Glennville is home to a Veterans Field Service Office, located in the building of the offices of the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery on N. Veterans Blvd. (8819 U.S. Hwy. 301 N.) in Glennville. Priscilla Prescott, Veterans Field Service Officer of the Georgia Department of Veterans Service, can answer questions that veterans may have on their benefits or for the survivors of those deceased veterans. She spoke to Glennville Rotarians at their Wednesday, October 12, 2022, meeting.
Prescott first explained that accrued benefits are monetary benefits that were due to the veteran, but not paid to the veteran, prior to his/her death.
"For example, these situations could include a veteran who filed a claim or appeal for benefits that was pending at the time of the veteran's death, but all evidence for a favorable decision was in the VA's possession. Another example is when a claim for a recurring benefit had been allowed, but the beneficiary died before the award, and the check was not deposited or negotiated," she said.
Prescott also explained the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), which is a tax-free monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of the following: service members who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training; or veterans who died as a result of a service-connected injury or disease; or veterans who did not die as a result of a service-connected injury or disease, but were totally disabled by a service-connected disability: for at least ten years before death; or since their release from active duty and for at least five years before death; or for at least one year before death, if they were a former prisoner of war and died after September 30, 1999.
"Survivors' Pension, which was formerly referred to as Death Pension or Widow's Pension, is a tax-free benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse, or the unmarried, dependent children of a deceased veteran with wartime experience," Prescott said.
Prescott also informed the group about the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which was signed into law by President Biden in August. The legislation is the most significant expansion of benefits and services to America’s war veterans in more than 30 years. The bill creates over 20 new presumptive conditions for which Gulf War and Post 9/11-era veterans may now be eligible to receive service-connected compensation.
"At one time, many conditions were not covered, but this has since changed, so if you have been refused before, you are encouraged to file a supplemental claim or an appeal," she said.
These 20 new presumptive conditions covered by the PACT Act for burn pits and other toxic exposures are as follows: brain cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, glioblastoma, head cancer, kidney cancer, lymphatic cancer, melanoma, neck cancer, pancreatic cancer, reproductive cancer, respiratory cancer, asthma (diagnosed after service), chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, constrictive bronchiolitis, obliterative bronchiolitis, emphysema, granulomatous disease, interstitial lung disease (ILD), pleuritis, pulmonary fibrosis, and sarcoidosis.
"Many of our Vietnam veterans may suffer from some of these conditions, and they previously were refused benefits. This has now changed, so they are urged to file again," she emphasized.
Other coverage includes two new Agent Orange presumptive conditions, which are high blood pressure (hypertension) and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), and there are five new Agent Orange presumptive locations: U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand; Laos; Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province; Guam or American Samoa; and Johnston Atoll.
Also, in reference to the PACT Act, for those with veteran-related claims for certain years at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Prescott’s office can process their claims.
She was accompanied by Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery (GVMC) Director Ernie Cowart, who commented that 2,200 burials are now at the Cemetery, and these include veterans, spouses, and eligible dependents. One of the deceased veterans interred at the Cemetery is from Australia, and others are from all over the United States, including Washington State and Maine. He also referred those interested in the Legacy Memorial Program to visit the website of www.cem.va.gov/VLM/index.asp.
Prescott's phone number is (912) 654-5159, and email is firstname.lastname@example.org