Area veterans receive benefits
Submitted by Joe Benson
Post Service Officer
The Kansas Commission on Veteran Affairs (KCVA) is an agency of the state, dedicated to assisting military veterans. Every state and U.S. territory provides similar organizations. KCVA employs veterans, many of whom have service connected disabilities themselves, and provide them with the knowledge and skills to assist veterans, their families or survivors receive their benefits.
Craig Foster is the Regional Representative of KCVA, serving Atchison, Brown, Doniphan, Jackson, Jefferson, Leavenworth and Nemaha counties. Foster first began serving northeast Kansas veterans in October 2017. During the first three years, Foster came to Hiawatha one day each month for two hours, each trip. Local veterans filled most of those time slots, resulting in increasing his visits to twice per month.
During Foster’s tenure, a wide variety of benefits and services have been provided for area veterans. There have been at least four local vets who received hearing aids through the Veterans Administration at no cost. One of them had been informed in the past that, while he was eligible for VA healthcare, his priority rating would be too low to attain services. With Foster’s help, this veteran and his family are pleased with his hearing being improved.
Two other local vets, both of whom may have been perceived as not eligible, received new knees from the Veterans Administration (VA). One was a National Guard soldier but was not deployed to any combat zone. The other was a woman who retired from a career in the Air Force.
Other routine benefits have included signing up for VA healthcare, acquisition of military records and providing military grave markers. In one case, descendants of a Civil War soldier sought a grave marker for him, to make it clear that he served his country. Other kinds of benefits include GI Bill and other educational programs, VA guaranteed home loans, aid and attendance or homebound service, and disability house grants.
Disability compensation is one of the biggest programs benefiting local veterans. Veterans with service connected disabilities receive tax-free payments monthly. Compensation rates range from 10 percent to 100 percent. Collectively, veterans in Brown and Nemaha counties, assisted by Foster, receive about $32,398 per month, resulting in $388,778.76 per year. Other disability claims are awaiting determination by the VA.
Not everyone that comes to check on benefits has been eligible. Less than 10 percent of those who have been to visit Foster were found to be ineligible. All military veterans are encouraged to check for benefits they earned through their service to the country. There is no cost to any veteran to inquire.
Foster comes to Brown County on the second and third Tuesdays each month, and can be seen from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Homer White American Legion Post, 813 Oregon Street in Hiawatha. He visits Nemaha County on the first Tuesday of each month and is available from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Seneca Library, 606 Main Street, in Seneca. No appointment is necessary.