A Veteran's Story
Last year we helped a 96 year old WWII veteran obtain Aid and Attendance benefits for his wife and himself in an assisted living facility. That is a program that will help pay for care in a war time veterans own home, or in an assisted living facility. The maximum yearly benefit for a married veteran as of December 1, 2011 is $24,239, so that is a significant amount of aid.
In the course of dealing with the VA, the VA said that he had not proven a qualifying discharge, due to some glitch in his 1945 Navy records. Here is what he hand wrote, at the age of 96, to explain his service, from Pearl Harbor to the surrender at Tokyo Bay.
"I am a 96 year old WWII veteran and was stationed in Pearl Harbor on the cruiser Helena, CL50 during the Japanese air attack on our fleet. Our ship took an aerial torpedo in the forward engine room. I was lucky to be taking a shower at the time and was soaking wet. The fire from the torpedo went by me and out the open port holes. This saved me from receiving terrible burns. The U.S.S. Helena, CL50 was repaired in 6 months and fought many night battles around Guadalcanal and other islands. However, our luck ran out on the night of July 6, 1943 when our ships entered Kula Gulf to help our Marines make their landing. Ten Japanese destroyers were waiting for us. We fired for 7 minutes and sank 2 destroyers, but a third destroyer got thru and launched 3 torpedoes which sank our ship in 20 minutes. I was lucky again and barely made it out of the after engine room. I was reassigned to the old cruiser V.S.S. Detroit and finished the war in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945. I received the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon and other medals, including a second Good Conduct Medal after discharge."
That is one of the most poignant veterans letters I have read and it was handwritten. Soon after he received his benefits.
If you are a war time veteran and are in need of help at home, contact a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) such as Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, or Connecticut VA office, or an Accredited Veterans Administration Attorney. They can help you qualify for and obtain significant benefits for care in your own home, including care provided by your children. Most veterans have never heard about this benefit. If they have, they assume it means someone who served overseas. It does not. The basic requirement is that they served 90 consecutive days on active duty, only one of which has to have been within wartime, which dates Congress has set. For example, the end of WWII for Aid and Attendance is December 31, 1946. Another requirement is that discharge papers must show it was not a dishonorable discharge. Widows of wartime veterans may also be able to receive up to $1,056 a month.
In 2011 the VA instituted an expedited procedure, which in some cases has shortened the application time from almost a year to one or two months. A future article will address the aid and Attendance Program in more detail.