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Aging Veterans

Oregon has one of the largest concentrations of aging veterans in the country, with slightly more than half of the veteran population being age 65 or older. This includes those who served during World War II and Korea, as well as the largest demographic in the state: Vietnam veterans.

These numbers are expected to rise in the coming years, both in Oregon and nationwide. By 2027, a projected 55 percent of the state’s veterans will be over 65. Aging veterans have unique needs and experiences, and the state must be proactive in how we care for this growing population.

Long-term care needs of veterans is a long-term issue. Older veterans and their families will need access to long-term care, home and community based services, prosthetics, physical and mental health care, expanded medical transportation and pharmaceuticals as this trend continues to increase over the next 40 years.

For more information: Benefits & Programs: Long-Term Care

Resources and Information

Explore below for more information about the needs of the aging veteran population and the resources available to you.

Aging Veteran Statistics

​In July 2017, the federal VA released its profile of Vietnam veterans, which analyzed age, gender, race, economic, household and other considerations and compared these data to the civilian population. The report is not specific to Oregon, but Vietnam veterans are our state's largest single demographic.

Key findings:

  • There are estimated 6.4 million Vietnam veterans in the United States. Ages range from 55 to 97 (born between 1918 and 1950). The median age is 68.
  • Vietnam veterans are overwhelmingly male (97 percent), while women form the majority of the non-veteran population (64 percent).
  • Relative to the non-veteran population, more Vietnam veterans are married (69.4 percent compared to 57 percent), and fewer are widowed (6.6 percent compared to 16.7).
  • A third of Vietnam veterans are more than 70 percent disabled, though their disabilities are not all necessarily service-connected.
  • Vietnam veterans are slightly less likely to be living in poverty than the non-veteran population. They are also much less likely to use food stamps.
  • Almost 80 percent of Vietnam veterans receive health care from the federal VA, and over half receive disability compensation.

Read the report here​.

Long Term Care

In Oregon, a conservator is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and property of someone who is not able to do so alone. A conservator can be an individual, a public official or an institution.

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Conservatorship Program serves veterans and their surviving spouses, their immediate family members, minor children and helpless adult children of veterans, and dependents’ parents.

ODVA’s trust officers are experts in USDVA law and regulation, and work closely with interested family members when planning for the welfare and best interest of the veteran, their spouse or dependent.

When is a conservator needed?

When an individual has a substantial amount of income, assets or property and is unable to manage his or her finances well enough to provide adequate care themselves, a conservator may be needed. This may be due to mental illness or deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs or controlled substances, disappearance or confinement, chronic intoxication, or because the individual is a minor.

Other reasons a conservator may be needed is if an individual is using income and assets to his or her own detriment or if they are being taken advantage of financially by another person.

What does a conservator do?

A conservator administers the financial estate of a protected person according to provisions of Oregon Revised Statutes, Title 13, Chapter 125. A conservator gains possession of all income and assets and establishes a personal budget and pays for care, personal needs, dependent support, property maintenance, etc., according to that budget.  A conservator applies for all benefits for which the protected person may be eligible and invests or otherwise conserves unused funds.

An accounting of financial activities is submitted to the court, USDVA, protected persons and others as required by law.

How much control does the conservator have over the protected person’s life?

A conservator assumes all responsibility for the financial affairs of the protected person's estate. They are not directly responsible for the personal affairs of the person, although the income and assets available may limit the individual’s lifestyle.

Why use ODVA's program?

ODVA’s trust officers have an extensive knowledge of USDVA laws and regulations. They have a network of contacts with information about Social Security, Medicare, public assistance, special senior citizen, disabled and low income programs. They investigate income sources the protected person may be eligible for and work closely with family and interested persons when planning for the welfare of the protected person.

Oregon law (ORS 406.050) gives the director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs the authority to act, without bond, as conservator of the estate of a person who qualifies for benefits from the USDVA.

Starting a conservatorship

A petition asking for the appointment of a conservator may be submitted to a court by anyone interested in the estate, affairs or welfare of the person.  This includes parents, guardian, custodians or any person who would be adversely affected by lack of effective management of the property or affairs.  The court appoints a conservator and the order remains in effect until the person’s condition improves, majority is reached or until death.

What fees are charged?

A seven percent fee on all income under management may be charged for ordinary conservatorship services.  Additional fees may be charged for unusual services provided.  ODVA’s rate is significantly less than that of private conservatorship services.  Fees may also be waived in individual cases if circumstances warrant such action.

For more information: Call ODVA at 503-373-2085 or toll-free at 1-800-692-9666. TDD: 503-373-2217.

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs also offers Representative Payee Services for veteran clients and their dependents. As a representative payee, ODVA acts in a limited capacity to pay bills on behalf of their clients.

Represenative Payee Services assists beneficiaries in need of help with money management to ensure their income is used for their personal care and well-being. The goal is to help veterans live productive lives. This usually involves paying for their housing, care and utilities and providing allowances for food, transportation, clothing, medications and other expensives.

ODVA Representative Payee Services adhere to the guidelines provided by the USDVA, the SSA and the CFPB. Payee duties also may include monitoring personal accounts for resource limitations, providing reports to beneficiaries, the USDVA and SSA, and advocating for beneficiaries to maintain, protect and investigate benefits that may be available to them.

Other functions may include: working one-on-one with beneficiaries; assessing monthly income and expenses; establishing a monthly budget; payment of monthly living expenses; establishing debt payment plans; providing personal expense money; learning to prioritize needs vs. wants; and establishing financial goals for savings.

For more information: Call ODVA at 503-373-2085 or toll-free at 1-800-692-9666. TDD: 503-373-2217.

Oregon has two Veterans’ Homes, located in The Dalles and Lebanon. Owned and operated by ODVA, these homes provide long-term health care in an environment that understands the unique needs of the men and women who served our country in uniform.

Care at an Oregon Veterans’ Home is an earned benefit available to honorably discharged veterans, their spouses and parents who had a child die while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

For more information: Oregon Veterans' Homes

​The health care needs of the aging veteran population are unique and complex. The federal VA health care system has dedicated resources to serve the needs of this growing population of veterans. These services can be provided in your home, at a VA medical facility or in your community, depending on your situation and needs.

​For more information: Federal VA: Geriatrics and Extended Care

Pension

Veterans and survivors who qualify for a federal VA pension due to financial circumstances may be eligible for additional compensation if you require the aid and attendance of another person. This tax-free supplement to the monthly pension is commonly called A&A. 

You or your deceased spouse must meet the federal VA’s service, age, disability and income requirements for Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension to be eligible for A&A.

Since the A&A provision increases the income allowance, you may be eligible for a supplemented pension even if your income is too high for a basic pension. However, you must still meet the applicable service and age or disability requirements.

For more information: Federal VA: Aid & Attendance and Housebound

Veterans and survivors who qualify for a federal VA pension due to financial circumstances may be eligible for additional compensation if you are housebound, meaning confined to your home because of permanent disability. 

You or your deceased spouse must meet the federal VA’s service, age, disability and income requirements for veterans pension or survivors pension to be eligible for this additional tax-free monthly compensation.

Since the housebound provision increases the income allowance, you may be eligible for a supplemented pension even if your income is too high for a basic pension. However, you must still meet the applicable service and age or disability requirements.

Those who qualify for a pension may also be eligible for additional compensation due to needing the aid and attendance (A&A) of another person, which is based on different criteria. However, you cannot receive both A&A and Housebound benefits at the same time.

How to apply

The federal VA requires you to submit evidence in support of your request for an increased monthly pension, preferably a report from your attending physician validating the need for housebound care.

For more information: Federal VA: Aid & Attendance and Housebound

Burial

Families of eligible deceased veterans may receive a burial allowance from the federal VA to help cover the cost of burial and funeral expenses. These are paid at a flat rate, and the amount depends on certain factors, including whether your loved one's death was considered service-connected or not, or if he or she was being hospitalized by the VA at the time of death.

Reimbursements are generally categorized as two types of payments: burial (or cremation) and funeral expense allowance, and plot interment allowance.

To file for reimbursement of burial expenses, an Application of Burial Allowance form must be submitted to the federal VA. You must also provide a certified copy of the veteran’s death certificate and proof of the veteran’s military service (Form DD 214), as well as itemized invoices or receipts of the funeral and burial expenses.

For more information: Federal VA: Burial Benefits​

If you or your loved one served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces, the federal VA will furnish, at no cost, a United States flag for funeral and memorialization purposes. The flag is provided to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran during funeral services, after which it may be kept or donated by the veteran’s next of kin.

All veterans who received an honorable discharge from their military service are eligible to receive a burial flag at no cost. Veterans who received any discharge other than dishonorable may also qualify if the nature of their service meets certain conditions.

How to obtain a burial flag:

When burial is in a national, state or post cemetery, a burial flag will automatically be provided by the facility. When burial is in a private cemetery, the funeral director will help you with the process of applying for and obtaining a burial flag from the closest issuing point (typically, a U.S. post office).

For more information: National Cemetery Administration: Burial Flags

For Veterans Buried in Private Cemeteries

The federal VA will provide a headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of his or her date of death.

For veterans whose graves are already marked, the VA may also provide a headstone to supplement the existing marker or a bronze medallion (see below) to be affixed to the privately purchased headstone. The veteran must have died on or after Nov. 1, 1990, to be eligible.

The headstone or marker is provided by the VA at no charge, but the arrangements and any fees associated with placing it in a private cemetery will be the responsibility of the applicant.

For Veterans Buried in National, State or Military Cemeteries

When a veteran, spouse or dependent is buried in a national, state or military cemetery, a headstone or marker will be provided by cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin or authorized representative.

Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national, state or military cemetery.

For more information: National Cemetery Administration: Headstones, Markers, and Medallions

If your loved one is interred with a non-government headstone, you can still memorialize their military service with a bronze medallion. These are provided, upon request, by the federal VA to be affixed to an existing privately purchased headstone or marker to signify your loved one's status as a veteran.

If requested, the medallion is furnished in lieu of — but not in addition to — a traditional government headstone or marker for veterans that died on or after Nov. 1, 1990, and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.

For more information: National Cemetery Administration: Headstones, Markers and Medallions

Military veterans have the option to be buried at sea. These ceremonies are performed aboard U.S. Navy vessels while the ship is deployed and, because of this, family members are not allowed to be present. The commanding officer of the ship assigned to perform the ceremony will notify the family of the date, time, and longitude and latitude once the committal service has been completed.

For the purposes of the ceremony, the deceased veteran’s remains can be housed either in a traditional funeral casket or in a cremation urn or temporary container. A burial flag is required for all committal services performed aboard U.S. Naval vessels, regardless of the type of container used.

Eligibility

Those eligible for burial at sea include active duty members of the uniformed services (regardless of branch); retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged; U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command; and dependent family members of active duty personnel, military retirees, or veterans.

How to apply

The federal VA National Cemetery Administration does not handle applications for burial at sea. Requests must be submitted directly to the U.S. Navy Mortuary Branch.

For more information: U.S. Navy Mortuary Services

Eligible veterans are entitled, by law, to dignified military funeral honors in recognition of their service to their country. These ceremonies are provided free of charge and include, at a minimum, the presence of no less than two uniformed service members folding and presenting the United States flag to the next of kin and the playing of "Taps."

Eligibility

Those eligible for military funeral honors include any active duty or Selected Reserve service members, as well as any veterans who served on active duty or in the Selected Reserve and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. More information about eligibility can be found on the Military Funeral Honors website.

How to apply

To request military funeral honors, contact your local funeral director, who will then contact the appropriate military service to arrange for the funeral honors detail.

For more information: National Cemetery Administration: Military Funeral Honors

Certain veterans buried in a national cemetery may also be eligible to have, upon a request, a Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) presented to their next of kin. A PMC is an engraved paper certificate, bearing the signature of the current president of the United States, expressing the country's grateful recognition of the departed veteran's service to the country.

For more information: National Cemetery Administration: Headstones, Markers and Medallions


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Did you know?

According to the 2012 U.S. Census brief, veterans age 65 or older numbered in excess of 12.4 million.
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