Maine State Forum: Accessing your VA Benefts, What you need to know

Maine State Forum: Accessing your VA Benefts, What you need to know


>>Well, good evening. Welcome to the University of Maine at Augusta and the fifth in a series of six lectures at the Maine State Forum. Our final forum will be held on Wednesday, April 25th at 6 p.m. here in the Jewett Auditorium. We will continue this series in September after our summer break. My name is Dr. Brenda McAleer. I am the Associate Provost and the Dean of the College of Professional Studies here at UMA and I am also the Interim Dean of University College which has centers centered throughout the state. It is our hope as the only public university in the state capital that we can provide an opportunity for the UMA community and the community at large to connect with researchers and policy makers whose important work affects our lives here in Maine. I want to thank you all for coming out tonight to participate in our special forum on accessing VA benefits. The Maine State Forum is supported by a presidential research and innovation grant that was awarded here at the University of Maine at Augusta. The series is coordinated by Mary Louise Davitt, a professor of Justice Studies on our Bangor campus who is sitting in our audience. And Assistant Professor Sharon McMahon Sawyer of the Justice Studies Program and she is located here on the Augusta campus. She is also in the audience. I want to thank Paul Philbrick who is my man in the booth up there. He is managing the technical production of this presentation and recording it for future viewing for those who were not able to be with us tonight. Tonight as you can see, we have a very distinguished panel of speakers including– raise your hand when I call your names– Jim Doherty who is the Public Affairs Officer for Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn. Joleen Liley, who also is a program manager of OEF, OIF, OND, so I hope you’re paying attention to what I said for Jim. Nancy Laffin who is the Outreach Manager at the Vet Center in Lewiston. LaRhonda Harris, Patrick Crowley, Outreach Manager at the Veterans Benefits Administration. Jim Christie, standing in the back, he is the Community Outreach Specialist at the Veterans Health Administration. And I will add a 2,017 UMA graduate and distinguished scholar awarded at graduation. [Applause] And we have our very own Amy Line who is the Director of Military and Veterans’ Services at the University of Maine at Augusta. After the panel presentation, there will be a question and answer period. I will be getting that mic from the stand there and as you raise your hand, I will bring the mic to you so you can ask your question. I do ask that you wait until I bring the mic to you as were are recording this and Paul will not be able to hear comments that are not said without a microphone. I will at near 7:30 when it’s at the end of the time we have scheduled allow for one more question, because I’m very mindful that our panelists have taken time out of their busy lives to be with us and we asked them from 6:00 to 7:30. So we’ll hold that deadline if we can. Please join me in thanking our panelists and all the veterans in attendance for their service to our country. [ Applause ]>>Who goes first?>>Can you all hear me? OK. So, I just want to clear up something. A lot of times people confuse me for Tom Cruise when he was younger. Well, I’m not. So I just want to go ahead and clear that up. I am Jim Dorothy. I work at Togus and I want to thank you all for your service and for taking time to come out tonight. Hopefully this will be beneficial for you. So some of these you may already know but what I want to do is explain the way VA is broken. It’s a big organization. There’s three parts of VA, three main parts of VA. There’s National Cemetery Administration. If you’re here tonight, you’re particularly interested in that. And then there’s the Health Administration. That’s what I do. So that’s all health care. And then there’s Veterans Benefits Administration. And what that is, is that’s all VA benefits that are not health care itself. Disability, home loans, pension, compensation, education, and all that, Patrick will be talking to that later. But the reason I say that is because a lot of times people when they’re calling VA or they’re talking VA, they don’t understand that there’s three– those three separate parts. The two parts that we are working with we work together but sometimes it’s a little bit parallel, OK? So, one of first things I’ll talk about is enrollment and eligibility. So anybody who is deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, they have five years from the time that they come back to go ahead like for the Guard or the Reserves because they’re discharged at that point and they go back to a drill status. They’ve got five years to enroll and automatically they’re eligible. After the five years, then it would depend upon some different criteria that they’ll all be bringing up. But then for the folks that came back and they’re still active duty, they have five years from date of discharge to go ahead enroll and VA not have to meet any of the criteria. One other thing is once you enroll and get VA, you’re in it for the rest of your life. You don’t drop out, stuff like that. Whether uses or not, you may go inactive but you’ll always be in the system and you can turn on the benefits at any time that you want to. So, do we have any Vietnam veterans here? OK [applause]. So what we’re going to be having on tomorrow is over at Togus we’re going to be having our 50th anniversary, Vietnam 50th anniversary. And we’re doing it each year that the Vietnam War was on. This year we’re focused on 1968 but it’s for all veterans. And I encourage you to come over. It’s going to be 10 o’clock tomorrow in the theater. We’ve got some commemorative pins for you and I’d appreciate if you have the opportunity to come. If you came to it before, you can come to it again. We’d be more than happy to have you come again. So, out of those Vietnam veterans, how many are enrolled with VA health care? Could you raise your hand? OK. Is there anybody that is– OK, one of the things is if you were boots on the ground in Vietnam, you know, you are automatically eligible for enrollment with VA because we assume that you may have been exposed to Agent Orange. So you don’t have to meet these other criteria that I’ll be talking about. You’re automatically eligible. And so, when you apply, go ahead and make sure that you put on there on the top like the enrollment form put like a Vietnam Agent Orange and stuff like that and you’ll be all set. OK. So, otherwise, what it is, is you to have two years of continuous active duty, OK? If you were in prior to 1980 and I think some of you probably were, myself included, there were different criteria back then. But then the other thing you have to have is you have to have a good discharge. And if you’re not service connected, then there’s an income limit and it’s a family income limit. And it depends on– instead of me getting into it, it depends on where you live. Different parts of the state, you know, depend upon cost of living and all have different amounts for what you can do. But I encourage people to apply anyway. So, here’s what happens. Once you go ahead and you get enrolled with VA health care, you can get all of care through VA. There’s only different criteria. There’s only two things that have restrictions on it. So, one is for long-term care, that’s nursing home care, not assisted living. Nursing home care, you have to be 70% service connected or more, and for dental you have to be 100%. Other than that, you can get everything. You can get from, you know, primary care up to heart transplants and that’s all covered by the VA within the VA. The thing to keep in mind is VA is not health insurance. VA is health care services. The difference in that is when you have insurance, you go where you want to go and you send the bill to your insurance company. That’s not the way it works. The way it works with VAs, you have to come to us for the services. If we don’t have the services or we don’t in a timely manner, we’ll go ahead and we’ll fee you out, we’ll send you out. We may send you to Boston. We’ve got a number of VA hospitals down there. We take care of all transportation down and then back [inaudible] and all or we may go ahead and do it in local community. It just depends on what you need and your condition. So, at Togus itself, we have all specialty care. We do everything there. We have all the [inaudible] there. The only thing that we don’t do is invasive cardiac procedures. We do cardiology and all but we don’t do enough of that that it’d be something that we would choose to do. One of the other things we don’t do, we don’t do maternity and LaRhonda will go ahead and speak to that. But you can get everything there. Once you get assigned primary care provider, primary care provider is the gateway to all of the specialty care at Togus. And in some places we have some limited outpatient specialty care. Like up in Bangor, we have x-ray, we have ultrasound, we have physical therapy, we have audiology, we have dental, we optometry, different types of things are there. And we’ve got some stuff down in our Portland clinic as well. So in addition to Togus, we have– and Jim’s got some books back. We have eight full-time clinics located around the state with Bangor, Calais Caribou, Rumford, Saco, Portland, Lewiston– Did I miss one? No. OK. And then we’ve got three part-time ones. Bingham, Houlton, and Fort Kent. So we really cover the state pretty well. So, you go ahead, you come in, you get to see your primary care provider. If you needed any consults, specialty care, they’ll go ahead and they’ll do that. So what is the cost– This will be an interactive part. How much is the cost to enroll in VA? Anybody?>>Zero.>>Nothing.>>Zero? Is zero a good price? Shake your head yes. Vigorously yes. OK. And how much is the annual fee to be in VA?>>Nothing.>>Zero.>>There is. OK. You may have a copay and a lot of it depends on what’s your service connection is. So let’s say somebody is service connected and that they’ve hurt their knee. OK, you never pay anything for care that’s associated with service-connected condition. So if you hurt your knee while you’re in a service and then the benefit side, Patrick’s folks go ahead and adjudicate it and say, yes, you’re service-connected for that. And what would happen is if you came in and saw your primary care provider and the main reason you came in that day was problem with your knee and all, there wouldn’t be any copay. If you– they said once you go get some x-rays, that’s our CAT scan, that’s all taken care of. And then if they say before we do anything more aggressive, let’s try some physical therapy, that’s taken care of. You know, NFA put you on some meds to try and relieve swelling or pain or anything like that, that’s taken care of. If you needed a knee replacement, that would be taken care of. Anything that’s service-connected you never have a copay for anything, OK? Once you hit 50% service connection, there’s no copays for anything. You know, no matter what you have, there’s no copays for that. So the copays themselves, primary care is $15 a day to see your primary care provider. The reason I say is a day, you may come in and see your primary care provider, go get some lab work or go get an x-ray and then, what do you call it, they’ll go ahead and come back, it’s 15 bucks. Specialty care is $50 a day. And again, if you see two or three different types of specialists, you’re fine. So, one of the other things I’ll be around to talk about this afterwards, we’ve got other people that need to address this with you. But here’s one thing. A lot of folks in here are probably on Medicare or coming up on being eligible for Medicare. So, you can use VA, you can use Medicare, and if you got insurance you could pick and choose whatever you want. You can use all three of them and, you know, add it, you know, one at a time. But here’s the thing about Medicare and insurance. They pay for like a hearing exam and they pay for an eye exam but they don’t pay for the glasses and they don’t pay for the hearing aids. And if you’ve priced hearing aids, hearing aids running 5, 6, $7,000 a pair. If you go ahead and get them from us, if you’re service-connected, remember, you don’t have any copay. If you did have copay, the hearing– the fitting, the testing, the hearing aids, and then six months of batteries at a time we give you, you go to two batteries every five days. OK, $50. OK. You can’t get a better deal than that. They’re the digital hearing aids that are going for out of town 6,000, $7,000 and all. So that is really a tremendous benefit. The other thing too is we’ve got electronic medical records, wherever you go across the country, you can go ahead and go into an emergency room, the VA emergency room, anywhere, and they could pull up your records. If you’re transferring, if you’re moving to another part of the country or something like that, it’s no problem, electronic medical records, they can see all that, they just assume control of electronic medical records. I encourage people to go ahead and see if you’re eligible, apply for it now, because what happens is it– you see some of the things that are going on down in DC that may be changes in eligibility, we don’t know. And what I tell people is go ahead and get it. You can never have too much health care coverage. So, also if you have this, it takes care of the Affordable Care Act, the provision that you have to have that, or pay a penalty. This takes care of that. So, that’s basically what I have and I’ll be hanging around afterwards and I do appreciate you all coming out tonight and I want to thank you for your service. And if you get a chance to come on over tomorrow, we’re going to have a cake there and I will make sure you get a big piece of it. OK, thank you [applause].>>OK. OK. I didn’t know about that cake thing. And now that’s just going to get me through, I have to tell you that, is cake available? So, my name is Joleen Liley. I am the OEF, OIF program manager. Our team takes care of veterans, transitions their care from the Department Of Defense into the VA health care system. And all veterans who served post-9/11 are eligible for that. So, that’s actually pretty large group now, somewhat unfortunately. So, however saying that, we actually technically cover Desert Storm and Desert Shield, which was before that. So, that would just be too much put on the sign, transitional care management, OEF, OIF, post-9/11, except if you’re in Desert Shield, Desert Storm. So, just– we do cover that as well. And I will– my transitional patient advocate who works on my team always hates when I say this. But the truth is we actually don’t really say no to any veteran. So if you call the VA and you want some health finding which you qualify for or if you want a social worker to take a look at your chart and your benefits and say, hey, have you thought about this, we will happily do that for you. So, I am the daughter of a Vietnam veteran so I got a soft spot for that. So, you can feel free to use it, abuse it all you want if you want to come in. So that being said, I can tell you we have just over 5,000 OEF, OIF veterans in this state. Maine is a really robust state for our veterans. Also we have a very active air in Army National Guard. That’s something actually that the VA does not ignore at all and there’s this quite a close relationship with those folks. Our team is actually the liaison over the National Guard. We bring Jim in when he gets they key. So actually there are two days a week to meet with this service member before they get– before they– for some folks, it’s easier to meet with the VA rep or someone when you’re still in uniform. And young– I don’t want to do it, it feels like it’s complicated, it feels like it’s stressful, we’re also talking about a little bit about millennial issue where if you can’t buy it on Amazon in a couple of clicks, you don’t really need it. And by the way, we support that because if you can’t buy on Amazon, you don’t need it. You can’t buy it in Amazon, you don’t need it. But it’s a mentality. So we really try to meet people halfway to answer some questions, OK, and try to be a one-stop shop. Some of the things that we’re looking when we bring people in, either it’s from the National Guard, the Air Guard, the Army Guard side, or from the military treatment facility at Fort Bragg or Walter Reed. To people who have gotten out of the military, they weren’t transitioned through us, they just were kind of given their DD 214 and said thank you for your service but they had some issues and they were discharged and sent home. This actually happens a lot with some branches more than others and some branches are a little better about this transitioning process than others. They have better systems in place. They’re also better staffed. It really is– It’s varying. Sometimes we have veterans who just walk in our front door and say, hey, they told me to show up here, OK? And I wish I’d known them about them way before they arrived, OK, because of some of things that we’re seeing. So there’s a lot of things that we’re looking at, at our veterans today. We’re looking at a lot of mental health issues. Now, I am a clinical social worker, our team is clinical social workers, so it’s– we are looking at that mental health component, quite a bit looking at for depression and anxiety, posttraumatic stress symptoms, combat operational stress depending on how close you are to your service time. We’re looking at primary care access issues, what specialty care looks like. Polytrauma issues, you need additional screening for traumatic brain injury, OK? Someone comes in and says, well, you know, yeah, I was unconscious a couple times. It couldn’t have been that bad but I have a hard time with some word formation now, OK? We really want a larger screening to find out what’s going on about that, how we do some neuropsychological testing, so we’re looking at that too. Other things that we’re looking at too are more involved in what’s going on for their families, are they having any legal issues, OK? Is there divorce going on? What’s going on with their kids? Sometimes people leave again very robust bases, where there’s a lot of family services and they’ve returned home or to a small community in Maine and there’s not a lot there. And so the families are going through quite an adjustment too. And although the VA does not treat the family, we certainly can connect them with some of our community partners who might be able to offer them some more support, OK? So– And also we’re screening for things that probably seemed a little random, like toxic and bed fragments, [inaudible]. There’s an interesting urine test you should do, by the way, even this huge box frightens veterans, you bring it out actually. Animal bites. There is a plethora of rabies exposures from dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan, OK? So we’re looking at some of those things as well as making people really aware of what their benefits are. I think one of the things that’s most unique– so we have a lot of Vietnam veterans in the audience right now– is post-9/11 care really came out as a result of the push from the Vietnam veterans population who said, listen, we have these young men and women going to war and they need to come back in a different way. And that on a national movement, that really was part of those decisions. And so now what happens, by the way, with the Air and the Army National Guard, before you even deploy, you’re going to meet with the VA. Before you even leave, because this is who I am, this is what you’re going to qualify for, I will meet you, I will meet your parents, I meet with anybody who wants to, OK? And then I will meet with you at 30, 60, and 90 days post-appointment in the Air and Army National Guard. So the time you’re back 90 days, you’ve seen me four times, OK? And if you say, “I don’t remember you,” then I want to screen you for a TBI, actually. So those are the– some of the things that we’re really doing very, very differently now, OK. And we’re encouraging veterans to file for their service connections early instead of waiting. And I’m going to actually pass this onto LaRhonda who is our women’s veterans coordinator, so because we have a lot more women veterans now which is actually wonderful and it’s pretty incredible. But I will say one last thing is that we do hear a lot from our younger veterans, “I don’t know if I want to come to the VA because I feel like if I’m coming to the VA, I’m taking away something from my other brothers and sisters who served.” And what we really try to put out there is like, please, let me help you understand what a wrong thought that is, OK. Because the more veterans who use the VA system, the better those services get, the more funding that service get. So in fact, isn’t take much to treat you if you’re coming in for a yearly physical. We can do more for your brothers and sisters if you come in. So we really try to dispel that, OK, that you can serve by actually taking care of yourself too, OK? They wouldn’t want that and we don’t want that. So I just– I’d like to kind of end on that, because we really try to put that forward, OK? And I will be here of course after questioning as well. Thanks [applause].>>OK. So my name is LaRhonda Harris. And I wasn’t on the agenda but I’m sitting in the middle so I’m going to take five minutes. So do I– do we have any female veterans in the audience? Oh, thank you for your service. Thank you. So, I’m not going to go into great detail but we are a health care system. So therefore, we take care of everything, OK? So once again, we may do that in-house, so we may fee-service that in the community. So we do provide maternity care. No, we do not do that at Togus. Thank goodness. We do that in the community. Demography is also done in the community. We have about 2,800 women that use VA Maine health care system, from Calais all the way down to Saco. We would not want them to drive to Togus for a mammogram, so you can have that done in the community. Since this– women specific gender care can be done at the local clinics. They do not have to drive to Togus. About 10 years ago– well actually, eight years ago when I came into this position, women were having to come to Togus to get gender-specific care. You do not need to do that. That’s something a primary care doctor that’s trained in women’s health can do that at the local Seabox community-based clinics. So I’ve worked very closely with our primary care team to make sure we had somebody trained in the Seabox. Culture change at the VA is different too. We are seeing a lot more women but still only about 7% of our women– VA population are women, so we are still a minority. But privacy, security, and dignity, is a real big push for women’s health services. So Togus went through some changes in 2010, all of our rooms are inpatient unit, our private and semi private now. So what that meant when I was working in the hospital, if a woman veteran needed to be admitted, she would probably have to be transferred to MainGeneral, not very welcoming. And it’s not because we didn’t want to take care of her, but our facility had group showers, group bathrooms, and group rooms, you know, like when you’re in an active duty, six veterans in one room, just didn’t really– women just didn’t like that, I don’t know why. But I also don’t think our male veterans like that. You know, when you’re sick, you don’t want to be in a group room. So privacy has been a real big thing for women’s health. So we’re lucky at Togus, we have a woman’s health clinic, that’s a primary care clinic. We have set-up for privacy. There’s really strict environment [inaudible] for all veterans, not just women. So you’re going to see that being pushed out. What else can I say? About 14% of the active duty are women now. Eighteen percent of our National Guard are women. So we have to respond to that. Culture change is a hard thing. I always say it takes a couple of generations, a couple of decades. We’ll be around for another 10 years, so hopefully we’re going to see some more changing. We want to make sure our women are welcome at the VA. And I encourage our women to report if they’re not treated properly at the VA. So I’m going to cut it there and I’m going to hang around. So if anybody would like to talk to me, I’m more than willing to answer some questions. Thank you for your service. And I’ll be around for cakes tomorrow too [applause].>>Both flavors.>>Both flavors?>>Yeah.>>Good evening, everyone. My name is Patrick Crowley. And I work for Julie Carie who is the director of the benefits office at Togus. Retired from the Air Force, joined the benefits office in 2010. And as Jim alluded to earlier, there’s three components, there’s the hospital which we’re mostly familiar with, the benefit administration, and then the cemetery administration. So big picture, what the benefit administration does is, pretty much everything except medical care. Medical care and burials is the only two things we don’t do. What does that leave? That leaves things like home loans. Does anybody in here who got a VA home loan? I have as well. Things like educational benefits, GI bills, et cetera. Life insurance for service-connected veterans. And the business line that I am working here at the Togus office is service connection. That’s the big thing that we focus on. The other issue we have is vocational rehabilitation, is also taken care of at Togus. And that’s run by a gentleman named Jeff Jones who if you have met him, you know that he’s gold. He said a lot of really, really good things for veterans. And our veteran’s service center manager is Jennifer Bover, former marine and she is in charge for about 180 folks who do nothing but promulgate and rate claims for our veterans. So, just in a nutshell, what is service connection? Service connection is basically defined as anything that occurred or was aggravated by military service. Obviously people who were deployed, that sort of most people can wrap their head around that. But it’s basically anything that occurred in service. So if you’re a full time active duty member and you’re playing basketball on a weekend and you break your wrist. That is certainly a service-connected disability. So what we do is we assist our veterans apply for their service-connected disabilities. And they can do that through a variety of ways everything from online. You can go directly online and fill out a claim. You are certainly most welcome to come directly to our offices at the public contact, which is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:00. No appointment necessary and we don’t take appointments. The average wait time in our public contact is about five to eight minutes and we do track that. So that’s an opportunity for you to come in. And from the very beginning to the end, let us assist you with those forms. And you also have another significant avenue and that is working through any of the veteran service organizations. And we have very close contacts with our veteran service organizations. Frankly we couldn’t do our jobs without them. So, that is another very important way for you to access our system. The key to service connection for our veterans is if we are able to service-connect you for something that occurred or was aggravated because of your military service, that is your free card to get your health care over at the VHA. So that’s really important. We take that disability and once we’ve rate it, we give it a number, we either deny if we must and we have to explain to you why we denied that disability claim and give you appeal rights, et cetera. And if we grant the claim, we’ll give you a number between 0 and 100. And basically that lets you know what compensable level we have rated that claim. So in addition to getting the health care for that service-connected disability, the percentage will tell you how much compensation the VA would be paying that veteran for that disability. So for us we have about– represent about 202 employees over there. And we have veteran service representatives that help process the claim. They help develop it, get your military records, your treatment records, and pass that on to a rater who will actually rate that claim against, you know, the standard of the law. And then our post-development VSRs will actually send you notification letters, your rating decisions, and also start any payments that may be connected to that service-connected disability. The key thing with us as far as service connection is it is a benefit you must apply for. So, as much education as we do, I cannot tell you how many times we talk to people who, “I’m going to do it tomorrow, I’m going to do it in six months, I’ll see you next summer,” and they simply don’t come to us. And we really, really implore you to make that a priority. We cannot reclaim that someone doesn’t turn in to us. We’re happy to help you fill out the claim, answer any questions that you have, but we really need your signature to say, yes, I would like to file for that need. And one of things we always remind folks is that that slight knee issue that they have when they are 18, 19, and 20 is not going to feel the same when they are 32, 42, or 52. So we’d like to get that as early as possible so that you can get the care to take care of that and maybe that knee won’t nearly be as bad when you’re 62 as it would’ve been if you never filed a claim and maybe you were in a position to properly take care of yourself. So, we’re proud to that. I’m going to stick around as well and answer any questions. Genuinely, thank you for you service and your attendance tonight. It just gives us another opportunity to get the word out and hopefully, multiply it so that when you go home, you can encourage other veterans to apply for their benefits as well. Thank you very much [applause].>>Hi. My name is Nancy Laffin. I work at the Lewiston Vet Center. Is that better? OK. Again, like Joleen touched on, the Vietnam veterans is the reason why the Vet Center exist. After Vietnam, the veterans were getting into groups and doing peer-facilitated treatments with each other. And Congress saw and said, wow, what a great idea, and it was really working for a lot of veterans. So, in 1979, Congress passed legislation to actually have vet centers be part of the VA but we’re separate. So what that means is we fall under the VHA but we’re funded differently and we have the different records system. So, when Joleen was working with the veteran, she can’t see whether or not they’re at the vet centers with us but we can see if she’s working with Joleen [inaudible] confidentiality thing. [ Inaudible and Laughter ] So, the vet centers, like I said, started with Vietnam veterans. And then through time, they opened it up to Korea, World War II, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, operations Joint Endeavor, Joint Guard, Joint Forge, OEF, OIF, OND, and OIR. And when we see– We have three people that we can see. We can see combat veterans. So what that looks like to us is it can be boots on the ground but sometimes people aren’t boots on the ground and they’re still a combat veteran. It depends on what their DD214 says. If they have a campaign medal or if they have combat pay and their DD214 will be able to see them, and of course they’re case by case basis because sometimes people’s service doesn’t get on their DD214 but they were there but they just can’t prove it to us. So we can look at them at a case by case basis. The other time we see veterans is if they experience military sexual trauma. Well, military sexual trauma is if somebody had a sexual assault or repeated and/or threatening sexual harassment while they’re in service. We have military sexual trauma specific, it’s called step qualified commissions. There’s one at each vet center. So, their job is to have all the training up to date for what we call MST. That’s the short version. And the third thing that we see people for is bereavement. So if a family lost a loved one while serving on active duty, we’re able to see their family, their parents, their siblings, or their significant others and children, and that person doesn’t have to be deceased from like a combat area, it could be a car accident when they’re stationed in Oklahoma, we can still see their family and it’s free of charge. All this is free of charge. For that family, we can do counseling, we can do referrals out to the community, and because it’s such a difficult personal thing, they can actually see them where they’re– like where they’re comfortable. They don’t have to come to the Vet Center. So what we basically do is readjustment counseling. So what that looks like to us is we have social workers, LCPCs, mental health counselors, and licensed marriage and family therapists on staff. So that means we can see you, your family, your children, your spouse. And we do that individually, or like I said with your family, with your groups so they can be psychotherapy groups or they can be recreational groups. At the Lewiston Vet Center, we probably have three Vietnam groups. We have a mixed air. We have a World War II Korea group. And then we have the recreational groups like bowling, photography, writing, and we’re starting up a reading group the fliers on the table out back for– We partnered with Maine Humanities Council so we’re going to have a reading group starting. And by the, way the flier for the cake tomorrow, for the Vietnam commemorative, is on the table there as well if you want to grab one. So another thing we do a lot of is medical referrals. So, we can refer veterans to PTSD programs within the VA or outside of the VA [inaudible] programs or dual diagnosis programs. And we can write letters in support of our veterans for their claims. So specifically, if they’re claiming PTSD, we’ll write a letter that can go in with their claim. Another thing that we do is we can explain benefits to the veterans that come in. So one thing, what we do is we’ll never turn a veteran away. So even if they don’t qualify to see us, we’ll still see them up to five times to get them enrolled in the VA or, you know, get them to where they need to be. We do networking. So you’ll see me in anything that has to do with veterans and more. I go to the Maine military and community network meetings. We have community access points. We do any event, like I see Amy Line once a month. I hang out in her new lounge. Aging events, I did AARP event in Bodenham and we do a lot of resource fairs like we’re doing the Brain Injury Resource Fair tomorrow. And we do a lot of crisis intervention. We can do crisis intervention for like mental issues, if someone is homeless and they come in, we can get them to where they need to go. And if they have financial issues we can refer them out to places that can help them like Easterseals. That’s a good example when I use a lot. So in addition to the 300 vet centers that we have in the United States, we also have the veteran– the vet center crisis line, which is different than the one that you always see in the suicide prevention. It’s 1877-WAR-VETS. And that’s a 24/7 number. So you can call at any time. And when you call, you’re actually been talking to your peers. It’s all combat veterans and there’s families that are caretakers from all areas. So when you call, you’re not going to be, you know, talking to somebody that doesn’t understand. You’re going to be talking to someone that knows exactly what you’re going through. Some statistics in fiscal year 2017, we saw 289,095 unique veterans and family members. So what that is is 1,960,900 visits for veterans and their families at no cost to them. The Lewiston Vet Center, I mentioned committee access points. We have them in Clinton, Farmington, Brunswick, Rockland, Augusta, and Rumford. We have a mobile vet center that’s 28 feet long that we take on the road. That’s where you’ll see is at the Windsor Fair, the Lowe’s parking lot. Any place where veterans are is where you’re going to see us. And a lot of times we actually partner with everybody else at this table. So, for the Windsor Fair, if you come on Veterans’ Day, you will see all of our pretty faces again because– And we also do a lot of in-house events too, like we have a barbecue every year for our Vietnam veterans. We– Of course, all veterans are welcome at these events. But this one we’ll be giving away the 50th commemorative pins like they are tomorrow. We’re going to do OEF, OIF family day, which will be a really fun time. We’re going to be doing that in August. So, look for flyers. I try to post them everywhere on social media. There’re so many veteran-centric things that go on and it’s so hard to get the word out. But if you come to one and you get involved, it’s like dominoes. There’s tons of stuff out there for you just– And then really spread the word too. So, again, some of the places that you’ll see us. We were at the flower show in Portland this past weekend. We are going to be at the sportsman show in Augusta next weekend. So we’re everywhere. If you need us and you don’t want to come to Togus, come find us and we’ll help you right there on the spot. Yeah. And also, another thing that I do is a lot of referrals out like nonprofits. Like if you know a veteran that needs a service dog, I can refer them to K9s on The Front Line or Pets for Vets. If you want to go away with your caretaker, there’s things like Embrace a Vet. So, your local vet center will know all that information too. That’s not part of VA but it’s something that veterans use a lot. So we’re a really good place for information. And I will be here too for questions later.>>OK. [ Applause ]>>Good evening, everybody. So, Amy Line, and I work here at the University of Maine at Augusta but I must say I feel like these are all my colleagues. I work so closely with the VA on a day to day basis and almost everybody here stops and then bring services to our campus on veterans. So it saves a bunch of folks from having to go to the Lewiston Vet Center or out to benefits to be able to see them here in their own environment while they’re getting an education. So, since 1965, UMA hung a sign out on the door that said welcome veterans. And a friend of mine that was a Vietnam veteran was traveling through the circle of Cony High School where it used to be and he saw that sign and he stopped and he went in and from there it’s kind of history. But it was the first time since he had been back from Vietnam that he actually saw a sign that said welcome veterans. So UMA, right from the get-go, when it started here, had always welcomed veterans to their campus. So, throughout the years there has been programming in veterans that have come through and back in 2009 when the post-9/11 GI bill was coming out, UMA saw the writing on the wall and knew that there would be probably a lot of veterans returning to school because they were going to get this educational benefit. So we wrote a grant and we– UMA was one of 20 universities that was awarded financial support to do best practices on campus for returning post-9/11 veteran. So that grant lasted three years and we were able to test and pilot some programs here on campus. We were able to hire veterans returning and really tap into what do our veterans returning really need, not what do I think they need. So it was a really nice model for us to be able to do and build upon the work that was already established here. So, fast forward, currently last semester, I’ll use some fall numbers, we had close to 300 veterans here on campus attending school, and then through various types of why veterans come to school. So, Patrick talked about educational benefits. We have certified on benefits, a little over 200, but they’re still always close to a hundred veterans that are attending classes here that do not get educational benefits. They come– we– if they’re– if maybe we could have– they’ve never visited UMA, I can provide that one handoff to the VA and have them go out there, because a lot of times veterans don’t even realize that they might have a service-connected disability. So, from being around other veterans and providing a place for them to talk and geographically we’re right down the road from Togus, we’re neighbors. We can get veterans back and forth to the VA pretty quickly. So it’s been a really nice partnership and collaboration that we’ve been able to do. At least since 2009 when I came to campus and got hired here, it’s been really great. So, we have veterans and family members that get a transfer benefit or they get a survivor benefit. And we welcome them on campus in the same manner we welcome a veteran. So, our new veteran center that we have really caters not only to our veterans on campus, it caters to our veterans and family members on campus. We have National Guard that are using different tuition assistant type of benefit. So, lots of different types of educational benefits are being used, but our common thing is we’re all veterans and it’s that camaraderie and that kind of place that brings us all together in the veteran center on campus is a place where– I’ll use today, because Nancy was here and also Josh Brown from our career center, the Department of Career Center, comes every Wednesday to meet with our veterans to help with employment issues, it gets to be almost standing room only in that veteran’s lounge and it gets very loud. We did– I polled our veterans the last couple of days and asked them what’s the successes or the strengths of the veteran center here and what are some of the challenges or weaknesses. And, you know, a lot of things were, you know, put up there, the– a way to build camaraderie of a place where I could find somebody like me to talk to. It’s centrally located on campus. It’s visible. It’s easy access to get in and out. There’s been a lot of collaborative work done with the VA and other providers for veteran services. There’s been alumni support. We have veteran alumni coming back to visit us to come to the new center. And one of the things that was said is a strength is like there’s a lot of energy and a lot of noise because it could get very loud, like on days like today. But on the other side of the fence, my weakness and challenges is a very small list but at the top of the list there, the noise is also there too. Because for some people, during– we have high times we’re tracking our high utilization times. At certain times of the day in that veterans center, the noise level gets high and we do have servicemen and women in there that like a quiet space, they are sitting with their service dog. Now, the service dog sleeps through all the commotion but they get aroused from it. So those folks have learned to either take their break and walk outside when the noise gets up. They still won’t pass up that chance to use the services that we have there in the center. I welcome all of you to stop over any time during the week to come and visit our veteran center. We actually have a couple of our student veterans that are attending tonight and I too will hang around and welcome any questions that anybody has. And thank you for your service, especially our Vietnam vets. And Jim, are you next?>>Yeah, I’ll finish up this section really– you can put a wrapping paper on this thing.>>Go to the mic so we can record it.>>I’m a veteran.>>He doesn’t need a mic.>>Yeah, I don’t. You’re right. I’m a veteran. I retired in the navy ’95. I didn’t do anything about the VA. I waited 18 years, walked into the VA because my doctor sent me there because I was going deaf. Changed my life. Took me to a different place with the help of James in the back there with the VFW. They did my claim with me so I’ve been through all these. I’ve been through both rehab that Patrick talked about. I get my services at the VA. I get nothing but excellent care from them. They respect me when I walk into that building. Every time somebody always says hi to me. Somebody is always talking to me. And it’s not because I work there. They don’t even know that. They don’t realize that part unless they go dig into the records. So, Togus does some amazing things for some amazing people and we’re lucky to have it around here. Again, I use it. I don’t just talk about this. I’m actually there. I travel through most [inaudible] when I’m here this next week. I take off for Portland tomorrow for an event. I am down in Connecticut after that, then over in Manchester, New Hampshire. So I travel around New England and I hear from everybody. You know there are– my table is set up typically and veterans will come by and talk to us. We all just had some events this weekend. Ninety-nine percent of them love the health care they’re getting from the VA. They like what they get. They appreciate how they’re treated. And the ones that don’t, we always ask them, you know, what went wrong? And they typically can’t really tell us, but they’ll get into a whole gripping session about it. And in the end you say, so what did you do? Well, I walked out. I showed them. It’s like, no, you didn’t. You didn’t show anybody. You didn’t help me. You didn’t help yourself. The guy coming behind me. Nobody. So when there is an issue, we ask you to come in and see somebody. Come see the patient advocate. That’s what that person is there for. If you’ve got concerns or you felt like you didn’t get what you wanted out of it, come see them. We’ve got people in place to help with that. We’re not without our own difficulties but we try very hard to correct them and we’ve gone on and on to work through these things and we’re doing very well. Again, Togus, I can’t say enough about it. I love this place and I’m ready now to turn it over to Ms. Sharon here before we get to the panels.>>I have to use this microphone because I have a sheet of paper, and so I don’t forget anything. OK, good evening. I’m Sharon Sawyer. I’m assistant professor of Justice Studies here at UMA and coordinator of the Maine State Forum. And before we begin the question and answer period, I want to thank tonight’s panel for coming out to the Maine State Forum. On behalf of the university, the Maine State Forum and our veterans and family members in attendance tonight, I’d like to present you with a token of our appreciation. Thank you very much for this very informative presentation and for your service to those who serve our country. [ Applause ] [ Inaudible ]>>[Inaudible] it says Tom Cruise.>>It does. It says Tom Cruise.>>Right below delusional [laughter]. [ Inaudible ]>>OK. So now it’s your turn. Raise your hands. I’ll bring you the mic. All right, I see one here and I have one here.>>I have two questions. The first is where on campus is the center? And secondly, having talked with some other veterans who have used the Togus system, they talk about going on fishing trips and these other– and these kind of vocational rehab type vacation type things and nothing has been mentioned yet. So, how do– how does a vet get involved with those? Thank you.>>So the veteran center here on campus is located right next door in the [inaudible] building, right at the corner. It’s when you first walk in the double-glass door that’s right there on the right.>>Thank you.>>You’re very welcome.>>Regarding a lot of the activities that they have, that’s where our recreational therapy program at Togus. We have a full time recreational therapist. We have a project healing water [inaudible] come in. You get to tie flies with them. They’ll go ahead and they’ll you out fishing. Sometime they’ll go ahead and they’ll get some fly rod blanks to make up fly rods. They go bowling. They– We have lot of [inaudible] too. So we’ll have– where they’ll go ahead and go skiing and somebody say amputees or blind veterans, they take them out. It’s just incredible, the number of different things that they do. They have a lot of different people that want to donate their time and services and all. So they– we have captains that go ahead and take out saltwater and deep water fishing, stuff like that. So you just go ahead and check with recreational therapy and they’ll do it. What’s nice about it, I like the name that they call our program, it’s called No Limits, you know? You can do whatever you want to. You know, we have the veterans that go out there. They do archery. We also have– We have one veteran that is missing an arm and does archery. And what he’s got is he’s got an extra arm with a bow attached to prosthesis. And when he wants to go bow hunting or target practicing, he just straps out one on and the bow is attached to it. So, I mean there’s really cool stuff. They also have a thing called the Golden Age Games. It’s where all veterans, 55 and older, that are enrolled with VA health care. And it’s like an Olympics type thing and you go around the country. It’s different place each year. And you could participate. As a matter of fact, that’s how I started at Togus. It was a temporary job. I wasn’t planning on working at Togus but we hosted it back in ’03. First time that the Golden Age Games had been in New England and I came on it was five-month temporary job and had no intention in staying here, I’d retired from military. And then after going ahead and doing that and meeting the vets, we had about 500 vets from across the country came in, meeting them and working with them, it’s like this is what I want to do until I take [inaudible].>>How would this veteran sign up or come? Do they come to Togus to get into that program, the recreation?>>Yeah, just come to Togus. And basically where they work out of is you know where the gym is? The gym building 232?>>No, but I can find it.>>You know where the cafeterias?>>No. I really don’t know [inaudible].>>We’ll teach you.>>Yeah.>>Yeah. Do you have to be signed up for the VA health system to do this?>>Yes, you have to be enrolled in VA health care. Yup.>>That was my other question. Thank you.>>We can work to get you in there too. One of the things I just want to tell you about too is a lot of times people– they want to know how we get the word out. We’ve got a Facebook account you all may know about or not. It’s real simple, vamainehcs for health care system, but vamainehcs. There’s some bootleg copies out there. I see Facebook, like Togus VA and stuff like that. That’s [inaudible] doing that. But the official one is vamainehcs. And so we put up stuff that’s going on like we have the Veterans Creative Arts Festival, we did February 28. That was fabulous. And we have some of the veterans that went at the state level here and go on the national level VA. The Vietnam 50th that we’re [inaudible] that gets put out on there. We have town halls around the state, veteran town halls, and those were on there. So it’s really a good way to learn what’s going on.>>Good evening. I’m a three-time Vietnam vet. And my question, I guess, is more or less on the legal side. I’m not sure if this is the correct forum or if anyone of your group would have the answer or could perhaps point me in the direction that could give me the answer, I’m 100%– I get 100% compensation. If I were to enter into a divorce, what portion if any would my ex be illegible for?>>I’ve got a little bit of experience here myself. Not, you know, not that service level but– so what happens is you would need to go ahead and talk to them. But your– basically you need to get some legal help. But basically they cannot go after that, you know, your VA thing, however, what they can do is they can count that in. So let’s say– again, I’m not a lawyer. I didn’t stay at Holiday Inn Express or anything like that. But let’s say you get $1,000 from VA and you’ve got an income that’s $2,000, OK. They can’t take that $1,000. They can’t take part of that. That’s your [inaudible]. However, they can go ahead and say, going to give half of the total amount which is $1,500 and they take it out of that 2,000. Do you see what I mean? [Inaudible]. Right, right. But the best thing to do is get the best lawyer you can.>>I’ve spoken to several lawyers about this and they just kind of walked around it. And, you know, I was thinking, you know, there’s got be a way that–>>– speak to this.>>– somebody’s got kind of an answer for this thing but–>>From the benefit side, sir, one thing I would add, just from veterans’ benefits. And I always like to talk about a veteran and not a specific veteran for privacy reasons and all sorts of things. But when we pay compensation benefits, we do pay that to the veteran and not a family member. So, if a veteran is rated at 30% or higher, what that enables that veteran to do is to put any minor dependents and spouses on their award and that increases the amount that we pay them. But again, that money goes to the veteran and not the family member. So, if there’s a change in dependency status, and that can be anything from the birth of a child or removing or adding a spouse, specifically on the removal part, it’s very important that we get notified in a timely manner because if we don’t know, what happens is the VA continues to pay you at the higher say married amount when– if the divorce become final in January, we don’t know until June, it takes a couple of months to process then there’s what they call a debt and someone has been overpaid for a few months. So, these type of questions are always good as general reminders to all veterans that if you are receiving compensation due to a– any dependence that we’d want to know that. But typically on a divorce, that’s a legal issue and not a VA issue because we’re paying the veteran and not the member. So, thank you for your question. [Inaudible]. Yes. And it’s– And again, even for them, it’s not a VA question, it’s really, hey, how much you’re making and that’s, you know, part of a divorce settlement but that’s a good question.>>I wasn’t giving a legal advice. I’m just, you know, telling you, you need to go ahead and talk to– this happened to me in my former life when I was Tom Cruise and I got divorced with Nicole Kidman [laughter].>>We’ll change medication after this. But just to add in there, there is something actually in the VA called the medical-legal partnerships. It might be a good place to add this in. It’s actually the volunteer lawyer– it’s not the volunteer, I’m sorry. They can refer you to the volunteer legal lawyer’s project but actually it’s a grant with Pine Tree Legal. So they’re with us for a couple of days a week and I think it’s Mondays and Thursdays now. You do have the schedule and appointment. [Inaudible]. You got all the good stuff. But actually they can be really helpful and show you in the right direction, especially if you don’t happen to have finances for that kind of thing. So that can be, you know, that can be helpful too.>>Hi. I am the daughter in the Vietnam– daughter of a Vietnam vet who I’m also is only next of kin and recently died. And so, I’m getting all of his military history from the personnel records. I’ve ordered that, sent them the death certificate and I had him cremated. He was in Florida. So anyway, I’m wanting to– I’m going to be getting his ashes and wanting to put on somehow some kind of ceremony for him. And I’d like to do it here in Maine so that I can visit his grave. Also, I’m getting help from vocational– voc rehab because I’m also disabled. They are sending me to UMA. They’re paying for my classes. And so, I’m wondering about benefits as far as if I was to say buy a business or property, would the VA have any kind of recommendation for me? Could I– Is there some sort of a benefit that I can rely on as a survivor?>>Like with most things for the VA, it always starts with it depends– everything depends because it depends on your– First of all, sorry about your dad. Is that a recent thing or–>>Yeah, December.>>Because first thing I would want to always mention to you is this is the NCA part of it. We have the health administration, the benefits administration, and then the national cemetery administration. And they have really made some wonderful changes in their program for families that choose not to go to a veteran cemetery in the state of Maine. We only have the state cemeteries, our national cemeteries closed. But we also are able to add things like medallions and things like that to a headstone even if they’re not buried in a veteran cemetery. So, there’s all sorts of wonderful things. And I will make sure that when we’re done that I can speak to you personally so that we can get some of these buttoned up for you.>>I can apply to get a flag also.>>But just for the benefit of the whole group, the revamp of bereavement benefits the funeral homes are very, very, very well connected with the VA. And so, if you have a family member who you lose and was military, simply informing your funeral home director, they will take the ball most of the time and run with that on their own. For instance, when I was a member of the Air National Guard, I was on the [inaudible] guard team and we would get phone calls from local funerals saying, hey, we have a member who is being buried today who served in the Coast Guard. And between the Air, Army, whatever we could scratch up, we would always find representation to be at that funeral. So that applies to everyone in here, our own personal issues and family members, just let your funeral director know that the deceased was a veteran and they will start the ball rolling on most of these including some of the national cemetery forms and applications that you would need to fill out. Very customer service oriented. And for those that are just interested to look up information on their own, when you go to va.gov, the first thing you’re going to see on va.gov is health administration benefits and cemetery. So that is a really, really good start. And even those websites have just improved dramatically over the last few years. We have a lot of like two or three-minute videos that– you know, for people like me that really need to, you know, see it the very informative. But for any benefit, whether it’s something we do locally like in Togus where we do service-connected disabilities. If you come in and you need to file something for burial benefits, we will assist you in doing that, OK? So you can always come directly to our office. So what I’ll do is when we’re done here, I’m just going to come down and we’ll sit together for a couple of minutes and I’ll get you put in the right direction, OK?>>Great, thank you.>>You’re welcome, ma’am.>>I was curious about say my–>>You can hold the microphone a little closer–>>Yeah. My children’s father or my ex-husband was a veteran. I did not know this. I have no idea. It was until he passed away that, you know, I found out he was a veteran, you know? Can there be benefits for his children or has too much time gone and– I’m just curious.>>What’s your name, ma’am.>>Wanda.>>Wanda, thank your for the question. Wanda, it depends.>>Yeah?>>That’s really the honest answer. Basically anytime somebody wants– That’s why I always say apply, apply, apply, apply. And apply can sometimes mean come in to talk with us or call us, because we don’t know enough about that particular veteran, you know, what benefits may or may not be able to be passed on. Lots of times, the answer is no, that most of the benefits are directly for the veteran. But there are times for instance when if a veteran passes away due to a service-connected disability, that there are benefits that are passed on to their children. So it’s hard to answer one question that would apply to everyone in this room. But it’s certainly important that we make some phone calls and find out what the status was, because he– that veteran may have passed away from a service-connected disability, we don’t know. The other thing that would be important is going through the education office and determining whether there are GI bills benefits that were able to be passed on to the children as well. And what they would do is they would look up that information and be able to tell. So, it’s very important that we ask because it’s always no if we don’t ask, so. Yup, you and I will speak afterwards as well.>>One of the things I’m just going to mention is a lot of times, I tell people, you know, you may not be eligible for this benefit. But if you don’t ask for it, I guarantee you’re not going to get it. So, make– you know, ask the system, OK? I just want to say I just got into the VA after 47 years and everybody’s been– [applause]. I don’t know how it happened. I was in A2 and the next thing you know, they told me I was a 6. And I don’t know if you and I have met at services. Anyway, my question, real quick, is there anything at the VA that can help somebody become a Gold Star family, the official recognition? And how long is there a grieving period if you needed counseling? I think that’s– yeah, that’s basically my question. I– The reason I wanted to get into the VA is because I was– I served at Guantanamo Bay but I was also at Camp Lejeune during a water crisis. So I hope never have to use the VA for that. But if so, if I end up with one of those eight cancers, who do– where do I go? Thank you.>>So as far as the bereavement piece, the Vet Center will see you as long as you need it to. There’s no time on it. There’s no certain amount of visits and then you got to get re-approved. It’s really up to what you and your counselors sit down and how you’re both feeling. So there’s no time when– there’s no–>>I meant by time, I meant system time.>>OK. That, I would– because all the bereavement cases go through our regional office, so I could give you that number and you could talk to them about it.>>You had mentioned Camp Lejeune and the VA secretary, Dr. Shulkin has recently made this a higher priority on the communication piece. So, I’ve been working with our community, trying to get the word out on Camp Lejeune. But basically, there was outside business of the base at Camp Lejeune where a dry cleaning leaked some contaminants into the drinking water. And it’s a marine base so we were basically talking to marines but anybody that was stationed there during that time. And I can definitely get your information because I’d like you to be able to go to the site and really take a look at it. And it talks about exactly about what cancers that we’re talking about, the years, period that we’re there. And it breaks it down into veterans who can apply for service-connected disabilities for that, but also family members who were drinking the same water. And while we can’t service connect a family member of a veteran, they do offer to reimburse for medical expenses for that, so. [ Inaudible ] Yeah, good.>>And so, on the healthcare side too, you need to make sure your provider, so your primary care provider, you’re established at the VA now, make sure they’re aware that you were there, and these– you know, that you’re, you know, stationed at Camp Lejeune so they can make sure, you know, they’re aware that you were there. And they’re going to be looking for those type of symptoms, and hopefully, you never even go there. But just make sure your provider is aware if you’re having problems with– and I don’t know what those eight cancers are, but making sure your provider know that you were stationed there and you were exposed to that. And they can keep an eye out there for you.>>Come on, this is your chance. Oh, there we go.>>I got here late so maybe you explained this before. You talked about copays. How about on the medication, are there copays on that also? How does that work?>>Sure. Yeah, on– again, if you’re service-connected for a condition, you know, like– and you need some medications for like swelling, antibiotics, anything like that, it’s free, OK? There’s no copay. If you’re service-connected 50% or more, there’s no copay for anything. Otherwise, it’s $9 for the vast majority of the stuff. Now one of the things we started doing about a year ago is we got in a competition a little bit like with Walley World. Walley World has some of their– like [inaudible] and some of the other stuff where they have like what they call lost leader to get you in there and stuff like that. So it’s like $4 for a 30-day supply. So on those, you know, there aren’t a whole lot of them like it but it’s $4. Otherwise, it’s $9 for a 30-day supply of whatever it is. To give you an idea, years ago, when the mill started closing, first one was Lincoln. I went up there, there was a veteran that had lost his job, lost his healthcare. I was just like, oh god, 10, 12 years ago, something like that. And so he said he only had a few days left, he had cancer and he had a cancer med. And at that point, this was like 10, 12 years ago, his copay was $1,800 a month for that med. And if he had enrolled with us at that time, our copay was $7 and it’s gone up to $9 now. OK. But, yeah, so it’s $9. One thing– So I might recommend to some of you all too is like we do mail out. We go ahead and we mail the stuff out, it comes to you. If it’s– If you get narcotics, we send that via typically FedEx or UPS, you know. But something I recommend you do like, you know, unlike most guys, I’ve got a very short attention span, so what I do is when I get my med in the mail, I go ahead, I open up the package, I take it out, I pick up my phone and I call this number. It’s right on the bottle, 623-5770. It’s an automated thing, punch it in, and I put in for a refill. For like my 90-day supply, I put in for the refill. It’s not that you’re asking for an early refill but it goes in and the computer knows to refill it, OK? And at that point, I will go ahead and put it in the medicine cabinet, because a lot of times, I have a vet call and say, hey, I’ve only– I forgot I only got a day or two or something like that. If you’re like me and, you know, you get CRS, go ahead and put that in now. It’s just a– It’s a habit I have and it works very well for me. But to answer your question, typically it’s $9 no matter what it is.>>OK. The other question I have is on Maine Cemetery, the Veterans Cemetery, I see they got some vaults up there, what are those?>>Can you repeat that again?>>Oh, I heard what he said. You’re talking about vaults, so some people, they go ahead and they’ll have their ashes and stuff like that put in there instead of, you know, being buried in the ground and all.>>And are they labeled, their– on the lid?>>Yeah. What they are, just so you know, as Patrick was saying earlier, our cemetery closed to new interments. It started out 1867 was our first burial there and all. And Patrick was working there at that point. But 1867 and then 1961 is the last interment we have there. So what happens is VA gives money to the states, the various states to buy land and develop state veteran cemeteries. So, Maine has three, they’ve got two here in Augusta, they’ve got one down in Sanford– and four, they’ve got one up in Caribou. And so we’ve just been authorized, we are going to do another national cemetery. And it’s going to be up like around Washington County somewhere, you know, and that’s fairly new. I’ve been hearing about it. I hadn’t seen it yet. I just heard about that like three or four months ago. So it’s going to be a little bit before that happens but that’s new. But otherwise, everything has been in the state veteran cemetery.>>Thank you.>>You’re welcome. Also, just so you know, on the state veteran cemetery, a spouse can be buried there as well. [Inaudible] I’m sorry? [Inaudible] Yeah, you can get that and all, you know, I’ve often wondered about what happens if you get a divorce, you know, do you still want to be buried alongside each other? I don’t know.>>All right, I have two more questions that are coming and I think we’ll be out of time at that point. Here’s one.>>I’m curious what the financial limitations are for a non-service-connected situation or how much copayment would be involved even if one were to qualify.>>The copayment is going to be this– well, I shouldn’t say it’s going to be the same because that’s not necessarily true. We have some veterans that are non-service-connected and their income level is so low that they don’t have copays. And sometimes, there could be no copays for medical care, sometimes there’d be no copays for pharmacy or both. But it depends– You know, what you’re asking is what is the limit. It depends on where you live in the state. You know, up through here, I’m just going to throw out a number, it’d be about 40,000, OK, if you’re married to be around 40, 41, 42, somewhere in there. If you live down in Southern Maine, it’s quite a bit higher because the cost of living is higher. But what you could do too on that amount is you go ahead and anything that you– if you’re married, anything that you’re paying for your healthcare and your spouse’s healthcare comes off the top. So let’s say, we’ll say $40,000, a lot of it depends and I think– do you have that with you, Nancy, the list?>>No.>>OK. OK. But we could go ahead and get that to you. But basically, so say– we’ll just put 40,000, and then if you pay in healthcare $8,000 for, you know, yourself and your spouse, it could be 48,000. Here’s the other thing too is a lot of times, we’ve run into this, you know, fairly often, a veteran goes ahead and applies for healthcare and they’re over-income, they’re non-service-connected and they’re over-income. Well, I go ahead and, you know, and I ask them, OK well, when did you do that? Oh, 10 years ago. And I’m looking at them and they’re looking a lot like me. And I’m like, OK, are you retired now? Yeah. When did you retire? Two years ago. Well, most people, when they retire, their income doesn’t go up. So those people when the income has gone down and they can’t get in, so it’s not like a one-time you applied and you’re not eligible. If your income goes down, you know, typically after, you know, the veteran and the spouse retired, that’s a good way to get in.>>That’s one.>>Yes, this is more of a curiosity question. I’m a service-connected veteran. I get my care at VA. But I’m also a military retiree. I have a US Family Healthcare, Martin’s Point. I see doctors from both systems at least once a year. If my Martin’s Point doctor writes me a script for a service-connected medication, can I get that script filled at Togo’s?>>Sure. I’m also in that same position. I’ve got– And, you know, Jim is in stuff like that. We would retire and so, you know, we’ve got VA but we’ve also got Martin’s Point. A lot of us do that. Now, when you get that script, you give it to the– your VA primary care provider. And it goes– the only way it could be filled is it has to be written by a VA primary care provider. So when a VA primary care provider gets it, they write the script, and then we can go ahead and fill it. But to get that, you have to be seen once a year by a VA primary care provider, because the length of the script, not just for us but out in the community, it’s 12 months. So, every– you’d need to be seen like at least once a year. And the other thing too is that keeps you active. So, does that answer your question? And then we could go ahead and, you know, fill it. And that’s the way we do it. And the reason you have to be seen by the VA primary care provider is their license is on the line. If they write you a script and it’s inappropriate or it causes you harm and they wrote it just because they got it from a community provider, their license is on the line. So it’s not just their license but it’s also your safety, because then, you’ve got two people looking at it to make sure you this has the right prescription for you to have. Does that answer you question?>>OK.>>All right. Well, thank you and for the audience, please join me in thanking the panel members that were here. [Applause] I’m a teacher so I have to have everybody get an assignment. For all of the people in the audience, there is a table back there that has lots of information, lots of phone numbers, lots of things to pick up on your way out. And I think you all have some dates in the audience.>>Thank you very much.>>Thank you.

Danny Hutson

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