Texas Veterans Veterans Benefits Handbook 2006 Compiled by Texas Veterans Commission Headquarters P.O. Box 12277 Austin, Texas 78711-2277 Administrative Inquiries: 512/ 463-6564 (FAX) 512/ 475-2395 Benefit Inquires: Veterans Benefit HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS (8387) Local: 512/ 463-5538 email@example.com www.tvc.state.tx.us TABLE OF CONTENTS I. Introduction.............................................. 1 II. Texas State Benefits for Veterans, Dependents & Survivors .................... 1 III. A Guide for Veterans’ Survivors ............ 6 IV. Education Hazlewood Act: Frequently Asked Questions................................. 8 V. 20 Most Frequently Ask Questions by Women Veterans ............................ 14 Comments concerning veterans' programs or delivery of services may be addressed to: Texas Veterans Commission P.O. Box 12277 Austin, Texas 78711-2277 The Texas Veterans Commission does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age or disability in employment or providing services. TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS I. INTRODUCTION WHAT IS THE TEXAS VETERANS COMMISSION? The Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) is a State agency that was created in 1927 to serve the needs of our State’s veterans. Commission personnel assist and represent veterans, their dependents and survivors in filing claims for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) compen- sation, pension, death benefits, educational assistance, home loans, insurance, hospitalization and outpatient care, as well as numerous other benefits and privileges. When veterans or survivors appoint the TVC to represent them in a claim for VA benefits, the VA cannot make the final decision on the claim until an expert TVC counselor reviews the VA decision. Most of the TVC Veterans Counselors are also accredited with various veterans' organizations. Assistance and representation in filing for VA benefits is also given to dependents and survivors of veterans in State schools, centers, institu- tions, orphanages and homes. The TVC also provides assistance to residents in the Texas State Veterans Homes. Additionally, assistance is provided in filing for State benefits, a summary of which follows in this brochure. The Texas Veterans Commission publishes a bi-monthly magazine, the Journal, which is distributed to every public library in the State, as well as various veterans organizations' posts and chapters throughout the State and each Veterans County Service Office (VCSO). The Journal provides updated information regarding State and federal veterans' benefits and articles of interest to veterans. Information regarding State benefits, TVC and VCSO office locations, VA facilities and other agencies and veterans' organizations providing assistance to Texas veterans is available on the TVC website at: www.tvc.state.tx.us. The TVC also shares a toll-free veterans benefit HOTLINE with the Texas Veterans Land Board: 1-800-252-VETS (8387). The locations and phone numbers of all Texas Veterans Commission offices are on the back of this brochure. Assistance is also available through many Veterans County Service Offices. A complete Veterans' Service Officers Directory is on the TVC website. II. TEXAS STATE BENEFITS FOR VETERANS, DEPENDENTS & SURVIVORS FREE DRIVERS LICENSE FOR DISABLED VETERANS Texas drivers licenses may be furnished free of charge to veterans who have service-connected disabilities rated 60% or more by VA or by a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Application must be made prior to the time present drivers license expires. Application forms may be TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 1 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS obtained from the Department of Public Safety's (DPS) license exam- ining offices located throughout the State. Application forms should be completed by the veteran and forwarded to VA for verification of service-connected rating of 60% or more. If a veteran was disability- retired from military service and has no VA claim file, proof of disability must come from their respective branch of military service. For further information, visit the DPS website at www.txdps.state.tx.us. SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES Disabled Veterans, Former Prisoners of War, Pearl Harbor Survi- vors, Purple Heart and Medal of Honor plates are among the special license plates available to eligible veterans and their survivors for personal use on their automobile or light commercial vehicle of one ton or less. Disabled veterans must have a service-connected disabil- ity rating of 50% or more or 40% due to amputation of a lower extremity. Former prisoners of war are eligible if they were captured or incarcerated by an enemy of the United States during a period of conflict with the United States and at the time of the capture, were citizens of the United States. Eligibility is for both former members of the Armed Forces and civilian U.S. citizens who were captured by an enemy of our government. A vehicle on which license plates issued under Transportation Code 504.202 and 504.315 is exempt from parking meter fees charged by a government authority other than the federal government. For further information, contact either the nearest vehicle title registration office or your county tax office. You may also visit the Texas Department of Transportation website at www.txdot.state.tx.us/vtr/spplates/allplates.htm or call them in Austin at (512) 374-5010 (Option #1). TEXAS VETERANS LOAN PROGRAMS The Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB), a division of the Texas General Land Office, administers three veterans’ loan programs: The Land Loan Program, Veterans Housing Assistance Purchase Program and the Veterans Home Improvement Program. TEXAS STATE VETERANS HOMES & STATE VETERANS CEMETERIES The VLB also administers the David A. Gloier Texas State Veterans Homes Program. The homes are located in Temple, Floresville, Bonham, Big Spring, El Paso and McAllen. A new facility in Amarillo is scheduled to open in late 2006. A Texas Veterans Commission representative is available at each of these facilities. The VLB also operates the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery in Killeen. Additional cemeteries are set to open in Mission in 2007 and Abilene in 2008. Further information concerning any of these programs may be obtained by contacting VLB at: 1700 N. Congress Avenue Austin, Texas 78701-1496 Veterans HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS (In-state only) firstname.lastname@example.org www.texasveterans.org TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 2 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS FREE RECORDING OF DISCHARGES Under Local Government Code, Sec. 192.002, the County Clerk in each county is required to record, free of charge, the official discharge of each veteran who served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. This free service is very important as it provides veterans with a ready source from which they can obtain a certified copy of their discharge whenever it is needed. HB 545 now makes DD Form 214 a confidential record for 75 years from the file date. The veteran may also request the County Clerk to destroy all copies of the veterans' record that are under the Clerk's control. EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE (Hazlewood Act) Wartime veterans of the Spanish-American War through the Persian Gulf War, and any ensuing wars, who were legal residents of Texas at the time they initially entered military service, are entitled to a waiver of tuition and some fees at State-supported colleges and universities. This benefit is also available to children of Texas servicemembers who died or were killed in military service, and to children of Texas military personnel who are shown to be missing in action or prisoners of war. Also eligible are children of members of the Texas National Guard or the Texas Air National Guard killed since January 1, 1946, while on active duty either in service of Texas or the United States. Any person claiming this benefit must have exhausted all Federal educational benefits and be a legal resident of Texas at the time of application, which should be made through the registrar of the school of attendance. For further information on the Hazlewood Act, please see Section IV, Page 8 of this Handbook or visit our website at www.tvc.state.tx.us. EMPLOYMENT & REEMPLOYMENT Veterans have preference in employment with State agencies or offices, as do widows(ers) and children of those killed on active duty. State agencies must practice veteran's preference until they have reached 40% veteran employment. Additionally, a veteran is entitled to reemployment rights with his/her last employer when he/she is released from the Armed Forces of the United States, providing his/her absence is not longer than four years. The right of reemployment is available regardless of whether the veteran was, prior to service, employed by the State, county or city government, or by private industry. Reemployment rights of veterans are now provided by both State and Federal laws. Non-retiree veterans who are employed by the State of Texas are entitled to claim their active duty military time toward retirement, provided they present a proper request and pay to the Retirement System the specified amount of retirement contribution for the time spent in the military. Such contribution is paid at the rate which was applicable at the time the employed veteran first was covered by the State Retirement System. All veterans may also use TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 3 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS their military time toward retirement if they are members of the State Teachers Retirement System. VETERANS’ EDUCATION Veterans’ Education, a department of the Texas Workforce Commission, is under contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs to evaluate education and training programs within the State of Texas that may be approved for eligible veterans and their dependents to use federal educational benefits earned through military service. Responsibilities include the review, evaluation, and approval or denial of requested programs; annual supervisory reviews and technical assistance to ensure accurate reporting; and, outreach to employers, community and veteran service organizations, and local employment staff to maximize the number of approved education and training opportunities for eligible veterans and dependents. Currently approved programs include senior, junior and community colleges; medical residencies and law degrees; cosmetology, barber, massage, culinary and bible colleges; advanced flight training; private, postsecondary schools; and on-the-job-training and apprenticeship programs. Veterans’ Education coordinates activities with other state and local agencies to ensure the widest dissemination to eligible veterans and persons in programs approved for federal educational benefits. Further information can be obtained by contacting Veterans’ Education at: 101 E. 15th Street, Room 144-T Austin, Texas 78778-0001 1-877-898-3833 www.twc.state.tx.us/svcs/vetsvcs/tsaa/valist.html For further information on the Hazlewood Act, please see Section IV, Page 8 of this Handbook or visit our website at www.tvc.state.tx.us TROOPS TO TEACHERS The purpose of Troops to Teachers (TTT) is to assist eligible military personnel to transition to a new career as public school teachers in “high-need” schools. A network of State TTT offices has been established to provide participants with counseling and assistance regarding certification requirements, routes to state certification, and employment leads. The TTT website provides information and resource links, including a job referral system to allow participants to search for job vacancies as well as links to state Departments of Education, state certification offices, model résumés, and other job listing sites in public education. For more information about Troops-to-Teachers, contact: 1-800-810-5484 or online at www.esc13.net/troops. TAX EXEMPTION FOR VETERANS Disabled veterans who meet certain requirements, their surviving spouses and the spouses and minor children of a person who dies on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible for property tax exemptions on the appraised value of their property. The exemption is mandatory and applies to taxes levied by all taxing authorities in the TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 4 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS State. A veteran whose service-connected disabilities are rated less than 10% by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or a branch of the Armed Forces, is not entitled to a property tax exemption. For those rated 10% or more, the tax exemptions below apply: Disability Rating Tax Exemption 10% through 30% First $ 5,000 of appraised value 31% through 50% First $ 7,500 of appraised value 51% through 70% First $10,000 of appraised value 71% or more First $12,000 of appraised value A veteran whose disability is 10% or more, and who is 65 years or older, is entitled to exemption of the first $12,000 of appraised value of property. A veteran whose disability consists of the loss of use of one or more limbs, total blindness in one or both eyes, or suffers paraplegia, is exempt on the first $12,000 of the appraised value of his/her property. A veteran who qualifies under more than one of the exemptions may not combine the exemptions, but may take the one providing the largest exclusion. The surviving spouse of a person who dies on active duty is entitled to exemption of the first $5,000 of the appraised value of the spouse's property. A surviving child of a person who dies on active duty is exempt on the first $5,000 of appraised value of the child's property, as long as the child is unmarried and under 21 years of age. The surviving spouse of a deceased veteran who, at the time of the veteran's death had a compensable disability and was entitled to an exemption, is also entitled to that exemption if the surviving spouse is unmarried. This law is administered at the local level by the various taxing authorities. To apply, obtain an application from the local appraisal district office. Application must be completed between January 1 and April 30. FREE PARK ADMISSION FOR DISABLED VETERANS Free admission to Texas State Parks is available to any veteran who has a service-connected disability which is rated 60% or more by VA or a service-connected disability which has resulted in the loss of use of a lower extremity. Application may be made at the headquarters office of any Texas State Park by providing satisfactory evidence of service- connected disability. If such evidence is not readily available, it can be obtained from the VA regional office where the claims folder is located. The State Parklands Passport is available to any veteran who meets the disability requirements, whether or not he or she resides in Texas. The Passport provides only free admission to the State parks, and does not exempt anyone from payment of other charges, such as camping fees, etc. For further information, contact the Texas Parks & Wildlife toll-free at 1-800-792-1112 or visit their website at www.tpwd.state.tx.us. TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 5 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS FISHING & HUNTING LICENSES FOR DISABLED VETERANS Disabled veterans are eligible for special hunting and fishing licenses, at a reduced cost. A disabled veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States is one who has a service-connected disability, as defined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), consisting of the loss of use of a lower extremity or of a disability rating of 60% or more, and who is receiving compensation from VA for the disability. A resident veteran as described by the law may hunt wild turkey and deer without a resident hunting license if he/she has acquired a resident exemption hunting license. NO COST MEDICAL RECORDS Under the Health and Safety Code, Chapter 161, Subchapter M, Medi- cal Records or Mental Health Records, Texas veterans are eligible for no cost medical records when they are obtained to file a claim for a disabil- ity against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The health care provider or health care facility is not required to provide more than one complete record for the patient or former patient without charge. Also, it should be noted, that some medical facilities will charge a small administrative fee for obtaining the records. III. A GUIDE FOR VETERANS’ SURVIVORS The Texas Veterans Commission is aware that one of the most difficult responsibilities that a survivor faces after the death of a veteran is completing the numerous VA forms for survivor benefits. The Texas Veterans Commission can be a source of assistance during this time. The anxiety and fear of the unknown - who to call - can be a trying experience. To help ease this burden and to ensure that you have the details of where and how to get assistance, this brochure outlines some of the basic information you will need at this time. Listed below are important documents to have available when applying for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration. Veteran's Discharge Certificate or DD Form 214 Veteran's VA Claim Numbee or Social Security Number Veteran's Death Certificate Veteran's Government Life Insurance Policy Copy of all Marriage Certificates and Divorce Decrees (if any) Copy of Each Child's Birth Certificate or Adoption Papers For any type of assistance, including obtaining copies of these documents, do not hesitate to contact your nearest Texas Veterans Commission Office or Veterans County Service Office. The staff at any one of these offices is available to assist you. For referral to the nearest office, call the Veterans’ HOTLINE at 1-800-252-VETS (8387). TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 6 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS It is important to do the following after the veteran's death: Contact the head of your church and your funeral director for burial arrangements. Furnish the funeral director a copy of the veteran's discharge, DD Form 214, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claim number (if known), and the veteran's social security number. This information allows the funeral director to apply for the amounts allowed from VA and the Social Security Administration for burial and plot expenses. The funeral director may also apply for a United States flag to drape the casket, or application for the flag may be made with the local postmaster. The funeral director may also assist in applying for a headstone or grave marker from VA. If desired, a veterans' service organization can be contacted for Mili- tary Funeral Honors (“Taps”) and pallbearers, if needed. The veterans' organization can also present the next of kin with the U.S. flag during the graveside service. Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) If the veteran was a military retiree, the widow and/or children may be entitled to payments from the Survivor Benefit Plan. Survivors should contact the nearest Personnel Affairs Office of the service department of the veteran to determine if the veteran made necessary provisions for SBP coverage. You may also call toll-free: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines 1-800-269-5170 Coast Guard, NOAA 1-800-772-8724 A Texas Veterans Commission counselor or a Veterans County Service Officer will assist in applying for other VA and State benefits to which the survivor may be entitled. These include: Widow's or Children’s Compensation Widow's or Children's Pension Parent's Compensation Education Benefits Medical Benefits Tax Exclusions Home Loan Guaranty Insurance A Texas Veterans Commission Counselor or a Veterans County Service Officer may offer assistance in supplying and com- pleting forms for G.I. Insurance. If life insurance is carried with another commercial company, contact an agent of that company. TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 7 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS Additional information to pre-record: Spouse's Social Security Number Veteran's Service Number Veteran's Insurance Numbers Location of VA Claim File Location of G.I. Insurance File Pastor's Phone Number Funeral Home Phone Number Service Dept. Phone Number Contact Info. for Texas Veterans Commission or Veterans County Service Office IV. EDUCATION Hazlewood Act: Frequently Asked Questions COLLEGE CHARGES COVERED 1. What charges are covered? The Hazlewood Act exempts qualified students taking classes at public institutions of higher education in Texas from all tuition and fee charges. 2. What charges are not covered? Books, supplies and living expenses are not covered, nor are property deposit and student services fees. 3. What is the maximum amount of credit hours that can be attempted using the Hazlewood Act exemption? A student using the Hazlewood benefit can attempt no more than 150 credit hours. 4. How does the exemption work? Will I get a check in the mail for tuition? The Hazlewood Act exemption is a waiver of tuition and most fees. There is no money exchanging hands with this benefit. The institution the student attends absorbs the cost of tuition and fees for that student. DEPENDENTS AND RESIDENCY 5. Which dependents may qualify for Hazlewood Act benefits? Children of service members who are killed in the line of duty or who die as a result of injury or illness directly related to military service are eligible for Hazlewood Act benefits. The student will need to provide official military documentation indicating he/she meets the requirement. 6. Does the Hazlewood Act provide benefits to the spouses of veterans? No. It provides benefits to the dependent children of a veteran, but TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 8 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS only if the veteran is killed in the line of duty or dies as a result of an injury or illness directly related to military service. 7. Would a veteran who was a dependent when his/her parents moved to Texas and who shortly thereafter entered the service be eligible? To be eligible, the veterans must have been a resident of Texas at the time he/she enlisted. The residence of a dependent child is that of the parents, but parents who move to Texas would not be considered Texas residents for tuition purposes until they had been in the state 12 months. If a veteran, who, as a dependent, enlisted in fewer than 12 months after his/her parents move to Texas, he or she would not have been a resident of Texas at the time of enlistment and is, therefore, not eligible for Hazlewood Act benefits. 8. Does the dependent child of a deceased veteran using Hazlewood Act benefits have to be a Texas resident at the time he/she uses the benefit? Yes. The dependent child must be classified by the institution of higher education as a resident of Texas for the term/semester for which they apply for the exemption. 9. If the dependent child of a deceased veteran wants to use the Hazlewood Act benefit, must the parent have entered the service as a Texas resident? Yes. The Hazlewood Act benefit was designed to provide assistance to Texas veterans and the dependent children of certain deceased veterans. 10. Can the dependent children of a member of the Texas National Guard who is killed in the line of duty use the Hazlewood benefit? Yes. The Hazlewood Act benefit is extended to the dependent children of Texas National Guardsman and Texas Air National Guardsmen killed in the line of duty while serving the state of Texas or the United States. DISABLED VETERANS 11. Does the Hazlewood Act provide benefits to injured/disabled veterans? Yes. The Hazlewood Act is available to all veterans who meet the program requirements, regardless of injury or disability. DISCHARGE ISSUES 12. Does a veteran have to show his DD214 to qualify? Though not required, the DD214 is the preferred form used by institutions. The veteran must provide official military documentation to prove eligibility for the Hazlewood Act exemption. 13. I can’t find my DD214. Where can I get a new copy? You can obtain a copy of your DD214 from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The fastest way to obtain TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 9 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS a copy is to submit your request via the NPRC websitea www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/get-service- records.html. You can also make your request via mail by sending in a Standard Form 180, which can be obtained by calling the Texas Veterans Commission at 1-800-252-8387. 14. What is acceptable discharge language related to the phrase “under honorable conditions”? Discharges that have been characterized as “honorable” or “general, under honorable conditions” are legally acceptable for qualifying for the Hazlewood Act exemption. If other wording is used and you are unsure of its meaning, please contact the Texas Veterans Commission. 15. My discharge is listed as “other than honorable.” Can I use the Hazlewood exemption? No. You must have a discharge of “honorable” or “general under honorable conditions.” You can make a request to have your discharge status upgraded. For information, contact the Texas Veterans Commission. 16. My military documents state I have an “honorable separation” as opposed to an “honorable discharge.” Can I still quality for Hazlewood benefits? Yes. In September 1996, the Texas Attorney General issued an opinion that military personnel honorably separated after being on active duty may qualify for the Hazlewood Act exemption if they meet other program requirements. LENGTH OF ACTIVE MILITARY DUTY 17. Is the required amount of active service still 181 days? Are there any exceptions? The requirement is “more than 180 days” of active military service, excluding training, for the veteran. There are exceptions: veterans who completed all of their duty prior to the conclusion of the Korean War. If the applicant is the dependent child of a veteran who dies in the line of duty, the active duty time of the veteran may be fewer than 181 days. 18. If a veteran served less than 181 days of active duty service when he or she entered the service as a Texas resident, but had previously participated in active duty in the armed forces, could periods of service be combined to meet the 181-day requirement? Yes. The law requires more than 180 days of active duty excluding training. It does not indicate this duty time has to fall in the period of service after entering as a Texas resident. MILITARY DUTY ISSUES 19. Can service in the Texas National Guard qualify an individual for Hazlewood benefits? No. The Hazlewood Act benefit is for veterans who served in the armed TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 10 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS forces of the United States. The National Guard is a state unit. However, an individual in the National Guard who is called into active duty service by a branch of the United States Armed Forces who serves at least 181 days (excluding training) and meets all other program requirements may qualify for Hazlewood benefits. 20. Can men/women who served in Operation Desert Storm qualify for Hazlewood benefits? Yes, as long as they meet all of the program requirements, including 181 days of active military duty, excluding training. RESIDENCY OF VETERAN 21. Can a veteran whose place of entry is another state qualify for Hazlewood Act benefits if he/she was a Texas resident at the time of entry? Yes. The veteran must prove to the institution that he/she was a resident of Texas at the time of entry into military service. 22. If the veteran is now a Texas resident but was not a resident at the time of entering the service, can he/she qualify for Hazlewood Act benefits? No. The veteran must have been a resident of Texas at the time he/ she entered military service. 23. If someone entered the service from another state but then became a Texas resident, could he/she use the Hazlewood Act benefit? No. The veteran must have been a Texas resident at the time he/she entered military service. 24. If someone from another state re-enlists after establishing residency in Texas, can he/she be eligible for Hazlewood Act benefits? Yes, but only IF he/she was out of the military and living in Texas long enough to establish Texas residency (12 months). The person would then have to re-enter as a Texas resident and meet the 181- day active duty service requirement. If the person was in Texas simply because he/she was stationed here at the end of previous enlistment period, the time while stationed here does NOT count toward the establishment of residence in Texas for the subsequent enlistment. STUDENT FINANCIAL AID 25. Is financial need an eligibility requirement? No. Hazlewood Act benefits are awarded regardless of financial need. 26. If I am receiving the Federal Pell Grant (PELL) or Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), can I still use the Hazlewood exemption? Yes. Eligibility for the PELL and the SEOG is NO LONGER considered in determining eligibility for Hazlewood benefits. TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 11 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS 27. What federal education benefits must be exhausted prior to using the Texas Hazlewood Act benefits? Federal education benefits, including Title 38, United States Code, Chapters 30, 32 and 35, and Title 10, United States Code, Chapters 1606 and 1607 must be exhausted. 28. Do federal education loans or federal work-study benefits qualify as federal education benefits? No. The only federal education benefits that must be exhausted are listed in Question 27 above. Federal education loans and federal work-study programs do not qualify as federal education benefits. 29. What documents do I need to prove I’ve exhausted my federal education benefits? You must contact the VA Regional Office in Muskogee, OK to obtain a letter that states you’ve exhausted ALL federal education benefits. The office can be contact by calling 1-888-442-4551 or by writing PO Box 8888, VA Regional Office, Muskogee, OK 74402- 8888. 30. If a Texas veteran has defaulted on an education loan through a loan program in another state, would he/she be eligible for an exemption? A default on a nonfederal education loan authorized by the legislature of another state and administered by that state is not a basis for denying the Hazlewood Act benefit. A veteran who has defaulted on any federal education loan is disqualified from receiving Hazlewood Act benefits. A portion of the law indicates that defaulted loans made or guaranteed by the State of Texas also disqualify a veteran from Hazlewood benefits. This portion of the law relates to defaults on education loans authorized by the Texas Legislature and administered by the State of Texas. Currently, the state loans to which this provision applies are: Hinson-Hazlewood Stafford Loans, Hinson-Hazlewood Health Education Loans (HELP), Hinson-Hazlewood College Access Loans (CAL), uninsured Texas Opportunity Plan Loans (TOP) and the Texas B-On-Time Student Loan administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. 31. Will individuals in default on a federal or state student loan be eligible to use the Hazlewood Act benefits for non-credit courses? If a veteran has a default, which would exclude him/her from Hazlewood Act benefits, that exclusion would apply no matter what types of classes are taken. 32. If a veteran receives Hazlewood Act benefits and it is later discovered that he/she defaulted on an applicable federal or state loan, does he/ she have to reimburse the school for the classes taken with the exemption? If the veteran signs a statement that he/she is not in default of any federal education loan or any education loan made or guaranteed by TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 12 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS the State of Texas and is later found to be in default, the school can require repayment of tuition and appropriate fees. 33. If a student is in default on a PLUS loan, can he/she receive Hazlewood Act benefits? PLUS loans are taken out by the parents of students. If the parents default on their child’s PLUS loan, the child is not in default. This default status does NOT have an impact on the student’s eligibility for Hazlewood Act benefits. TYPES OF COURSES COVERED 34. Does the Hazlewood Act cover teacher certification fees? No. The teacher certification fee is not an institutional fee. It is a fee required by the State Board for Educator Certification and is paid directly to that board. 35. Does the Hazlewood Act cover credit by examination? Yes. Since Texas Education Code 54.203 (a) refers to an exemption from “all dues, fees and charges…” the exemption would include charges for credit by examination. 36. Will Hazlewood Act benefits pay for continuing education classes? Institutions are NOT required to offer Hazlewood Act benefits to veterans enrolled in continuing education classes for which the college or university receives no formula funding (tax support). However, the college or university may choose to permit this option and shall charge a reasonable fee to each person registered in a continuing education course if the course does not apply to the student’s degree plan. 37. Can Hazlewood Act benefits be used for graduate school? Yes. Hazlewood Act benefits may be used for graduate studies, including law school or any other program of study at public institutions (other than continuing education) if the veteran has not accumulated 150 credit hours using Hazlewood Act benefits since fall of 1995. 38. Can veterans who are concurrently enrolled in more than one college or university (in the same semester) received Hazlewood Act benefits for both schools? Yes. But each college/university granting Hazlewood Act benefits must document the veteran’s eligibility and must observe the 150- hour limit. 39. Can the Hazlewood exemption be used to pay for courses taken via distance education (correspondence, web-based, ITV, etc.)? There is nothing in the Hazlewood statute that limits the means by which a course is being taught, although correspondence courses can ONLY be covered by the Hazlewood benefit if the course applies to the veterans’ degree plan. An otherwise eligible student living in TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 13 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS Texas who takes a distance education course from a Texas public institution of higher education could use the Hazlewood exemption. A student taking a class through distance education and living in another state generally cannot meet the program’s residency requirement. The Hazlewood benefit requires students to be Texas residents at the time they use the program. However, an otherwise eligible person who is temporarily out of state but still classified by the institution as a resident could use the exemption for distance education courses. 40. Are aircraft training courses covered by the Hazlewood Act? Each school must decide this. The governing board of a junior or community college may establish a fee for extraordinary costs associated with a specific course or program such as flight training, diesel mechanics or other classes in which fees are higher than that of a normal class. RECORDING INFORMATION 41. What information will be made available upon signing the release form? All students using the Hazlewood Act benefit are required to sign a release form which allows the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, along with any institution the veteran may attend, access to the number of credit hours attempted in the current and previous years. 42. How will the Hazlewood credit hours attempted be tracked and recorded? The governing board of each institution shall report to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board information relating to each individual receiving an exemption from fees and charges through the Hazlewood Act benefit. V. 20 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION BY WOMEN VETERANS The Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) assists women veterans in accessing VA benefit programs and healthcare services. The TVC promotes awareness of five different public laws that authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide gender-specific services to eligible women veterans such as: Papaniclaon tests (pap smears), breast examinations, management of menopause, mammography, general reproductive health care services, counseling and treatment for sexual trauma, maternity and infertility excluding in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Public law also mandates that the Veterans Health Administration in each region must serve as coordinator of women’s services with specific responsibility for assessing the needs of and enhancing services for TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 14 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS women veterans. As a result Women Veterans Coordinators are available in VA hospitals and clinics to ensure that eligible women veterans have access to all necessary medical care, including care for gender-specific conditions, that is equal in quality to that provided to male veterans. The Texas Veterans Commission offers free, professional benefits counseling and advocacy through a network of state counselors and veterans county service officers across the state. The TVC has also appointed six female veterans counselors as Women Veterans Coordinators. State veteran counselors and veteran county service officers can assist you in applying for a variety of VA benefit programs and healthcare services, many briefly mentioned in this brochure. The range of available health care may vary among VA medical centers and community clinics. Every medical center has a Women Veterans Coordinator, who is sensitive to the needs and health care problems of female patients. These Coordinators will be your points of contact for medical concerns. How can you apply for VA benefits and services? Simply visit one of the Women Veteran Coordinators listed in this brochure indicated with a or call the Texas Veterans HOTLINE at 1-800-252-VETS (8387). 1. What services are available to women veterans? A full continuum of comprehensive medical services including health promotion and disease prevention, primary care, women’s gender- specific health care; e.g., hormone replacement therapy, breast and gynecological care, maternity and limited infertility (excluding In- vitro fertilization), acute medical/surgical, telephone triage, emergency and substance abuse treatment, mental health, domiciliary, rehabilitation and long term care. VA researchers at many VA facilities also conduct medical research on women’s health. 2. How do I access the system for health and benefits services, gender- specific services, including pap smears, mammography, pre-natal and childcare? Veterans can apply for VA health care enrollment by completing VA Form 10-10EZ. The 10-10EZ may be obtained by visiting, calling or writing any VA health care facility or veterans’ benefits office. You can also call the VA Health Benefits Call Center toll-free at 1- 877-222 VETS (1-877-222-8387), to determine your eligibility or access the form from the Health Administration Eligibility Reform website: www.va.gov/elig. The provision of health care to non- veteran children is limited to those instances where specific authority is given to VA by law. Contact your local VA health care facility and ask to speak with the Women Veterans Program Manager. For VA benefits, refer to Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents at www1.va.gov/pubaff/fedben/Fedben.pdf. This TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 15 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS booklet discusses the variety of Federal benefits available to veterans and their dependents, such as: Compensation and Pension Montgomery GI Bill (Education) Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Veterans Group Life Insurance, and Home Loan Guaranty Additional information and application forms can be obtained at the VA website at www.va.gov. The Veterans Online Application (VONAP) allows you to complete and submit most application forms on-line. You may also call the VA nationwide toll-free number at 1-800-827-1000 for specific benefit information. 3. Where are the special PTSD treatment centers? Women Veteran Stress Disorder Treatment Programs have been established at the following VA sites: Boston, MA Loma Linda, CA Brecksville, OH New Orleans, LA 4. Where are the designated Clinical Programs of Excellence in Women’s Health? Women Veterans Health Care Program, Alexandria, LA VAMC Women Veterans Comprehensive Health, Durham NC VAMC Women Veterans Health Program, Boston MA VAMC Women Veterans Health Program, Bay Pines FL VAMC Women Veterans Health Program, Pittsburgh Health Care System Women Veterans Health Program, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio 5. Where can I get Military Sexual Trauma treatment? You may enroll and receive counseling and treatment for any emotional or physical condition experienced, as a result of sexual trauma experienced while on active duty, at any VA health care facility or Rehabilitation Counseling Center (Vet Center) in the continental United States without regard for your service-connected rating or length of military service. 6. Where do I find research studies and surveys on women veterans? The Office of Research and Development at VA national headquarters oversees research within the Veterans Health Administration through its four service areas: The Medical Research Service provides knowledge of the fundamental biological processes to form an understanding of disease pathology, diagnosis, and treatment. The Cooperative Studies Program applies the knowledge gained from medical research to patients by determining the effectiveness TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 16 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS of novel or unproven therapies using multi-center clinical intervention trials. The Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) contributes to improving the quality, effectiveness, efficiency, and accessibility of health care services for veterans. The Rehabilitation Research and Development Service addresses the minimization of disability and restoration of function in veterans disabled by trauma or disease. Some important DVA research websites to know are: www.hsrd.research.va.gov www.hsrd.research.va.gov/research/studies/ www.starsandstripes.med.va.gov/visn4/page.cfm?pg=26 www.va.gov/womenvet/ www.sf.med.va.gov/womens.htm 7. How do I contact a coordinator for options for women veterans who are homeless with children? Contact the local VA homeless coordinator (or point of contact), Social Work Services department, or Women Veterans Program Manager at your local VAMC. There are homeless women veteran and homeless women veterans with children pilot programs located at eleven designated VA facilities as well, and the Women Veterans Program Manager can discuss what options are available in your area. 8. Are VA services authorized for women veterans who were involuntarily discharged from the military for pregnancy prior to May 1974? If not, how does one get this issue addressed? The provision of health care services to veterans is established by certain eligibility criteria and discharge status requirements. To determine your eligibility for services, contact your nearest VA health care facility. Women veterans involuntarily discharged may also be eligible to Compensation and Pension, Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment, Home Loan Guaranty, and Burial benefits. Children born to veterans who served in Vietnam may also be eligible for monthly monetary benefits, medical care, and vocational training if they have certain birth defects linked to their mother’s service. Contact the nearest VA Regional Office on the nationwide toll-free number, 1-800-827-1000 for benefit information and eligibility requirements, or visit the VA homepage at: www.va.gov. 9. What is the process of getting quality of care issues addressed? Contact the Women Veterans Program Manager at your local health care facility. 10. How do I get a clinic appointment when the waiting list is six months for an initial appointment? TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 17 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS If you experience an urgent or emergent medical condition you can contact your local VA health care facility telephone care program; or visit their walk-in (urgent care) clinic or emergency room. Non- acute problems will be scheduled on a next available appointment basis. 11. Where can I get inpatient psychiatric care as a woman veteran? Most VA Medical Centers have inpatient mental health programs. Contact your VA Primary Care Provider or the local Mental Health Program office for assistance. If you already have a therapist and need inpatient care, please discuss your concerns with your therapist. If you have urgent or emergent needs, you can contact your local VA health care facility telephone care program or urgent care clinic. 12. How do I get evaluated for nursing home care? If you have never been seen at a VA health care facility, you must first enroll for benefits. Then you must enroll in a primary care clinic and ask for an evaluation for nursing home care. The evaluation will be done either by the primary care provider or a geriatrics care team. 13. How do I locate a buddy I served with? The Privacy Act obliges the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as a Federal agency, to protect the privacy of veterans’ personal information. Therefore, VA cannot release personal information about a veteran in its records system without that person’s permission. VA can, however, forward a message from you to the veteran, providing VA has a current address on record. Write your message to your friend and place it in an unsealed, stamped envelope. Include a note to VA explaining who it is that you are trying to reach and add as much identifying information as you have. Put all of this in another envelope and address it to the nearest VA Regional Office. If the veteran is in VA records, your message to the veteran will be sealed and the envelope will be sent to the address on file for the veteran. It is then up to the veteran to contact you. This process is designed to protect the privacy of veterans as required by law. If you have questions, you may call VA at 1-800-827-1000. You may also contact the Women In Military Service for America Memorial (WIMSA) located at the ceremonial entrance of Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, VA at www.womensmemorial.org or by phone toll free at 1-800-222-2294. 14. How do I locate my military records? To obtain copies of your military records and/or Report of Separation from Active Military Service (DD Form 214 or TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 18 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS equivalent) you must submit a Request Pertaining to Military Records (Standard Form 180) to the records custodian of your branch of service. Addresses for each service’s records custodian are found on page 2 of the SF 180. The SF 180 requires a signature and must be submitted either by mail or fax. Contact the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63132-5100, or fax requests to (314) 801- 9195. The web site is: www.archives.gov/research_room/vetrecs/ 15. How and where do I apply for home, business, or car loans? The Texas Veterans land Board (VLB) provides loans to veterans to purchase land or homes and also offers home improvement loans. In addition, the Texas State Veteran Cemeteries and Texas State Veterans Homes are managed by the VLB. For more information call toll-free at 1-800-252-VETS (8387) or visit their website at www.texasveterans.com. VA Home Loan Guaranty Program provides VA loan guaranties to service members, veterans, reservists, and unmarried surviving spouses for the purchase of homes, condominiums and manufactured homes, and for refinancing loans. Some of the ways a VA loan guaranty can be used are: Buy a home or a residential condominium Build a home Repair, alter or improve a home Refinance an existing loan Buy a manufactured home with or without a lot You must complete VA Form 26-1880, Request for a Certificate of Eligibility for VA Home Loan Benefits and submit it to one of the VA Eligibility Centers along with acceptable proof of service as described on the instruction page of the form. Center for Veteran Enterprise partners with the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration to provide information, assistance, and mentoring for veterans who would like to start their own business. Visit www.vetbiz.gov for additional information. VA does not provide assistance for automobile purchases except for certain veterans and service members who need special adaptive equipment. To apply, contact a VA regional office (1-800-827-1000) or a VA medical center. 16. Where can I find information regarding benefits and services for National Guard and Reserves? Current and former members of the Selected Reserve who served on active duty may establish veteran status and may therefore be eligible for VA benefits, depending on the length of active military service and the character of discharge or release. Members of the National Guard activated for federal service during a period of war or domestic TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 19 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS emergency may be eligible for certain VA benefits, such as VA health care, compensation for injuries or conditions connected to that service and burial benefits. Activation for other than federal service does not qualify Guard members for all VA benefits. Contact the Women Veterans Program Manager at your local health care facility. Transition Assistance Program (TAP) was established to meet the needs of separating service members during their period of transistion into civilian life. For further information, contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans Employement & Training Service (VETS) at www.dol.gov/vets. 17. Am I eligible for burial at Arlington National cemetery, if not what are my options? Although Arlington National Cemetery is a national cemetery, it is one of two cemeteries maintained by the Department of the Army, not the Department of Veterans Affairs. For further information, you may call 703/ 695-3250; or visit www.arlingtoncemetery.org. You may also wish to consider burial at one of VA’s 120 national cemeteries or a State Veterans Cemetery. You may view a listing of these cemeteries and review eligibility requirements at www.cem.va.gov. The State of Texas Veterans Cemeteries are managed by the Texas Veterans Land Board. For more information, contact them at 1- 800-252-VETS (8387) or visit www.texasveterans.com. 18. How do I access employment options for women veterans? Optional job websites for veterans include the following: Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Human Resources Management: www.va.gov/ohrm Department of Labor veterans site: www.dol.gov/dol/topic/hiring/ veterans.htm Office of Personnel Management: www.usajobs.opm.gov America’s Job Bank: www.ajb.org A generic but powerful job hunting/posting database used by industry country and worldwide: www.monster.com 19. I have been out of the military for more than 10 years. How do I get an extension to my GI bill educational benefits? Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30) Benefits end 10 years from the date of your last discharge or release from active duty. If your benefits expire mid-term, your benefits are extended to the end of the term or semester. (Example: Your benefits expire in November but the course ends in December. You will be paid for December.) The delimiting date can be extended past your 10-year period if you were prevented from attending classes due to: A severe disability, or You were held against your will by a foreign government or power. TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 20 TEXAS VETERANS HOTLINE: 1-800-252-VETS The delimiting date is only extended by the amount of time you were prevented from attending classes. VA can also extend your 10-year period if you reenter active duty for 90 days or more after becoming eligible. The extension ends 10 years from the date of separation from the later period. Periods of active duty of less than 90 days can qualify you for extensions only if you were separated for: A service-connected disability A medical condition existing before active duty Hardship, or A reduction in force. If your benefit eligibility is based on two years of active duty and four years in the Selected Reserve, you have 10 years from your release from active duty, or 10 years from the completion of the four-year Selected Reserve obligation to use your benefits, whichever is later. For more information, you may visit: www.gibill.va.gov/ education/c30pam.htm. 20. How do I get my disability compensation claim re-evaluated? You may request a reevaluation of your claim anytime that you believe your condition has changed or worsened. The Texas Veterans Commission has veterans counselors located across the state who can assist with filing a compensation claim or having a claim re- evaluated. You can also contact a local Veterans County Service Officer to assist with this matter. Be prepared to provide the following information: Name and current address Claim number or Social Security Number Day and evening contact information Statement explaining change requested Any new and pertinent medical evidence that supports your request TEXAS VETERANS BENEFIT HANDBOOK - 2006 Page 21 CONTACT THE TEXAS VETERANS COMMISSION OFFICE NEAREST YOU FOR ASSISTANCE TVC Regional Office TVC Regional Office 6900 Almeda Road One Veterans Plaza Houston, TX 77030-4200 701 Clay 713/383-2756 Waco, TX 76799 HOUSTON_TVC@vba.va.gov 254/299-9950 WACO_TVC@vba.va.gov Thomas E. Creek VA Medical Center South Texas Veterans Health Care System Amarillo, TX 79106 Kerrville Division 806/468-1883 Kerrville, TX 78028 830/792-2553 VA Outpatient Clinic Austin, TX 78741 Wilford Hall USAF 512/389-6543 Medical Center Lackland AFB, TX 78236-5300 VA Outpatient Clinic 210/292-7401 Beaumont, TX 77707 409/981-8598 VA Outpatient Clinic Toll-free: 1-800-833-7734 Laredo, TX 78043 956/523-7860 VA Medical Center *Big Spring, TX 79720-5500 VA Outpatient Clinic 432/264-4819 Lubbock, TX 79412 806/472-3490 Sam Rayburn Memorial VA Medical Center Charles Wilson VA Outpatient Clinic *Bonham, TX 75418 Lufkin, TX 75904 903/583-6390 936/633-2780 VA Outpatient Clinic VA Outpatient Clinic Cedar Park, TX 78613 McAllen, TX 78503 512/260-1368, Ext. 58022 956/618-7106 VA Outpatient Clinic 102 W. Houston Street College Station, TX 77845 Marshall, TX 75671 979/ 680-0361, Ext. 58417 903/935-8415 VA Outpatient Clinic Midland Co. Courthouse Annex Corpus Christi, TX 78405 Midland, TX 79705 361/806-5610 432/688-4879 North Texas Veterans Health Care System South Texas Veterans Health Care System Dallas, TX 75216 Audie L. Murphy Memorial VAMC 214/857-0444 San Antonio, TX 78229-4404 210/617-5175 VA Health Care Center El Paso, TX 79930-4211 Frank M. Tejeda VA Outpatient Clinic 915/564-6100, Ext. 6282 San Antonio, TX 78240 Toll-free:1-800-672-3782, Ext. 6282 210/699-5076 Building 18010 426 5th Avenue Fort Hood, TX 76544 82 MSSQ/MSP Bldg. 402, Room 234 254/287-3341 Sheppard AFB, TX 76311-2929 940/676-4140 Bldg. 2263 1706 Stanley Rd., Suite 18 Central Texas Veterans Health Care System Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-5024 Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Center 210/221-2044 Temple, TX 76504 254/743-0549 VA Outpatient Clinic Toll Free: 1-800-423-2111, Ext. 40549 Fort Worth, TX 76104 817/882-6090 VA Outpatient Clinic Victoria, TX 77901 Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center 361/582-7710 Houston, TX 77030-4298 713/794-7785 VA Medical Center Toll-free: 1-800-553-2278, Ext. 7785 *Waco, TX 76711 * = Part-time office; call first for hour = Women Veterans Coordinator Available You may also contact your local Veterans County Service Office for information concerning veterans' benefits.
Pages to are hidden for
"Veterans Texas Veterans Benefits Handbook Compiled by Texas Veterans"Please download to view full document