Honoring, Helping Native Veterans

Submitted by dave mallon on Wed, 07/25/2012 - 07:38
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Governor Paul LePage recently proclaimed June 21, 2012 to be Native American Veterans Day.  June 21st was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the meeting between Chief Joseph Orono and George Washington in 1775.  On that day, Chief Joseph Orono pledged that his tribe’s warriors would join forces with the Continental Army in the fight for independence from the British. According to Penobscot Tribal Elder Charles N. Shay, Maine is the first state in the country to recognize June 21st as Native American Veterans Day. There are currently 831 Native American Veterans living in Maine.

In honor of Native American Veterans Day, here are some resources that we hope you find helpful.

VA Direct Home Loans for Native American Veterans Living on Trust Lands

VA direct home loans are available to eligible Native American veterans who wish to purchase or construct a home on trust lands. Make sure that your tribal organization or other appropriate Native American group is participating in the VA direct loan program. The tribal organization must have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. To read more about the VA home loans that may be available to you, please visit the VA website.

Stateside Legal: A Website for Veterans and Active Military

Statesidelegal.org is a website maintained by the folks at Pine Tree Legal that is full of helpful information for military members, veterans and their families. The vast store of material there is constantly being updated in an easy-to-navigate format. At statesidelegal.org, you will find information about many issues including health care and other military and veterans’ benefits (including military retirement and disability), housing, family law, and consumer law.  There is a “hot topics” news section  and a page of links to other helpful sites for veterans’ and military resources.  Check it out at:  statesidelegal.org

Here are just a few of the important legal topics discussed in  in the client content of statesidelegal.org:

  • How to file a VA Claim for Disability Compensation.  We provide resources such as this to assist clients to access important programs. This particular guide will take you step-by-step through filing a claim for disability benefits with the VA.
  • Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX).  By federal law, certain members of the military can get Unemployment Compensation based on their active duty service. This is sometimes called the “UCX Program.”  It provides weekly income to ex-servicemembers as they look for work, including those who can find only part-time work.
  • Family Guide to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  The rehabilitation process can be a long and difficult depending on the nature of the TBI. The main objective of this process is to help the injured individual manage and overcome the difficulties associated with the injury. This often involves the use of specialized treatment plans catered to the individual's needs. However, a treatment plan can be successful only through the best efforts of medical personnel, family members, and the injured person.
  • Veterans Guide to Education Benefits.  Get an overview of the various programs that are available to help you with school expenses.  These include benefits for some dependents, Reservists and National Guard members. The newest program to provide educational and vocational benefits to veterans is the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP). The VOW to Hire Heroes Act, passed in 2011, included the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program. VRAP offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed Veterans. Participants must enroll in a VA approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certificate, and train the veteran for a high demand occupation. The VRAP offers training assistance to veterans who:
    • Are at least 35 but not  more than 60 years old   
    • Are unemployed   
    • Received an other than dishonorable discharge
    • Are not eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g. the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance)
    • Are not in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployability   
    • Are not enrolled in a federal or state job training program

The VA is currently accepting applications for this program

We hope you find these resources helpful. And, of course, remember that you can always contact your closest Pine Tree Legal Assistance office if you need legal help with veterans’ issues.