In addition being grieved over the loss of their loved ones, many widows and widowers of U.S. veterans are sadly unaware of their federal benefits.

Groups Help Surviving Spouses with Veteran Benefits

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In Oklahoma, a new law will allow the widows and widowers of veterans to receive a $1,000 sales tax exemption, The Associated Press reported. The measure will apply only to the surviving spouses of vets who were considered disabled under federal law and were unable to work while they were living.

According to Oklahoma Senator Don Barrington, who sponsored the new law, the measure will affect about 2,500 people. Many widows and widowers see a decrease in their VA benefits after their spouse dies, so the new law aims to help keep surviving spouses afloat after the death of their loved one.

Although many widows and widowers of veterans are aware that they are entitled to veterans benefits, many of them aren’t sure how far their benefits will go. For example, living spouses of deceased prisoners of war often don’t realize what benefits they are entitled to, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

According to the source, a Chicago-area veteran and former POW named Thomas Jundanian has made it his mission in life to educate the widows and widowers of former POWs about their potential veterans benefits. Although many living spouses of former POWs are entitled to a monthly check from the Department of Veterans Affairs, many aren’t aware. Since he took the position of commander of the Greater Chicago Area Chapter of Former POWs, Jundanian has been determined to spread the word to numerous widows and widowers across Chicagoland.

Jundanian spent time as a POW during 1944, when he was captured by the German army in Belgium. Jundanian, along with countless other ally soldiers, spent months marching, working in welding shops and living off of thin rations.

Today, in addition to his duties as commissioner, Jundanian commits his personal life to educating widows and widowers on their benefits. He once approached a woman in a grocery store whose license plate specifically said “prisoner-of-war.”

“I approached her with my card – gosh, I hope she didn’t think I was coming on to her – and asked if she was getting any (veterans) benefits,” he told the Sun-Times.

The woman had not been receiving any benefits from the government, and was happy to accept Jundanian’s help. In fact, he received a thank-you card from the woman’s daughter just a few months later. So far, he has helped 11 women collect a $1,100 tax-free monthly stipend. One year’s worth of the benefits can be collected retroactively.

 

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