Columbia River Chapter MOAA

Personal Affairs

Fort Vancouver Post Cemetery Update

by Terry Babin

Membership Committee Chairman

There has been some confusion and misinformation about eligibility for burial in the Post Cemetery adjacent to Fourth Plain near the Veterans Administration campus in Vancouver. This article provides an update on the cemetery, and the most recent general eligibility criteria for burial of other than active duty service members.
The Fort Vancouver Post Cemetery is one of several cemeteries under the jurisdiction of, and administered by, the Department of the Army. Neither the Veterans Administration (VA), nor the State of Washington set the eligibility requirements for internment.
Originally, administrative and operational control was exercised by the Vancouver Barracks. When the Barracks was deactivated, control was transferred to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. During 2016, there was another transfer of control to the 88th Regional Support Command (Public Works) at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The local representative for that command is Mr. Roethler, Facilities Operations Specialist.
There is space available at the cemetery—rumors to the contrary are incorrect. Retirees of both the active and reserve components are eligible. Reserve and Guard retirees not drawing retirement pay are eligible. Also, honorably discharged veterans with “wartime service” (as defined by the VA) are eligible.
Confirmation of eligibility) and arrangements for interment at the Post Cemetery are made by the funeral home. Bring a copy of the DD Form 214 with you to the funeral home.
There have been some phone number changes. So if the funeral home representative has difficulty making contact, Mr. Roethler’s e-mail is thomas.j.roethler.civ@mail.mil. Or, call me (Terry Babin) for assistance to make contact with the 88th Regional Support Command—my cell phone (360) 608-7789.

 

Membership Services: Committee:

Updates by Terry Babin

The Annual Report for Membership Services Committee is summarized below. A couple of additional comments:
 If you know of a member or spouse who is ill, please let me know so I can send a card from the Chapter.
 There has been some confusion regarding burial site availability and eligibility at the Fort Vancouver Post Cemetery. I have provided a separate article in this Newsletter which should help clarify current administration and internment criteria.
 Can you help act as a sponsor for a new member? Right now the Service Representatives are doing this, but additional sponsors are needed. There will be an article in the next Newsletter with more details about this program. It is very easy to do, and takes little time, but has a big payoff in properly welcoming a new member into the Chapter.
 Our semiannual phone calls have proven to be an excellent way to help our members keep our Chapter records current, and answer general questions.
 If you do not want to be called in the future, simply call me at (360) 608-7789 or e-mail me at tbear06@comcast.net to be placed on the Do Not Call List.
 Additional volunteers to help with the calls are needed—particularly we need two more “Alternate” callers. Call lists for a caller are kept at 11 or less members. Contact me for further details.

 SUMMARY OF THE
MEMBER SERVICES COMMITTEE
ANNUAL REPORT FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2016

Committee Overview:
1. Committee Mission: Develop and support activities which encourage active participation and long-term membership in the Chapter.
2. Committee Members:
 Chairman—also serves as the Chapter’s Personal Affairs representative.
 Service Representatives
 Auxiliary Representative
 Immediate Past President
Responsibility: Establish and maintain a program for welcoming new members and their spouses.
1. New Member Orientations with a brunch hosted by the Executive Board were held during February and September. The next Orientation will be held during February 2017.
2. The Chapter implemented its New Member Sponsor Program during the fall with Service Representatives, and other experienced members, acting as a sponsor for each new member:
3. Six (6) sponsors have been assigned during the past 4 months.

Responsibility: Support a system to keep contact with members—designated as the “Keeping Connected” system.
1. Phone calls, or follow-up e-mails, were made to Chapter members during April and May, and again during October.
2. Contact success rate was close to 70%.
3. Forty-two (42) Action Items were identified during the two phone call series, and action was taken and completed by Chapter officers.
Responsibility: Provide personal affairs services.
1. Provided casualty assistance for five (5) families of deceased members.
2. Sent sympathy and “get well” cards to ten (10) members, spouses, or surviving children.
3. Provided personal affairs planning pamphlets and local checklists for one member and also to two surviving adult children (not located in the area).
Responsibility: Coordinate with Membership and Program Committees.
1. Membership Committee Coordination: Continued coordination to ensure timely assignment of sponsors for new members.
2. Program Committee Coordination: Participated regularly in planning Chapter programs.
If you have any ideas, let me know (360) 608-7789.

 

Personal Affairs Reminders

by Terry Babin

(See also November 2015 CRC Newsletter in Newsletters Tab for this article)

Personal Affairs is one of several areas of membership support offered by the Columbia River Chapter’s Membership Services Committee. Personal Affairs’ primary activities include the following:

  • Providing information to assist members and their families in end of life
  • Assisting survivors of deceased members with government-related notifications and
  • Sending cards to ill members and next of kin of deceased

Please remember to notify a Personal Affairs representative of Columbia River Chapter, MOAA, in cases of serious illness or death of a member and surviving spouses.

MOAA’s Personal Affairs Action Guide: A Personal Inventory for Peace of Mind is a terrific document for capturing most all the information your survivor(s) or personal representative will need. You can order this publications and others direct from the MOAA National Headquarters.

Included in this Newsletter are the updated survivors’ checklists for members and surviving spouses. See pages 7 and 8.

The following is our annual reminder about the basics of what you need to do help your survivors have the information needed to properly settle your affairs:

  1. Immediately notifying the Defense Finance and Accounting Center, or your Uniformed Service’s equivalent, when the death of the retiree, or a dependent receiving a Survivor Benefit Plan annuity, occurs.
    1. Have all separation documents (e.g., DD Form
  • for the service member covering all periods of active duty. This is a particular important for those having prior enlisted service, or broken
  1. Have all marriage, divorce, and death certificates for both member and spouse—or at least know all the full names, dates and
  1. Keep current your designation for beneficiary(ies) for any pay due and unpaid at time of
  2. Have current contact information available for all next of kin.
  3. Keep your important documents in one place—easy to locate. Make sure your spouse, and a third party should you and your spouse die at the same time, know the location of:
    • Safe deposit box (and, where is the key—and who can access?)
    • User names and passwords for internet-based accounts
    • Investments and details
    • Real property information
    • S. Savings Bonds (and have you kept the death beneficiary information current?)
    • Tax filings and current year records
    • Titles
    • Insurance policies
    • Who needs to be notified or consulted upon your death?
    • Personal representative     or     designated Primary Next of Kin if widowed
    • Attorney
    • Accountant/tax preparer
    • Trustees
    • Broker(s)

Have you also written out your instructions for the disposition of items not specifically addressed in your Will. This can include sports and hobby items, collections, special personal effects, and military memorabilia—including documents, awards, and citations. Have you provided any personal history or comments to go with those items, which have special meaning to you, historical value, or might be of interest (or value) to the recipient?

In most cases, the surviving spouse or a personal representative may have a general idea of your desires regarding funeral arrangements and burial instructions, but better yet to write them down. If you want a government furnished memorial marker or headstone, is there anything in particular you want on that headstone?

Any questions? Call our Chapter’s Personal Affairs Chairman, Terry, at (360) 608-7789; or e- mail at tbear06@comcast.net.

Terry Babin–Personal Affairs Chairman

Complete Personal Affairs

Next-of-Kin checklist

can be found in

March 2015 Chapter Newsletter on pages 9-15.

(please click on Newsletter tab)

———————–

See other Personal Affairs articles below

Challenging the High Cost of Dying

From www.MOAA.org  By Vera Wilson

Woody Allen once said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” None of us wants to think about it, but traditional funerals cost at least $6,000, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

I learned this hard fact when my mother passed away. I knew she had thoughtfully prepared a will and given me directions for her burial, but our family had not saved up.

This figure doesn’t even include cemetery costs and “extras” such as flowers or limousines, which easily can add hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Although costs can vary widely across the country, funeral professionals say it’s not unusual to spend much more for the entire funeral.

Thankfully, there are a variety of ways to manage funeral costs and still meet your family’s emotional and financial needs.

Don’t avoid the issue 

Planning a funeral in advance has many benefits, not the least of which is financial. Grief-stricken loved ones often falsely believe the amount spent on a funeral is a reflection of their feelings for the deceased, so they might overspend. Knowing you want to be cremated and have your ashes placed in your favorite tackle box likely will save your family the cost of a casket or an elaborate urn. Do not include your plans in your will (which usually is read after the funeral), but do put them in writing and leave them with someone you trust.

As callous as it might sound, preplanning also lets you shop around. A friend of mine says his terminally ill mother asked him to find a good price on cremation services, claiming she “never paid full price for anything in her life and wasn’t going to start now!” By calling or visiting several area funeral providers, my friend found prices deviating by as much as $1,000.

BYOC 

You can save hundreds on caskets and urns by purchasing them through online retailers, specialty stores at your local mall, and even Wal-Mart and Costco. Online retailers offer next-day delivery, usually at no charge, and can ship directly to a funeral home. Funeral providers are required by law to let you bring your own casket and are not allowed to charge a handling fee.

Be mindful that many cemeteries have their own requirements, such as an outer container for a casket that keeps the grave from caving in. No casket or container will preserve a body forever, so opt for a less expensive liner rather than a metal vault.

You can’t take it with you 

Prepaying for funeral expenses is a thoughtful gesture for those left behind, and it guarantees your wishes, such as location of burial. It also can save money by allowing you to lock in today’s prices. Read all contract details carefully. What happens to the money if the funeral provider goes out of business? What if you move? Can you back out without penalty? What happens if the casket you picked out is discontinued? Who gets the interest income?

State regulations also come into play. For your protection, most states, but not all, require some percentage of prepaid funds be placed in a state-regulated trust. Others mandate the provider purchase a life insurance policy so the money is there when it’s needed.

Another option is purchasing funeral insurance, payable to a beneficiary immediately upon death.

The final salute

Generally, active and retired members of the armed forces, including the reserve components, are entitled to significant burial benefits:

  • a gravesite at a VA national or      state cemetery,
  • opening and closing of the      grave,
  • perpetual care,
  • a government headstone or      marker, and
  • a burial flag and presidential      memorial certificate.

These benefits also apply to cremation. Burial benefits are extended to spouse and dependents (and in some rare instances, parents), even if they predecease the veteran. Burial plots cannot be reserved in advance. Although VA cemeteries are not available in every area of the country, Michael Nacincik, National Cemetery Administration spokesperson, says progress is being made to secure spaces in rural areas, such as Fargo, N.D. Veterans also might be entitled to a VA burial allowance. Check out www.cem.va.gov for more information and eligibility requirements.

If a veteran is interred in a private cemetery, only the headstone or marker, flag, and certificate are bestowed; there are no spousal or dependent benefits.

A guiding hand

Funeral providers often are trusted, valued members of the community and provide much-needed guidance and comfort during a difficult time. But some take advantage of clients who are vulnerable and feel pressure to make decisions quickly. The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule of 1984 aims to protect consumers from unscrupulous behavior. The rule requires that funeral providers disclose:

  1. 1. A general price list in writing before showing you any items. This list spells out the cost of all goods offered, from the plain wooden casket (never on display) to the premier bronze option. In the case of cremation, low-cost alternative containers also must be listed and all service fees must be enumerated.
  2. 2. You have the right to choose the goods and services you want, with some exceptions as required by law, which must be explained by the provider. Although package discounts can be offered, all products also must be offered à la carte.
  3. 3. The provider cannot refuse or charge a fee to handle a casket you provide.
  4. 4. Embalming, with some exceptions, is not required by law.

So how do you find a reputable funeral provider? Make sure your provider is licensed by the state’s funeral regulatory board, and check to see whether he or she belongs to a professional organization. Jessica Koth, a spokesperson for the National Funeral Directors Association, says ,“Our members abide by a professional code of conduct that goes above and beyond what is legally required.”

Alternatives 

Koth believes the biggest mistake consumers make is not asking questions, for fear of appearing stingy. Less expensive options outside the traditional full-service funeral, such as direct burial or cremation, are widely available, and caskets even can be rented for a viewing or service.

Since you are not legally required to use a funeral provider, one lower-cost alternative is to join the nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance, known as the Consumer Reports of funerals. It provides funeral planning kits, explains legal requirements, surveys local funeral providers, and sometimes negotiates discounted prices for its members.

Other lower-cost options include green burials, home burials, and body donation. Green burials appeal to the environmentally conscious consumer and encourage biodegradable caskets, interring unembalmed bodies, eliminating vaults and liners, and burial in natural, native landscapes with no man-made markers or headstones. A home burial, which was the norm until the 20th century, is defined as a family or community-centered response to death. The goal is to achieve maximum involvement of family and friends in every aspect of the funeral, including the care and preparation of the body, transportation to the place of burial, and digging the grave. Services usually are held at home, outdoors, or at a church. “Death midwives” can help families plan home burials.

Still other options abound. For altruistic purposes, my father chose to have his body donated to science, which saved us the cost of cremation. At our request, the ashes were returned to us — but not until a year after his death.

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Planning Ahead: Do Others Know What You Know?

by Terry Babin

 

There have been many requests for a summary of the key points made during the presentation at October’s 2013 Chapter luncheon and meeting. The following covers the main topic areas presented.

First, Gene and Dorothy Penfield did a terrific job in years past by providing information essential for our Chapter members to plan ahead, and make sure their records and affairs were in order. There remain, however, some areas in personal planning which have, or could have, caused delays in completing applications for death benefits.

The four most frequently encountered problems during the past three years are:

1. Not immediately notifying the Defense Finance and Accounting Center when the death of the retiree, or a dependent receiving a Survivor Benefit Plan annuity, occurs.

2. Not having all separation documents (e.g., DD Form 214) covering all periods of active duty. This is a particular problem for those having prior enlisted service, or broken time.

3. Not having all marriage, divorce, and death certificates for both member and spouse—or at least know all the full names, dates and places.

4. Not keeping current your designation for beneficiary(ies) for any pay due and unpaid at time of death. Most members keep their important documents in one place—easy to locate following their death. Make sure your spouse, and a third party should you and your spouse die at the same time, know the location of your:

~ Safe deposit box (and, where is the key—and who can access?)

~ Investments and details

~ Real property information

~ U.S. Savings Bonds (and have you kept the death beneficiary information current?)

~ Tax filings and current year records

~ Titles

~ Insurance policies

Who needs to be notified or consulted upon your death?

~ Personal representative or designated Primary Next of Kin if widowed

~ Attorney

~ Accountant/tax preparer

~ Trustees

~ Broker(s)

And don’t forget to notify a Personal Affairs representative of Columbia River Chapter

In most cases, the surviving spouse or a personal representative may have a general idea of your desires regarding funeral arrangements and burial instructions, but better yet to write them down. If you want a government furnished memorial marker or headstone, is there anything in particular you want on that headstone?

Have you written out your instructions for the disposition of items not specifically addressed in your Will. This can include sports and hobby items, collections, special personal effects, and military memorabilia— including documents, awards, and citations. Have you provided any personal history or comments to go with those items which have special meaning to you, historical value, or might be of interest (or value) to the recipient?

MOAA publishes several brochures and booklets which can be very helpful in personal planning. The “Packet for Assisting Your Survivors” prepared by the Chapter includes recommendations on several key publications you should consider ordering from MOAA. The Packet also contains information on how to order these publications. Also attached to the Packet is the “Recommended Steps When a Retired Service Member Dies.” This list of very important first steps following the death of a member, or spouse or widow/widower, should be quickly accessible to your survivors. You can make your own copy of the Packet for Assisting Your Survivors and Recommended Steps When a Retired Service Member Dies by printing the pages provided in this newsletter. Then, be sure to order MOAA’s publications: Survivor’s Checklist: First Steps for Moving On and Personal Affairs Action Guide: A Personal Inventory for Peace of Mind (Replaces the Personal Affairs Workbook).

A final note: Personal Affairs Action Guide: A Personal Inventory for Peace of Mind is a terrific document for capturing most all the information your survivor(s) will need including almost everything covered by the presentation to the Chapter on October 17th.

Any questions? Call our Chapter’s Personal Affairs Chairman, Terry Babin, at (360) 608-7789.

 Terry Babin

Personal Affairs

(360) 608-7789

tbear06@comcast.net