The Bob Michel VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) will hold a Veterans Resource Fair on Oct. 8 at the clinic in Peoria, 7717 N. Orange Prairie Road, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Services providing information at the fair will be medical, mental health, pharmacy, suicide prevention, eligibility status, vet center, social work, specialty, nutrition education, and many more. The fair is open to veterans, their family members, caregivers, relatives and friends. Contact 309-589-6800, Ext. 47350, for more information. The next fair in 2019 will be 8:30 to 10 a.m. Dec. 12.
Q: I served during the Korean War. I attended a recent VA “outreach” event and enrolled in VA Health Care through an on-site computer with a VA representative. The representative told me I was eligible and established an appointment for the basic input exam and a hearing test. I went to the exam and hearing test and two weeks later I received my hearing aids at a follow-up exam. However, I received a letter from the VA in Atlanta, Ga., a few weeks later, questioning my eligibility because my income was over the “means” test. The letter stated that I should provide any bills for medical services or funeral expenses in the previous year that were not covered by insurance. The letter implied that those amounts might reduce my income level to below the means test and therefore make me eligible for VA Health Care. What should I do?
A: Contact the eligibility office at the nearest VA Clinic for an explanation by calling 1-800-320-8387. When the call is answered and the recorded message starts, press 0 and a VA operator will answer. Ask the operator to connect you to the Peoria VA eligibility office. The VA representative should be able to explain why this misunderstanding has occurred, and the steps you need to take to get clarification and hopefully resolution.
Q: I am a Vietnam Blue Water Navy veteran. How do I access benefits associated with Agent Orange exposure now that the VA has finally acknowledged that Blue Water Navy veterans should be considered exposed to Agent Orange?
A: Blue Water veterans who served on ships offshore of Vietnam and not more than 12 nautical miles from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia, as established in the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, are eligible for VA’s Agent Orange Registry. Note, however, that eligibility for the registry does not automatically make a veteran eligible for benefits. Check on the Blue Water Veterans web page for clarification by visiting https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/locations/blue-water-veterans.asp. Eligible veterans can enroll in the registry and become eligible for a free screening exam that includes an exposure history, medical history, physical exam and laboratory tests, as necessary. A VA health care provider will discuss the results with the veteran. Contact the environmental health coordinator at the VA clinic to set up an appointment for registry health exam after you have enrolled in the registry.
BLOOMINGTON CBOC UPDATE
If you have not already done so, enroll for VA Health Care. Simply complete VA Form 10-10EZ, which is available at the McLean County Veterans Assistance Commission (VAC), 200 W. Front St., Suite 400D, Bloomington; 309-888-5140. Attach a copy of your DD214 and send it to Bob Michel VA Clinic, 7717 N. Orange Prairie Drive, Peoria, IL 61615. If you want to use the new Bloomington VA clinic when it opens in November, tell VA to enroll you at the Bloomington clinic.
Q: What is the difference between a military retirement and a VA pension. Sounds to me like the same thing.
A: A military retirement is a military (non-VA) program that pays a set amount of income each month to a veteran who has served in the military the required number of years to receive retirement benefits. The amount of the retirement pay depends on years of service, rank and other factors. The VA pension program provides monthly payments to wartime veterans who meet certain age or disability requirements, and who have income and net worth within certain limits. An eligible veteran must also not have a dishonorable discharge. The VA pension may provide a flat amount of income to a wartime veteran who is not eligible for a military retirement, does not have a service-connected disability compensation rating or benefit and whose income from other sources does not result in total income being above the income limit set by Congress. Visit https://www.va.gov/pension/eligibility/ for more information.
Vogler is superintendent of the McLean County Veterans Assistance Commission.
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