurance companies won’t even give a quote unless they are sitting across the table from you.

We are interested in homes we may go to for assisted care, etc. What is the best direction to take to cover us, such as the Soldiers’ Home or retired widow programs that may cover the long-term care (LTC)?

Thank you,

Buddy G.

Retired E9 USAF

Dear Buddy:

My sources tell me that if you are looking for long-term care insurance, you can check out www.ltcfeds.com for the federally sponsored (NOT subsidized) LTC plan that all federal employees and retirees, including military, are eligible for. It’s commercial insurance too, but at least it’s overseen by the Office of Personnel Management.

The federal government does not generally furnish long-term care, except through programs for the needy. Medicaid is the largest provider of LTC. The Department of Veterans Affairs also provides LTC to a veteran with a 70 percent disability rating or higher (or 60 percent with Individual Unemployability).

Good luck — this is not an easy area to pursue.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

In the past, you have graciously publicized our programs. This year, we have a major one coming up on September 11 and would greatly benefit from your giving it publicity. It is a unique free event — the 2007 Patriot Day Ceremony. It is at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the District from 7 to 8 p.m.

The program is hosted by Bill Kurtis of A&E; network, and Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry with help from Adrian Cronauer of “Good Morning Vietnam” fame. The program also features operatic soprano Harolyn Blackwell and gospel singer Larnelle Harris.

Elizabeth Nunan

Program Coordinator

VA-National Medical Musical Group

Shaft notes

I want to thank the Capitol City-West Shore Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Chapel of Four Chaplains, who hosted their 7th annual awards brunch on Aug. 26 at U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks.

I was one of five citizens honored by the presentation of the very prestigious “Bronze Medallion of the Legion of Honor” of the Chapel of Four Chaplains. Dan Ocko of Harrisburg, Pa., was named as a “Humanitarian of the Chapel” for his leadership in creating the Operation Jump Start,” a program to offer grants to those military reservists to cover the gap between their last civilian paycheck and their first military pay. More than 100 guests attended the event.

A new health care center in Harlingen, Texas, announced recently by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will vastly improve care to veterans in South Texas, eliminating the vast majority of trips required by veterans to VA medical facilities in San Antonio. The plans will provide a new VA health care center on the campus of the University of Texas in Harlingen.

The announcement, which came after an independent study on the future needs of area veterans requested by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, included plans to expand services by VA health care facilities in McAllen and Corpus Christi.

“Once completed, the new health care center in Harlingen will eliminate about 95 percent of the trips our veterans currently have to make to San Antonio for medical services,” said Bill Feeley, VA’s Deputy Undersecretary of Health for operations and management. “This plan will allow us to start providing specialty services to Valley-area veterans this year, with even more expansion of services next year.”

The plans call for increasing the current VA health facility space in Harlingen from 11,700 square feet to nearly 160,000 square feet by 2010. The expansion will begin immediately, with space tripling VA’s current space in Harlingen to nearly 35,000 square feet by December and then to nearly 56,000 square feet by December 2008.

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 e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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