Veterans Corner: State VA sets up hotline for veterans
In light of the recent VA scandals, the N.C. Department of Veterans Affairs has started a new hotline for veterans.
“Hundreds of thousands of veterans have received care from dedicated (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) employees at medical facilities in North Carolina,” said N.C. VA Director Ilario Pantano. “Our goal, first and foremost, is to care for our North Carolina veterans, and as their advocate, I want to help the U.S. VA get back on track.”
The hotline was set-up after the N.C. VA received specific allegations of misconduct at U.S. VA medical facilities in North Carolina. After conducting interviews, the allegations were found credible and referred to the appropriate U.S. VA authority.
“Our goal with the Vet Tip Hotline is to be constructive, systematic and transparent,” said Pantano. “We are not looking for scapegoats but rather solutions to get our veterans the care they deserve.”
The hotline is manned 24 hours a day and will provide a resource for veterans to confidentially report alleged misconduct within the Veterans Administration Hospital System.
The Vet Tip Hotline, via (844)-NC4-Vets or VetTips@DOA.NC.GOV, will connect you directly to N.C. VA executive staff. Tips will be referred to appropriate authorities within the U.S. VA for investigation.
Bill would increase compensation
On May 21, Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) introduced H.R. 4741, the Surviving Spouses Benefits Improvement Act. The bill would increase Dependency Indemnity Compensation payments a surviving spouse receives from the VA when a servicemember or veteran dies from a service-connected cause.
Under current law, an eligible surviving spouse receives $1,233 per month. The amount is based off 43 percent of the basic compensation for a veteran with a 100 percent disability rating. The legislation increases that percentage to 55 percent, consistent with other federal employee programs. If enacted, the new rate would be $1,572 per month.
The bill would exempt the increase in Dependency Indemnity Compensation payments from the unfair offset for survivors eligible to receive both that compensation and a Department of Defense Survivor’s Benefit Plan annuity.
New car discounts for veterans
Nearly 8,000 U.S. military veterans have purchased a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac by taking advantage of General Motors’ enhanced Military Discount Program, which runs through June 30. All active-duty military, reservists, retirees and veterans — regardless of separation date — are eligible.
The military discount can be combined with most current customer incentives, which vary by region. USAA members are eligible for an additional $750 discount. Eligible buyers must take delivery by June 30.
For more information about any of these items, contact the Rowan County Veterans Service Office at 704-216-8138 or go online to www.rowancountyveterans.com
Rick Johnson is Rowan County veterans services officer.