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Read the transcript from this Central Valley Today segment about VA Benefits:

0:00 Emily Erwin

In the journey of life, it is so important to plan for all stages of your life and your loved one’s lives. What happens when you know it's not safe for your parents to drive or they need extra care or when your husband needs long-term care? Here to help us answer these questions and more is Mr. Gregory Steen. He is the Founder and CEO of Senior Care Advocates. Hello thanks for being here again. I always like this you know sometimes it's really good to sort of drive home a point and you get reminded of things so many times that you are forced into action.  And that's what we're forcing people to do. To make a plan. So, we're talking about certain kinds of benefits that we can get through Senior Care Advocates and what are those? 

0:45 Gregory Steen

So, the VA benefits are available to active duty and past active duty veterans. Problem is a lot of them just aren't aware of it, you know. 

0:52 Emily Erwin

Right.

0:57 Gregory Steen

And um but there's you know there's great benefits. The one in particular that nobody seems to know about is called aid in attendance and it pays for in-home care, you know assisted living, skilled nursing… It provides lots of opportunities.  People just don't know about it.

1:08 Emily Erwin

I didn't know about that either. My boyfriend was in the army for almost 15 years and I had no, I mean he's not quite that age yet, uh but I had no idea. So, how can we get this word out there to see if people qualify this for this sort of benefit and are there certain stipulations within the VA where you might qualify for something but not for something else? 

1:33 Gregory Steen

Well, that's a loaded question. So absolutely yes, um but there's service connected and there's non-service connected. So, we have a real simple like a cheat sheet if you will that will help people know if they qualify or not. You can call us. We can email that to you and give it to you at no cost but mainly you need to be active duty during a period of conflict. So, if you were serving during Vietnam you don't have to actually have been in Vietnam but just during that period. And then as far as getting the word out I think this is, you know, thank you for making the time for us to do it. But we're doing all that we can to get the word out on new websites and different events that we're doing and trying to help people understand. Because you know these people have served our country. They're willing to give their life. You know, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude and so we're doing all that we can.

2:23 Emily Erwin

And sometimes the VA is a difficult thing to navigate and I've talked to so many people who have used it and some really like it and it serves them well. And other times it does not serve their purpose because it is a difficult thing to navigate. So how do how do people apply for these benefits and make sure that  they are actually receiving things that they have earned?

2:45 Gregory Steen

So, there's about three different ways. One is you can do it yourself and we generally don't ever advise that. Second you can go to a local veteran’s service office. You know these are well-meaning people, they're trained, but they're so overwhelmed. It's really, really difficult to get through. The third is you can have somebody who's VA accredited help you and guide you. It seems to be a lot quicker, more efficient. The stress is on them not you. But I wanted to share something real quick just to kind of highlight what's going on. This is a news release from 2006. So, just a few days ago. And this is the VA  basically putting out a press release saying hey there's this great benefit. It's underused and we're going to tell all the veterans about it. So, whenever I speak I always ask people how many of you got the memo? And everybody of course laughs and like yeah we never did. So, the VA isn't really great at getting the word out. They are great at other things. I'm glad to have them but. 

3:44 Emily Erwin

Now could, you know, you talked about a Vietnam vet and you know they might be in a situation where maybe they've got somebody who's managing their care or their health care for them. Can we have family members tap into these resources for that veteran? 

4:01 Gregory Steen

Absolutely, so the VA does have a program called a fiduciary that does exactly what you said. But the benefit is tax-free income and it's meant to help you get the best care that you need. So, if it's paying a family member, paying for their health services, or equipment or whatever it's there and the family has the ability to do everything they can for the benefit of the vet.

4:24 Emily Erwin

So, how did Senior Care Advocates come to be sort of an expert with VA benefits?

4:33 Gregory Steen

Boy, just through a lot of us doing this for our clients and going through trial and error and challenges  and obstacles and learning best practices. Like anything else you do it long enough you learn how to kind of, you know, move quickly through things. But we also took some time, took 18 months, several years ago and did our due diligence with a attorney and a CPA VA accredited paralegal and sat down and said how can we help people because this has taken years in some cases. People are dying in the process and so we learned you know what the rules were, the regulations, and tried to put together something where people could have the help now.

5:12 Emily Erwin

Yeah well it's clearly a need if people are calling you asking for help. They don't know where else to turn because sometimes that is the case. If people do have a need they for some senior care, they're in crisis how can they get in touch with Senior Care Advocates?

5:22 Gregory Steen

So on the web or seniorcareadvocate.com our local number is 559-227-7322. We'll be at people's church on the 13th at 10 a.m. It's an open platform for people to get all this information but look us up, we're there.

5:40 Emily Erwin

Okay. Gregory Steen, thank you so much for being here. Always great information! Tap into the things that you have earned. We like that here. Thank you so much, thank you.

Read the complete transcript from this Central Valley Today clip:

0:00 Emily Erwin
You had this life-changing episode and then you said instant dementia. And then it was just like one day you have this life and then the next day it's completely different.
0:09 Gregory Steen
Well for a good while it was mom doing everything right, you know. And then in time we started realizing that okay now mom needs a break because about 30 percent of the caregivers go before the one they're caring for. Believe it or not. So we had to kind of have those talks and help understand, you know, some hard questions and it's very difficult and so that's part of the reason that we're here and why we do what we do. But I think the biggest thing to answer your question is just helping everybody get on the same page and understand what options are there.

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