November 11, 2010 11:02:00 AM
They walk among us, most of the time unnoticed. But they''re different than us.
They are the combat veterans of the U.S. military. Columbus, a military town with its Air Force base and defense industries, has more veterans than the average place.
How are they different? They have sacrificed a level of time, effort, energy and hardship, in preservation of the American way of life, that non-veterans will never fully understand. All we can do is offer a gift of thanks, as meager as that may be.
We can also ensure they are cared for. Our wounded and retired veterans deserve every benefit they''re entitled to. Cuts to veterans'' benefits should be off the table in Washington -- if anything, we should be doing more. Americans deserve to shoulder the cost for veterans'' care.
Meanwhile, many benefits and services available to veterans are going unused. One example: An opinion piece in today''s Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out that only 105,000 veterans are taking advantage of the federal Aid and Attendance benefit, which assists veterans and their spouses with costs for nursing home care or assisting living. Only 105,000 veterans are using the benefit, which pays up to $1,949 per month to vets needing this care. There are more than 2.6 million World War II vets and 7.7 million Vietnam War veterans among us, so the number of people using this benefit could be far greater.
"Applicants must meet certain medical and financial thresholds, but eligibility does not depend on service-related injuries or even overseas service. Too many veterans and their families are simply unaware of this benefit or assume they are ineligible for it," the column said.
Take time out this Veterans Day to thank those who have served. Then, make sure you or your loved one are taking advantage of every available benefit. A good place to start is the Department of Veterans Affairs online benefits site, www.ebenefits.va.gov. An independent site mentioned in the Inquirer piece, www.veteransaid.org, offers more information on benefits and veterans'' news.
We thank all our veterans for their service. We owe you a debt that can never be fully repaid.