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CNMI Veterans Affairs Office works to improve VA Disability Benefits

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(Office of the Governor) — In an effort to strengthen our connection with our counterparts in the mainland and improve services provided to our CNMI Veterans, Executive Officer of Veterans Affairs Stanley T. Iakopo recently met with Veterans Affairs Honolulu Regional Office Benefit Supervisor Eric S. Gaskins and Veterans Affairs Honolulu Regional Office Director Sergio S. Chao, who is responsible for the delivery of VA benefits and services to Veterans and their dependents in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI.

From left, Veterans Affairs Honolulu Regional Office Benefit Supervisor Eric S. Gaskins, CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs Executive Officer Stanley T. Iakopo and Veterans Affairs Honolulu Regional Office Director Sergio S. Chao.  Office of the Governor photo

Their discussions included how to improve disability compensations for our CNMI Veterans as a whole and how our disabled veterans could possibly avail of travel reimbursements, especially those needing to travel to off-island for their medical needs.

Executive Officer Iakopo said the administration understands that many veterans are struggling to make ends meet, which makes it very difficult to pay for their airfare and accommodations when traveling for their healthcare appointments. He would like to assure our veterans they are continuing to work on helping alleviate those costs.

In addition, Iakopo also made a request to increase claims and compensation visits by Veterans Service Officers or VSO to the CNMI, which was approved by the VA Regional Office.

“In the past VSOs would only visit the CNMI four times a year and were limited to daytime appointments. Now they will be visiting the CNMI once a month to assist our veterans with their claims for appeal and will be available for night sessions to accommodate our veterans who have day jobs,” Iakopo explained.

At the moment, eligible veterans may qualify for VA disability benefits for physical conditions (like chronic illness or injury) and mental health conditions (like PTSD) that developed before, during, or after their service in the military. Eligible veterans with a service-connected disability can qualify for a monthly tax free-free VA disability compensation benefit ranging from $133 to over $3,400 a month.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios would like to thank VA Regional Director Chao, VA Regional Benefit Supervisor Gaskins and their staff along with Executive Officer Iakopo and his staff for their hard work in helping to improve the services provided to our veterans.

“We humbly urge all our veterans to please visit our local VA office to avail of any assistance they may need. This office was established for you and your families and we assure you that our administration will continue to work with our federal partners to provide the best possible quality of services available.”

Veterans can visit the CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs on Capital Hill or call 664-2650/51 to schedule an appointment. Veterans can also apply for disability benefits online via at www.benefits.va.gov.

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