In a bid to strengthen connections with concerned agencies in the U.S. mainland and improve services provided to CNMI veterans, CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs executive officer Stanley T. Iakopo recently met with Veterans Affairs Honolulu Regional Office benefit supervisor Eric S. Gaskins and Veterans Affairs Honolulu regional office director Sergio S. Chao, who is responsible for the delivery of VA benefits and services to veterans and their dependents in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI.
Their discussions included how to improve disability compensations for CNMI veterans and how disabled veterans in the CNMI could avail of travel reimbursements, especially for those who need to travel off-island for their medical needs.
Iakopo said the Torres administration understands that many veterans are struggling to make ends meet, which makes it very difficult to pay for their airfare and accommodations when traveling for their healthcare appointments. He assured CNMI veterans he is working on helping alleviate those costs.
In addition, Iakopo also made a request to increase claims and compensation visits by veterans service officers to the CNMI, which was approved by the VA Regional Office.
“In the past, VSOs would only visit the CNMI four times a year and were limited to daytime appointments. Now they will be visiting the CNMI once a month to assist our veterans with their claims for appeal and will be available for night sessions to accommodate our veterans who have day jobs,” Iakopo said.
At the moment, eligible veterans may qualify for VA disability benefits for physical conditions (like chronic illness or injury) and mental health conditions (like PTSD) that developed before, during, or after their service in the military. Eligible veterans with a service-connected disability can qualify for a monthly tax free-free VA disability compensation benefit ranging from $133 to over $3,400 a month.
“We humbly urge all our veterans to please visit our local VA office to avail of any assistance they may need,” said Iakopo. “This office was established for you and your families and we assure you that our administration will continue to work with our federal partners to provide the best possible quality of services available.”
Veterans can visit the CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill or call (670) 664-2650/51 to schedule an appointment. Veterans can also apply for disability benefits online via at www.benefits.va.gov. (PR)