Monday, September 28, 2009

VA Staffs Office for Survivors of Vets, Service Members

Shinseki: "Voice of Survivors" Will Strengthen Existing Programs

WASHINGTON (Sept. 28, 2009) -- To strengthen the programs of the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the survivors of the nation's
Veterans and military personnel, the Department has staffed an office to
serve as their advocate, with a charter that includes creating or
modifying programs, benefits and services.

"Taking care of survivors is as essential as taking care of our Veterans
and military personnel," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki
said. "By taking care of survivors, we are honoring a commitment made to
our Veterans and military members."

The office serves as the primary advisor to the secretary on all issues
affecting the survivors and dependents of deceased Veterans and service
members. It will monitor VA's delivery of benefits to survivors, make
appropriate referrals to VA offices for survivors seeking benefits and
explore innovative ways of reaching survivors who are not receiving the
VA benefits for which they are eligible.

VA benefits for eligible survivors include educational assistance, home
loan guaranties, health care insurance and Dependency and Indemnity
Compensation, a monthly payment to the survivors of some people who die
on active duty and some seriously disabled Veterans.

More than 554,000 spouses, dependents and other survivors of Veterans
are receiving VA benefits. That figure includes nearly 5,000 spouses of
World War I Veterans, 90 spouses and 94 children of Spanish-American War
Veterans, and two children of Civil War Veterans.

The establishment of this office was authorized in the Veterans Benefits
Improvement Act of 2008.

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