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Scotty Allison:

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Columns Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

If you have been service-connected for traumatic brain injury (TBI), the Veterans Administration has now made it easier to obtain additional disability pay for five “presumptive” conditions that are associated with TBI. Those ailments are:

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•Parkinson’s disease

•Certain types of dementia

•Depression

•Unprovoked seizures

•Certain diseases of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.

If you are currently suffering from TBI and you have one of these five conditions, remember it is the veteran’s responsibility to apply for any increase in veterans compensation for secondary conditions related to the original disability.

Reduced COLA

As part of the recent budget negotiations, the U.S. House and Senate passed legislation that will reduce the Cost of Living Adjustments for military retirees starting on Jan. 1., 2016. What this means is that military retirees in the future will lose 1 percent of whatever the COLA is set for that year. So, as an example, in 2016, if COLA is set at 1.5 percent, then military retirees will only receive .5 percent. Excluded are retirees who are older than 62. According to one of the sponsors of the bill, “the deal would cut $6 billion from military retirement over 10 years.” Not affected are all the other federal retirees.

Program updates

It looks like as part of the defense bill for 2014 that there will be no increase in TRICARE fees/deductibles/copayments for the coming year. This is somewhat unexpected, as many were anticipating increases in this area.

If you are a veteran and your education benefits have expired and you have not heard about the Minnesota GI Bill, you might want to take a second and read this.

Starting in 2013, the Minnesota GI Bill program offers educational benefits to both undergraduate or graduate students to the tune of $1,000 per semester with part-time students receiving up to $500 per semester.

Those who qualify can receive up to $3,000 per academic year and $10,000 per lifetime. Basic requirements are you must be a Minnesota resident, are younger than 62, and must have served honorably in the military.

If you have not heard about Adult Day Services, here is another reminder. Located here in Bemidji, their primary mission is to provide respite for veteran caregivers. One nice thing is,  depending on the individual situation, their services could be paid for by the VA.

Services they provide include transportation, nutritional meals and snacks, a registered nurse on staff, exercise programs and structured activities and socialization opportunities.

If you are interested in this program, call (218) 751-1324 for more details.

Special thanks to the In Country Vietnam Motorcycle Club, Minnesota II Corps Chapter for presenting a fellow veteran with a $500 check Dec. 16.

This was just in time for the holidays and certainly was most appreciated by the veteran, who as it turns out, is also a Vietnam veteran.

Don’t forget, if you have any questions regarding veteran benefits, please call the County Veterans Service Office at (2180 333-4177/4178.

SCOTTY ALLISON is the Beltrami County Veterans Service Officer.

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