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Scotty Allison: More than 3,100 veterans in Beltrami County

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Scotty Allison: More than 3,100 veterans in Beltrami County
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

According to the Veterans Administration's data from 2013, there are 3,155 veterans living in Beltrami County. This is a decrease of 57 veterans from 2012. Most significant, $26.1 million was provided in education, medical care, and compensation/pension benefits in 2013 to our county veterans. This is an increase of $3.2 million from the previous year.

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Same-sex marriages are now recognized by the VA. This means that veterans' benefits that applied to opposite-sex partners of veterans are now available to same-sex partners of veterans. A recent VA press release describes it best this way "The VA will aim to apply the same level of scrutiny to all Veterans' marriages, regardless of whether it is a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage. VA will therefore process claims and applications involving same-sex marriage in the same manner that VA processes claims based on opposite-sex marriage without any additional scrutiny or development." As of Aug. 1, Minnesota officially recognized same-sex marriages within the state as well as those marriages that occurred in other states. Bottom line is that you need to apply for any benefits that you may be entitled to.

Military retirees should be aware of two programs that were created by Congress to allow eligible military retirees to receive monthly entitlements in addition to retired pay. These are the Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay (CRDP) programs.

CRDP or "concurrent receipt" as it is commonly referred to is a restoration of retired pay for retirees with service-connected disabilities. Currently if you are rated 50 percent or above service-connected by the VA, you will be entitled to both VA compensation and military retirement. If you are eligible for concurrent receipt, there is nothing you have to do as you will receive it automatically.

CRSC is a special compensation for combat-related disabilities and it only affects your military retirement pay. How it works is you first must apply for CRSC to your branch of service. They determine how much of your disabilities are solely related to combat. This can range from 0 to 100 percent. Depending on the percentage, you may be able to receive 100 percent of your retirement as non-taxable income as well as receiving VA compensation.

The daughter of a deceased veteran has some land in Bemidji she wishes to donate to a veteran. This is at the request of her late father. The only stipulation is that the veteran build a house on this land that he/she will live in. If anyone is interested please call me for more details.

The Beltrami County Veterans Service Office will be at the Beltrami County Fair from July 30-Aug. 4. Please stop by and see us if you have any questions or just want to visit.

Remember the Veterans "Standdown," which will be held 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 24 at the National Guard Armory in Bemidji. If you are a veteran/family member, please stop

by.

Don't forget if you have any questions regarding veterans' benefits, please call the County

Veterans Service Office at (218) 333-4177/4178.

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