By Terri Pule, Veteran Services Counselor, Hawai‘i Office of Veteran Services
Aloha Molokai veterans! As a state of Hawai‘i veterans advocate, I will periodically write about current VA news and information that will benefit Molokai veterans.
Starting Jan. 1, 2020, veterans with service-connected disabilities 0-90 percent, Purple Heart recipients and POWs now have access to Commissary, Military Service Exchanges and physical access to military installations. Veterans must have the Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC) to present at facilities and bases. The VHIC is the same card veterans use to check in at VA medical clinics for appointments. The VHIC must show one of the three eligibility requirements or veterans will not be allowed access.
This benefits also allows access to Primary Family Caregivers from the VA healthcare system, but caregivers must have an eligibility letter from VA’s Office of Community Care and an approved picture ID (example: REAL ID driver’s license, a license that has the gold star).
Veterans will be subjected to background checks at military installations and may be denied access even if veterans have eligible criteria based on the outcome of the background check. Veterans may bring a guest who must provide an approved picture ID that verifies identity (example: REAL ID driver’s license, a license that has the gold star).
Visit www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/ for more information.
Molokai veterans seeking to update or acquire a new VHIC must visit the Spark Matsunaga Heath Care clinic on O‘ahu or the Maui Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) for ID picture taking. At the Spark Matsunaga Clinic, veterans may visit Registration on the second floor between Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Before visiting the Maui CBOC, veterans should call first for availability of dates and times.
The VHIC will be mailed to the address in the VA healthcare system and veterans should update their current demographic information before visiting the clinics for ID picture taking. Veterans registering for VA healthcare for the first time will need to bring specific documents and may call 1-800-214-1306 for more information.
Also starting Jan. 1, 2020, Vietnam veterans who served aboard a vessel operating within 12 nautical miles of the Republic of Vietnam are eligible to apply for conditions related to agent orange. Known as the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, Blue Water Vietnam veterans may file disability compensation for agent orange related conditions. VA has sent out notifications to veterans who have been previously denied who must reapply again.
This law also applies to surviving spouses of Blue Water Vietnam veterans who may be entitled to Dependency and Indemnity compensation (DIC) if the Blue Water Vietnam veteran passed away from an Agent Orange related condition.
Veterans may apply directly at the VA or through their advocate. Veterans who don’t have an advocate and are seeking help with the VA claims process may contact Hawai‘i Office of Veteran services at 433-0420 for more information.