And On September 2, 1914, the War Risk Insurance Act was enacted by Congress to provide life insurance for men and women serving in the armed forces of the United States. In noting this milestone, Secretary of Veterans Affairs RobertA.McDdonald said the VA has provided valuable life insurance protection to more than 57 million service members and veterans during times of war and peace from World War I to the present day. I find this of interest for another more personal reason.
When I was discharged after serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, I had the option of continuing or canceling my service life insurance policy. I chose to retain the $10,000 policy and pay the annual premiums which, if I remember correctly, were not very much. Over the years it turned out to be one of the best "investments" I ever made.
What I didn't know at the time is that the premiums I paid would result in dividends that through the years would not only pay the premiums for my policy, but would provide a check to me from the Department of the Treasury every year. And the cash value of the policy accumulates every year. Not a bad deal.
I thought that would be a good deal for veterans who are now being discharged, but I wanted to make sure that policy was still available before writing about it, so I contacted with the VA. The answer was "No, that policy is no longer available." However, checking the VA's website, I found there are a lot of benefits being offered that I was not aware of, including home loans, group life insurance, home insurance, education and training, and a lot more.
I talked to other veterans and we agreed that the last thing those who are recently discharged want to do is talk to more people "in the system." But several admitted they were sorry that they didn't take advantage of insurance and other benefits that ware offered when they were discharged until it was too late.
BOTTOM LINE: It is beneficial for newly discharged veterans to check with the Veterans Bureau in the county where you live to determine how the system can work for you on your return to civilian life. You can also call the VA at 1-800-669-8477 or go online at www.insurance.va.gov. Chances are you'll be glad you did.
And older veterans who never bothered to find out what was available to them should also check it out. You never stop being a veteran and benefits are still there if you choose to take advantage of them.
Beau Weisman, Editor