Compton: Stand Down welcomes veterans in need

By George Compton
Saturday, May 30, 2009

Q. Will there be a Stand Down this year?

A. The Ventura County Stand Down will be held on July 24-26, at the California Army National Guard Armory in Ventura. Veterans are encouraged to pre-register. For additional information call 987-3118. Registration forms and transportation schedules are available at the Veterans Service Office. The Ventura County Stand Down invites homeless veterans for food, shelter, addiction treatment, VA benefits information and more.

Q. I understand that if a service member dies on active duty, the surviving spouse is entitled to an annuity. Is that a new benefit?

A. Before 9/11, only the surviving spouse of a retired military member was entitled to the annuity under the Survivor Benefit Plan. Now, an active duty death qualifies for the program as well. The annuity is calculated based on 75 percent of current active duty pay, and the surviving spouse gets an annuity based on 55 percent of that amount. If the service member had a base pay of $2,000 the SBP would be calculated at 75 percent, or $1,500, with the surviving spouse receiving 55 percent or $825, per month.

The surviving spouse should also file for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) with the VA. DIC is paid for a service-connected death. Currently DIC is $1,154 per month, and each minor child adds $286. Currently the spouse cannot get both annuities, but DIC is tax-free. There is proposed legislation to allow for both to be paid. DIC also includes education benefits for the spouse and minor children.

Q. I hope that you can help me figure out a VA education program. I have used my GI Bill for standard education, but I am hoping to go for technical certifications (CCNA and CCNP). I understand the GI Bill can help me in both paying for training and testing for these classes and certifications. What do I need to do or where can I look to find the answers to my questions?

A. You need to talk with a VA education adviser. The Montgomery GI Bill is managed out of the VA Regional Office in Muskogee, Okla. They have all the records of education benefits. You will need to have remaining education benefits available to you (the GI Bill is 36 months of full-time education) and you must use the benefits within 10 years of discharge. That regional office is two hours ahead of us so call early in the day, 888-442-4551.

— George Compton, a retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the county Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033, phone 385-6366, fax 385-6371, or e-mail [email protected].

—— is a portal of all things military. We have thousands of pages and hundreds of databases of valuable information and resources. There is something for everyone. All of this is provided free to users. Additionally, we feature all types of Columns like this one to keep you informed. We will post your press releases, special events, newsletters, professional conferences and seminars, reunions, job fairs, and videos to help organizations get out the word. One of the areas of our focus is connecting candidates from the military community with outstanding government and civilian employers. We are well aware that candidates from the military community across the board have a work ethic second to none. They make highly valued employees. has a multitude of employment resources including a Directory of over 30,000 employers, Job Tips, Columns, our Job Board, Virtual Job Fair and much more. We understand the importance of education. Please check out our new Scholarship Directory featuring thousands of scholarships. When the next tour is back home, it’s on