NewsMaking It In San Diego


Making It in San Diego: Helping veterans access untapped benefits

Posted at 8:24 PM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 16:08:53-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego is home to the nation’s largest concentration of military personnel. As part of our Making It in San Diego initiative, we want to make sure veterans know there is potentially money available to them.

10News anchor Kimberly Hunt spoke to professionals in the field, as well as two veterans who are currently applying for benefits.

Linda Urbina, Director of Client Services for Golden Care explains the different benefit packages. Aide & Attendance, while difficult to qualify for, will go a long way in paying a veteran's assisted living costs. A veteran would have to be found to have 30 percent of their medical needs deemed 'service-related.'

Anything less than 30 percent could be covered by a benefit called Home Health Aide Care. That provides assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, personal grooming, bathing, toileting/incontinence care, transferring, and transportation. A veteran would have to need assistance with at least two of these ADL's to qualify for this program.

Urbina has gone into homes to find a veteran whose needs are not being met and has called adult protective services. Later she finds out they could have received help from the VA. She sees wives "bent low from the burden of care giving" and veterans who "feel guilty" for being a burden. She wants to see veterans get the help they deserve for their service to our country.

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Some veterans end up seeking help from a professional advocate such as Alan Watt. He strongly suggests a veteran "go talk with a veteran services officer at the VA., ask questions, sit down with someone and see if you might qualify for help."

He acknowledges the VA is over-burdened, but he tells his clients not to give up. He says persistence pays off. It disappoints Watt to see someone wait years or decades before coming in. Among his clients are World War II veterans who waited more than 70 years to ask for help.

10News called the local office of the Veteran's Administration. They recommended people go to the VA website. Once on, click the 'Benefits and Healthcare' tab. Once in that tab, you can click on the area you need including Healthcare, Housing Assistance, and Benefits for family members.

If you can't navigate the website, you can walk into the Regional Benefits Office in Mission Valley at 8810 Rio San Diego Dr. The office accepts walk-ins. It's open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you need to reach someone by phone, call 1-800-827-1000.

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88-year-old Bernard 'Bud' Kauterer commanded submarine forces in the Pacific and Atlantic for much of his 33 year career with the Navy. He recently entered the care of La Costa Glen Senior Living Community in Carlsbad. He and his wife Mickey are very happy there. Almost all of his Navy retirement goes to support the community in which they live. He recently applied for Aide & Attendance benefits. He says "having benefits would be a tremendous benefit to them financially." He's waiting to get a response.

Vietnam veteran George Simons has multiple health problems and after recently having a stroke he says he's "basically bed bound." His wife Cyndy has been caring for him for years. The medical bills have mounted, and take the majority of their money. Other things around the house have had to go unattended.

After years of what he and his wife describe as a frustrating battle with the VA, Simon now receives Homemaker benefits which give him an in-home caretaker 12 hours a day, and a pension benefit of 20 percent of his Navy pay. They are still pursuing greater benefits.

Watt tells both couples to "keep at it. and don't take no for an answer."