Scammers are taking advantage of new opportunities to commit fraud. There has been an increase in VA education benefits fraud by VA-approved schools that are billing veterans at a higher tuition rate than civilian students. Veterans and their family members need to be aware and should be cautious of anyone who advertises a lower tuition rate, offers exclusive benefits to civilian students, or bills 20 percent more than a non-VA approved school. To report suspected fraudulent activity, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 488-8244.
VA Closes Gap for Survivors of LGBTQ+ Veterans
VA will now allow certain survivors of LGBTQ+ veterans to apply for benefits, such as Survivors Pension or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. Due to past bans on same-sex marriages and previous VA marriage requirements, many survivors of LGBTQ+ veterans were not eligible for benefits. Surviving spouses can now establish they had a “marriage-type” relationship by providing documents such as joint banking statements, joint purchase of a house, tax returns, insurance forms, lay statements, and more. These benefits are not retroactive, but those eligible who apply in the next year will receive benefits backdated to Oct. 11, 2022. Contact a Credited Veterans Service Officer for assistance in filing for benefits.
Important Dates in February
The month of February has many important days. Here are a few:
February is Black History Month.
Feb 2 – Ground Hog Day
Feb 3 – Four Chaplains Day: A true story about four WWII Army Chaplains that gave up there life jackets as the troop ship USAT Dorchester was sinking after being hit by a torpedo from a German submarine U-233. It was reported the four Chaplains had arms linked together, saying prayers, and singing hymns, as the ship went down.
Feb. 4 – USO birthday
Week of Feb. 12 – National Salute to Veteran Patients
Feb. 14 – Valentines Day
Feb. 19 – Coast Guard Reserve birthday
Feb. 20 – Presidents Day
Navy Cmdr. Frederick R. Schrader, 31, of Lawrenceville, Illinois, was the commander of Carrier Air Group Eleven on the USS Hornet. On Oct. 13, 1944, Schrader’s F6F-5 Hellcat fighter was shot down during an attack on Toko Seaplane Base on Formosa, now known as Taiwan. Schrader will be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in Honolulu on Apr. 13, 2023.
Army Cpl. Franklin H. Bennett, 20, of Glendive, Montana, was assigned to the 54th Signal Maintenance Company when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December 1941. Bennett will be in buried in Pensacola, Florida, on a date yet to be determined.
Army Pfc. Ithiel E. Whatley, 19, of Pensacola, Florida, was assigned to Company M, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. On July 12, 1950, he was reported missing in action after his unit was engaged in a fighting withdrawal south of Chochi’won, South Korea. Whatley will be buried in Pensacola, Florida, on a date yet to be determined.
Army Sgt. Charles Garrigus, 24, of Terra Haute, Indiana, was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 1, 1950, during battle with enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. Garrigus will be buried in Greenwood, Indiana, on a date yet to be determined.
Army Cpl. Alton Christie, 18, of Jasper, Florida, was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on July 5, 1950, after his unit had been engaged by the Korean People’s Army near Osan, South Korea. Christie will be buried in Jasper, Florida, on a date yet to be determined.
Army Air Forces 1st Lt. James A. Deeds, 23, was assigned to the 345th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator aircraft Deeds was piloting crashed as a result of anti-aircraft fire. Interment services are pending.
Army Air Forces 1st Lt. George J. Reuter, 25, was assigned to the 328th Bombardment Squadron, 93rd Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator aircraft on which Reuter was serving as the navigator crashed as a result of anti-aircraft fire. Interment services are pending.
Army Cpl. Daniel De Anda, 22, was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, 8th U.S. Army. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950, after his unit’s withdrawal from Kunu-ri, North Korea. Interment services are pending.
Till next week, praying for all service members.
– Charles Castelluccio