For the first time in a number of years, I recently traveled outside of the United States. As much as I enjoyed my brief trip, I was nonetheless thrilled to return and once again walk on American soil. Being gone for just a few days really opened my eyes as to how truly fortunate we all are to live in this country.
As a nation, we certainly have our share of problems and issues. But at
the end of the day, in my humble opinion, it’s still the best place to
live in the world. And much of what we tend to take for granted was paid
for with the lives of members of our great military.
Lately, there have been numerous reports that the Veterans
Administration is not delivering the care that our nation’s veterans
need and deserve. It appears to me that the problems have very little to
do with a lack of funding. Instead, I believe it’s the layers and
layers of bureaucracy that military personnel and their families have to
wrestle with before they can even get an appointment, let alone receive
the appropriate care.
Pondering this situation got me to thinking about the military from a
financial perspective; specifically benefits. Established in 1930, the
purpose of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is to provide patient
care and federal benefits to veterans and their dependents.
A noble objective, but the Department of Veterans Affairs is, after all,
a bureaucracy. The good news is that they have a toll free number:
800-827-1000. I mention this because I sense that many families don’t
realize that their aging loved ones may be eligible for supplemental
For example, a low-income widow of a WWII veteran whose late husband
served at least 90 days of active duty could be eligible for a pension
as high as $625 per month. To qualify, he or she had to have served at
least one of those days during a period of war.
In other words, if you have a veteran friend or loved one who needs
care, I urge you to buckle up and begin going through the Veterans
Administration forms. Even if you believe there is only a remote
possibility they are eligible for benefits. You have nothing to lose
and, potentially, much to gain.
The other financial aspect of war I’d like to mention is the cost. Wars
are far more expensive than you might think. For example, most history
books show the cost of the war in Viet Nam as $140 billion. However,
many believe when factoring in benefits to Veterans and their survivors,
the true cost exceeds $350 billion.
I recently came across an article that said there is still one survivor
from the Civil War receiving benefits. From the Spanish American War of
1898, there are 16 people receiving benefits, and more than 4,000 from
World War I.
I say good for them and thanks to everyone that served in all of our
country’s wars. I’d also like to remind family members to make certain
veterans receive all the care and benefits they deserve. As much as I
disdain bureaucracy, fighting bureaucratic red tape is a small price to
pay to help veterans and their families receive everything to which they