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Veterans who don’t register won’t lose benefits

L’Observateur / October 5, 1998

LAPLACE – The rumor had been flying for months that veterans were threatened with a loss of medical benefits if they didn’t immediately register by Oct. 1, 1998.The story is emphatically not true, according to Philip Cambre, assistant counselor with the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, who works in St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes.Cambre explained that a Congressional bill requiring VA hospitals and other medical facilities to develop a system of registering veterans who were receiving benefits was misinterpreted as something altogether different.

According to the rumor, veterans had an Oct. 1, 1998 deadline to”register.”However, nowhere in the bill is there a threat of loss of benefits, if a veteran “failed” to sign up.

“I’ve had a number of veterans coming in and asking about it,” Cambre stated.

The bill was approved in an effort to make sure VA facilities received their fair share of federal funding. With the accounting system in place,the facilities can document their need for funding.

Cambre added the New Orleans area has a high density of veterans, but the area VA facilities are under-funded to handle the load.

Cambre continued that veterans are being encouraged to enroll with their local VA hospital so that the hospitals may receive their fair share of federal funding.

But veterans are not required to register at all, and there is no penalty or punishment if they do not, Cambre concluded.

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