RI Veterans: Did you know? 1 September 21 – John A. Cianci

by John A Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer,

                             Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

Q & A… I am not enrolled in the VA Healthcare system. Am I eligible for an identification card from the VA? – Jim from Windham Connecticut

The VA offers qualifying applicants a Veterans ID Card which is different from the VA Veteran Health Identification Card (see below), military retiree card or DoD Uniformed Services cards. VA identification cards (hereafter VIC) cannot be used as proof of eligibility to any federal benefits and does not grant access to military installations.

KUDOs to the VA Hartford Connecticut Healthcare System organization who have provided outreach to help veterans sign up for the VIC, to include sending VA employees to the Wednesday weekly coffee house at the Eastern Connecticut Veterans Community Center, on September 1, 2021.

Who Is Eligible For VIC?

You may be eligible to apply for a VA Veterans Identification Card if you meet both of the requirements:

  • The applicant must have served on active duty, as a Reservist, or in the National Guard or Coast Guard.
  • The applicant must also have received an honorable or general discharge.

All applicants with other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable character of discharge, are denied a Veterans ID Card. When applying you are required to supply your DD Form 214 discharge paperwork or equivalent.

UPDATE PAWS ACT, or Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members for Veterans Therapy Act – which will help provide veterans with dog training from non-governmental 501(c)(3) organizations. On August 25, 2021, President Joe Biden signs the legislation into law. The law goes in effect starting January 1, 2022. Simply put, the VA will provide grants to non-profit organizations to provide service dogs to veterans.

VETTIP – If I was a veteran interested in a service dog or emotional dog, I would immediately contact one of the local non-profit organizations pairing veterans up with a service or therapy dog: NEADS World Class Service Dogs, (978) 422-9064 or New England Human Animal Bond Foundation, 860-324-6928.

Chororua, 8-month-old German Shepard

A Checklist of Tasks after a Death of a Veteran

A List of People to Notify, Places to Contact, after the Death of a Loved One

The first step to receiving assistance and benefits for a Veteran’s death is to report it to the appropriate agencies. If unsure, call anyway. Expect to give the Veteran’s full name and Social Security number. In order to avoid overpayments, the survivors should contact the below numbers as soon as possible, within 30 days if possible. 

The time immediately following the death of a loved one can be overwhelming, with grief and bereavement complicated by a seemingly endless number of tasks. The immediate days following the death will be focused on the funeral or memorial service arrangements. Soon after, however, various financial and legal issues must be addressed. Many people find it very difficult to be sure they have taken care of everything. The following is a list of tasks that are likely to need attention: 

• For a widow or widower of a wartime veteran the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers several monetary benefits for widows and surviving spouses of wartime veterans. These include dependency and indemnity compensation (hereafter DIC), survivors’ pension, and burial benefits.

VETTIP – For survivor’s pension, a wartime veteran does not mean a veteran had to actually serve in a war. For veterans on or before September 7, 1980, the deceased veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service, with at least ONE day during time of war. If after September 30, 1980, they must have served a total of 24 months of the full period for which called or ordered to active duty with a least ONE day during a wartime period.

Best bet, contact your local congressional leader for assistance in applying for any survivor benefit and to inquire to VA if the deceased veteran has any open claim pending, which as the survivor can be continued and possibly entitling to the survivor thousands of dollars and even a monthly DIC payment of estimate $1400.

If the veteran cause of death was a result of a VA approved service-connected disability the survivor:

  • If the death certificate lists the cause of death as one of the deceased veteran’s service-connected conditions, VA should grant service connection without further investigation.
  • If the veteran’s service-connected condition was a contributory cause of death, VA should presume that it contributed “substantially and materially” to the veteran’s death, and so grant service connection without further investigation.

If the condition that caused the veteran’s death was not already service-connected when they died, you can still submit an application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.  Claims like these may take longer to process, though, because VA adjudicators will follow the typical disability claims review process to decide whether the cause of death is service-connected.

However, if the cause of death is a “presumptive” disability, and the evidence shows the veteran meets the particular presumptive criteria (as an example, check out our post on Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam), VA should grant service connection without further investigation.

If the veteran cause of death WAS NOT service connected, under 38 U.S. Code § 1318, veterans who did not die as a result of a service-connected disability, but meet the following criteria may be eligible for DIC “as if” their death was service connected:

  • Had a service-connected disability that VA rated totally disabling (100 percent); or
  • Had disabilities that combined to be 100 percent to include on the basis of individual unemployabilityand meets the criteria shown in the “Section 1318” part of the above infographic titled “Veterans Eligibility Criteria.”

An example of this might be if a Vietnam Veteran did not apply for PTSD during their lifetime, but the condition later became a contributory cause of death.  The surviving spouse or dependent can apply for service connection after the fact and, if the service connection is granted, then they will be entitled to DIC.  It is important to note that the surviving spouse or dependent child will not receive retroactive disability benefits for the veteran’s PTSD, but they can use it for the purposes of establishing DIC.

Presumptive conditions are another way that a spouse or dependent may establish entitlement to DIC benefits for conditions that were not service connected at the time of death.  An example of this is agent orange exposure in Vietnam.

Agent Orange exposure can lead to a number of presumptive conditions.  VA updates its presumptive list periodically, which means that a condition that caused the veteran’s death has the potential to become a presumptive condition in the future.  In this case, the surviving spouse or dependent child could file for DIC benefits if the veteran were to meet the criteria for a new presumptive condition

Surviving children may be eligible for survivor’s pension if the unmarried children meet one of the following conditions:

  1. Be underage of 18 years old
  2. Be under age 23 and attending a VA-approved school; a student the VA recognizes as an approved college, university, or training facility
  3. Be unable to care for themselves due to a disability that occurred before the age of 18

Veteran, you may be able to get financial assistance with the funeral, burial plot, or other benefits. For information on benefits, you can call the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000. You may also receive information and assistance in applying for burial benefits by contacting your County Veterans Service Office (CVSO). You will need a copy of your loved one’s discharge papers (DD214) to apply for these benefits. 

• Obtain 10-15 copies of the Death Certificate. Speak to the funeral home or your County Veteran Services office for contact information in your area.  

• If your Veteran receives Social Security benefits, notify your local Social Security office of the death, since these benefits will stop. Overpayments will result in a difficult process of repayment. If you are a surviving spouse, ask about your eligibility for increased benefits. Also, check on benefits that any minor children may be entitled to receive. You may call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 between 7a.m. and 7p.m. 

If the Veteran receives veterans’ administration disability, contact the VA , check on benefits that any minor children may be entitled to receive. You may call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. 

• Contact the health insurance company or employer regarding terminating coverage for the deceased while continuing coverage for others covered through the policy. 

• Contact the insurance company for all life insurance policies. You will need to provide the policy number and a certified copy of the death certificate and fill out a claim form. If the deceased is listed as the beneficiary on any other policy, arrange to have the name removed. If the Veteran was enrolled in the Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance plan (SGLI), Veteran’s Group Life Insurance (VGLI), or Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) call the VA at 1-800-419-1473. 

• If retired military, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) can be notified by calling 1-800-538-9552.

• If the Veteran is a military retiree, the Defense Finance and Accounting service should be notified by calling the Retiree Casualty Section of the DFAS at 1-888-332-7411. You can also file DFAS Form 9221 online using DFAS’s Fast Form option at

If the Veteran is also a current or retired federal civilian employee, the Office of Personnel Management should be notified by calling 1-888-767-6738.

• The VA should be notified depending on the benefits the Veteran was receiving or the programs the veteran was enrolled in. If the veteran was receiving disability compensation or a pension, call the Veterans Benefits Administration at 1-800-827-1000.

• If the veteran was enrolled in a VA-sponsored life insurance policy, call the VA at 1-800-669-8477.

• If the veteran was enrolled in the Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance plan (SGLI), Veteran’s Group Life Insurance (VGLI), or Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) call the VA at 1-800-419-1473. 

• If the deceased was working, contact the employer for information on pension plans, credit unions and union death benefits. You will need a certified copy of the death certificate for each claim. 

• Return credit cards of the deceased with a certified copy of the death certificate, or notify the credit card company if you, as the survivor, want to retain use of the card. 

• Seek the advice of an accountant or tax advisor about filing the deceased’s tax return for the year of the death. Keep monthly bank statements on all individual and joint accounts that show the account balance on the day of death, since you will need this information for the estate tax return. 

• Arrange to change any joint bank accounts into your name. If the deceased’s estate is in trust, check with the Trust Department or Customer Service at the bank. 

• If the deceased owned a car, transfer the automobile title into your name at the Secretary of State’s Office, or if the estate is probated, through Probate Court. 

• Arrange to change stocks and bonds into your name. Your bank or stockbroker will have the forms. 

• Make sure that important bills, such as mortgage payments, continue to be paid. 

• Contact the County Veteran Services office for possible application for survivor’s benefits such as Dependency Indemnity Compensation or Survivor’s Pension. 

Documents you may need to complete the tasks: 

• Death Certificates (10 – 15 certified copies) 

• Social Security Card 

• Marriage Certificate 

• Birth Certificate 

• Birth Certificate for each child, if applicable 

• Insurance Policies 

• Deed and Titles to Property 

• Stock Certificates 

• Bank Books 

• Honorable Discharge Papers for a Veteran (DD214) 

• Recent Income Tax Forms and W-2 Forms 

• Automobile Title and Registration Papers 

• Loan and Installment Payment Books and/or Contracts 

Now that I have your head spinning after reading all the above, save time and banging you head against the table dealing with the VA by contacting one of your local congressional leaders to inquire on the following information for the deceased veteran and provide a written response to the following questions :

  1. Was the veteran receiving VA disability? If yes, please provide a copy of the veterans approved service-connected disabilities.
  2. Request a copy of all approved and disapproved claims.
  3. Did the veteran have any claim pending and or in appeal, if yes, provide copies of all documents submitted and on file for this claim and or appeal.

VETTIP – I have been privy to a Navy veteran’s widow who husband claim was original filed in the early 1960’ Denied and appealed for years. After the veteran passed, the widow continued the claim and finally in early 2000, the Navy acknowledged asbestos-containing materials were used to build every ship from the 1930s to the early 1980s-there were no exceptions. She received almost a million dollars by continuing the claim and winning after the Navy acknowledge the asbestos; the cause of death on his death certificate was from cancer.

In closing, in my training as a Veteran Service Officer, few simple rules:

(1) Always file for a veteran’s benefits he or she believes they are entitled to; ensure to have a copy supported by the emailing and or mailing of the documents filed with the VA

(2) Always requests the denial in writing from the VA

If you have any questions and or need assistance on veteran benefit’s, feel free to contact the Italian American War Veterans, Inc, (hereafter ITAM) email: or via phone, (401) 677-9VET; ITAN services are all FREE and ITAM is a VA recognized service organization.

Questions & Answers

How do I file my claim?

You can file your disability compensation claim online

By mail

File your claim by mail using an Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits (VA Form 21-526EZ).
Download VA Form 21-526EZ (PDF)

Print the form, fill it out, and send it to this address:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444

In person

Bring your application to a VA regional office near you.:

Providence Regional Office

380 Westminster St.

Providence RI 02903



 Benefits Office at providence VA Medical center

830 Chalkstone Ave Room 146 (main building)

Providence RI 02908


VETTIP – Recommend you get help with your claim by contacting FREE Veteran Service Officers at one of the veteran organizations assisting Veteran with benefits and claimsVeterans Service Officer (VSO). We trust these professionals because they’re trained and certified in the VA claims and appeals processes and can help you with VA-related needs. The Veterans Foreign War, Vietnam Veterans of America, Italian American war veterans, and DAV, are some of the local veteran organizations assisting veterans filing claims and appeal.



Monday September 6, 2021, Federal Hill Coffee House, 900-1030 am, ROMA 310 Atwells Ave, Providence RI. All Veterans and their guest are invited. The coffee house is FREE, and where else can you start off with a gathering with baked Italian toast. More information, contact or (401) 677-9VET.

Monday September 6, 2021, American Legion Berard Desjarlais Post #88 , 111 Chapel Street Federal Hill Coffee House, 1200-430 pm . Fundraiser for RI Military Lounge , TF Greene Airport. Tactical Smokers (team of Veterans  aiming for the perfect pulled pork —teaming up for fundraising). Pulled pork sandwiches, Nathan Hot Dogs, Mad Dogs (Nathan Hot Dog topped with pull pork and Sweet Baby Ray BBQ sauce. Delivery is available in the local area on Monday, call 1-401-677-9VET. Drive up —orders will also be available. Come on out — eat – and then walk or ride your bike on the Northern RI bike path which has access right behind the post. FREE SAFE PARKING. If you cannot make the event and would like to donate, send a check made out to ITAM, 11 Chapel Street, Burrillville RI 02830

11-12 September 20th Annual Military Vehicle and Swap Meet, Canonicus Camp and Conference Center, 54 Exeter Rd., Exeter RI 02822. Saturday (9am-5pm) – Sunday (9am-3pm) More information contact Russ Erwin, (401) 434-0881, email

Tuesday September 14, 2021, Northern Rhode Island Coffee House . Sponsored by the America Legion Berard Desjarlais Post #88  and Italian American War Veterans. Free coffee and refreshments for all veterans and their guest. Burrillville Veterans Service Officer and Italian American War Veteran, Veteran Service Officer will be available to assist any veteran or family member.

September 24, 2021, War (Sunday) War Vet Car Show, Rhode Island Veterans Home, Metacom Ave, Bristol RI.



September 15-20, 2021, USMC Tankers Association Facility: Crown Plaza Providence-Warwick, 801 Greenwich Ave., Warwick RI 02886. Point of Contact Name: John Wear. Point of Contact Telephone: 719-495-5998. Point of Contact Email: . Comments: The USMC Vietnam Tankers Association will be holding our 12th biennial reunion . Anyone who served with any of the Marine tank battalions or Ontos units in Vietnam . . . in any capacity is welcome!

November 20, 2021, Comedy/Dinner show at Officers Club, Newport Navy Base. The event is open to all, and all profits and donations will be for Rhode Island Military Lounge located at TF Green Airport; the lounge is open to all traveling member of the military and veterans and their families, often left awaiting a delayed flight for hours/\. All staffing is volunteers. For more information for tickets, sponsorship and or donated, contact


John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.