As veterans we spent a lot of time on active duty planning and preparing so we could be ready when called upon. Prior to deployment we would get all of our finances, our will, our power of attorney, and everything else tightened up so there would not be any issues while we were gone. It is the same thing when the time comes for that last and final deployment. The one difference is you get a bit of a warning when you are deploying with the troops. You may get no warning when the time comes for that final deployment. Are you prepared?
It is critical to make sure everything is taken care of in the event of your untimely death. Does your spouse know where your DD-214 (discharge papers) can be found? It is needed in order to have a flag on your casket and for a military funeral. If it cannot be found we have to order one and that takes a month or so to receive. Then is not a good time to be waiting for a month. There is a chance the Register of Deeds in the town you went back to once you got out of the military may have a copy if you took them one when you were discharged. If not, you need to come to our office today so we can get one ordered for you. None of us are getting any younger. A DD-214 is also needed to apply for a grave marker, a medallion, and any other death benefit to which your spouse may be entitled.
Depending on when you served, whether or not you are drawing 100% disability, the cause of death and a few other factors, the spouse may be entitled to a monthly income. Once again the service must be verified with a DD-214.
If you currently do have a copy of your discharge, take it to the Register of Deeds office in town. They will make a copy and give you your copy back. If there is a fire, flood, etc., and your copy is lost, it is as simple as requesting another one from the Register of Deeds. It is put on file securely and no one can get a copy except the veteran or our office. It is very secure, so do not worry about anyone having access.
Take the time to put your will, your power of attorney, any life insurance policies, and your discharge somewhere where your family will know where to find them. It is a difficult time when a family member passes away. Looking for these items puts additional and undue stress on the family.
Does your spouse know that any disability compensation you are currently receiving will stop upon your death? The VA must be notified or an overpayment will result in having to pay money back to the VA. Does your spouse know what your service connected for? They should, as it will make it much easier to determine what benefits they may be eligible for when you pass. If any of your service connected issues are listed on the death certificate either as the primary or secondary cause of death, then your spouse may be entitled to a monthly check.
There are Veteran Cemeteries in Black Mountain and Salisbury. Do you know if you are eligible and does your family know whether or not you wish to be buried in one of these? Take the time to discuss this with your family. You can go and visit these facilities and get all the information to make a good decision before the time comes.
We are always here to answer questions on these or any other subject. We are open Monday – Friday 8-5 and other hours if needed. You can make an appointment or just drop in when you can. We look forward to seeing you soon. For anyone who doesn't know, the Veteran Service office is located in the building adjacent to the Lincoln County Health Department's new location (the old hospital building) on Gamble Drive.
Lincoln County Veteran Service Officer
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