For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

See also: In The Military

Satellite tie not meant
for claims processing

Question: What happened in 1999 to the $1.45 million satellite link provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Honolulu linking all the neighbor-island VA clinics? Why is it not used? It would clear the backlog in paper claims for veterans.

Answer: The old satellite dish at the federal building was transferred to another federal agency at the federal building when the VA moved to Tripler Heights in 2000. A new one was installed at E-Wing about a year after the move, but it is for training purposes only.

In 1999, the Veterans Benefits Administration purchased and installed a video circuit and equipment for teleconferencing. This was done for use by the Board of Veterans Appeals to hold video conference calls with veterans at remote VA sites. It was not intended to be used to link outer-island community-based outpatient clinics. The Honolulu facility established a connection with CBOCs by connecting the Veterans Health Administration line to the VBA's equipment. The system is in the research-and-development stages and possible uses of it for processing claims are being explored.

Q: I have a veterans life insurance policy and was wondering if it pays dividends.

A: Yes. The VA announced it would distribute more than $568 million in dividends to 1.5 million active policyholders of veterans' life insurance. Over the next year, veterans will receive the payments on the anniversary date of their policies, with the specific amount varying according to age, type of insurance and length of time the policy has been in force. Recipients will automatically receive their annual dividend through one of the nine payment options selected in advance. For current active-duty servicemembers and reservists covered by Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, no dividend is paid.

Dividends cover only veterans with government life insurance policies who served between 1917 and 1956. Veterans of subsequent eras are covered by government insurance programs that do not pay dividends. However, for some older policies still in force today, the dividends represent a return of trust fund earnings on the premiums paid by policyholders through the years. These funds reflect the fact that veterans are living longer than originally predicted.

Only those with policies that have been kept in force when premiums were required are eligible for the payout. Inaccurate stories periodically surface suggesting that those who have not maintained insurance are eligible for a special distribution if they contact VA, but this is false.

Questions about the policies can be directed to the VA Insurance toll-free number at 1-800-669-8477, or to the Honolulu VA benefits section at 433-1000. Or e-mail

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran,
call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin,
can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at

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