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$12 million spent on Cass veterans

Published 12:22pm Friday, July 19, 2013

CASSOPOLIS — Veterans Administration (VA) expenditures in Cass County during fiscal year 2012 total $12.126 million for 4,592 veterans, Veterans Affairs Director Tom Green reported to the Board of Commissioners July 18.

Berrien County received $46.317 million for 12,911 veterans, Van Buren County $22.224 million for 6,189 veterans.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, there are 23.234 million living veterans, including: 236,358, World War II; 2,018, Philippines; 202,360, Korean Conflict; 1,390,078, Vietnam; 1,389,204, Gulf War; and 667,630, peacetime. The Global War on Terror has been ongoing since October 2001.

Dependents include one Civil War child and 58 Spanish-American children and 46 spouses as of January.

“I probably see two to four veterans each day,” Green said. “I’m writing two to three claims each week and about that same number of health care applications. I’ve got two messages on my phone right now asking for ID cards, thanks to Monica (Kennedy, county clerk/register) and your approval. In less than a month that’s been active, 45 (veterans identification) cards have been issued. It’s really taken off, so I’m excited about that.”

Another aspect of Green’s job is processing appeals if a claim is adjudicated not in favor of a veteran. “It can take a long time, a year to two years,” he said. “Since the beginning of this fiscal year, Oct. 1, through the county relief fund and the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, we’ve allocated $13,500 to veterans with emergency needs.”

Green acquired a scanner so his office is now able to copy documents and to submit all claims electronically.

“If they have all their materials together,” Green said, “it can be at the VA the same day. Getting claims processed takes two to four months. A terrible backlog is still there, but it’s being chipped away at.”

The Affordable Care Act contains countless complex provisions, including reforms to health insurance industry practices, Green said, but nothing in the new law changes anything about veterans’ health care program.

Enrolled veterans may still rely on the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for their health care in the same manner as before.

Beginning in 2014, everyone will be required to have health care coverage, which must meet a minimum standard so everyone will be able to enjoy a basic level of care.

Congress wrote into the law a provision that the veterans’ health care program administered by the VHA meet the health care coverage standard.

Veterans may purchase additional coverage if they wish, but the law does not require them to do so.





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