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Scotty Allison: Some veterans to see payment change starting Friday

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columns Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

There have recently been several articles in the paper discussing the need for a veterans home here in Bemidji and more importantly in our part of beautiful Northwest Minnesota.

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This discussion goes back a number of years; however, there is now movement to make this a reality. Currently, the Veterans Home Task Force is gathering information to present to state leaders that the best location, if another veterans home is to be built in the state of Minnesota, is in Bemidji.

When we talk about a veterans home, people typically think about a long-term care facility for residents. It does include this, but the vision of the task force regarding the home is much more expansive.

What they envision is a facility providing a continuum of skilled nursing services, assisted living, independent living, rehabilitative care, a variety of outpatient care services to include adult day care, home assistance, and both enhanced medical and mental health care. Bottom line is the idea that our veteran’s home will be a center of excellence for all of the veterans in our part of Minnesota.

payment change

A heads up to all veterans out there regarding financial compensation you receive from the Veterans Administration.

The VA has made a decision to stop issuing paper checks, a policy taking effect Friday, March 1, 2013. The VA strongly encourages veterans who are now receiving their benefits in paper checks to set up direct deposit before the deadline.

Anyone already receiving federal benefit payments electronically will be unaffected. Along with payments for VA benefits, the change will also affect recipients of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement Board, and the Office of Personnel Management.

Veterans who do not choose an electronic payment option by March 1, 2013 will receive their payments via the Direct Express® card, so they will not experience any interruption in payment.

Those who prefer the card can sign up by calling toll-free (800) 333-1795, signing up online at www.GoDirect.org, or by contacting their local federal benefit agency office. No bank account or credit check is required to sign up for the card.

new support group

The local Bemidji VA clinic is planning to start a modern era/OIF/OEF support group in the near future. The program’s intention is to provide peer-to-peer group interaction and will be similar to Vietnam support groups that have proven so successful throughout the years.

More information will be provided on this in the near future.

insurance

I have been asked several times about veterans insurance.

Basics about the program are if you are a veteran who was discharged under other than dishonorable conditions and have a service-connected disability but are basically in good health you may be eligible for life insurance coverage under the Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI) program.

Applications must be submitted within two years from the date of being notified of the approval of a new service-connected disability.

Totally disabled veterans may apply for a waiver of premiums on the first $10,000 of insurance if they meet certain requirements.

If you have any questions regarding veteran benefits, please call the Beltrami County Veterans Service Office at (218) 333-4177/4178.

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SCOTTY ALLISON is the Beltrami County Veterans Service Officer.

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