Veterans and the public unaware of poorly advertised benefit programs, such as Aid & Attendance benefits.
We in the United States have forgotten the meaning and reason for Memorial Day. The 1865 post-Civil War holiday was to honor fallen soldiers as “Decoration Day”, later expanded to all those who served. The holiday has now morphed into a summer kick-off with sales and barbeques, all wrapped up in red, white and blue. For a country that owes its origin and continuing freedom to those who have fought for and defended our land and ideals, Americans forget the importance of honoring take those who served. Let’s take time out to pay tribute to the millions of military men and women who have offered and risked their lives for our country. A respectable manner to revere the dead is to value the living. Our population includes nearly 25 million Veterans. With nearly ten percent of our citizens, the State of Washington has a much higher veteran proportion than the national average.
Washington has more than 650,000 veterans: 56,000 World War II vets, 52,000 from the Korean Conflict, and more than 200,000 Vietnam Vets. Thanks to the tremendous work of US Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, there has been an impressive response to the mental health needs of returned Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. While PTSD has many euphemisms, the condition is finally getting appropriate attention. But the time has also come to examine, and address, the significant long term care needs of veterans who served in earlier wars and conflicts. Few of those who served, or anyone else, are aware of long term care benefits for veterans and their surviving spouses. The Veterans Administration offers Aid & Attendance as part of a three-tier benefits program that includes “Basic” and “Housebound” coverage. Veterans do not have to have sustained injury to access these programs, and each tier has its own set of criteria. Millions of American veterans, most well-in or approaching retirement age, are missing out on something that will help fund their long term care needs. Not a new benefit program, these entitlement benefits have been in existence more than 60 years, but are rarely accessed.
Anyone with military service during a time of war is eligible for Aid & Attendance – criteria met by seventy five percent of all veterans, nearly 500,000 in Washington. Veterans and their surviving spouses who require the assistance of another person –whether dressing, eating, taking medication, or who have a mental or physical incapacity – is eligible for additional monetary benefits, up to $1,704 each month for vets and $1,094 for surviving spouses. Importantly, Aid &Attendance covers care in Assisted Living and other long term care communities, as well as providing for home care at the veterans own home. The Aid & Attendance application process itself is ridiculously challenging and burdened by red tape. Coincidentally, and ought to be addressed by policy makers. Until that time, working with a senior advisor can ensure American veterans are appropriately honored on Memorial Day, and every day of the year.
Co-founded by a Vietnam-era Veteran Marc Lilly, Concierge Care Advisors is a placement and referral agency for seniors, specializing in helping veterans access Aid and Attendance and other earned benefits. For more information, go to www.conciergecareadvisors.com
Sources Aid & Attendance and other benefits: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/pension/vetpen.htm
Veteran’s Population Data: http://www.va.gov/VETDATA/Veteran_Population.asp