VETERANS AND BENEFITS

As a Veteran, what services could I be eligible for?

As a Veteran, you could receive different benefits and services. For example, you may be entitled to compensation, pension, VA Home Loan, vocational rehabilitation and employment, Health Care, Life Insurance, educational benefits and training, and legal assistance. Certain factors such as your discharge status, service connection disability, and military era could influence your ability to access certain services and benefits.

Where do I find more information regarding the possible services and benefits that I could receive?

You can find more information at:
Veteran Benefits Administrationhttp://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/
1-800-827-1000

Health Care:
1-877-222-VETS (8387)

State Veterans Affairs Officeshttp://www.va.gov/statedva.htm
Additional Benefits, services and assistance by States

Who qualifies for VA Caregiver Benefits?

Download the PDF to learn about who qualifies for VA Caregiver benefits.

How can I speed up my VA benefits appeal?

Appeals at the VA Regional Office (St. Petersburg)

  • There is no official process for requesting expedited service at the Regional Office appeal level.
  • If you are homeless, you can write “homeless” at the top and bottom of each page of your appeal, as well as the envelope you use to send your appeal to the VA. Be aware that regular appeal processing time at the St. Petersburg Regional Office is approximately two years.

Appeals at the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA)

  • There is a formal process for requesting an expedited appeal at the BVA level, but you must have a severe financial hardship, suffer from a serious illness, or be of advanced age (75 years old or older).
  • The average time to receive a decision from the BVA is 2-3 years.
  • Once you have received a letter stating your appeal has been docketed at the BVA, you will have 90 days to submit any new evidence, change your representative, etc. This is the best time to submit your Motion to Advance (see sample motion).
  • The BVA will review your motion and grant or deny it in approximately 1-2 months. If your motion is granted, you will receive your BVA decision in approximately six months, rather than 2-3 years.
  • If you are claiming a financial hardship, you will need documentation to prove to the BVA that your appeal should be expedited. Some examples of evidence include late bills, eviction notices, bankruptcy filings, etc.
  • If you are claiming serious illness, you should include a letter from your doctor summarizing your current condition and whether it is a terminal illness. If you cannot get a letter from your doctor, you should submit medical records highlighted to show your overall prognosis.
  • If you are claiming advanced age, be sure to include a copy of your birth certificate, christening record, or other evidence with your Motion to Advance.

**Remember to submit all motions and evidence via certified mail so you have a record of delivery**

What happens to my VA disability or pension benefits when I have an open felony warrant?

If there is a valid felony warrant for a veteran, no benefits will be paid to that person and overpayments are calculated from the date the warrant was issued—regardless of whether or not the person is aware of the warrant. The VA considers anyone with a valid felony warrant to be a “fugitive felon” who is not eligible for benefits.

Solution #1: If you receive an overpayment notice from the VA and you were not aware of the underlying warrant, contact the original court where the warrant was issued to find out how to resolve the warrant. This usually involves appearing before a judge and paying and fines due. You may also file a motion in the original court to quash the warrant back to the date that it was issued once the warrant is resolved. You can then send the judge’s order to quash to the VA and the overpayment will be eliminated.

Solution #2: If the warrant is valid, surrender and benefits will be paid while you are incarcerated until the 61st day after a conviction.

What is a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ)?

  • DBQs are a relatively new tool that the VA uses to assess current level of disability.
  • Veterans can submit DBQs filled out by their doctors in support of disability claims and/or to contradict a negative Compensation & Pension exam medical opinion.
  • Veterans may ask their VA or non-VA doctors to complete these forms, but doctors are not obligated to do so.
  • If possible, ask your doctor to review your claims file and give an opinion as to whether your current disability is related to an injury/event during your military service. This is the crucial medical nexus opinion that can make or break a claim for service-connected disability. There is a not a specific space for a medical nexus opinion on the DBQ, but your doctor can insert it into the “history of disability” or “comments” section.
  • A DBQ completed by your treating doctor who knows your history and current level of disability can be very powerful evidence in your VA disability claim.
  • Before, during, and after your claim for VA disability, it is very important to attend all scheduled medical appointments.

How do I obtain medical evidence to support my VA disability claim?

Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs)

  • Veterans can submit DBQs filled out by their doctors in support of disability claims and/or to contradict a negative Compensation & Pension exam medical opinion.
  • Veterans may ask their VA or non-VA doctors to complete these forms, but doctors are not obligated to do so.
  • If possible, ask your doctor to review your claims file and give an opinion as to whether your current disability is related to an injury/event during your military service. This is the crucial medical nexus opinion that can make or break a claim for service-connected disability. There is a not a specific space for a medical nexus opinion on the DBQ, but your doctor can insert it into the “history of disability” or “comments” section.
  • A DBQ completed by your treating doctor who knows your history and current level of disability can be very powerful evidence in your VA disability claim.
  • Before, during, and after your claim for VA disability, it is very important to attend all scheduled medical appointments.

Private Medical Opinion

If you are unable to obtain a DBQ from your treating doctor, you may wish to pursue a private medical opinion. Private attorneys who handle VA claims generally have specific doctors that they can refer you to, but you may have to pay for the exam out of pocket.

Lay Evidence

You may submit lay statements from relatives, friends, or employers who have seen how your disabilities affect your work and personal life. This is not as strong as medical evidence, but the VA does consider lay statements in making disability determinations.

Physical Therapy Records

If you have been prescribed physical therapy, request the records from your initial assessment. Physical therapy records can be very detailed and show how your disability affects range of motion, repetitive movements, etc.

RECEIVING VETERANS SERVICES

Who can receive services at the VA?

If you are a person who served in the active military service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable, as a Veteran you may qualify for Health Care services at the VA. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA health benefits as well.

If the veteran served before September 8, 1980 they only need One Day of Total Active Service and an honorable or general under honorable discharge to receive all VA services.

For more information regarding basic eligibility and minimum duty requirements please visit the Health Benefits link at http://www.va.gov/HEALTHBENEFITS/apply/veterans.asp.

How do I apply?

To apply you will to gather some information and complete some forms. You will need;

  • Your most recent tax return;
  • Social Security number for yourself and all your dependents; and
  • Account number(s) for any current insurance program in which you are already enrolled.

To apply by phone: Please call 1-877-222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (EST)

To apply online: Complete the VA form 10-10EZ and submit the completed from and any supportive documentation via vets.gov.
Apply Online Link: https://www.vets.gov/healthcare/apply/application/introduction
VA form 10-10EZ link: http://www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/1010EZ-fillable.pdf

To apply in person: You can apply at your local VA health care facility
Remember to bring all necessary information.
Veterans Health Administration Location Directory:
http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/division.asp?dnum=1

To apply by mail: Complete the VA form 10-10EZ and mail to:
Health Eligibility Center
2957 Clairmont Road, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30329-1647

What is the contact information for general information or specific questions relative to my situation?

For more information, you can call 1-877-222-VETS (8387), visit your local VA health care facility, or vistit the following links:
Veterans Health Benefits Handbook
Easy Ways to Apply for Enrollment

INCARCERATION AND GOVERNMENT BENEFITS

What happens to my VA disability or pension benefits when I have an open felony warrant?

If there is a valid felony warrant for a veteran, no benefits will be paid to that person and overpayments are calculated from the date the warrant was issued—regardless of whether or not the person is aware of the warrant. The VA considers anyone with a valid felony warrant to be a “fugitive felon” who is not eligible for benefits.

Solution #1: If you receive an overpayment notice from the VA and you were not aware of the underlying warrant, contact the original court where the warrant was issued to find out how to resolve the warrant. This usually involves appearing before a judge and paying and fines due. You may also file a motion in the original court to quash the warrant back to the date that it was issued once the warrant is resolved. You can then send the judge’s order to quash to the VA and the overpayment will be eliminated.

Solution #2: If the warrant is valid, surrender and benefits will be paid while you are incarcerated until the 61st day after a conviction.

How does incarceration affect veterans benefits?

The good news is that, unlike public benefits, you will keep your VA benefits until you are convicted of a crime and incarcerated after your conviction:

  • If a veteran is convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to more than 60 days in jail, he will lose his VA pension benefits on the 61st day of incarceration.
  • If a veteran is convicted of a felony and sentenced to more than 60 days in jail, he will lose his VA pension or up to 90 percent of his VA disability benefits on the 61st day of incarceration.
  • It is important to remember that you will only lose benefits if you are incarcerated post-conviction. If you are in Veterans Treatment Court, substance abuse/mental health treatment, probation, or other diversion programs you will NOT lose your benefits.
  • The VA will not provide VA health care to you during incarceration.
  • If you are in danger of losing your VA benefits due to post-conviction incarceration, you can assign your pension or disability benefits to a spouse or child during incarceration (this is called apportionment). Send a letter to the VA requesting apportionment of benefits and demonstrating your dependents’ financial need (address listed below).
  • If you do not want to apportion your benefits, you still must notify the VA of your conviction to avoid an overpayment. If the VA continues to pay your benefits after the 61st day of post-conviction incarceration, you will have to reimburse the VA for the overpayment.

Restarting Benefits After Your Release: Send a copy of your official release papers to the VA Regional Office within one year of your release. In your letter, be sure to include your social security number, name, and current address, and ask the VA to reinstate your benefits.

VA Mailing Address:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 5235
Janesville, WI 53547-5235
*Send all letters via certified mail and keep copies for your records

What happens to a pending VA Claim when a veteran is incarcerated?

A pending claim will continue to be processed. See below for more information about your rights and responsibilities.

  • Be sure to notify the VA in writing of your current address whether it is a jail/prison address or a permanent home address where someone can forward your mail to you.
  • If you need a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam to evaluate your disability claim, the VA must provide an exam to you in jail/prison under VA’s Duty to Assist and Bolton v. Brown, 8 Vet. App. 185 (1995). It is important to notify VA that you are incarcerated so VA can arrange for a VA doctor to visit the jail/prison for your C&P exam, if necessary.
  • If your claim is granted while you are incarcerated, you will only be entitled to your full benefits up until 61 days after your conviction. If you are still incarcerated 61 days post-conviction, VA will withhold your benefits until your release (see below for more details).
  • If you are convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to more than 60 days in jail, you will lose your VA pension benefits on the 61st day of incarceration.
  • If you are convicted of a felony and sentenced to more than 60 days in jail, you will lose your VA pension or up to 90 percent of your VA disability benefits on the 61st day of incarceration.
  • It is important to remember that you will only lose benefits if you are incarcerated post-conviction. If you are in Veterans Court, substance abuse/mental health treatment, probation, or other diversion programs you will NOT lose your benefits
  • If you are in danger of losing your VA benefits due to post-conviction incarceration, you can assign your pension or disability benefits to a spouse or child during incarceration (this is called apportionment). Send a letter to the VA requesting apportionment of benefits and demonstrating your dependents’ financial need (address below). If you do not want to apportion your benefits, you still must notify the VA of your conviction to avoid an overpayment. If VA continues to pay your benefits after the 61st day of post-conviction incarceration, you will have to repay the overpayment.

Restarting Benefits After Your Release: Send a copy of your official release papers to the VA Regional Office within one year of your release. In your letter, be sure to include your social security number, name, and current address and ask VA to reinstate your benefits.

VA Mailing Address:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 5235
Janesville, WI 53547-5235
*Send all letters via certified mail and keep copies for your records

How does incarceration affect Social Security benefits?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits ($735/month for a single veteran) are immediately suspended when you go to jail. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits will be suspended after you are convicted of a criminal offense and spend more than 30 days in jail or prison.

  • It is important to remember that you will only lose benefits while you are in jail or prison. If you are in Veterans Court, substance abuse/mental health treatment, probation, or another diversion program, you will NOT lose your benefits.
  • Even if you cannot receive monthly SSDI payments due to incarceration, your spouse and children will continue to receive their benefits.

Restarting SSDI Benefits After Your Release: Your SSDI payments can be restarted when you are released, if you bring your official release papers to your local Social Security office. You will receive your first payment the month after your benefits are reinstated.

Restarting SSI Benefits After Your Release: If you are incarcerated for less than 12 months, your SSI benefit payments can be restarted the month that you are released. You must take your official release papers to your local Social Security office to restart your benefits. However, if you are in jail or prison for 12 or more months continuously, you will no longer be eligible for SSI benefits. You must start the eligibility process over by filing a new application for benefits.

Local Social Security Offices:
Orange County
Social Security Administration
5520 Gatlin Avenue
Orlando, FL 32812
(866) 964-6146
*Call for an appointment

Osceola County
Social Security Administration
1201 East Oak Street
Kissimmee, FL 34744
(800) 772-1213
*Call for an appointment

Filing A New Application:
SSDI: File at local office or online.
SSI: File at local office (make an appointment first). You can find an office here.

Can I still receive military pay while in prison?

Being convicted of a crime rarely causes the lose of a federal pensions. However, there are exceptions if the criminal offense involves disloyalty to the country, such as treason, espionage, and sabotage.

Will my family still be eligible for TRICARE while I’m incarcerated?

Retirees who have Tricare for Life may keep their TRICARE coverage if they maintain Medicare Parts A & B—the latter of which requires that premiums be paid in order to keep coverage.

How will incarceration affect my education benefits?

You can still receive full monthly benefits, unless you are incarcerated for a felony. An exception is if you are a convicted felon residing in a halfway house or residential re-entry center of if you are participating in a work-release program—in such cases, you may still receive full monthly benefits.

If you are incarcerated for a felony conviction, you may only receive the costs of tuition, fees, and necessary books and school supplies.

Am I still eligible for VA medical care while I’m incarcerated?

Current regulations restrict the VA from providing hospital or outpatient care to a veteran incarcerated in an institution operated by another government agency that is responsible for care or services. Once you have been unconditional released from the institution, you may again receive VA medical care.

If I am incarcerated, can my spouse or my dependents(s) receive my monetary benefits instead?

VA compensation may be reapportioned to your spouse or dependent(s) while you are incarcerated. To do so, send a letter to the VA requesting apportionment of benefits and demonstrating your dependents’ financial need to:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 5235
Janesville, WI 53547-5235
*Send all letters via certified mail and keep copies for your records

What happens if I receive an overpayment because my VA benefits continued to be paid to me after I was convicted and spent 61 days or more in jail or prison?

You can request a waiver of the overpayment within 180 days of receiving the overpayment notice. However, you cannot dispute the validity of the debt because VA does not allow full VA benefits to be paid to veterans convicted and incarcerated 61 days or more.

Solution #1: If you receive benefits and are convicted and sentenced to 61 days or more of incarceration in jail or prison, it is your responsibility to notify the VA of your conviction and ask them to reduce your benefits or assign them to a spouse or child during your incarceration.

Solution #2: Check with your attorney to see if you are eligible for Veterans Treatment Court, work release, or other options that do not involve jail or prison time post-conviction. As long as you are not incarcerated, your VA benefits will continue unchanged.

Are benefits automatically restored when I am released from incarceration?

Compensation or pension benefits resume if the VA has received notice of your release within one year of the release date.

VETERANS TREATMENT COURTS

What is a Veterans Treatment Court?

Veterans returning from combat may have difficulty reintegrating into society. If a Veteran ends up in the legal system, he or she may not get the proper diagnosis and treatment needed. Veterans Treatment Court uses judicially supervised court dockets that strike the proper balance between several concerns. Cases are assigned into this court system when they involve: (1) the need to treat a veteran suffering from a substance abuse and/or mental health disorder and the need to protect community safety; (2) the veteran needs effective treatment, while similar to all people that violate the law, also need to be held accountable for his/her actions; and (3) provides a link for the Veteran between hope and redemption on the one hand and productive citizenship on the other.

The purpose of the Veterans Court is to meet the particular needs of our Veterans by promoting “sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated response involving the traditional partners found in drug courts and mental health courts, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare networks, the Veterans Benefits Administration, State Departments of Veterans Affairs, volunteer veteran mentors, and Veterans family support organizations.”

The overall goal is to break the cycle of drug use and criminal behaviors. Veterans Treatment Courts are not available in all communities.

For more information:
Orange County
VC Coordinator: Shazia Aftab
Phone: 407-836-0651, Email: veteranscourt@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert Eagan
Phone: 407-836-2487, Email: reagan@sao9.org

Osceola County
Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator: Michelle Jones
Phone: 407-742-2431, Email: ctdcmj1@ocnjcc.org
Judicial Assistant: Terry Marino
Phone: 407-742-2548, Email: ctjatm1@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert D. Holborn II
Phone: 407-742-5223, Email: RHolborn@sao9.org

Sources:
Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida: Orange and Osceola County Veterans Court Brochures
Orange County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/Org%20Vet%20Ct%20Brochure.pdf
Osceola County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/VeteransCourt-Osceola-Brochure_0.pdf

References:
Veterans Health Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/20120216a.asp
Veterans Treatment Courts. (n.d.). Rethttp://www.nadcp.org/sites/default/files/nadcp/VTC Brief.pdfrieved July 8, 2016, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/Fact_Sheets/veterans_treatment_courts_fact_sheet_12-13-10.pdf
Veterans Treatment Courts. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2016, from http://www.nadcp.org/sites/default/files/nadcp/VTC Brief.pdf

Who is eligible for the Veterans Treatment Court?

In order to receive the services and benefits of the Veterans Treatment Court, the applicant needs to be:

  • Former service members eligible for Veteran service benefits;
  • Resident of Central Florida;
  • The charges against are appropriate for the Veteran Treatment Court;
  • Demonstrate the need for treatment (Substance Use Disorder and/or Mental Health); and
  • Show nexus between crime and diagnosis (Substance Use Disorder and/or Mental Health).

For more information:
Orange County
VC Coordinator: Shazia Aftab
Phone: 407-836-0651, Email: veteranscourt@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert Eagan
Phone: 407-836-2487, Email: reagan@sao9.org

Osceola County
Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator: Michelle Jones
Phone: 407-742-2431, Email: ctdcmj1@ocnjcc.org
Judicial Assistant: Terry Marino
Phone: 407-742-2548, Email: ctjatm1@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert D. Holborn II
Phone: 407-742-5223, Email: RHolborn@sao9.org

Sources:
Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida: Orange and Osceola County Veterans Court Brochures
Orange County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/Org%20Vet%20Ct%20Brochure.pdf
Osceola County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/VeteransCourt-Osceola-Brochure_0.pdf

Who can participate in the Veterans Treatment Court?

If you believe you qualify, ask your judge, attorney, or prosecutor to have your case placed with the Veterans Treatment Court. If referred, the Veterans Treatment Court Justice Outreach liaison will contact you to gather more information about you and your case. The case will be evaluated to determine if is appropriate for the Veteran Treatment Court.

For more information:
Orange County
VC Coordinator: Shazia Aftab
Phone: 407-836-0651, Email: veteranscourt@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert Eagan
Phone: 407-836-2487, Email: reagan@sao9.org

Osceola County
Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator: Michelle Jones
Phone: 407-742-2431, Email: ctdcmj1@ocnjcc.org
Judicial Assistant: Terry Marino
Phone: 407-742-2548, Email: ctjatm1@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert D. Holborn II
Phone: 407-742-5223, Email: RHolborn@sao9.org

Sources:
Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida: Orange and Osceola County Veterans Court Brochures
Orange County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/Org%20Vet%20Ct%20Brochure.pdf
Osceola County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/VeteransCourt-Osceola-Brochure_0.pdf

What services are offered in the Veterans Treatment Court?

This court can help the Veteran and provide a non-adversarial approach. The prosecution and defense counsel are aware of the Veterans status and clear goals and access to possible treatment for a substance use disorder, mental health and family counseling services, individual case management may be stressed. There will also be individual attention provided with meetings with County Veteran Service Officer on a one-on-one basis and judicial and probation supervision.

For more information:
Orange County
VC Coordinator: Shazia Aftab
Phone: 407-836-0651, Email: veteranscourt@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert Eagan
Phone: 407-836-2487, Email: reagan@sao9.org

Osceola County
Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator: Michelle Jones
Phone: 407-742-2431, Email: ctdcmj1@ocnjcc.org
Judicial Assistant: Terry Marino
Phone: 407-742-2548, Email: ctjatm1@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert D. Holborn II
Phone: 407-742-5223, Email: RHolborn@sao9.org

Sources:
Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida: Orange and Osceola County Veterans Court Brochures
Orange County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/Org%20Vet%20Ct%20Brochure.pdf
Osceola County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/VeteransCourt-Osceola-Brochure_0.pdf

Is there a Veterans Treatment Court in Orange and Osceola County, Florida?

Yes, there is a Veterans Treatment Court in Orange and Osceola County, Florida. For more information on the Orange or Osceola County Veterans Court, please contact:

For more information:
Orange County
VC Coordinator: Shazia Aftab
Phone: 407-836-0651, Email: veteranscourt@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert Eagan
Phone: 407-836-2487, Email: reagan@sao9.org

Osceola County
Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator: Michelle Jones
Phone: 407-742-2431, Email: ctdcmj1@ocnjcc.org
Judicial Assistant: Terry Marino
Phone: 407-742-2548, Email: ctjatm1@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert D. Holborn II
Phone: 407-742-5223, Email: RHolborn@sao9.org

Sources:
Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida: Orange and Osceola County Veterans Court Brochures
Orange County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/Org%20Vet%20Ct%20Brochure.pdf
Osceola County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/VeteransCourt-Osceola-Brochure_0.pdf

What is a peer mentor in the Veterans Treatment Court?

To be supported by a fellow Veteran is an essential aspect of the Veterans Court. The Peer Mentor group is composed of Veterans who want to support their peers through their journey through the justice system. These peer/mentors seek to bring assistance with support, housing and employment linkages, job training, education, transportation, disability compensation claims and discharge status among others services offered in the community, state and/or federal agency.

Orange County Veterans Court. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/Org Vet Ct Brochure.pdf

Veterans Resource Guide For The Florida State Court System. (n.d.).
Retrieved July 10, 2016, from http://www.flcourts.org/core/fileparse.php/266/urlt/VETERANS_RESOURCE_GUIDE.pdf

Sources:
Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida: Orange and Osceola County Veterans Court Brochures
Orange County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/Org%20Vet%20Ct%20Brochure.pdf
Osceola County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/VeteransCourt-Osceola-Brochure_0.pdf

Does the Veterans Treatment Court in Orange and Osceola County use peer mentors?

Yes, both Counties use the Peer Mentor component in their Veterans Treatment Court.

For more information:
Orange County
VC Coordinator: Shazia Aftab
Phone: 407-836-0651, Email: veteranscourt@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert Eagan
Phone: 407-836-2487, Email: reagan@sao9.org

Osceola County
Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator: Michelle Jones
Phone: 407-742-2431, Email: ctdcmj1@ocnjcc.org
Judicial Assistant: Terry Marino
Phone: 407-742-2548, Email: ctjatm1@ocnjcc.org
State Attorney Liaison: Robert D. Holborn II
Phone: 407-742-5223, Email: RHolborn@sao9.org

Sources:
Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida: Orange and Osceola County Veterans Court Brochures
Orange County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/Org%20Vet%20Ct%20Brochure.pdf
Osceola County: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/sites/default/files/VeteransCourt-Osceola-Brochure_0.pdf

TRANSPORTATION FOR VETERANS

In Orange County and Osceola County, is there a free bus passes for Veterans? If so, how can I access it?

Unfortunately, the Orange County and Osceola County public transportation systems do not offer free bus passes specifically for Veterans. There are some other options available. Potential options to assist with transportation include:

Veterans Transportation Program – http://www.va.gov/HEALTHBENEFITS/vtp/

VA’s Veterans Transportation Program (VTP) offers Veterans many travel solutions to and from their VA health care facilities. This program offers services at little or no cost to eligible Veterans through the following:

  • Beneficiary Travel (BT)
  • Veterans Transportation Service (VTS)
  • Highly Rural Transportation Grants (HRTG)

ACCESS LYNX – http://www.golynx.com/plan-trip/riding-lynx/access-lynx/
407-841-5969

ACCESS LYNX is a shared-ride, door-to-door transportation service provided by MV Transportation under the supervision of LYNX, the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority. The ACCESS LYNX program provides complementary service for eligible individuals who are not able to use the regular fixed route bus service because of a disability or other limitations.

Individuals who are interested in using ACCESS LYNX paratransit services must apply through a mail-in application process. To schedule your trip or ask a question, please call 407-423-TRIP (8747).

You can also find additional resources here.

Are there any programs that can help with transportation to medical appointments for disabled Veterans?

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is a nonprofit program that provides support for Veterans of all generations and their families This program helps with transportation to medical appointments. DAV operates a fleet of vehicles around the country to provide free transportation to VA medical facilities for injured and ill Veterans. When the federal government terminated its program that helped Veterans pay for transportation to and from medical facilities, DAV stepped up to help them get the care that they need.
Contact information:
407-843-3722 https://www.davmembers.org/Membership/Wayspring/ExternalHelpFrame.aspx?/membership/(qw4uz245zjowf5n3q14vmbeo)/maintainmember/external/chapterproximitymapexternal.aspx

You can also find additional resources here.

HOMELESSNESS AND GRANT PER DIEM PROGRAMS

Where can I find homeless shelter information?

Central Florida has several homeless shelters that cater to all groups. We encourage you to find a shelter and help. A list of homeless is available here.

What are Grant Per Diem (GPD) Programs?

The VA Grant Per Diem program is an initiative to seek an end to homelessness among Veterans. This program encourages the development of supportive housing in the community by local agencies and organizations, with the objective of assisting homeless Veterans to reach housing stability, increase their skill levels and/or income, and obtain greater self-determination.

GPD housing programs provide Veterans with services such as case management, education, crisis intervention and/or counseling. Veterans are allowed to stay in GPD housing up to 2 years and a minimum of 90 days. A list of GPD programs in Central Florida can be found here.

What are some of the criteria for admission to a GPD program?

The best way to find the latest and most current information on this program is to contact the VA. To get you started, here is a list of the most common criteria:

  1. The Veteran must have had at least 1 day of Active Duty Service;
  2. The Veteran cannot have a Dishonorable Discharge but all other discharges are acceptable;
  3. The Veteran must be homeless or at risk of losing his or her home;
  4. The Veteran does not have to have a history of substance abuse but is in need of assistance;
  5. The Veteran must be willing to work or be determined to be disabled (waiting for disability or collecting).

For more information and helpful resources on this topic, see: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Homeless Veterans, http://www.va.gov/homeless/gpd.asp

For a PDF with more detailed enrollment information related to U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs Programs (list of over 200 manuals), see: VHA Publications Handbook 1162.01(1), http://www.va.gov/vhapublications/publications.cfm?pub=2

For U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Grants Per Diem information, try the following web-site search: http://www.index.va.gov/search/va/va_search.jsp?NQ=URL%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.va.gov%2Fvhapublications%2Fpublications.cfm&QT=Grants+Per+Diem&submit.x=28&submit.y=9&submit=Search

Where can homeless Veterans get a free Florida ID?

Step 1.

If you need an a Free Florida ID. Click here to download or view the Free Florida ID’s For the Homeless PDF Download.

Step 2.

Click to download the sample letterhead to certify that you are homeless.

IDignity Event Schedule of Orlando

Other community resources are available here.

UPGRADING A DISCHARGE STATUS

What if I have a bad discharge from the military?

There are many things you can do if you have been discharged from the military. Download this PowerPoint to learn more.

How do I upgrade my discharge?

A documented error, injustice, or inequity in the discharge military status at discharge could have serious implications for the Veteran’s income, housing options, and access to care. A poor discharge status would affect the Veteran’s chance of receiving VA benefits, disability compensation, the GI Bill, and would reduce the chance to obtain employment in the federal government and civilian life, as well as create barriers for the Veteran to participate in job assistance programs.

Veterans have two ways to appeal for an Upgrade in their discharge status depending on how long they have been discharged from the Armed Forces: by contacting their branch’s Discharge Review Board or by contacting the Board of Correction for Military Records. For discharges over 15 years old, the Veteran will need to contact his or her branch’s Board of Correction for Military Records to appeal his or her discharge status.

In order to upgrade a discharge status, the Veteran will need to provide supportive documentation of the supposed error, injustice, or inequity. Some examples are: military record documents, witness statements, Veteran’s written statement, correspondence, or other documents that support the contention of error, injustice, or inequity in his or her discharge. The Veteran may or may not choose to be represented by a lawyer of their choice.

For more information and a review of Frequently Asked Questions on this topic see:

  1. Army Discharge review Board, Frequently Asked Questions: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/adrb-faq.cfm
  2. A recent article by Matthew Tully in the Military Times may be of assistance and can be retrieved from:
    http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/crime/2015/03/23/ask-lawyer-discharge-upgrade/25073767/
  3. To talk to someone at the Army Review Board about this process call: 1-703-607-1600
  4. To apply for this change of status: Use a DD Form 293, Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States. This form can be downloaded via the Internet by going through www.usapa.army.mil and following the links to DD Forms. In addition to downloading the form, DD Form 293 is available at most Department of Defense installations and regional offices of the Veterans Administration, or by writing to:
    Army Review Boards Agency (ARBA)
    ATTN: Client Information and Quality Assurance
    Arlington, VA 22202-4508

MISCELLANEOUS

Where can I find important events around Veterans?

We have a full calendar of events that list as many events across the State of Florida.

Where can I get legal help for military members, veterans, and their families?

Stateside Legal is a provider that helps members of the military, veterans, their families and advocates. Stateside Legal will help you:

  • Access benefits;
  • fFind free legal help; and
  • Better understand your legal issues.

Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida (CLSMF) provides legal aid for low to moderate income residents in Central Florida. CLSMF’s Veterans Advocacy Project provides legal advice and representation including but not limited to:

  • Filing claims and appeals with the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability compensation and/or pensions;
  • Filing appeals with United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims;
  • Defending inappropriate discharge, discharge characterization or disability rating;
  • Applying for dependent and survivor benefits; Accessing other public benefits such as unemployment, Social Security, disability and food stamps, etc.;
  • Access to healthcare and mental health resource; and
  • Filing claims with Veterans Affairs for increased disability ratings.

Other legal resources can be found here.

Where can I receive information about PTSD Treatment?

The University of Central Florida (UCF) is currently engaged in a clinical research and treatment program funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Military Operations Medical Operations Program. Click here for more information.

This website makes no endorsements or representations as to the appropriateness or efficacy of UCF’s program and encourages interested veterans to fully investigate and inquire about the program before participating.

What is the DD214 form and how can I get a copy?

The DD214 has a synopsis of the service member’s career with items such as rank, schools, awards, and total time in service and type of discharge. Some employers request a copy of the DD214 especially if there is Veteran preference when hiring or if the employer is a government agency. The DD214 is also necessary if the Veteran requests VA benefits.
You can order a copy of your DD214 online, by mail, or by fax through the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration free of cost.

For online orders, visit https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/ and click on “Submit your request ONLINE with eVertRecs” button.

For orders via regular mail or fax, you will need to download the SF-180 form from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration website (https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/) and send the completed form to:

National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138

OR

Fax: 314-801-9195

Fees
Ordering a copy of your DD214 is free through the National Archives and Records Administration. Existing companies that offer the service of searching for your DD214, you may take into consideration that this company may charge a fee for their services.

What is the Invisible Battlefield?

The Invisible Battle is an educational brochure created by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (NCMLP), which addresses the prevalence of Veterans’ legal needs and its implication in the Veteran well-being. In this brochure, you can find current statistical data regarding our Veterans demographic composition, and particular issues that affect them.
If you want to learn more about poverty, mental health and homelessness among Veteran and the need for legal assistance, visit the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership website and download free of charge “Invisible Battlefield: Veterans Facing Health-Harming Legal Needs in Civilian Life.”
The NCMLP seeks to improve the health and well-being of people and communities by leading health, public health, and legal sectors in an integrated, upstream approach to combating health-harming social conditions.

Source:
http://medical-legalpartnership.org/invisiblebattlefield/

What is a VA-MLP?

The VA-MLP is the VA’s answer for the need of a holistic approach to Veterans’ needs, which includes the collaboration between medical and legal practitioners. When available, this type of program, referred to as the VA-MLP, opens the opportunity for the medical provider to work directly with an on-site attorney in conjunction of an interdisciplinary team that includes social workers and other health professionals.

This is not a program offered in our immediate area. However, some Florida VA’s are part of this new approach to the Veteran’s needs. For example, there is a VA-MLP Outpatient Clinic in Viera, and the Miami VA Medical Center also has a program. Jacksonville VA is currently working to establish this program.

Other programs across the Unites States with this type of approach that support a Medical-Legal Partnership currently operating as part of at VA facilities are in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, and others are in states such as New York, Maine, and Connecticut.

For more information, visit http://medical-legalpartnership.org/.

What is a mission continues fellow?

A mission continues fellow is a post-9/11 Veteran who has accepted the challenge to continue serving at home through a fellowship program. This is a service fellowship open to honorably discharged Veterans that contribute 20 hours per week at a non-profit organization.

For more information on this opportunity, visit https://www.missioncontinues.org/fellowships/.

Are there any resources where female Veterans can connect with other female Veterans?

Yes, there is a female Veterans chat line. This venue can provide a one-on-one chat that allows females to anonymously chat via real time or text with trained VA representatives.

For more information, visit http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2016/July/VA-invites-Women-Veterans-to-Chat-Online.asp.