Helping Homeless Veterans

Posted on Mar 09, 2015 By Ron Sykstus

Promised Land:  VA Deal to House Homeless Los Angeles Veterans

Attorney Ronald SykstusIn a saga that spans several years, new VA Secretary Robert McDonald recently reached an agreement that will help house many homeless veterans in the Los Angeles, California area.  This saga goes back to the late 1800s and involves very expensive California property.  The story can be found here.

Closer to home, North Alabama is blessed with its own set of Angels who have been helping our area’s homeless veterans for years.  These selfless, dedicated individuals make up Operation Stand Down – Huntsville.  Each year, this tirelessly working group puts on a Stand Down for homeless veterans where the veterans are fed, housed, given clothing, medicine, and dental care, among other benefits, for a three day period.   In addition to the actual Stand Down itself, this group helps out homeless veterans throughout the year.  There are a large number of selfless volunteers that make this organization work and they are led by a tireless individual, Sandra Childress, who has been with the organization since its inception and currently serves as its president.  The information on this wonderful organization is here.

In conjunction with the help that Operation Stand Down provides to veterans it important for homeless veterans to know what benefits they me be eligible to receive. If a veteran is applying for VA disability compensation or pension, the VA’s own internal rule says that a homeless veteran’s claim must be processed within 30 days of application.  VA Circular Here.  For a homeless veteran to submit the VA claim, if it is for VA disability, this link explains how it should be done.  Of further importance, even if a homeless veteran does not qualify for a service-connected disability, he or she may qualify for a little-known VA pension benefit if at least one day of the veteran’s service occurred during a time of war.  The rules for this pension are as follows:

  1. the veteran must have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions (meaning an honorable or general conditions discharge) and
  2. served 90 days or more of active duty with at least one day during a period of war, and
  3. “countable income” and “net worth” are below the established thresholds, and
  4. either be “permanently and totally disabled, ” or age 65 or older.

It is important to note that the homeless veteran does not need to have served in a combat zone and only one day of his or her service is required to have been within the wartime dates noted above. Additionally, there are certain net worth and monthly income thresholds that the veteran must fall below in order to qualify for this pension benefit. Unfortunately, many homeless veterans are in a position where they would qualify for this pension if they knew about it.  The periods of war for date of service are as follows:

  • World War II – December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
  • Korean War – June 27, 1952 January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam War – August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975
  • Persian Gulf War – August 2, 1990 through such a date is prescribed by presidential proclamation or concurrent resolution of Congress, neither of which have yet occurred.

If a homeless veteran is going to apply for this pension, he or she needs to submit a VA form 21 – 526 found here.

Through operation stand down, I help homeless veterans with their VA disability compensation and pension claims. I do this at no charge to the homeless veteran through Operation Stand Down and it is a small way that I can contribute to this organization and our homeless veterans, though it pales in comparison to the daily good work tirelessly put in by the great people at Operation Stand Down – Huntsville.  Please feel free to contact me if you know of a homeless veteran in our area who needs help with his or her VA claims.