Advocate: What veterans don't know could lose them benefits

10 May 2017 | 01:18

By Anya Tikka
— Veterans, especially Vietnam veterans, sometimes have a hard time seeking help, Alicia Bonadonna told the Pike County Commissioners.
She attended a recent commissioners' meeting to raise awareness of the Pike County Veterans In-Reach Project, whose principal aim is to make sure all veterans have access to health care. But the project also steers vets to any other programs available for them.
Bonadonna works for Apprise, a company that coordinates Medicare programs. Many vets find out about In-Reach when their family members, or sometimes they themselves, visit her office to inquire about health care programs. They don't come for veterans' help specifically, she said.
Bonadonna said she was inspired to help vets to honor her own father and his service in Vietnam.
“When the Vietnam vets came back home, they often didn’t receive much welcome because of the issues at the time,” Bonadonna said. That makes outreach more important, she said.
Many vets don’t know they're eligible for benefits through both the Veterans Administration (VA) and Medicare programs. They don't realize that they may not need a Medicare Part D prescription plan because they can get medications through the VA, saving them money. And they may not know their eligibility for discounts.
"They may not always get the best price," Bonadonna explained.
She also provides one-on-one counseling for vets on any issues and can help them find available help.
Commissioner Richard Caridi invited Bonadonna to weekly meetings to reach as many veterans as possible. Chair Matt Osterberg complimented the program.
To-date, between 15 and 20 have been reached, Bonadonna said.