For sailors and marines who operated within 12 miles off the coast of Vietnam from Jan. 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975 and who have one or more of 14 medical issues (google “agent orange presumptive conditions 2019” for the list of medical issues), Public Law 116-23 that was signed into law in June now requires the VA to provide financial compensation. The law goes into effect on Jan. 1 2020. If this applies to you or someone you know, I suggest you contact one of the Veteran Service Officers (American Legion, DAV, VFW, or MBVS) located at Togus, or see me and I will help you with the process. While you are certainly entitled to go directly to the VA to file a claim, it is suggested that you use a Service Officer because they become the veteran’s advocate and insure proper representation to the VA throughout the process. I am biased, so I recommend you use the American Legion (623-5726), but they all provide excellent service.
Maine has approximately 130,000 veterans in the state. Of those, 29,251 are receiving financial compensation for a service-connected medical issue, 26,977 men/2,274 women). In Lincoln County, the numbers are 826 men and 63 women. There are many more veterans in our community that should be receiving compensation but have not applied. I hear often “I don’t feel I deserve to be compensation, it is just a small inconvenience,” or “I don’t want to take money away from others that deserve it more.” While noble, it actually does a disservice to other veterans and future veterans. The point is the country put you in harm’s way, or you were willing to go into harm’s way, and if you experienced a medical issue while in the service, it is the obligation of the country to compensate you for that. It is extremely important that the government understand the true cost of supporting our military. These medical issues don’t have to be a result of combat. My own hearing loss occurred while I was at the Naval Academy. A Coast Guardsman friend of mine, slid into second base while playing baseball when in the service that now is causing knee pains in his retirement, decades later. The message is, if you think you can relate a current medical issue back to your time in the service, you should file a claim. We now have two trained American Legion service officers with Post 36, Ed Harmon and myself. Either one of us can help prepare you to meet with the American Legion service officer at Togus. Call 633-4487 and make an appointment.
Don’t forget the Legion Yard Sale and BBQ on Sept. 14! We have storage capability so if you want to leave your items in the back of the hall, we will check daily and put them in our storage units. Nothing that can’t be carried by two people easily please.
The next breakfast will be Sunday, July 14.