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Articles written by Ken Cruickshank


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  • NSC Pension Benefit

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County|Updated Mar 2, 2024

    The Non-Service-Connected Disability Pension (NSC) is the Veterans Administration (VA) benefits program for wartime veterans with limited income. The amount payable depends on other income sources the veteran and their family members currently receive. The amount of household income to calculate eligibility may be reduced by some unreimbursed medical expenses. The current amount for a single veteran is $1,379 per month. This can change depending on family size and disability...

  • The Four Basic Types of Claims

    Ken Cruickshank, Tulare County Veterans Service Officer|Updated Jan 4, 2024

    The four basic categories that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses to identify the types of claims submitted are as follows: Original, Reopened, New and Secondary claims. An Original claim is the first claim you file for disability compensation from the VA and can be submitted at any time after your discharge from the military. This claim for benefits may be filed by a servicemember (active duty), veteran or the survivors of deceased veterans. By law, when this claim...

  • Housing Grants for Disabled Veterans – Specially Adapted Housing Grant

    Ken Cruickshank, Tulare County Veterans Service Officer|Updated Nov 11, 2023

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a benefit called Housing Grants for Disabled Veterans. It is a two-part program that includes the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant and the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant. These programs provide grants to servicemembers and veterans with certain permanent and total, service-connected disabilities to either help purchase or construct an adapted home or to modify an existing home to accommodate a disability. This column wil...

  • Gulf War Presumptive Disability Period Extended

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Service Officer Tulare County|Updated Sep 3, 2023

    Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made a decision regarding Gulf War Veterans and has extended the presumptive disability period to December 31, 2026, for qualifying chronic disabilities rated 10% or more, resulting from undiagnosed illnesses in Persian Gulf War Veterans to ensure benefits established by Congress are fairly administered. If an extension of the current presumptive period were not implemented, service members whose conditions arose after...

  • The Chapter 35 Benefit Program

    Ken Cruickshank, Tulare County Veterans Service Officer|Updated Jul 16, 2023

    I want to cover the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) Program, also known as the Chapter 35 benefit program. This program provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of certain veterans. Under the program, dependents can receive up to 45 months of educational benefits, which may be used for degree or certificate programs, apprenticeship and on-the-job training; it can apply to correspondence courses for veterans' spouses. Under...

  • California College Fee Waiver Program

    Ken Cruickshank, Tulare County Veterans Services Officer|Updated May 25, 2023

    Are you aware of the California College Fee Waiver (CFW) Program, an education benefit available to the spouses and children of U.S. veterans through the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet)? The Fee Waiver runs through the academic year, beginning each fall semester. Once eligibility criteria are met, dependents can get their tuition fees waived when attending any California community college, California State University or University of California campus. So,...

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County|Updated Mar 2, 2023

    In this column, we will be discussing a benefit available to a survivor of a veteran. We will talk about Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). DIC is a benefit that is paid on a monthly basis to eligible survivors of a: military service member who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training; or a veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease; or a veteran whose death resulted from a non-service-related...

  • The PACT Act (Part 2)

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County|Updated Jan 3, 2023

    This is the second column covering the PACT Act. To recap, the full name of the law is the Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. Here we will address the conditions that are related to a veteran who served in either the Gulf War or post-9/11. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has added the following cancers to the presumptive list for burn pit and other toxic exposures: brain cancer, gastrointestinal...

  • The PACT Act

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Services Officer, Tulare County|Updated Nov 7, 2022

    This column is the first to cover the PACT Act; I will have at least one follow-up column covering another area of the changes. The full name of the law is "The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act." I will cover the changes that Vietnam Veterans will see under the Act in this column. The new law expands Veterans Administration (VA) health care and benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange. First, an...

  • Women Veterans Health Care

    Ken Cruickshank, Tulare County Veterans Services Officer|Updated Sep 8, 2022

    In a quick update to our last column, the Veterans Crisis Line has a new number: Dial 988 then Press 1. This option was added effective July 16, however, even after July 16, you may still call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text 838255. Women Veterans Health Care addresses the health care needs of women veterans, ensuring those needs are met in a timely, equitable, high-quality, comprehensive manner, while also ensuring that these services...

  • Suicide by Veterans

    Ken Cruickshank, Tulare County Veterans Service Officer|Updated Jul 24, 2022

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) seeks to continue efforts to reduce the issue of suicide by veterans. To assist veterans who need someone to talk to, the VA developed the Veterans Crisis Line. You can find more information at http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ The Veterans Crisis Line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to provide free, confidential support to veterans, whether they are currently registered with the VA or enrolled in VA health...

  • College Fee Waiver

    Ken Cruickshank|Updated May 14, 2022

    Are you aware of the California College Fee Waiver (CFW) Program, an education benefit available to the spouses and children of U.S. veterans through the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet)? The Fee Waiver runs through the academic year, beginning with each fall semester. Once eligibility criteria are met, dependents can get their tuition fees waived when attending any California community college, California State University or University of California campus....

  • SAH Housing Grants

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Services Officer|Updated Mar 5, 2022

    This issue we will look at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefit called the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant. This program provides a grant to servicemembers and veterans with certain permanent and total service-connected disabilities, to either help purchase or construct an adapted home or to modify an existing home to accommodate a disability. The SAH Grant helps veterans with a qualifying service-connected disability to live independently in a barrier-free...

  • Veterans Court

    Ken Cruickshank, Tulare County Veteran Services Officer|Updated Jan 8, 2022

    Tulare County has a Veterans Court! Established in 2010, the court serves veterans of Tulare County in the criminal justice system. Several agencies and community partners, including the offices of the Tulare County District Attorney, Probation, Superior Court, Veterans Services, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Counseling Clinic and local law enforcement agencies collaborated to create Veterans Court. Referrals to Veterans Court come from a...

  • Two Important Letters

    Ken Cruickshank, Tulare County Veterans Services Officer|Updated Nov 9, 2021

    When the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decides on your claim, they will provide you with two important letters amongst all the paperwork they will send you. The first letter is called the award letter, and the second one is the rating letter. Both provide information that you will need to pay attention to. The award letter is broken down into sections; the first section will tell you your benefit information. In this section, the VA will list each disability that you fil...

  • Veterans ID Cards

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Services Officer|Updated Aug 31, 2021

    Are you aware that as a veteran you might be eligible for discounts at participating merchants that you might do business with? You have a few options to get a Veterans ID card to show these merchants. The first option is a Department of Defense (DoD) Identification Card, which is used to show military status and get access to services at military bases. You may also use this card to get discounts available to veterans. If you have this ID, you need not apply for any others....

  • Burial Benefits

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County|Updated Jul 8, 2021

    Are you aware that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers burial benefits? One of these benefits is burial in a National Cemetery. National Cemetery burials include (at no cost to the family) a gravesite in any of the 155 national cemeteries that has space, opening and closing the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. The San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Gustine and the Bakersfield...

  • California College Fee Waiver Program

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Service Officer for Tulare County|Updated May 1, 2021

    Are you aware of the California College Fee Waiver (CFW) Program, an education benefit available to the spouses and children of U.S. veterans through the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet). The Fee Waiver runs through the academic year, beginning with each fall semester. Once eligibility criteria is met, dependents can get their tuition fees waived when attending any California community college, California State University or University of California campus....

  • The Beneficiary Travel Benefit

    Ken Cruickshank|Updated Mar 3, 2021

    When you travel to get health care, you may be eligible for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Beneficiary Travel (BT) benefit. This benefit is provided to a veteran when there is a need to travel to a VA medical facility. VA is authorized to pay an eligible veteran a reimbursement for either mileage or a special mode of transportation (when it has been deemed medically justified by a VA health care provider). Mileage driven using a private vehicle and transportation...

  • Replacing Lost Military Service Records

    Ken Cruickshank|Updated Jan 13, 2021

    Are you in need of a copy of your official Military Service Records, which you now realize have been lost or misplaced? Many service members are unaware of the importance of the information and documents provided to us upon separation from service. As many members eventually find out, there comes a time when we need some of that information. When it comes to your military records, the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is the official keeper. After you are separated...

  • The Property Tax Postponement Program

    Ken Cruickshank|Updated Nov 1, 2020

    In this column, I would like to pass on information that is not limited to just veterans. It is my hope that this information will assist others who might qualify as well. With all the uncertainty today, everyone knows someone who is trying to make ends meet. The challenge is often greatest for retirees on a fixed income and people with disabilities that prevent them from working. California offers property tax deferment for some of these vulnerable homeowners. State...

  • The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Services Officer|Updated Oct 11, 2020

    In this column I would like to address a benefit that you might qualify for that is not a Department of Veterans benefit. This is a benefit that is provided through the Department of Justice (DOJ) and has been around since 1990. However, many possible claimants are unaware of it. There is a lot of information regarding this program - too much for this column - so I am only going to highlight parts of it. You can follow this link for more information: https:...

  • Benefits for Former POWs

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Service Office|Updated Jul 24, 2020

    Before I get into this column’s topic, I would like to let everyone know that the Veterans Services Office is still closed to the public due to COVID-19. We are unsure when exactly we will reopen to the public, but we are available to answer your questions and in some cases may be able to complete your claim over the phone. Please call us at (559) 713-2880 for the latest services we are currently able to provide. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has benefits available f...

  • Presumptions for Claims

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Corner|Updated May 9, 2020

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established presumptions for service connection for veterans who were on Active Duty, Reserves or in the National Guard, and served at Camp Lejeune a minimum of 30 days (cumulative) between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and have been diagnosed with any of the following conditions: - Adult leukemia - Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes - Bladder cancer - Kidney cancer - Liver cancer - Multiple myeloma -...

  • CalVet Veterans Homes

    Ken Cruickshank, Veterans Corner|Updated Apr 18, 2020

    In this article, I would like to talk about the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) Veterans Homes. Currently, there are eight homes throughout the state with varying levels of care and occupancy statuses. The homes are located in Barstow, Chula Vista, Yountville, West L.A., Lancaster, Ventura, Fresno and Redding. The mission of the Homes is "to provide the state's aged or disabled veterans with rehabilitative, residential and medical care and services in a home...

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