VA Compensation Claims

Jerry Mellick <jerrymelli@gmail.com> sent me this summary of a talk he gave  to the VHPAWA meeting in Spokane. Here is the (edited) verison.

As you will remember, one of our East Side members, John Johnson, asked me to give a short talk on using the VA Health Care System in addition to the VA Health Disability System at our meeting last Saturday.  Later, he asked me to see if I could have it posted to our Web Page so it is always available.  T


The biggest thing is that the two elements of the VA don’t play with each other.  Being some percentage of Disabled doesn’t necessarily translate to being in the Health care system. I was perfectly happy with my health care using Medicare and Tricare for Life and I pushed back at the VA in their runs at me to get me enrolled at the Spokane VA Hospital. Finally, a VA rep in Orlando, who had a booth at our VN Pilots Reunion some years back, asked me to give him 15 minutes.  To make a long story short, the VA is really looking for “healthy” Veterans like me (I’d been giving helicopter rides when he talked to me).  He explained that the VA receives a dollar amount for every Veteran that is enrolled in the Health Care System and when (healthy) guys like us are enrolled and don’t need treatment, they can use the funds for the veterans who need a lot of help.

It is a simple process and there is NO requirement to use the VA if you don’t want to.  Although they are on the leading edge if you need to obtaining quality glasses and hearing aids.

The requirement is to take a physical once a year.  It was a very comprehensive oral history and exam.  At my first one, they offered up a lot of stuff, but I didn’t need that.

Since I’m a Type II Diabetic, they have been seeing me twice a year to check my condition subject to availability.  Beyond that, I don’t have any contact with them.

Like I said Saturday, initially, I thought I was doing them a favor, getting an additional physical each year and that was it.  Then I realized that given the condition of Medicare funding and the frailty of Tricare, I’d actually positioned myself pretty well if things went to hell in the current healthcare world.  If sometime downstream I had to depend only on the VA, I didn’t want to have some issues and be trying to get enrolled in their system.

You can just go out to your local VA facility and get enrolled, at least when I did it, that is how it worked.  Once enrolled, they scheduled me for a physical.

Hope this makes sense.
Jerry

 

PS: in my searching, I found my letter to my Army buddies on the CRSC and CRDP programs that each of our services provide.  Here is the paper I wrote on this.  I get about $400 a month from the Army for CRSC and it offsets some of the $700 a month the Army takes from my Retirement pay for my VA Disability.  It is worth looking into.  Each Service manages the program.  In addition, when I applied, I got a $18,000 back pay check too.

http://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/crsc.html   is the pertinent DFAS web site.

Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) is a program that was created for disability and non-disability military retirees with combat-related disabilities.  It is a tax-free entitlement that you will be paid each month along with any retired pay you may already be receiving.  The form for this is DD Form 2860 and the address is on the form.

Somewhere I read that the purpose of the CRSC was to offset the deduction of military retired pay due to the award of the VA Disability Pay, but I cannot not find that reference.

There are two programs:  Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay (CRDP).  Both are programs created by Congress to allow eligible military retirees to receive monthly entitlements in addition to retired pay.

CRSC is a special compensation for combat-related disabilities.  It is non-taxable, and retirees must apply to their Branch of Service to receive it.

CRDP is a restoration of retired pay for retirees with service-connected disabilities.  It is taxed in the same manner as your retired pay, and it is normally considered taxable income. No application is required. Eligible retirees receive CRDP automatically.

The criteria for both of these programs are spelled out at the site I provided up above and others at that location.  Based on the criteria spelled out there, I could only apply for the CRSC.

I stumbled on to this by accident back in March.  Actually, the Army sent me info about these programs in the past, and due to my thinking, I didn’t qualify for either, given the words Combat Related.  Consequently, each time I looked into it, I didn’t do anything about it.

In early March that year, I was at the local VA Vet Center that is set up in Spokane to assist veterans with a variety of things.  In addition to support groups, counseling, job hunting etc, it is also staffed with volunteers from the Order of the Purple Heart, VFW, American Legion etc to help with VA Disability claims.  Apparently, the VA puts more credibility into claims from Soldiers who go through and designate someone like the VFW to act in their behalf.

I went in to ask for assistance on finding an address to send a request for an upgrade consideration to the VA Disability system as I couldn’t find one.  Since I’m grounded due to my need to take insulin for my Type II Diabetes which I already had a rating of 10% for due to my VN service and Agent Orange exposure, I decided to ask for an upgrade as I’d been advised that Insulin usage results in a higher rating.

While I was there, getting set up with the VFW counselor, another counselor handed me a form about this CRSC/CRDP program.  I told the gentleman that I didn’t feel I qualified for either given that I didn’t have any “Combat” related issues, just service connected.  He pointed out that there was a section on the form for Agent Orange issues, and given it was March and I had my flight jacket on, the gentlemen said rather forcefully: “Fill out the damn form Colonel”.

Given the rather forceful (and appropriate) advice :-), I applied in early March with the Army at Ft. Knox, and got approval within about 45 days and got my first monthly check on July 1st.  The award letter gave me 10% award for Type II Diabetes based on exposure to Agent Orange and 10% for Tinnitus based on Military Service.  It also said that the award was effective May 2008.

Initially, when I got the money in my checking account from DFAS, I didn’t know if this was a monthly check or the total, so I went to “MyPay” and it was made clear to me that it was a monthly pay.  It also said if any retroactive pay was due, it would be paid in 30 to 60 days.  In August of that year, I received from the Army a check for nearly $18,000.  Not sure how that computes based on the monthly stipend and the retroactive date, but I don’t care.

As of now, this is all I know on this subject.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you are receiving a VA stipend for Service connected disabilities, and your award is less than 50%, I believe that you will find a like amount being deducted from your US Army Retired pay.  I had to sign a waiver of my retired pay, and I thought that the waiver was mandatory to have a VA disability claim.  At least that is what I was told at my Retirement out processing when I signed the waiver form.  However, I know of no one, with a VA rating below 50%, that this isn’t the case for.

Not sure what the military retirement status is of all of the folks on my military email list, so I’ll qualify this note right off the bat so you can discard it if you don’t fall into the following categories:

  • Military Retiree and are entitled to and/or receiving military retired pay;
  • Be rated at least 10 percent by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA;
  • And have waived your VA pay from your retired pay.

I recently applied for, and received, Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) from the US Army, both in the form of a tax free monthly stipend, and a tax free retroactive lump sum payment.

 

 

 

Dedication Ceremony

John Shafer is pleased to report the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot and Crewmember Monument Dedication Ceremony is scheduled on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at 4:00 PM in the Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) Memorial Amphitheater.

That is all the information I have on the dedication.

After Action Report—The Wall that Heals

For several months, preparations were made in Spokane, Washington to coordinate all elements and efforts supporting the Vietnam “The Wall That Heals,” a 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Many organizations assisted the Public Broadcasting Station KSPS to accomplish this event held between August 23-27, 2017 at Mirabeau Park in Spokane Valley.

The wall was escorted by a large contingent of Law Enforcement Motorcycles from the various agencies acting as an honor guard and was met by an equally large contingent of Combat Veteran Riders with American and Military flags.

“The Wall That Heals” was strategically located across the street from the Spokane Vet Center whose clinicians specialize in working with combat Veterans and their families. This placement, along with their Mobile Vet Center located up behind the Wall, was established to ensure clinical support resources were readily available to our local combat Veterans and family members visiting the site.  The Vet Center, the largest in the nation, was staffed 24 hours a day to assist with any support required for Vietnam veterans who might want to avail themselves of their services.

All of this is a lead up to the 10-part historical documentary series, produced by acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns, “The Vietnam War,” being released in September.

The Washington State Chapter of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) was counted among the organizations supporting the event.  Coordination between members of the Chapter, the Olympic Flight Museum and Northwest Helicopters, Inc. was facilitated the static display of the venerable and iconic Huey towed on a custom trailer across the mountains.

The head of the Wall didn’t want the Huey positioned in proximity to the Wall or to the two large trailers housing Vietnam memorabilia as it was thought the presence of the aircraft could be some kind of trigger to a Veteran.

Even with my continued negotiations about that not being an issue, including my personal evidence of over 15 years of flying veterans in Hueys and Cobras with both the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation and the American Huey 369 Organization, I could not convince them to let us park the Huey close to the Wall or the trailers.

Initially, the aircraft was placed across the street at the back of the parking lot by the Spokane Vet Center, but after the first day, we were permitted to move the aircraft closer to the road so that it could be seen more easily by visitors to the Wall and security personnel.  In addition, the PBS station KSPS created signs and put them strategically around the area to ensure people knew where the Huey was located.

We didn’t have the capability to count the people who came to visit the aircraft or know the percentage of the total visitors, but the five of us from the Chapter were kept very busy showing off the aircraft to a large number of visitors.  We supported the Huey at a minimum of nine hours each day for two days until dark.

The visitors, young and old, were all very appreciative of us bringing the Huey to the event, as was the PBS TV station and the Eastern Washington University personnel.  There were many tears shed as aircrew members, medics and grunts remembered their various connections to the helicopter war.

PBS Station KSPS and all their personnel, who arranged for this to happen, and supported by many community businesses and organizations, need to be highly commended for their efforts.  I was extremely impressed by the several KSPS personnel who worked tirelessly all through the event.  Same for the lead individual from Eastern Washington University.

The event, although tied to the more than fifty-eight thousand who died during the war, was specifically tied to the 214 Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho military personnel who didn’t make it back.  Included in that number were nine of my Eastern Washington University (then Eastern Washington State College) ROTC Classmates from the 60s and 70s who lost their lives.  We had bios of all of them on display at our EWU booth with members of that era’s ROTC graduates who manned the booth all day each day.

It was a very tiring five-day event, but based on the comments about the overall event and the presence of the Huey specifically, I’m glad I was able to be a part of the planning and operation of the event.

Jerry P. Mellick
LTC, US Army Aviator
1967 – 1993
Class of 1967, EWSC

Spokane Valley—The Wall that Heals

Wall that Heals UH1 Display in Spokane Valley —Aug 24-27th:

Photographs by Jerry Mellick

The KSPS Public Television Station, along with Eastern Washington University, is sponsoring “The Wall That Heals”, a 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile Education Center, on August 24-27, 2017 at Mirabeau Park in Spokane Valley.  Eastern Washington University has developed three public forums about the Viet Nam War, with the with the first two having been completed. (Click on these links for maps to these locations in Spokane Valley, WA.) Members are encouraged to help man the aircraft to answer questions.

“The Wall That Heals” will be strategically located across the street from the Spokane Vet Center whose clinicians specialize in working with combat Veterans and their families. This placement will help ensure that clinical support resources will be readily available to our local combat Veterans and family members as they visit.  The Vet Center, the largest in the nation will be in operation 24 hours a day to assist with any support required for Viet Nam veterans who might want to avail themselves of their services.

All of this is a lead up to the 10-part historical documentary series, produced by acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns, “The Vietnam War,” in September.

The Washington Chapter is bringing a UH-1 Huey to the event from the Olympia Flight Museum, Olympia, WA area and will have it stationed in close proximately to the Wall.  It will be staffed with VHPA members from both sides of the state.  When the option of having the Huey co-located with the Wall was offered, the sponsoring organizations were extremely happy to have our Huey, being the iconic representation of the Viet Nam War.

During the event, we will be taking pictures and talking to veterans, aviators and others alike, and plan on collecting as many remembrances and stories as possible to provide an article for the Aviator Magazine.

Detailed Schedule for The Wall that Heals:

Mirabeau Meadows at Mirabeau Point Park
13500 Mirabeau Parkway, Spokane Valley

Thursday August 24
Around the clock public viewing, volunteers on-site
9am-10am Opening ceremony  at Mirabeau Meadows – see program
10:30–11:45am Recognition of regional Names of the Fallen– Spokane Veterans Forum volunteers
10am – 4pm FAFB Airmen and Army Soldiers stand guard
10:30 am – 5pm Preview Screenings of Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War  – at Spokane Veterans Center across the street from Mirabeau Meadows
6:00pm Recognition of regional Names of the Fallen– Spokane Veterans Forum volunteers
7:44pm Playing of Taps at sunset
Friday, August 25
Around the clock public viewing, volunteers on-site
9 am – 4pm FAFB Airmen and Army Soldiers stand guard
10am Recognition of regional Names of the Fallen– Spokane Veterans Forum volunteers
10 am – 5pm Preview Screenings of Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War  – at Spokane Veterans Center
4pm-8pm Spokane County Sheriff Explorers provide parking lot assistance
6pm Recognition of regional Names of the Fallen– Spokane Veterans Forum volunteers
7:43pm Playing of Taps at sunset
9 pm – 10pm Zuill Bailey plays cello
Saturday, August 26
Around the clock public viewing, volunteers on-site
9 am – 4 pm FAFB Airmen and Army Soldiers stand guard
10 am Recognition of regional Names of the Fallen– Spokane Veterans Forum volunteers
9 am-noon Preview Screenings of Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War  – at Spokane Veterans Center
10 am – 8 pm Spokane County Sheriff Explorers provide parking lot assistance
6 pm Recognition of regional Names of the Fallen– Spokane Veterans Forum volunteers
7:42 pm Playing of Taps at sunset
8 pm – 9 pm Zuill Bailey plays cello
Sunday, August 27
Until 4:00 pm Continued public viewing with volunteers on-site
9 am – 3 pm FAFB Airmen and Army Soldiers stand guard
10 am Recognition of regional Names of the Fallen– Spokane Veterans Forum volunteers
11 am-noon Zuill Bailey plays cello
11:30 am-3 pm Spokane County Sheriff Explorers provide parking lot assistance
4:00 pm Brief Closing ceremony at The Wall – Playing of Taps
4:30 pm Take-down by FAFB volunteers

Welcome to the new site…

20161105_103418As the webmaster, I would like to welcome you to our newly designed website. Yeah, it’s about time. The original site was developed with technology Microsoft abandoned almost as soon as it was developed in the early’90s. I felt it was important to re-engineer the site so it could be administered by (almost) anyone and hosted by a nationally recognized company who could perform the periodic maintenance and assure uptime when I’m out of town or the country. With the board’s agreement, I’ve chosen WordPress as the hosting company and site development tool.

Depending on the vagarities of life, we’ll be posting stories about the Chapter and individual activities right here. The site will soon have a new home but the same URL. It will no longer be subject to power outages at Bill’s house or his absence.

If you have something to contribute, send it to the webmaster or the current secretary or Chapter President. All content is subject to approval.