Thank You for Your Service
How often do we hear those words? Though recognition of our sacrifice is welcome, it is meaningless without an actionable response.
I did 7 combat tours in my 25 years of service. I am personally aware of the impact it has on a soldier’s physical and mental health. Sadly, as we saw in Congress just this week, politics plays far too big a role in providing veterans with the healthcare and benefits they deserve.
When a veteran leaves the service he or she should expect to be provided with the benefits they’ve earned. But that is not always the case. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that bureaucracy at the VA is challenging, especially for elderly and disabled veterans. Many of them end up with less than they’re due, simply because they are overwhelmed by the red tape.
For homeless veterans, it’s even worse. Without a mailing address, they can’t get a bank account. Without either one, it’s impossible for them to receive payments. The tragedy of veterans living on the streets could be alleviated if there was a workaround for these obstacles.
The lack of respect for their service makes me feel sick. So I decided that our company must do something to actively help them – free of charge.
Pro-Bono Standard Process
(we work separately with homeless veterans – see the next section.)
The potential benefits can include:
- VA Disability
- VA Pension
- VA Aid & Attendance or Housebound
- Social Security
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
We’ll help you figure out what you can apply for, based on your income, disability status, and age.
Gather the Paperwork
Once we understand your eligibility and the benefits you want to apply for, the next step is to get the forms and documents you need for your application.
We will pull together everything we can access. That won’t include medical records but we advocate with the VSO to provide them.
You will also need financial records for some benefits. We help you gather them and put together your complete packet(s) for submission – dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s.
Submit the Application(s)
Don’t worry about getting everything submitted. We will take that on for you. Anything that can be submitted electronically can be sent from our offices if that’s your preference.
Some original documents are required for processing certain claims. We will make copies of your records before submitting them. Once the original is returned, we highly recommend you keep it in a secure place. Consider those documents like gold – very valuable for your financial future.
The idea of my brothers and sisters in arms living on the streets is beyond tragic. There are over 40,000 homeless veterans in the United States and few solutions, if any, to resolve the issue on a systemic level.
It’s evidence of our epic failure as a country, denying these men and women the dignity they deserve.
Here are the obstacles we need to overcome to help them get their benefits. We are committed to doing everything we can to help them.
- Problem 1: They have no mailing address.
- Problem 2: Without an address, you can’t open a bank account.
- Problem 3: Opening a bank account requires a photo ID, sometimes a Social Security card or other documentation which sadly most homeless people no longer have.
- Problem 4: It costs money to get replacement documents, on top of having no mailing address to receive them.
- Problem 5: Living on the street is traumatizing, Many veterans already experience PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries. It should be no surprise when they turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.
- Problem 6: The government requires records to prove your eligibility. Most homeless vets don’t have them, don’t know how to get them and have limited transportation options.
- Problem 7: Though the government offers programs that are supposed to help, they expect the vets to come to them. Not an easy thing for people with health issues and no transportation.
Here’s Our Plan
There is a program for banks to make it easier for homeless veterans to open an account. But the program does not have a protocol that all participating banks need to follow. Our first step is to map the requirements for opening an account at each bank and confirm participation in the state.
Once we have that information, we will have a list of documents each veteran needs to get the account open. Then we can begin to acquire them. We will find ways to get an ID, either via the military or state identification cards. The biggest issue is a mailing address.
Shelters can be used as mailing addresses, but it’s dependent on their willingness to do so. The other issue is many homeless people consider the shelters unsafe and prefer the streets. We will reach out and find shelters who are willing to help. We will also pursue other options, such as no-fee post office boxes. That’s the last piece of the puzzle.
When we have everything, we will contact the bank, help with transportation and get the account set up.
This all has to happen before we can begin to help them gather the information they need to receive benefits, following the process described above.
If life gets too hard to handle alone, please call or text 988.
We can’t afford to lose you. Reach out.
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