Retiree benefits for Alaska veterans and their families

There is a vast array of benefits for retired veterans and their families, but “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Not to worry, we will point you in the right direction. I recently interviewed three Alaskan experts on the topic and here’s a sample of what they had to say.

First up, Verdie Bowen, Director of the Alaskan Office of Veterans Affairs:

“I’m probably the only director in the nation that actually will take and file a claim. I’m Alaskan and I’m from the bush. When you go into a community, you’re the only expert there.

“We are here to serve you – veterans, dependents, survivors and those transitioning from military service. We offer assistance in determining eligibility, connecting you with the services you need, filling out paperwork, and ensuring you receive every benefit you have earned.

“All across the state of Alaska, the number one reason veterans do not file benefits is because they believe they’re saving it for someone else, because they don’t need it. That’s not a good excuse. If they don’t receive the benefit which they have earned, then those funds and those benefits go somewhere else.

“The three top issues the veterans reach out to us for really depends on age, but mostly the number one is disability compensation. This is from injuries incurred in the military service. And the number two is health care... Number three is education. Many times people will need to brush up on their education, and they try and find ways to utilize either their GI Bill or veterans readiness and employment. And I have a fourth one: Over the last couple of years, we have seen more dependent indemnity compensation claims than we have seen over any other period of time that I’ve been in the office. If the veteran passes away from a VA disability, then that spouse is eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments from the VA.”

For more information, call 907-334-0874 or 1-888-248-3682. Website: Email:

‘It’s all about helping’

Next up, Darryl Morgan, Retirement Services Officer, Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER) Alaska:

“It’s all about helping retirees. I’m a retiree myself so I have a certain debt that I feel that I owe them. I understand where they’re at and where they’re coming from. It’s much easier for me to relate. I publish the changes to this newsletter [JBER Retired Soldier Newsletter] that gets out there, and I also meet them one-on-one individually to assist them with any questions they may have concerning the retirement benefits for the military.”

JBER Annual Retiree Appreciation Day is Saturday, May 13, from 1000 hour to 1600, at the Arctic Warrior Events Center. Speakers, vendors, a health clinic and more will be there. Darryl really encourages you to attend:

“This is a tremendous opportunity to reach out to the Alaska Military Retiree Council and to me, and also the retirees. For example, a retiree officer like me, Retirement Services Officer, they’re going to come from the Air Force and be there too – Army Retirement Services, Air Force officers and Air Force Retirement Services will be out there as well. A lot of times people don’t know about the benefits that exist. And this is a tremendous opportunity to communicate with the retiree community to learn about all the benefits that are authorized for them.”

For more information, call 907-384-3500. Website: Email:

Support from the Military Retiree Council

And finally, a few words from Roland Cabiad (Maj.), Chairperson of the Alaska Military Retiree Council:

“The Retiree Council is for all the military retirees who still wish to support members of the active and retiree communities in and around JBER Alaska.

“Even though you’re retired, your service to your community is worthwhile. The time that you’re contributing to society will keep you young. Sitting in front of a TV is not keeping you young – it will just make you mad.

“We are kind of like a liaison agency because we’re a volunteer agency with the military, but it is stated in the army regulations that we will have a council as a conduit to bring up information that is needed to help support the retirees. Also, it says we will be mentoring active-duty military service members about the military way of life. So, if you have a military service member, like say, a family member that needs some help, then we may be able to help them out. For example, we help out with JBER Fisher House – we go and volunteer for that. We also helped out during Christmas with a single-soldiers Christmas party for active-duty military.”

Fore more information, call 907-384-3500, Facebook: Email:

Explore these resources so that you and your family receive all the retiree benefits to which you are entitled. Finally, note that quotes throughout this article have been edited for length and clarity.

Author Bio

Lawrence D. Weiss is a UAA Professor of Public Health, Emeritus, creator of the UAA Master of Public Health program, and author of several books and numerous articles.