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Honoring Those Who Served

November 11th is a historic day throughout the world because it marks the official end of World War I, but in the United States, it takes on even more significance because it is the day we officially honor those who have served our country.

How did Veterans Day come about?

On November 11, 1918, an armistice was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in WWI. Twenty years later, Armistice Day was declared a Federal holiday. After the end of WWII, various communities began celebrating Veterans Day on November 11 and, in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, signed legislation officially changing the name to Veterans Day and designating it as a time to honor those who have served in our nation’s armed forces.

To those of you who are veterans, we say a heartfelt thanks for the sacrifices you and your family have made and for all that you have done to protect our freedom and safety.

To everyone else, we hope you remember to reach out to mark this holiday by extending thanks to the more than 20 million living veterans in the United States.

It is only when we carry on the traditions in history of our country that we preserve them. This is one that we all have a duty to maintain. I hope you will have a chance to see a parade, hear a concert, watch a patriotic movie, or say thanks to the men and women who have given so much.

We would love to hear about who you are honoring today, so feel free to comment on our most recent Facebook post. As always, we thank you for being a part of our community, and we encourage you take a few moments to celebrate those who have demonstrated immense sacrifice and a love of our country.

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Thank you to our Veterans!

Today, we at Seniors Speak Out join with the rest of our country to honor our nation’s veterans. Veterans Day is a special time to recognize the men and women who have served our nation bravely in the armed forces. We would also like to extend a special greeting to those veterans who are also seniors! We hope that you find Seniors Speak Out a useful resource for you and your family and we are honored that you visit our website.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, almost 50 percent of our nation’s 21.8 million veterans are over age 65.  Seniors Speak Out’s website is filled with useful information for our senior veterans.  We hope you will use the information on our site and share your thoughts, questions and concerns with us on a regular basis.

Whether you live in a major city or small town, if you are a veteran, we hope that the observance of this day brings you many expressions of the gratitude and respect that is in the hearts of your family, friends and neighbors. Seniors Speak Out would like to encourage all our readers and followers to celebrate this day. Please make sure to reflect on the service of our brave men and women in uniform and thank a veteran for their service.

If you (or someone you know) are a veteran, share your story of service in the comments section below. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard—we salute you!

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Speak Up! The White House is Listening

In February, the White House Conference on Aging kicked off the first in a series of regional forums ahead of the national conference in Washington, D.C. scheduled for later this year. The once-a-decade conference has been held since the 1960s with the main goal of improving the quality of life for older Americans. It also serves as an opportunity to discuss policy solutions to common obstacles including: healthy aging, long-term care, retirement security and elder justice.

White House, garden and fountains in foreground

White House, garden and fountains in foreground (h/t Huffington Post)

The aim of the regional events, the first of which was held in Tampa, is to give senior advocates an opportunity to highlight key policy areas that are critical to older Americans and address the most pressing challenges related to aging.

As a longtime advocate for the aging, I am truly excited for these forums. Any opportunity to generate ideas for action that improve the lives of older Americans is worthwhile. Here are some ways for you to get involved:

  • Make sure advocates in your area know what obstacles you are facing and what matters most to you as a senior. YOU may not be able to attend the forum but some advocates will be invited and can better address your issues if they are aware of your priorities and problems. 
  • Watch the forum live on webcast.
  • Stay informed as more events around the conference get scheduled. Join the mailing list to learn about listening sessions, webinars and opportunities for public engagement.
  • Check out the White House Conference on Aging website to share your own stories and speak out about programs that make your life easier.
  • Use social media to speak out on what is important to you as a senior using hashtag #SeniorsSpeakOut or #WHCOA.

The many events planned in conjunction with the White House Conference on Aging are a great opportunity to get involved, and I look forward to raising important issues surrounding aging including the importance of elder justice, nutrition, long-term care, legal services, and elder abuse prevention, as well as the importance of senior health and well-being. I encourage you to strongly voice your support and create momentum around the upcoming discussions on improving seniors’ lives.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the next White House Conference on Aging forum, which will be May 28 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Seniors are the most important voice in the fight to enhance and protect what works for them, so don’t miss an opportunity to work with your advocates to speak out!

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The Benefits of Part D Coverage for America’s Veterans

This week, we celebrate Veteran’s Day, a time of thanks and appreciation for the sacrifices and service given to all of us by the men and women who are or have been in our armed forces. Providing the highest quality healthcare to our veterans is a national priority, so we wanted to review some important considerations for veterans who are eligible for Medicare.

There is a common but mistaken assumption that all veterans and their families receive health care services through The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or The Department of Defense. In fact, though millions of veterans use the VA system, not all veterans receive care that way. Moreover, except in very limited circumstances, spouses of veterans are not eligible to receive care through the VA system at all. Actually, millions of veterans are enrolled both in Medicare and in the VA Health system and thus receive different but very essential health benefits from each one.

VA encourages veterans who are eligible for Medicare to opt to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B so that they have coverage for medical services received outside the VA system. That is because VA only pays for services provided at a VA facility or a pre-approved non-VA provider. It’s easy then to see then why Medicare coverage may be particularly important, for example, if a beneficiary doesn’t live near a VA facility.

Another fact to keep in mind is that by enrolling in Medicare Part B when a veteran is first eligible, there is protection should VA benefits ever be lost or if any gaps in coverage occur. (More specifics on this are available at and

Medicare Part D is optional as well, but many veterans choose to supplement their VA coverage with a Medicare Part D plan.  Here are some reasons why:

  1. VA will not fill prescriptions written by providers outside the VA system. If a veteran enrolled in the VA Health System also takes medicine prescribed by a private clinician, Part D provides coverage for the medicine but VA will not. This situation can also arise if a veteran enters a non-VA nursing home or care facility and needs to use their pharmacy; VA will not cover this but Part D will.
  2. Only the veteran (except for CHAMPVA beneficiaries) can use the VA Health system pharmacy, so spouses definitely need to have coverage through Part D or another creditable plan. Creditable coverage means that the plan has been evaluated and found to provide coverage equal to or better than the basic Part D benefit plan.
  3. VA coverage only applies to VA pharmacies and mail order services. If a veteran lives far from a VA facility and needs new medicines suddenly and/or quickly, a local pharmacy would be an important option. Medicare Part D would cover the medicines but VA would not.
  4. Finally, for low income persons, Medicare provides financial help for Medicare Part D beneficiaries through its low-income subsidy (LIS) program. Some veterans who are eligible for this program may find that enrollment in Part D will reduce their drug costs even more.

If you have questions about VA benefits and coverage, contact the VA Health Administration Center at 1-877-222-8387.  If you have questions about Medicare, contact them at 1-800- 633-4227.