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Pension program benefits older military veterans

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Al Myers called it a “miracle out of the blue.”

It was only a year ago that Myers, a Korean War veteran, was living with physical difficulties stemming from his service that otherwise kept him from finding employment.

A friend recommended that Myers attend a seminar about military pension. He brought his discharge papers, and a week later he was accepted into an improved pension benefit program afforded to American war veterans ages 65 and older.

“I have no worries,” Myers said. “I have a very nice apartment, all of my meals are provided.”

According to VeteranAid.org, Aid & Attendance Pension can provide up to $1,704 per month to a veteran, $1,094 per month to a surviving spouse, or $2,020 per month to a couple.

Myers isn’t the only local veteran receiving aid, but there are many more like him who didn’t know the program existed. The Alachua County Veterans Services office estimated between 5,000 and 7,000 veterans living in Gainesville who qualify for Aid & Attendance but haven’t enrolled in the program.

Martin Whitley, a junior service counselor, said older veterans might not have had the exit education that military personnel have today to know about the benefit program.

“Older veterans are the ones who may not know,” Whitley said. “People retire to Florida, Texas and California, and that’s why you see the largest buildup in those states with a higher population density of veterans.”

Whitley encouraged people to share information about the program. Veterans must have served at least one day during wartime to be able to qualify after their 65th birthday. For more information about the program, visit the nearest Veterans Affairs office or www.veteranaid.org.

George Pappas wrote this story online. 

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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