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Benefits and eligibility have changed, say VA reps


Local veterans were able to learn about their eligibility for a wide range of benefits during a Q&A forum with representatives from the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Nassau County Veterans Service Agency on Feb. 27. The event was hosted by the Glen Head American Legion.

Legionnaire Carl Ring, of Post 336, said the forum’s purpose was to inform veteran residents about new benefits they may be entitled to. “There’s so many veterans that don’t know what their benefits are, and this is an opportunity for them to find out,” Ring said.

Ring, who is a Korean War Veteran, explained that recent changes in the VA’s eligibility standards have opened the door for veterans who may have been ineligible for certain benefits in the past. “When I went out to get my identification card, I filled out the form and my income, and because of that they said I [was] ineligible for anything,” he said. “Now it seems there are possibilities where I am eligible.”

“Several positive changes have been made over the last several years to improve both the healthcare benefits available to veterans, as well as their access to that care,” said Levi Spellman, a representative from Northport VA’s Public Affairs Office. (see boxes below)

The speakers also discussed a non-service connected benefit, Aid and Attendance, which was once “the most untalked about benefit” among veterans, said Sylinthia Burges, a Nassau County veterans counselor. “This has saved so many veterans and their spouses that couldn’t afford aid out of pocket,” she added.

Veterans who qualify for Aid and Attendance are eligible to obtain free medications, medical equipment, incontinence supplies, glasses and hearing aids from their local VA hospital or clinic via U.S. Mail. Burges added that Aid and Attendance was the only benefit that transfers to a veteran’s spouse in the event of death.

For more information, veterans and family members should call the VA eligibility department at (631) 261-4400, extension x2660.