Few of us like to think about the end of our lives, and the pre-planning that should be done. There are many costly pitfalls and mistakes that we, and our loved ones can make as we approach the eventual end of our lives. In this first article in a series, that I have (tongue in cheek) called “The Dead End”, I will focus on the benefits often overlooked by Veterans, and their families. This big blind spot of available military benefits holds true especially for Regular Force Vets with short service, and for most Reserve Force Vets. – Why? – This awareness gap exists, because 75% of Reservists leave the CF before age 30, as do many Reg. Force Vets with only short service. – And so, many decades later, neither the Vets, nor their families, are usually aware of the military related benefits that still trail after their decades old service in uniform.
First of all, every Vet should have proof of Canadian military service (name, service number, rank and dates served), and have photo copies provided to whoever will likely look after them, as their future health declines. At the end of this article I will provide an address where Vets can apply (free of charge) for the replacement of their military discharge papers. It typically takes 3-4 months for these documents to be sent from Ottawa. So it is wise to make such request in writing more than a year, before special Nursing Home or death benefit assistance may be needed for the Veteran.
Three (3) service related reasons that Veterans often overlook are:
- As a Veteran’s health declines, there may be reason (severe illness, blindness, dementia, etc.) to want Nursing Home care, where admission is controlled by local Community Care Access Centres (CCAC’s), and wait lists typically range from 6 months to 15 months or longer, depending on the community. A small percentage of many Nursing Homes’ beds are reserved for Vets, where next of kin with proof of their person’s military service can claim a bed, and skip the long waiting line for admission.
- As a Vet is dying, or has just died most Ontario cemeteries have a Veterans’ section available, generally for cremations only, where the actual tiny plot can be purchased for about half the regular price. A recent example, here in Kitchener, where we live, was $650 for a Veteran and $1210 for others. Again, proof of military service was needed!
- Veterans’ Affairs Canada funds and maintains an often overlooked “Last Post Fund”, which is aimed at Veterans with modest means or assets, which would make it difficult to pay for a normal funeral. There are different qualification criteria for single Vets, as opposed to Vets with a spouse or children. The Last Post Fund is a wonderful and dignified program, and they pay up to about $7500 for a needy Veteran funeral. There is an option for the Last Post Fund to take charge of the whole funeral, or to reimburse the will’s Executor or family for actual funeral costs up to one year after the event.
Again, details of the Veteran’s Canadian Military Service should be available.
For detailed information go to: [email protected]
or telephone the Last Post Fund at 1-800-465-7113.
Any other questions?
Remember, our Veterans’ Concerns Committee (VCC) have wide-ranging breadths and depths of knowledge and experience. The VCC members are:
Valorie Flynn, Glen Moore, Alan Nanders (chair), Ron Saranic & Gary Stafford.
Let us know what your questions and concerns are.
Alan Nanders (Chair VCC)