Veterans Choice Act – Getting Care through the Choice Act

Getting Care Through the Veterans Choice Act

 

We have had a lot of questions come our way in regard to how to get care through the Veterans Choice Act and what’s covered and when it’s covered.  We want to provide all of you with guidance, what to make sure you have done, and what pitfalls to avoid and be aware of.

The Veterans Choice Act care is an optional alternative to getting care at an outside medical facility if you qualify for it.  It is not mandatory to use Choice Act for care – you can choose to wait until the next appointment is available, but you do have to inform the VA that you are waiving this option.

 

How Do I Get Authorized to Use the Choice Act?

  • The local VA Facility will inform you if you are authorized for Choice Act coverage based one of these qualifiers:
    • Told that you have to wait longer than 30 days for an appointment for care, OR
    • Live more than 40 miles from the closest VA Facility, OR
    • Unusual or Excessive Burdon
      • Geographic Challenges – A Veteran needs to travel around a large body of water, over a mountain, or needs to navigate a similar geographic barrier.
        • The Veteran resides in a location other than Guam, American Samoa, or the Republic of the Philippines and needs to travel by air, boat, or ferry to the VA medical facility closest to his/her home.
        • The Veteran faces an unusual or excessive burden traveling to a VA medical facility based on geographic challenges, environmental factors, or a medical condition. Staff at the Veteran’s local VA medical facility will work with him/her to determine if he/she is eligible for any of these reasons.
        • The Veteran resides in a State or a United States Territory without a full-service VA medical facility that provides hospital care, emergency services and surgical care having a surgical complexity of standard, and resides more than 20 miles from such a VA facility.
        • NOTE: This criterion applies to Veterans residing in Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also note that some Veterans in New Hampshire reside within 20 miles of White River Junction VAMC and are therefore not eligible for the Choice Program.
      • Environmental Factors – A Veteran’s trip to the closest VA medical facility is blocked by traffic conditions such as a road that is inaccessible to the general public, or a prolonged road closure, or by hazardous weather conditions.
      • Medical Conditions – A Veteran has a medical condition, as confirmed by the local medical facility’s Primary Care Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT Team), that impacts his or her ability to travel.
      • Other Factors – A Veteran could be determined eligible based on the nature, simplicity, or frequency of the care he or she needs. This includes instances where a Veteran’s VA medical provider confirms that he or she requires an attendant to accompany him or her to a medical appointment either because of a medical condition or the type of procedure needed.

 

  • When the VA Facility calls to inform you of your eligibility, they inform you to wait for a phone call from the Veterans Choice Act in order to set up care. Each VA Facility has a Choice Act Coordinator that you can contact if you do not hear from the facility in a few days after being notified on your eligibility for Choice Act coverage.
  • The local VA Facility will then send the referral to the company running the Choice Act in your region:
    • Health Net Federal Services covers VA Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISN) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 19, & 23 (Regions 1, 2, & 4)
    • TriWest covers VA Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISN) 9, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22 (Regions 3, 5A, & 5B)
  • After the request from the local VA facility is received, The Choice Act Contractor will contact the Veteran directly to arrange the authorization for care at a private medical facility. The will need the following information:
    • Verify your address
    • Collect any Other Health Insurance (OHI) information if you have any
      • Your OHI will be billed as the Primary Insurance and Choice Act will be billed as the Secondary Insurance.
    • Your availability for an appointment based on your schedule
    • Help you in identifying a provider close to your home
      • NOTE: The Choice Act will tell you that any provider that accepts Medicare rates for care can be set up as a Choice Act provider. However, we recommend talking with the Choice Act personnel to find out who is already registered as a Choice Act provider, as the provider is not required to accept Choice Act patients.  Doing this will avoid headaches and limit problems down the road.
    • The Choice Act will then reach out to the provider to schedule your appointment based on your availability. Once it is scheduled, the Choice Act will contact you to verify your appointment time.
      • NOTE: The provider may contact you as well to get information from you ahead of your appointment time, or send you paperwork to have filled out before your first appointment, so be on the lookout for correspondence from the provider

 

Now I have Care through Choice Act – Now What?

  • Do NOT go to an appointment for care before you have an authorization or before the start date of your authorization. If you do not follow the timelines, you can be held responsible for the costs of the visit(s) or services.
    • Some Veterans have been asked to do lab testing before the first appointment, but if the lab draw is before the start date of the authorization, it will not be covered. If your provider requests testing before the start date, have them contact the Choice Act Contractor BEFORE services are done so your authorization can be modified.
  • When you go to your first appointment with the Choice Act provider, be sure to bring your identification (Driver’s License, State ID Card) and your Choice Act Card.
  • Copays – There are no up-front copays that you will be responsible for at the time of your appointment. Any copays will be billed to you by the VA if they apply after services are completed.  The copays rules you are subject to at the VA is also they copay rules that apply to your Choice Act providers.  If you are VA copayment exempt then you will not be required to make the VA copayment under the Choice Program.
    • If the Choice Act provider tries to bill you for services, refer them to the Choice Act for billing issues. You are not responsible for paying the Choice Act provider.
  • Additional Services at Request of Choice Act Provider
    • If your Choice Act Provider wants to request additional visits or additional testing, they must submit a Request for Additional Services in order to be covered for the expenses.

 

As long as you keep on top of things, you should have no problems using a Choice Act Provider.

 

Let us know what your experience has been using the Veterans Choice Act – we want to share people’s experiences with everyone so we can all use it to the best of its ability and function.

 

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Asbestos Exposure and VA Benefits – What’s Out There?

A topic that was just brought to our attention was Navy Veterans that were exposed to Asbestos and who decades later are diagnosed with Cancer, to include Mesothelioma.  For decades, the DOD used Asbestos in many things, and Service Members were exposed, even with documentation that states that the DOD knew the risks to exposure.

Many work fields in the military were exposed to Asbestos, to include:

  • mining
  • milling
  • shipyard work
  • insulation work
  • demolition of old buildings
  • carpentry and construction,
  • the manufacturing and installation of products such as:
    • flooring
    • roofing
    • cement sheet
    • pipe products
    • servicing of friction products such as clutch facings and brake linings.

Also,  some have the misconception that only older era Veterans were exposed to Asbestos, but that is not the case.  OIF/OEF/Global War on Terror Veterans could have been exposed to Asbestos when older buildings were damaged and the contaminant was released into the air.

A Veteran that was exposed to Asbestos and has developed cancers associated with it can apply for disability compensation to obtain a VA Disability Rating and access to VA Health Care at little to no cost.

Eligibility Requirements for Disability Compensation:

  • You must be a Veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable
  • You must have been exposed to asbestos while in military service
  • You must have a disease or disability related to the asbestos exposure that occurred in military service

Evidence Requirements:

  • The evidence must show asbestos exposure while in military service. This may include your military occupation specialty and/or where you were stationed.
  • The evidence must show you have a disease or disability related to asbestos and a relationship exists between the exposure to asbestos in military service and the disease/disability.
  • You must claim a disease or disability. Exposure, in and of itself, is not a condition that is subject to service connection.

Points Where the VA Will Push Back On:

  • The VA will want additional proof that you were not exposed to Asbestos in any other way outside of your military service – if the VA can find another way a Veteran was exposed, they will use it to deny the claim.

If you are the Surviving Spouse of a Veteran who died from cancer from asbestos exposure, you can also apply for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation based on the same evidence.

Also, many Veterans and family members have consulted lawyers that specialize in Mesothelioma and Asbestos exposure in order to file a lawsuit for their exposure.  If you feel you may be eligible for a lawsuit, please seek out a lawyer that specifically practices on cases for Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related diseases and conditions.

 

Links for more information:

If you have any topic that we have not covered, please message us through our FaceBook page, and we will be more than happy to find answers.  If you think you may be the only one dealing with an issue involving what’s out there for any conditions for Veterans, you are probably not alone, and you can help us get content together to post for everyone in the Veteran Community to find.

 

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The Secretary and Undersecretary Want to Hear From You – Does It Work?

A few months ago, the new Secretary of the VA, Robert McDonald, and the Undersecretary for Benefits (USB), Allison Hickey, decided that that wanted to hear directly from Veterans who have experience long delays in any VA Services.  To find out what was going on, they publically published their contact information so that Veterans could contact them.

Most of our team here were skeptical of this at first, thinking it was nothing more than lip service for the media to pick up.  As things have moved forward, we have been hearing of more cases of contacting them that have produced fast and successful results.  Recently, several members of the VBRG Team have used these lines of communication, and got immediate contact back from the USB, who also copied in the Director of the Regional Offices involved, and made fast work of the issues at hand, resolving most long-standing issues in under a week.  The USB has made it her mission to tackle any long backlogged claims (claims over 125 days since filing) and delayed appeals and get them moving forward and completed.  The USB has assembled an investigative team to tackle any and all inquiries.

The question is how do I contact them effectively?

  • First off, Keep It Respectful – they are more likely to help a Veteran who is being calm, cool, and collected than one who is just yelling through the email.
  • Provide as Many Details as Possible – Keep a Timeline of Contact on your case – exams, phone calls, letters, and/or major events.They want to help you, but they also want to take the information and help others by making improvements in processes.
  • Let Them Know If you’re experiencing hardships because of delays in your case – Are At-Risk of losing your home, unable to pay utility bills, facing bankruptcy, debt collections, repossessions?If so, let them know.  Where normal hardship letters seem to fall on deaf ears in the past, going right to the top has produced results in many cases.

If they take the time to respond, respond back to let them know you have seen it, and again, keep it respectful.  Here is a sanitized response that one Veteran received from the USB 9 hours after emailing her:

[Veteran],

That made me tired just reading all the back and forth you have endured.  Let me ask [Regional Office Director] to get an expert on this asap and lets get this resolved with minimal back and forth moving forward.

[Regional Office Director] – please let me know the way forward.

Allison

If you feel that your case has been bogged down and want to see something happen, this is the way to go.  Below is a graphic of the contact information for the Secretary and USB:

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We wish you all the best of luck, and we will keep the information coming.

 

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The Yellow Ribbon Program – What is it?

There is a great benefit program that is a complimentary program to the Post-9/11 GI Bill that can open up opportunities to attend other colleges that may not be fully covered under the GI Bill – The Yellow Ribbon Program.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a matching funds agreement between institutions of higher learning who choose to participate and the VA.  Each school sets the amount they want to contribute to covering the gap after the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and the VA then matches the contribution.  Schools can choose to put a limit on the dollar amount, the number of beneficiaries they will award it to a year, both.  In some cases, schools will contribute unlimited matching to cover all costs combined with the VA’s matching funds.  A school makes the choice of if they wish to be a Yellow Ribbon Program Participating School, and schools are added every year.

We would like to hear from you:

  • Have you or any of your family members used the Yellow Ribbon Program?
  • Was it beneficial to you?
  • Were there any problems getting the Yellow Ribbon Benefit?

We want to hear from you!

 

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Vermont State Veterans Benefits

Today, we bring you the State Veterans Benefits for Vermont.  The information was gathered from the Vermont Veteran Services Directory, maintained by the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs.

Emergency Financial Assistance and Financial Support to Vermont Veterans and Their Families

  • Veterans and their families who are having a hard time with basic life necessities such as food, shelter, utilities, etc., should contact Vermont 211.
  • This program has an inventory of all the federal, state, and local resources available to Vermonters. This includes local food shelves, state assistance programs, local private organizations, etc.
  • They are available 24 hours a day, every day. Just dial 2-1-1 from any phone in Vermont to get connected.
  • Who Should I Contact Next?
    • After 211, veterans should visit their local Agency of Human Services’ Economic Services Division. The folks in this division administer programs that can provide emergency funds, food, and heating assistance.
    • They are an especially important contact for families with children. We recommend you follow the link below to find the local office that is closest to you.
  • Vermont Veteran Assistance Fund
    • This program can provide a one-time payment to Vermont veterans or their families who are in a financial crisis and need help paying for a critical need, such as housing and utilities.
    • The amount of assistance provided is up to $200.
    • Applications are done over the phone and takes about 10 minutes to complete. Vermont residency is required.
  • Office of Veterans Affairs Toll Free (for in State) (888) 666-9844
  • Office of Veterans Affairs Direct Dial (802) 828-3379

Financial Assistance Programs for Military Families

  • Vermont National Guard’s family support section administers several funds to help families who are in financial hardship, especially families in financial hardship because of a deployment.
  • Their programs are not limited to only the guard, as they assist active duty and reserve families as well.
  • Vermont National Guard Family Support (888) 607-8773
  • There are some resources from private organizations that are available to help veterans and their families.
    • Friends of Veterans
      • Friends of Veterans provides veterans in Vermont and New Hampshire with financial assistance.
      • They are especially interested in helping veterans who are homeless or facing homelessness.
      • http://www.friendsofveteransvtnh.org/

Vermont’s Medals for Veterans

  • Vermont has three medals that recognize those who served who have a connection with our state. They are:
    • The Vermont Veterans Medal is awarded to most veterans with an honorable discharge.
    • The Vermont Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to veterans who received an honorable discharge and who served in a combat theater.
    • The Patriots Medal is presented to the next-of-kin of Vermont soldiers killed in action.
  • Distribution of the Veterans Medal and Distinguished Service Medal is not automatic. Veterans must apply for them, or have someone apply on their behalf.
  • Applications are quick and easy… most can be completed over the phone by calling the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs.
  • Applicants can choose to receive the medals in the mail, or they can choose to participate in an annual medal presentation ceremony at the Vermont State House, with medals delivered by the Governor.
  • The family members of deceased veterans may also receive the medals.

High School Diplomas for Veterans

  • Veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War era, or the Vietnam War Era can also receive a high school diploma if they have never received one.
  • Applicants can choose to receive their diploma from any Vermont public school.
  • Applications can be made over the phone to the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs.
  • After the Office of Veterans Affairs verifies eligibility, it passes the application along to the appropriate high school, who will make presentation arrangements with the applicant.

License Plates for Veterans

  • Veterans can display a Veterans License Plate on their vehicle. The plates are available for standard cars and trucks. Verification of service is done by the Office of Veterans Affairs.
  • There are multiple ways to apply. If you are registering your vehicle in person at the Montpelier Department of Motor Vehicles, the Office of Veterans Affairs can verify your eligibility in person, as they are located next door to the DMV.
  • If you’re not coming to Montpelier to register your vehicle, call the Office of Veterans Affairs to apply. Their staff can mail the application to you. You will need to provide a DD-214 as proof of service to the Office of Veterans Affairs for the plate you want for your vehicle.
  • Keep in mind, you can apply for a Veterans License Plate at any time. You don’t have to wait until you reregister your vehicle.
  • In addition to the Veterans Plate, the DMV has a selection of different veteran related plates, including
    • Purple Heart Plate
    • Former Prisoner of War Plate
    • Pearl Harbor Survivor Plate
    • Veterans of Foreign Wars
    • Vietnam Veterans of America.
    • Applications for the plates are made directly with the DMV.
  • Veterans in Vermont can get a VETERAN designation on their Driver’s License

Memorial Day Ceremony

  • Each year the state has a Memorial Day observance ceremony at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery on May 30th at 3:00 p.m.
  • Contact the Office of Veterans Affairs for information about the ceremony.

Veterans Day Parade

  • Each year the state provides the Boy Scouts of America funds to organize the state’s Veterans Day Parade.
  • The parade is held the first Saturday of November, and the location changes from year to year
  • Contact the Boy Scouts of America for information about the parade.

Armed Services Scholarship

  • The Armed Services Scholarship is a State of Vermont program for the spouse and children of military members who died on active duty since 2001, or the spouse and children of Vermont National Guard members who have died while serving at any time.
  • The scholarship can be used towards the completion of an Veteran Services Directory Maintained by the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs undergraduate degree at a Vermont school.
  • For Vermont state schools, the scholarship covers the full tuition
  • For Vermont private schools, the scholarship reduces the tuition.
  • If the deceased was a member of the Vermont National Guard, applications are processed by the guard’s education office. All others apply to the Veteran Services Director at the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs

Property Tax Reduction for Veterans

  • The following are eligible for the exemption:
    • Veterans receiving Disability Compensation at a rating of 50% or higher Veterans receiving Non-Service Connected Pension (also called Improved Pension)
    • Veterans collecting military retirement pay for a medical military retirement
    • Surviving spouses of veterans who had received the exemption (surviving spouses may also be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or Death Pension)
    • The exemption level varies from town to town.  State law mandates a minimum $10,000 exemption, although towns are given the option of increasing the exemption to $40,000.
    • The exemption reduces the appraised value of the home prior to the assessment of taxes. For example: An eligible veteran lives in a home valued at $200,000. The veteran’s town provides a $20,000 exemption. The veteran’s home will be taxed at $180,000. Veterans who would like to have their town increase their exemption must go through their town’s local procedures for having a measure placed on an election ballot for town voters to consider.
    • The exemption only applies to homes that are owned by the veteran or survivor. Veterans or survivors who rent their homes can not pass this exemption on to their landlord.
    • To receive the exemption, the veteran must provide proof of eligibility to the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs.
    • Most veterans will have to provide proof of eligibility every year before May 1st.
    • Veterans who are determined to be totally and permanently disabled only have to provide proof of eligibility the first year they use the benefit for a home (if they move to a new home in a different town, they will have to provide proof of eligibility again). They also must provide proof of eligibility by May 1st.
    • Proof of eligibility is provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Our recommendation is to call the VA no later than April 1st to request this documentation.

As always, if there are any benefits we may have missed, please let us know, and we will add it to the list.

 

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Wyoming State Veterans Benefits

Today, we bring you the State Veterans Benefits for Wyoming.  This information was gather from the Wyoming Veterans Commission web site.

Property Tax Exemption

  • Apply at your County Assessor’s Office between January 1 and the fourth Monday in May each year.
  • A recent change to the law allows for a streamlined renewal process. Once you provide documentation to establish your initial eligibility, you may call the County Assessor’s Office during this time period and renew your exemption.
  • Eligibility
    • Veterans must be residents of Wyoming three or more years prior to claiming the tax exemption
    • have a DD Form 214 or equivalent from their branch of service.
    • Additionally, one of the following must apply:
      • Served in the Armed Forces during:
        • World War II (Dec. 7, 1941 – Dec. 31, 1946)
        • Korean War (June 27, 1950 – Jan. 31, 1955)
        • Vietnam War (Feb. 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975)
        • Must have served overseas during an armed conflict and received an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or equivalent; or
        • Be a disabled Veteran with a compensable service-connected disability as certified by VA or a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. VA or DoD agency disability letter required.
        • Be the surviving spouse of a qualifying Veteran who resides in Wyoming and did not remarry.
  • The exemption applies to taxes on a Veteran’s primary residence lowering the assessed value by $3,000. The $800 cap was removed in 2007. Veterans who reached the previous cap have new eligibility and they should reapply for this important benefit.
  • Applying exemption to vehicles
    • If the exemption is not used on property, it may be applied to a vehicle’s licensing fee (not sales tax). More than one vehicle may qualify, but the total exemption shall not exceed $90.
    • The vehicle(s) must be titled to the Veteran before qualifying. Leased vehicles do not qualify.

Hunting, Fishing, and Parks

  • Free Fishing License
    • 50% disabled Veteran, resident of Wyoming for not less than one year and submit a letter from the VBA Regional Office certifying the 50% level of service connected disability compensation of the applicant.
  • Free Bird, Small Game, and Fishing Licenses
    • 100% disabled Veteran, resident of Wyoming for not less than one year and submit a letter from the VBA Regional Office certifying the 100% level of service connected disability of the applicant.
  • Free Hunting and Fishing While on Leave
    • Any Wyoming resident who is on active duty in the U.S. Military deployed to a combat zone, who is home on leave, and will return to a combat zone.
  • Special Limited Fishing Permit for Hospitalized Veterans
    • In coordination with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, a free license can be issued by any VA Hospital within Wyoming, Wyoming Department of Health, or Wyoming Department of Family Services to a resident of the Veterans’ Home.
    • Veteran must fish under direct control of the institution.
  • Active Duty in Wyoming
    • Any active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces who has been stationed in Wyoming for 90 days shall qualify as a resident so long as the active duty member remains stationed in Wyoming.
  • Donated Big Game Licenses for Disabled Veterans
    • Any person may donate a big game license for reissuance, free of charge, to a disabled Veteran. The disabled Veteran must be selected and sponsored by a nonprofit charitable organization providing hunting opportunities for disabled Veterans in order to receive the donated license.
  • To learn more visit http://wgfd.wyo.gov.

Free Lifetime State Park Pass

  • Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources (SPCR) offers a 50% Disabled Veteran Annual Day Use and Camping Lifetime Permit.
  • You must be a resident of Wyoming and submit a letter from the VA Regional Office certifying the 50% level of service connected disability and an application from SPCR.
  • The application is available from State Parks. For more information, call 307-777-6323 or visit http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/Permits/Index.aspx.

Wyoming Military Related License Plates

Applications for the Veteran license plate and Gold Star plate shall be made directly to the Wyoming Veterans Commission or online at:

https://www.dot.state.wy.us/SpecialtyPlates/faces/faces/index.jsp.

 

Prisoner of War (POW) License Plate

  • Any person who, while serving in the U.S. Armed
    Forces, was incarcerated by an enemy of the United States may use the former prisoners of war special license plate.
  • Registration fees are waived for the first POW license plate and there is no plate fee.
  • There is no plate fee for additional plates, but the Veteran must pay vehicle registration fees.

Gold Star Family License Plate

 

  • Any parent, grandparent, spouse, child, or sibling of a member
    of the United States Armed Forces who died while in service or who died as a result of the service shall be eligible to receive the Gold Star License Plate.
  • Plate fees paid by the Wyoming Veterans Commission, owner must pay vehicle registration fees.

Purple Heart Recipient (PH) License Plate

  • Any person who presents documented proof that he/she is an official recipient of the United States Military Purple Heart Award may apply to the department for a Purple Heart Recipient Plate.
  • No plate fee, must pay vehicle registration fees.

Disabled Veteran (DV) License Plate

  • One set of license plates shall be issued to disabled Veterans who provide an affidavit from the VA stating they receive 50 percent or more service-connected disability compensation from the VA.
  • Disabled Veterans are exempt from registration fees for one vehicle, other than a commercial vehicle, motorcycle, multipurpose vehicle, bus or motor home.
  • Veteran may either choose the DV License plate as their free plate; or Veteran may choose any other military related plate for which they qualify as their free plate,

Pearl Harbor Survivor (PHS) License Plate

  • Must have been a member of the United States Armed Forces on Dec. 7, 1941, and on station during the hours of 7:55 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Hawaii time, and at Pearl Harbor, the island of Oahu, or offshore at a distance not to exceed 3 miles and received an honorable discharge.
  • No plate fee, must pay vehicle registration fees.

National Guard (NG) License Plate

  • Any person who presents documentation that he/she is currently serving in an active or retired status of the Wyoming Army or Air National Guard may apply for a National Guard plate.
  • No plate fee, must pay vehicle registration fees.

Veteran License Plate

  • To qualify, you must have served at least one period of honorable service which resulted in the issuing of a DD 214. If approved, your license plates will be forwarded to the county treasurer’s office you indicate on  your application.
  • Send your payment of $50 made out to WYDOT in the form of a check or money order along with your application to:

Wyoming Veteran License Stickers

  • Available for purchase from the Wyoming Veterans Commission.
  • Costs are $11.50 for auto and trucks and $11.00 for motorcycles. No stickers for trailers.
  • Only one set of license plate stickers may be displayed on any one vehicle or motorcycle.
  • Surviving spouses may continue to purchase stickers if they were previously purchased by the Veteran.
  • Proceeds go to the Wyoming Veterans Commission Trust Fund.
  • Wyoming Veteran License Stickers Available
    • World War II
    • Korean War
    • Vietnam War
    • Gulf War
    • Noble Eagle
    • Enduring Freedom
    • Iraqi Freedom
    • War on Terror
    • VETERAN
  • For more information and to request applications, call 1-800-833-5987.

Education

  • Free Tuition for War Veterans and Surviving Dependents
    • Wyoming provides 10 free semesters of tuition and fees for overseas combat Veterans at the Wyoming community colleges or the University of Wyoming.
    • Surviving spouses and dependent children are also eligible for this benefit if the military member died in combat.
    • For more information, contact the Veterans Representative at the institution or visit http://www.communitycolleges.wy.edu/veterans-tuition-benefit.aspx.

Wyoming National Guard (WY NG) Educational Assistance Plan (EAP)

  • WY NG members may receive 100% of tuition and mandatory fees at the University of Wyoming, the seven community colleges, and the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy.
  • Members may receive partial payment of tuition at private colleges and institutions for programs offered within Wyoming.
  • Army Guard members call 307-772-5169
  • Air Guard members call 307-772-6325 or 307-772-6150
  • For more information, call 307-777-8160 or visit https://wyomilitary.wyo.gov.

University of Wyoming Veterans Services Center

  • The center was created by the Division of Student Affairs to assist returning Veterans access the resources the University has compiled to help veterans make a smooth transition from military service to the University of Wyoming.
  • For more information, call 307-766-6908 or visit http://www.uwyo.edu/vetservices/.

As always, if there are any benefits we may have missed, please let us know, and we will add it to the list.

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North Dakota State Veterans Benefits

Today we bring you the State Veterans Benefits for North Dakota.  Information was gathered from the North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs web site.

Family Assistance Centers

  • Family Assistance Centers (FACs) are operated regionally throughout North Dakota. They are here to provide support and assistance to Service Members and their Families by offering information about military, federal, state, and local resources
  • Their services include:
    • ID Cards and DEERS Enrollment
    • TRICARE Medical and Dental Assistance
    • Financial Information and Referral
    • Mental and Emotional Health Referral
    • Community Information and Referral
    • Legal Referral
    • Emergency Financial Assistance and Referral
    • Local assistance to Family Readiness Groups
  • Assistance is Available 24 hours a Day by Calling Toll Free: 1-800-242-4940
  • Locations:
    • Bismarck Military Service Center
      • 1850 E Bismarck Expressway (Bismarck Expressway & Airport Rd)
      • Hours 8:00am – 5:00pm
      • Points of Contact
        • Becky Eberhardt, FAC Coordinator, (701) 333-4806
        • Suzanne Richards, FAC Specialist, (701) 333-4808
        • Nikki Frohlich, FAC Specialist, (701) 333-4807
      • Fargo Military Service Center
        • 2219 12th St N. Suite B
        • Hours 8:00am – 5:00pm
        • Points of Contact
          • JoAnn Czerwinski, FAC Specialist (701) 451-6090
          • Toll Free: 800-460-1407
      • Grand Forks – NDNG Armory
      • 1501 48th Street South
      • Hours 9:00am – 5:00pm
      • Point of Contact
        • Cary Forrester, FAC Specialist, (701) 792-4568
    • Devils Lake – Camp Grafton
      • Building 5260 Room 105
      • 4417 Highway 20
      • Devils Lake, ND 58301-8500
      • Point of Contact
        • Bryce Crosby, FAC Specialist, (701) 665-7896
    • Minot – Armed Forces Reserve Center
      • 3420 2nd Street NE
      • Hours 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
      • Point of Contact
        • Gary Siewert, FAC Specialist, (701) 420-5861
    • Valley City – Valley City Armory
      • 747 7th St SE
      • Point of Contact
        • Nikki Frohlich, FAC Specialist, (701) 333-4807 

Hardship Assistance Grant

  • The purpose of this assistance is to provide monies to give aid and comfort to veterans and their spouses, or un-remarried widow/widowers of eligible veterans.
  • The individual must have an unmet need of dental and/or denture work (routine and maintenance procedures are not covered), optical, hearing, transportation (for medical treatment), special needs for medical reasons, housing deposit, other emergency needs approved by the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs.
  • The following requirements need to be met to apply
    • Qualify as veteran or eligible dependent as defined in NDCC 37-14-01.1.
    • Income and asset level. Income will be based on established indexes such as pension rates and poverty guidelines which will be reviewed annually.
    • Must be a North Dakota resident for one year prior to application date.
    • Medical bills showing all work completed, and all payments and credits must be received by the department within 60-90 days of the date of approval.
    • Contact your Veterans Service Officer to apply

Legal Services of North Dakota

  • Is a non-profit organization, providing legal assistance in a variety of matters to low income and elderly North Dakotans. Help is available by calling these toll free numbers.
  • Under age 60 call toll-free 1-800-634-5263
  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday between 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. CST.
  • Age 60+ call toll-free 1-866-621-9886
  • Monday – Thursday between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST., Friday between 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. CST.
  • Also check out the Attorney Directory for North Dakota’s Veterans, Service Members, & Families.

Veterans Aid Fund

  • The Veterans Aid Fund is a permanent fund to be used solely for the purpose of making loans to veterans or their widow/widowers.
  • To qualify, the applicant is required to be:
    • a peacetime veteran
    • a wartime veteran
    • National Guard with active duty [as defined in NDCC 37-14]
    • or unremarried widow/widower of an eligible veteran
    • AND a resident of North Dakota for at least one year and have the financial ability to make payments
    • The maximum loan amount is $5,000. The interest rate is 8% per annum. Time limit can be from six months to 48 months.
    • One half of the interest paid will be refunded provided the loan is repaid under the agreed upon terms.
    • The Department has the right to take legal action to collect on delinquent loans.
    • Contact your Veterans Service Officer to apply.

Military Outreach Specialists

  • The Outreach Program is designed to encompass all veterans, service members and families throughout the state to ensure they are aware of and receiving benefits, resources and services available to them. Trained professionals are located throughout the state to meet with you as needed.
  • The program works with all services, eras and conflicts. Military Outreach Specialists connect all current and former military service members and their families to the right resources, such as:
    • Military
    • Medical
    • Child
    • Education
    • Housing
    • Substance Abuse
    • Religious Education
    • Family
    • Psychological
    • Financial
    • Personal Counseling
    • Employment
    • Marital Counseling
    • Sustained Support
  • Contact an Outreach Specialist or a Veterans Service Officer for assistance.

Military Ovation

  • Military Ovation was founded on the philosophy of “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Our efforts support the troops, veterans and families serving “IN” North Dakota or “FROM” North Dakota.
  • Our Board of Trustees is passionate about troop support and has a history of expertise regarding the military and nonprofit organizations.
  • Board of Trustees:
    • Shelle Michaels Aberle – Founder/CEO/President
    • Lori Thompson – COO/Vice President

ND Driver’s License

  • Veterans can request to have an indicator on their North Dakota driver license to show that they are a Veteran of the US military services.
  • Veterans need to bring a copy of their discharge papers (DD214) to a Veteran Service Officer.
  • The Veteran Service officer will verify the individual qualifies as a Veteran in accordance with NDCC 37-01-40 (2) (see below), complete and sign the SFN 59980 “Verification of Veteran Status for Veteran Indicator on Drivers License” form.
  • The Veteran will bring this form to the ND Drivers License Site Location when he/she renews the driver’s license.
  • If renewal is not due, the $8.00 duplicate fee will be charged.
  • The driver’s license will have a “V” on the top left corner next to the ND state flag.

ND Game and Fish Licenses

  • Game
    • A resident disabled veteran can get a combined general game, habitat stamp, small game, and fur-bearer license for $3.00.
  • Fishing
    • $5.00 for a resident fishing license
  • a resident disabled veteran has a fifty percent service-connected disability as determined by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or has an extra-schedular rating to include individual unemployability that brings the veteran’s total disability ratio to fifty percent.
  • How to Apply
    • You must print out an application and apply at a local Game and Fish office. Ensure you bring a copy of your VA Disability Rating letter.

ND License Plates

  • Yellow Ribbon “Support our Veterans”
    • Available to the general public, no Veteran Status required. The plates will help fund the North Dakota Veterans Emergency Needs Charitable Fund.
  • Disabled American Veteran
    • To be eligible the Department of Veteran Affairs office must sign a letter stating the applicant is 100 percent service related disabled
  • POW
    • A veteran, while serving in the U.S. armed forces was a prisoner of war and has received an honorable discharge from the U.S. armed forces, may be issued a special number license plate.
    • On the death of the veteran, the surviving spouse may retain the numbered plate as an active plate.
  • Gold Star
    • The director (DOT) may issue distinctive number plates to a surviving spouse, parent, including stepmother, stepfather, parent through adoption, and foster parent who stands or stood in loco parentis, grandparents, child, including stepchild and child through adoption, and sibling, including half-brother and half-sister, of a member of the armed forces of the United States who died while serving on active duty during a time of military conflict.
  • Purple Heart
    • Available to those recipients of the Purple Heart award as listed on the DD214 or Certificate.
  • National Guard
    • Distinctive numbered plates may be issued to members of the National Guard.
    • The Adjutant General shall certify those members of the national guard eligible to receive the plates.
  • Veterans
    • Individuals eligible for interment in the North Dakota Veterans’ Cemetery qualify for these plates.
  • N.D. Veterans’ Cemetery
    • Distinctive numbered plates may be issued to individuals eligible for interment in the North Dakota Veterans’ Cemetery.
    • The surcharge collected will be divided between the Veterans’ Cemetery Trust Fund and the Veterans’ Cemetery Maintenance Fund.

ND State Park Fees

  • Disabled Veterans/POWs: North Dakota veterans with a 50 percent or greater, service-related disability and former POWs are eligible for a free annual permit.
  • All other North Dakota veterans with service related disabilities are eligible to receive an annual permit for $20.
  • This program is available to North Dakota residents only, with Report of Benefit letter from the VA, or a North Dakota DAV/POW license plate.
  • Note—The Golden Access Passport is issued by the federal Corps of Engineers to any individual who has been medically determined to be blind or permanently disabled for purposes of receiving benefits under Federal law.
  • NDPR Department will not accept the Golden Access as proof for veteran disability discounts.
  • For more information, visit:

North Dakota Women Veterans

  • The ND VA developed a Women Veteran’s Registry card as a tool to register woman veterans into our data base.
  • Some ideas that are in development are; conferences, membership to the association, newsletters, and committees.
  • We would benefit from your input into the possibilities. 
  • The Women in the Military Survey was developed to collect statistical information for the State of North Dakota.
  • Contact Brenda Bergsrud for more information or assistance.

Grace After Fire

  • Grace After Fire is a resource solely for women veterans to support their need to connect with each other and share yet remain anonymous. These women can reach out to others who have experienced the same concerns of re-entry, alcoholism, drug addiction or prescription addiction due to chronic pain, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), incidents of service time rape, depression, unwarranted anger, or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) due to war time trauma.
  • Contact Information:

National Association of State Women Veteran Coordinators

  • The purpose of this organization is to exchange ideas, information and training to facilitate reciprocal service for women veterans and to secure uniformity, equality and effectiveness in providing these services to women veterans; furthermore, identify issues of concern to the women veterans community, and develop recommendations to address these concerns through legislative, programmatic, and outreach activities.

The National Women’s Health Information Center

  • The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) was established in 1991 within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its Vision is to ensure that “All Women and Girls are Healthier and Have a Better Sense of Well Being.” Its mission is to “provide leadership to promote health equity for women and girls through sex/gender-specific approaches.” The strategy OWH uses to achieve its mission and vision is through the development of innovative programs, by educating health professionals, and motivating behavior change in consumers through the dissemination of health information.
  • Contact Information:
    • Office on Women’s Health
    • Department of Health and Human Services
    • 200 Independence Avenue, SW Room 712E
    • Washington, DC 20201
    • Telephone: 202-690-7650
    • Fax: 202-205-2631

Quilts of Valor

  • The mission of the QOV Foundation is to cover ALL wounded and injured service members from the War on Terror, whether physical or psychologically, with wartime quilts called Quilts of Valor (QOV).
  • QOVF-UM covers the Upper Midwestern states of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin and is part of the national Quilts of Valor Foundation.
  • If you know of someone who should receive a QOV, please contact us.

Property Tax Exemption

  • A paraplegic disabled veteran of the United States Armed Forces or any veteran who has been awarded specially adapted housing by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the unremarried surviving spouse if such veteran is deceased, for the first $120,000 of true and full valuation of the fixtures, buildings, and improvements.
  • A disabled veteran of the United States Armed Forces with an armed forces service-connected disability of 50% or greater, who was discharged under honorable conditions or who has been retired from the armed forces of the United States, or the un-remarried surviving spouse if the disabled veteran is deceased, is eligible for a credit applied against the first $6,750 of taxable valuation of the fixtures, buildings, and improvements of the person’s homestead equal to the percentage of the disabled veteran’s disability compensation rating for service-connected disabilities as certified by the department of veterans affairs for the purpose of applying for a property tax exemption.
  • Exemption should be at highest percentage veteran is compensated. If veteran is compensated higher than combined rating the exemption should be at the higher rate.
  • Example: if combined rating is between 50 and 90 but the veteran is compensated at 100% due to Individual Un-employability. The Veteran’s exemption should be at 100%.
  • How to apply:
    • Provide a copy of the DD Form 214 showing veteran’s honorable discharge from active military service if claiming exemption for first time.
    • Provide a certificate from the Department of Veterans Affairs certifying to the percentage of service-connected disability when claiming exemption for the first time, or if the veteran receives a change in the percentage of certified rated service-connected disability.
    • Contact your Veteran Service Officer. You can also get a letter from the VA by calling 1-800-827-1000 and ask for a property tax letter. This letter will be sent directly to the Veteran.
    • Complete Application form. Can be completed online and printed.
    • Submit required documents to your Tax assessor/ Tax equalization office by February 1 when applying for first time, when your disability rating changes, and when requested to do so there after. Your County may or may not require annual applications be submitted.

Veterans Bonus

  • Military Operations Adjusted Compensation
    • In order to ease the financial hardships and personal and family sacrifice sustained by members of the North Dakota national guard, and North Dakota residents of the reserve, and active duty component who were mobilized after December 5, 1992, in support of military operations around the world it is the intent of the legislative assembly that additional compensation be provided to those resident veterans of North Dakota and payment of that compensation is declared to be a public purpose.
    • It is the further intent of the legislative assembly to encourage those North Dakota resident veterans to continue their voluntary membership in the national guard, reserve component, and active military force.

As always, if there are any benefits we may have missed, please let us know and we will add it to the list.

 

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