Veterans earn financial benefits for their service

This was originally published on Monday, November 10, 2014, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. Thank you to all that serve to protect our freedom! According to the 2010 United States Census, one out of 20 Guam residents are veterans. Guam has the highest number of veterans per capita. Serving in the military is not an easy job by far, but service to our country does have some benefits.

A friend provided me the following information.

Most veteran benefits can be found at the Department of Veterans Affairs website, http://www.va.gov. There are a broad range of benefits that are offered to veterans and to their family members. Veterans and their families can use their benefits to help with education, housing, health and even financial assistance.

The VA states that a Veteran is a “person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”

To receive benefits, a veteran must demonstrate their eligibility and entitlement to the benefit they want to utilize. Eligibility of benefits is determined by length of active service and discharge status. Active duty members are not the only ones who can receive benefits; those who served during a time of war, in the National Guard and as reservists, and some civilian groups, also are eligible.

Many think they have to be retired to be eligible for benefits. Many programs assist retirees, but there are some benefits that are available to those currently serving. To find out if you are eligible for benefits, go to the VA website

Education and training: This includes the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Under the GI Bill, you can transfer education benefits to a spouse and/or dependents. It also includes entrepreneurship training, licensing and certification reimbursement, vocational/technical training and much more. Utilizing this benefit could entitle you to a monthly housing allowance and have your books and tuition paid for.

• Vocational rehabilitation and employment: Some of the benefits include assistance with resume development, job seeking skills, transition to civilian employment, employment counseling, finding a job, on-the-job training, apprenticeships and independent living services for veterans who are unable to work due to severe disabilities.

• Home loans: The VA can help veterans and their eligible serving spouses purchase or build a home, make home repairs, keep a home in time of financial hardship or modify a home to meet personal needs.

• Life insurance: Veterans and their family members may be eligible for low-cost life insurance. When on active duty, service members are eligible for the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI). Once separated from the military, a veteran may be eligible for Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI). This insurance program can convert the service member’s SGLI to VGLI. Disabled veterans may be eligible for other life insurance policies.

• Pension: Veterans and their family members may receive supplemental income through the VA’s pension programs when they are faced with financial hardship. This benefit helps those that are housebound or those requiring the assistance of an attendant.

• Burial benefits: As a veteran, you, your spouse and dependents may be eligible for burial benefits. This includes being buried at a national cemetery, a headstone or grave marker, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a burial flag at no cost to family members. If buried or inurned in a national cemetery, perpetual care also is included at no cost to the family.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.

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