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RI Veterans: Did you know? (benefits, disability, events, programs, discounts) – John A. Cianci

by John A. Cianci, veterans writer

Did you know a veteran receiving VA disability could receive additional $40 to $300 additional a month benefits for his parents?

More information on VA disability dependent parent program:

If the veteran is directly caring for them and their income and net worth are below a certain amount, the VA disability dependent parent program is a benefit that is paid to disabled veterans with a disability rating of at least 30% for parents who are dependent on the veteran. The VA is vague about the types of situations that qualify veterans to claim parents as dependents. Instead, the VA uses phrases like “financially dependent,” “caregiver,” and “direct care” to describe the relationship between the veteran and the veteran’s parents.

However, some examples of the situations where a veteran may receive additional disability benefits for dependent parents include:

  • Dementia: If a parent has dementia and you live with your parents to take care of them, they may qualify as a dependent.
  • Mobility: If you spend a significant amount of time caring for your parents because one or both of your parents use a wheelchair or scooter, they may be dependents even if they do not live in your home.
  • Home care: When your parents are confined to your home or their home due to medical issues and you provide substantial time and effort helping them, they might be dependents.
  • Assisted living: If your parents are in a residential facility that you pay for, they may be dependent on you.
  • Financial dependence: When parents’ income is below the statutory threshold or their expenses exceed their income and assets, you may be eligible for VA dependent pay even if they do not have any major medical problems.

To apply and more information,

Understanding Veteran Annual Summary of Benefit Letter Received Every December 

An example:

We start off with a question from one of our readers.

Q: I received a summary of benefits letters the first week of December. Should I save this letter? What if the information is not correct?  Lenny, Pascoag RI

A: First, the letter is considered the official record of your entitlement from the VA. 

VETTIP: I would save with other important documents, wills, deeds, etc. In addition, save all previous years, as later you might need to prove how long you were getting a certain percentage of disability. I have assisted veterans receive THOUSANDS of dollars of underpayments or new benefits with several past years summary letters used as evidence, disproving “current” VA records.  

The first paragraph, last sentence reads: – “This letter replaces VA Form 20-5455, and is considered an official record of your entitlement”, marked item #1

Other important information you should verify, marked #2:

Section:  Military Information – Are your types of discharge and service dates correct? This information can be verified by matching up to your DD214(s). If not correct, you should submit copies of your DD214 with a cover letter to: (Please send all correspondence related to compensation claims to this address):

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

Review the VA Benefit Information section (marked Item 3).

The summary letter should match the current combined disability rating, Marked Item #4.

Is your combined rating correct? In the letter, the veteran has a combined rating of 100%. (marked item #4)

You should also compare the monthly deposit you receive to the amount – marked Item #5.

VETTIP:  The amount in the sample, $3,946.25, is for a veteran with a spouse. If you compare it to 2024 Disability Pay Rate, you can see it matches. Additionally, this was the amount of deposit for January 1, 2024 disability payment for the veteran.

Moreover, this letter can be used when applying for additional federal, state, and local benefits.

For example, your city or town could provide tax credit to reduce your property taxes. A copy of this letter provides an official document to your city or town that you are a disabled veteran and the combined service-connected disability.

One important section, is  the VA Benefits Information section, the summary letter reads:

Are you considered to be totally and permanently disabled due to your service-connected disabilities: Yes. (marked item #6)

Bottom line Lenny, SAVE AND FILE the document. Years later, this document could be the difference of you receiving THOUSANDS of dollars of additional VA benefits. Don’t expect the VA to have accurate information that would entitle you to additional benefits, the burden of proof is on the veteran.

VETTIP: I keep a copy in my glove box and with my travel documents. Often, discounts are available to a veteran if he can prove he is a disabled veteran and the percent he receives. Easy access to letters, more often than not, will verify your eligibility for discounts.

More information on VA definition of totally and permanently:

What does totally and permanently mean?

First off, a permanent rating may be assigned when medical evidence strongly suggests your condition will not improve over time. The severity of your condition, or multiple conditions, will factor into this, as will your age at the time of your claim.

If VA rates you as permanently and totally disabled, your disability rating should not be reduced.  Permanent and Total Disability means your service-connected condition is 100 percent disabling with no chance of improving.  As a result, VA will not schedule you for any further C&P examinations.

VETTIP: Layman’s term, the VA does not reevaluate permanent conditions. When a disability is determined to be permanent, the rating, payment, and benefits will not change for the rest of the Veteran’s life.

I know at least 12 veterans who the VA prepared a claim for the veteran per PACT Act, and as a result reopening their claim, the veteran WAS reduced. Simply put, understand your existing benefits and if filing for an increase or new claim, review your past decision why you were granted previous rating. 

For example, if your rating for migraine headaches was based on more than 5 a month making you non-functionable, and during an exam for increase, you tell them you only occasionally get migraine that makes you non-functionable. More than likely, the VA will recommend a reduction based on your statement years later.

When can a permanent and total disability rating be reduced?

If you have a 100% Permanent and Total (P&T) rating, it’s unlikely you’ll be re-evaluated or have your rating reduced, unless you’ve done something to trigger a VA review of your case. This can occur when:

  • The initial 100% P&T rating was found to be based on fraud.
  •  You have a 100% P&T rating but open a new claim for compensation to include Special Monthly Compensation (SMC). Special monthly compensation (SMC) is a higher rate of compensation that the VA pays to Veterans who lost, or lost the use of, specific organs or body parts due to military service. (Loss, or loss of use, means amputation or no effective remaining function of an extremity or organ.) If the VA Rater can see that one or more of your impairments has gotten better or potentially could get better, your rating may be reduced.
  • You have a 100% P&T rating and open a new claim for a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) or Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant. This will automatically trigger a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam for the increase. If the C&P examiner determines your condition has improved or could improve the VA may reduce your rating.
  • If a VA Quality Review finds a Clear and Unmistakable Error (CUE) for the original 100% P&T rating, your rating could be reduced. (While CUE motions are often requested by Veterans to get the VA to re-evaluate and approve benefits or increase their rating, they can also be used by the VA to reduce or deny an individual’s disability benefits.)

VA Disability Pay Rates Effective January 1 2023 

Starting January 1, Disabled Veterans will see a 3.2% Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA, increase in their monthly VA disability compensation. Veterans with a current disability rating of 10% or higher will receive this 3.2% raise in their disability pay rate for the entire calendar year of 2024.

The chart below should assist the veteran to ensure he or she is receiving the correct amount, which should also be on the summary letter detailed in the response to one of our reader’s questions:

 VETTIP. If you are receiving over-payments because of a divorce or dependent child no longer living with, the VA holds the veteran responsible, more than likely, when the VA discovers the discrepancy, the veteran is expected to reimburse the VA . In rare cases, the over payments can be waived.  

In conclusion, if you have discrepancies in disability payment being received, contact the VA immediately to rectify the situation.



December 30, 2023 – 1:30pm – Rhode Island Veterans Home, Gally. New England Military Women Across the Nation Unit 158 will be hosting bingo for the residents of the Rhode Island Veterans Home. Point of Contact is GinaMarie Doherty, National President, [email protected]

January 1, 2024 – 9am to 11am – Federal Hill Veteran Coffee House, ROMA, 311 Atwells Ave, Providence RI, FREE refreshments; Coffee, Italian Toast, desserts, calzones and much more. Sponsored by Italian American War Veterans of US.

January 15, 2024 – 1130am to 1300pm – FREE LUNCHEON for all veterans and their guest at VFW, 134 Shove Street, Tiverton RI. This month’s meal will be chicken parmigiana, pasta, Caesar salad, and dessert. Sponsored by Building Bridges, Italian American War Veterans of US, VFW Tiverton RI, and Front Line Ministry for Freedom, Bristol RI. 

January 20, 2024 – 11AM-2PM, VFW 2024 Educational Awards Luncheon, Quonset O’ Club, 200  LT. JAMES BROWN RD. NORTH KINGSTOWN RI , 435 per person, $280 / 8 per table. Buffet Style, all welcome. Point of Contact, GINAMARIE DOHERTY 401-500-1721. Email: [email protected]. Checks can be sent to VFWRI HQ, One Capitol Hill, Providence RI 02908 

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Rhode Island would like to announce this Fiscal Year’s 2023-2024 Educational & Awards Luncheon. This year’s event will be promoting the following programs:

· Patriots Pen Scholarship available for grades 6th-8th.

· Voice of Democracy Scholarship is available for grades 9th-12th.

· Teacher of the Year Award for any teacher from the grades K-12th.


Travel/Entertainment for Veterans

Free Golf, Goddard Park Golf Course Fee Exemption for Totally Disabled Veterans: Rhode Island resident Veterans who have a 100% permanent and total, service-connected disability rating from the VA are exempt from paying any fees to play golf at the Goddard Park Golf Course. For more information year-round at Division Headquarters at 401-667-6200.

Free Rhode Island Hunting and Fishing Licenses for 100% Disabled Veterans: A Veteran who has a 100% disability rating from the VA is eligible for free Rhode Island hunting and fishing licenses.

No cost licenses are available if you are:

·       over 65 AND a Rhode Island resident

·       a veteran with 100% disability status from the Department of Veterans Affairs

·       a person with 100% total disability status from the Social Security Administration

To apply in person at DEM, please bring a photo ID and an ORIGINAL DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. (directions)

To apply by mail, please complete an application and mail the application and a copy of your photo ID and the ORIGINAL DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). Please allow two weeks for processing.

The address to obtain your license in person or by mail is:
DEM Licensing Office
235 Promenade Street, Room 360
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-3576

To purchase online, you will be required to certify that you have an ORIGINAL DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). You will also be required to enter the date the decision expires. The Department will audit compliance with the certification and may, at any time, request a copy of the current DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). Failure to submit the documentation by the date requested may result in the suspension of your fishing and hunting license. Also, Rhode Island General Law 11-18-1 prohibits giving false documents to an agent, employee, or public official. The penalty is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment up to one year.

Rhode Island Hunting and Fishing Benefits for Service Members and Veterans: Rhode Island offers several hunting and fishing benefits to Service members and Veterans. A short description of each is listed below. Applicants are required to show documentationDept of Environmental Management logo proving eligibility when they apply:

· Active-Duty Service members – Military ID

· Veterans – DD214

· Disabled Veterans – VA Disability Certification Letter ( Contact VA office)

Applicants can apply online at Rhode Island Outdoors, in person at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Office of Boating Registration and Licenses in Providence (Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.), at an Authorized In-Person Sales Agent, or they can mail applications to:

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Room 360
Providence, RI 02908
Phone: 401-222-3576

Learn more about FREE Rhode Island Hunting , Fishing, State Parks, and Golf  Benefits for Service Members and Veterans,that%20issued%20the%20disability%20decision.

Free Rhode Island State Park Passes for 100% Disabled Veterans: Rhode Island offers the State Park Disability Pass for use at any state-owned recreational facility to disabled Veterans who have a 100% service-connected disability rating from the VA.

RI state parks logoThe State Park Disability Pass authorizes free admission and parking but does not exempt the following:

· Licensing fees

· Camping fees

· Picnic table fees

· Specialized facility use fees

· Use of equestrian areas

· Performing art centers

· Game fields fees

· Mule shed fees

If the disabled Veteran cannot drive, the vehicle transporting the Veteran will not be charged.

Veterans must apply in person at the Rhode Island State Parks and Recreation Headquarters and are required to show official documentation (dated within the past year) from the VA that states they have a 100% service-connected disability.

Rhode Island State Parks and Recreation Headquarters
1100 Tower Hill Road
North Kingstown, RI 02852
Phone: 401-667-6200
Email: [email protected]


Resources & ongoing groups 

Below are all the groups the Providence Vet Center is currently offering.  As this list changes, I will provide updates. Please send me any questions that you may have, thank you for your time! 

***All Vet Center Groups require that the Veteran be enrolled with the Vet Center prior to attending. To check eligibility or for questions, please contact the Vet Center at (401) 739-0167 or reach out to our Veteran Outreach Program Specialist (VOPS) via email at [email protected]*** 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Group (PTSD) – 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (Group is only active September through May) 

Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and Vietnam Veterans PTSD Group – 2nd and 4th  Wednesday of the month from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. 

Vietnam Veteran PTSD Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

Art Expression Group – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 12:00 p.m. 

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) Group – Every Wednesday from 11:00 – 12:00 p.m. 

Stress Management – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. 

Low Impact Walking Group – Every Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. 

Guitar 4 Veterans – Every Wednesday from 7:00-8:30 p.m. 

Monday Mindfulness Group – Every Monday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. 

Yoga Group – Every Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 

Moral Injury Group – Every Friday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. 

Modern Warrior Support Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 2:30 – 4:00 pm. 


Discount Offers


No Problem Plumbing and Heating LLC:  15% military discount, ask for Ron Gaynor, (401) 568-6666. Veterans must provide proof of eligibility with a VA Card, VA ID Card, or RI State license with veteran identification. 


Applebee’s – Military Discount. With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2022. 

Denny’s – Hartford Ave, Johnston offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty. Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain. Last verified 07/31/2022. 

Outback Steakhouse – 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021 

99 Restaurant & Pub – The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID 


Advance Auto Parts – 10% for Active Duty, Veterans, and families. Last verified 07/28/2021 

Bass Pro Shops – Offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source). 

BJs Wholesale – Reduced membership fee. BJ’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021 

Lowes – Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to activate your 10% discount – “Our way of saying Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items. Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner, is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe. 

GameStop – is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through 

Home Depot – Offers a 10% off military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer. 

Kohls – 15% discount offers for active military, veterans, retirees, and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type. 

Jiffy Lube – HONORING VETERANS ALL DAY EVERY DAY! – We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 10% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at 3 select locations: Tioque Ave, Coventry RI – Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI – Park Ave, Cranston RI 

Michaels – offers a 15% off military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans, and family members. How to get – 

1.    Create an Account. Log in or create a Michaels Rewards account. 

2.    Get Verified. Provide your military information to get verified instantly. 

3.    Go Shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout. 

O’Reilly Auto Parts – 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21. 


If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward to: [email protected]:  the business’s name, location, and military and veteran discount offered. 

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, [email protected], ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838) 


To read all columns in this series go to:  

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, 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.


  1. Bill Gearon on December 28, 2023 at 1:57 pm

    Great article! I am going to do a print out of all the comprehensive benefits and various community events, discounts, and licensing.