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Service officer's call: April 4

From N.V. Sando

Lake County Veteran's Office 

As I said in a previous column, the availability of, and accessibility to your service documents is critical. I cannot emphasize this point enough. I feel that my most important goal this year is to raise awareness of this issue among Lake County veterans and families. Not much of anything, let alone applying for benefits, can be done without those documents. If there is a problem in your family (as there are in all families) forego hurt feelings and old grudges and make sure that your VA benefits, finances, and property are protected. I urge you to get your documents in order

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Benefits and information in brief:

Were you a Marine or other service member stationed at Camp Le Juene between Jan. 1, 1957 and Dec. 31, 1987? If so, you may have been exposed to water contaminated by suspected volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If you have health issues you think may be caused by contaminated water at Camp Le Juene, contact the Lake County Veterans Service Office.

Veterans receiving compensation or pension benefit must ensure that timely notifications are made to the VA should you die, or there is a change in your marital status (divorce, spouse death.) Preferably, the notification should be in writing, but it can also be made via phone or personal letter to the VA regional office in St. Paul through your POA (VFW, DAV, Am Legion, and Minn. Dept. of Vet Affairs). If your benefits continue to be paid after your death, or if you are still being paid at a “with dependent” rate, an overpayment will occur and must be paid back, if not waivered. It is very difficult to have these debts waived.

The veterans ID card (VIC) system is again operational at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis. All ID cards are done on a walk-in basis at the Urgent Care Clinic, not by appointment. You must be enrolled in the VA health care system. I was advised that new cards are being mailed to existing card holders in April. Call the Veterans Service Office for updates.

Twin Ports Community-based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) contact numbers: Main: (715) 398-2400. Pharmacy Refill Line: 1-855-560-1721. Mental Health: (715) 398-2469. OEF / OIF Coordinators: (715) 398-2408 or (715) 398-2409. DAV Van (to book a ride to Minneapolis VA) (715) 398-2406. VA Hospital - Minneapolis call center: (866) 414-5058, ext 1100, or 612-467-1100, prompt #4.

April scheduled office closures:

Tuesday-Thursday, April 8 –10 Training with Minnesota Dept. of Veterans Affairs and Minnesota Association of County Veterans Service Officers. There will be no Silver Bay office hours on April 9. Call 218-834-8326 for closure updates.

April dates of veteran interest:

April 6 – US enters WWI

April 10 – Bataan Death March, 1942

April 11 – Persian Gulf War Official Cease Fire, 1991

April 13 – Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday

April 15 – TAX DAY!

April 20 – Easter Sunday, display flag

April 25 – Spanish-American War Begins, 1898

April 28 – Holocaust Remembrance Day; Mussolini executed by partisans

April 29 – US forces evacuate Vietnam, 1975

April 30 - Adolph Hitler commits suicide