One on One: Looking back, looking forward

Published 5:14 am Sunday, November 7, 2021

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First things first: before I write another word in this column, I wish to first acknowledge my husband Billy whose birthday was Monday, November 1. Like so many veterans, Billy died as a result of his exposure to Agent Orange during his service in Vietnam. Monday was a happy day for our family, knowing it brought attention to that special day in 1946 when God brought him into this world to love, protect and serve his family and this great nation.

Because of Billy’s love of our homeland, his respect for our U. S. Flag, our Armed Forces, his “brothers and sisters,” his patriotism, his service in the U.S. Army; his overwhelming desire to oppress the oppressors, the dictators and those who wish to do our country and our families harm, my husband was a treasure beyond words. Billy was a big man with a huge heart and he was strong not only in stature but in his constitution to support our Constitution of these United States of America. He was a veteran who kept much of his firsthand experience of war to himself, holding the horror mostly inside that many Vietnam vets do. He is also the one whom I thank our Lord for bringing into my life each and every day. He is the one who inspired this column, Gig Line, and who initiated a request of our commissioners in 2012 to establish a means for veteran outreach (hence, Dare County Veteran’s Advisory Council) and further influencing the ongoing betterment of our veteran community. He was a man with an extraordinary work ethic, a champion for law enforcement, firefighters, first responders and for the handicapped, disabled and mentally challenged. He was a hero, a leader and a man who vigorously supported the needs of those around him. I adored him as did his children and grandchildren and he was valued by his OBX V.F.W. Post 10950 and American Legion Post 26 comrades, his church family and his work associates. He always wanted the best of everything for everybody and I feel so blessed that the good Lord brought us together. For 48+ years it was my honor to be his wife and I will love him forever and ever.

In last week’s column, I addressed the importance of veterans with service-connected medical problems to file a claim or at least to investigate the possibility they might be eligible for disability compensation. I also said that I would include in this week’s Gig Line the information that Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County Veteran Service Officer, retrieved this directly from the website which she thought might be of help. The following may be a bit long, but vital for you all as veterans to know:

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If you are an elderly veteran or the surviving spouse of an elderly veteran, you may be eligible for a VA pension. If you are the child of a veteran and are looking for monetary help for your parent(s), they may be able to qualify for a veteran’s pension. Please keep in mind that pension claims can take up to several months to process, so it’s better to reach out sooner rather than later.


You may be eligible for the Veterans Pension program if you meet the requirements listed below:

  • You didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, AND
  • Your yearly family income and net worth meet certain limits set by Congress. Your net worth includes all personal property you own (except your house, your car, and most home furnishings), minus any debt you owe. Your net worth includes the net worth of your spouse.

 AND one of these must be true:

  • You started on active duty before September 8, 1980, and served at least 90 days with at least one day during wartime OR
  • You started on active duty as an enlisted person after September 7, 1980 and served at least 24 months or the full period with at least one day during wartime 

AND at least one of these must be true:

  • You’re at least 65 years old OR
  • You have a permanent disability OR
  • You’re a patient in a nursing home for long term because of a disability OR
  • You’re getting Social Security disability insurance or supplemental security income 

Pension Rates – If you qualify for these benefits, the VA will base your payment amount on the difference between your countable income and a limit that Congress sets (called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR).

  • Your countable income is how much you earn, including your Social Security benefits, investment and retirement payments. Some expenses, like non-reimbursable medical expenses (medical expenses not covered by your insurance provider), may reduce your countable income.
  • To see the MAPR Rate, please go to 2021 VA Pension Rates For Veterans | Veterans Affairs

The current net worth limit to be eligible for Veterans Pension benefits is $130,773. Net worth includes your and your spouse’s assets and annual income. When you apply for Veterans Pension benefits, you’ll need to report all of these assets and income.

Assets include:

  • Investments (like stocks and bonds)
  • Property (not including the home you live in)

Assets don’t include:

  • Your primary residence
  • Your car
  • Basic home items like appliances that you wouldn’t take with you if you moved to a new house

Annual income:

Annual income is the money earned in a year (the previous 12 months) from a job or from retirement or annuity payments, including salary or hourly pay, bonuses, commissions, overtime, tips.

The VA will subtract certain expenses from your annual income when they assess net worth. This is called applicable deductible expenses. They include:

  • Educational expenses
  • Medical expenses you’re not reimbursed for

An Example of Net Worth and Eligibility:

If you had $121,000 in assets and $14,000 in annual income, then your net worth would be $135,000. This is more than the net worth limit of $130,773. So, you wouldn’t be eligible for Veterans Pension benefits.

Surviving spouses of veteran may be eligible for a VA pension as well. The spouse cannot have remarried after the veteran’s death (or ever have been divorced from the veteran) and the deceased veteran must meet the military service requirements above.  The surviving spouse would have to meet the income limits above.

As you know Thursday, November 11 is Veteran’s Day. Next week I will include scheduled events that you all may want to attend. I will also include the meeting times of our local V.F.W., American Legion and Marine Corps League so that you can consider either joining or move your current membership elsewhere to our local posts.

Attention everyone! If you or anyone you know has lost a loved one, regardless of relationship, please save the date Thursday, November 4 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for a memorable two-hour Grief Share Class “Surviving the Holidays.” This free class will be presented by veteran widow Peggy Snead and it will be taught at the Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, located at 300 Ananias Dare St. in Manteo. As a widow myself, I have taken the classes Peggy offers and I can tell you that whether it was your spouse, child, brother, sister, parent or dear friend, the theme of the class is support in a welcoming, friendly and helpful atmosphere. You don’t have to talk or tell you story, but you may want to when you feel the kind embrace of others who also grieve their loved one. Masks are required and everyone will meet in the downstairs Fellowship Hall, Room B. I promise it’s helpful and I strongly recommend it as well as another extended class she will offer starting on January 13 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., same location. It’s also free and if you’d like to get the Grief Share workbook, I highly recommend it. The cost is only $15 and it’s a keeper, but the workbook is not required! More info to come as the time for it to start draws nigh.

Until next time, be healthy, safe and happy! Know how much you are appreciated and loved even if we, the general public, sometimes unintentionally fail to show you. We look up to you, we admire your courage, your service and your sacrifice. If you wish to contact Patty (V.S.O.) her office phone is 252-475-5604 and her email address is I enjoy hearing from you too, so if you’d like to call and chat, my cell number is 252-202-2058, my email address is and my website is As I have said many times, I love you, I pray for you and you are all heroes to me. God bless you all. Stay tuned!