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News for Seneca County Veterans 

When you call our office - Sarah will normally pick up the telephone.  If she is unable to answer, you will get our voicemail.  We do not answer phone calls when we are working with claimants.  Please understand that we are giving our clients our total attention for the time needed to work their claims.  We will do the same for you when you come into our office.  When you get the voice mail of the staff member you want to speak with, leave a message with your phone number and they will call you back!

You can still file claims for conditions added under the PACT Act.  The period of time to file a claim or an Intent to file and receive benefits based upon an earlier effective date is over.  It ended at midnight on Monday, August 14, 2023.  This office tries to focus on what we can do to help veterans rather than focusing on what we cannot do.  If you receive a future diagnosis of any condition listed under presumptive on the PACT Act please call us.  We will help you file your claim.  

2023 Seneca County Veteran of the Year

Barry Fiske of Tiffin, OH was selected as the 2023 Seneca County Veteran of the Year.  The presentation of his award took place at the AmVets in Tiffin, on November 9, 2023.  A social hour was held at 5:00, dinner will be served at 6:00 followed by a short program.  The program can still be viewed on youtube by looking up Scanner Media.

Ohio War Bonus

Two years ago today — Aug., 30, 2021 — the United States officially ceased its military involvement in Afghanistan. As a result, the Ohio Veterans Bonus program associated with the Afghanistan Conflict, which the Ohio Department of Veterans Services (ODVS) administers, is nearing its completion. 

Through the support of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the State Legislature, a $9.5 million measure was included in the state's recently enacted biennial budget in order to sustain the program, which will sunset in one year. The Office of Budget and Management (OBM) authorized that transfer to our agency.

These funds will ensure that ODVS can make a rigorous final push to pay every eligible veteran — including those who may have been denied payment because of correctable technicalities or other impediments. The money total is based on Department of Defense deployment figures and the number of applicants and payouts that already have been made to Ohio veterans.

The Ohio Veterans Bonus program offers a bonus for those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces after October 7, 2001. Once a veteran has received $500 for service anywhere in the world or $1,000 for service in a designated country, or the maximum $1,500 bonus, the veteran is not eligible for additional funds, even if they served in multiple conflicts. Those service members who completed their deployments in Afghanistan and have not yet applied for the Ohio Veterans Bonus can do so up until Aug. 30, 2024.

Transportation to VA Medical Appointments

This office transports veterans to the VA clinic in Toledo and to the VA Medical Center in Ann Arbor Monday through Friday.  We do ask you to make every effort to schedule your appointments between 9:00 until 1:00.  You must allow 48 working hours in order for office personnel to coordinate your pick up time and allow for communication of details for your trip.  The drivers are on the road daily.  You will need to leave a message for them with the following information, your name, telephone number, date of appointment and time and which clinic it is scheduled for. A driver will call you back before your appointment to coordinate your pick up time.

The Seneca County Veterans office wants an opportunity to investigate the possibility of assisting you with claims filing for free before you pay an attorney.   The Service Officers are VA Accredited Representatives.  Their accreditations are listed on the OGC website.

Ohio War Orphans Scholarship

The Ohio War Orphans Scholarship Program awards tuition assistance to the children of deceased or severely disabled Ohio veterans who served in the armed forces during a period of declared war or conflict.  To receive War Orphans Scholarship benefits, a student must be enrolled for full-time undergraduate study and pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree at an eligible Ohio college or university. Ohio residency is required. Applicants must be under the age of 25.  Scholarship benefits cover a portion of instructional and general fee charges at two and four-year public institutions and a portion of these charges at eligible private colleges and universities.  The application deadline is May 15th of every year. The deadline for the 2023-2025 academic year is May 15, 2024.  A complete application MUST be received or postmarked by May 15th in order to be considered for the scholarship for the 2023-2024 academic year.

National Parks Lifetime Pass

On Veterans Day 2022, the National Park Service will unveil a lifetime pass providing free entrance to national parks for Veterans and their families. The Interagency Military Lifetime Pass waives entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites for current military service members and their dependents, Veterans and Gold Star Families.

Veterans and their families have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle—from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing, camping, and much more.

The Military Pass has been expanded to include a pass that does not expire for Veterans and Gold Star Family members. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2022 authorized a free lifetime pass to national parks and other federal recreational lands for eligible Veterans and Gold Star Families. In recent years, they were able to receive annual passes.

It is recommended you reach out to the National Park office you intend to visit prior to traveling to ensure passes are being issued by that office and follow the instructions given and be sure to verify the documentation to bring with you.

Suspicious online activity

If you receive a suspicious email from the Department of Veterans Affairs, DO NOT open the email or click on any attachments or links. VA does not send emails asking for personal information, threatening emails, or emails claiming to take adverse actions on claimants or beneficiaries (jail or lawsuits). If you receive any of these emails or are in doubt about any communications appearing to be from VA, please contact VA directly at 1 (800) 827-1000.

Phishing is a type of cyber-attack where the attacker sends a message designed to deceive a person and convince them to reveal sensitive information to the attacker. It is the most common means attackers use to gain unauthorized access to a device to obtain sensitive information.

Phishing emails can come from an unfamiliar sender or familiar looking sender with an email address that is off by a few letters. Additionally, phishing emails can include large or “too good to be true” offers or attachments.

The VA takes the security of Veterans seriously.  Always reach out to our office if you have questions about correspondence from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Amendment to Dates of In Country Vietnam Service

SEC. 2001. REVISION OF DEFINITION OF VIETNAM ERA FOR PURPOSES OF THE LAWS ADMINISTERED BY THE SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

Section 101(29)(A) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking “February 28, 1961” and inserting “November 1, 1955”.

For veterans who served in the country of Vietnam during this newly established time period it opens eligibility for VA benefits they may not have been eligible for previously.

Please reach out to this office for direction when dealing with claims issues regarding this change as there are VA laws regulating the application of this change.  

SCAMS

With our daily lives becoming almost completely digital, scammers are working overtime trying to steal your personal information!!  Remember that The Social Security Administration, your banking institution, Unemployment and The Department of Veterans Affairs will all send you information by USPS, or an e-mail you have established with them.  They normally don't call on the phone.  Please be aware of any suspicious inquiries regarding your personal information. 

The Social Security Administration will not suspend your social security number (this example is from an actual call my spouse received twice).

When a real financial institution identifies what it believes are suspicious and unauthorized charges on an account, it will text or email the account-holder and ask them to verify the purchases not call on the telephone! If the account-holder says any of the charges are illegitimate, the old card will be immediately canceled and a new one will be issued.  The financial institution has no need to ask for the CV2 security code on the card because it already has the information.

If a caller from the bank tells you they need the CV2 code to freeze the card, you can bet it's a scam.

If you have doubts, hang up and call your bank, the SSA, or the VA directly!

Flag City Honor Flight

We have received word that Flag City Honor Flight is resuming flights!  Please be sure to submit an application if you would like to travel along with a group of veterans who served just like you to visit the memorials and monuments in your honor.  You may obtain an application online or from our office, just give us a call!

VA Dental Care

In the office we often hear the question "Why can't I receive dental care through the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system?"  This is the answer;  All Veterans are not eligible for dental services per Title 38 United States Code (U.S.C.) §§1710(c), 1712 and Title 38 Code of Federal Regulation (C.F.R.) 17.160 – 17.166. Eligibility includes, Prisoners of War, Veterans rated 100% service-connected disability, or Veterans who received dental injuries due combat or service trauma.  The good news is if you are not eligible, Veterans enrolled in VA health care may purchase dental insurance at a reduced cost through the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP).  Insurance providers include Met-life and Delta Dental.  Contact your clinic to inquire about enrollment.

PREPARE YOUR LOVED ONES

Sometimes difficult conversations are very important to have with your loved ones. No one wants to think about it, let alone discuss it, but helping your loved ones to be better prepared for when you die is one of the most important conversations you can have. Ensure your loved ones know where to locate your discharge papers and any insurance policies you may hold.  Talk about your burial wishes and possibly pre-arrange for your burial.  When the day does come, your loved ones will probably not be thinking clearly and this type of preparation could reduce some of the stress during this time for them.  Also, please be sure to instruct them to contact this office to investigate any benefits they might be eligible for based upon your military service.

Flag Cases

The Seneca County Veteran Service Commission tries to ensure that spouses of deceased veterans of Seneca County receive a flag case for the burial flag. Cases are not provided to other family members, however cases are available for purchase at various merchants in the area.

 MILITARY RETIREES –

Two things going on right now that affect retirees.  First, know that even if you (and/or your spouse) continue working beyond the age of 65, you MUST sign up for Medicare Part B at age 65 or you will lose TRICARE benefits.  TRICARE benefits end at age 65, and you are converted to TRICARE For Life ONLY if you have Medicare Parts A and B.  So, if you want, keep working, but get hold of Social Security and get signed up for Medicare B at age 65.

DONATION SCAMS AGAIN

Not to knock any particular agency or organization - but, be very careful with your donations.  You should NOT be coerced, or subject to forceful solicitation.  You have every right to ask for information regarding their home office locations, points of contact, and annual reports that are required by law and which show where the money has gone.  You are free to donate to whomever you choose - but, you are also free not to donate.  Always do some investigating into how much the intended recipients may receive from your donation and how much will be applied to the "overhead" costs of the non-profit you may be donating to.

Our recommendation would be this - keep your donations LOCAL.  The Seneca County United Veterans Council and Fostoria United Veterans provide funeral details for veterans locally and are funded only by donation and reimbursement. The Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky is another excellent choice for donations, the recreation funds are obtained only from donations, no state monies are used for activities.  You might also consider Flag City Honor Flight.