Earlier this year, the maximum VA Aid and Attendance Non Service Connected Disability Pension benefit amounts increased for the first time in several years. On the heels of the announcement, President Obama promised to increase spending for the V.A. and veteran care during his State of the Union address. Yesterday (4/4), a hearing on the V.A. was held in Tacoma, Washington.
Senator Patty Murray, a Senator from Washington and chair of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, held a three and a half hour hearing on V.A. benefits. One of her main goals has been obtaining housing vouchers for homeless veterans. President Obama recently set a goal for ending veteran homelessness by 2015. In advance of the hearing, the Department of Urban Housing and Development sent out $73 million in housing vouchers for veterans.
Additionally, Senator Murray has been focusing her efforts on female veterans whose numbers are increasing. Senator Murray has stated that some female veterans actually choose being homeless over shelters due to sexual abuse or trauma they suffered while in the military and the poor conditions for women in certain facilities. These vouchers help veterans obtain “regular” housing.
However, the V.A. and Senator Murray realize that they must also focus on some of the root issues that lead to chronic homelessness. California has more homeless veterans than any other state and, as a result, should look forward to being a large beneficiary of the effort to end veteran homelessness. One of the root problems to homelessness is frequently mental health issue like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
During the hearing, Senator Murray focused on PTSD diagnosis reversals which she suspected may be due to concerns over the cost of adequate treatment. Although a Pentagon official and a senior advisor to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta insisted that cost was not a driving force in the decisions, military officials noted that the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD is sometimes confusing and inconsistent.
Also heard at the hearing were several veterans who testified about their experiences with PTSD diagnoses and inadequate subsequent care. For some, the issue was whether the veterans were eligible for medical retirement as opposed to discharge. All of the veterans who had reversals of their PTSD diagnosis at Madigan Army Medical Center, which is currently under investigation led by Senator Murray, were being considered for medical retirement. Among the benefits at stake is lifetime health insurance.
It is encouraging to see a member of Congress work to obtain and protect the benefits and treatment for veterans of varying ages. Although much of the focus is for recent war-time veterans and their service-related benefits, it is important to remember the benefits available for non-service connected benefits, such as VA Aid & Attendance. Receiving VA Aid & Attendance benefits can help elderly veterans supplement the costs of medical care and skilled nursing facilities. If you believe you may be eligible, contact a V.A. accredited attorney to help you with the process. Planning for eligibility using such tools as a QVap Trust may also ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. Additionally, even if you are not eligible for Aid & Attendance benefits, donating a portion of your tax refund to the CA Veteran’s Home Fund will ensure that you are doing your part to increase care available to local veterans.
VA Aid & Attendance–How Can I Correctly Choose Help for my Application Process?
FREE REPORT: This complimentary report focuses on the various kinds of people one can consult when applying for the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. Who one chooses can mean the difference between success and failure. Remember, if you are denied, you may not be able to reapply for up to a year or longer. Download our complimentary report for a behind the scenes look at the different types of people you can consult and the dirty underbelly of the veterans aid & attendance industry.