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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 7:32 am | Fair 44º


Capps Meets with Veterans Who Were Assisted by Her Office

Capps with veterans meeting participants and their families.
Capps with veterans meeting participants and their families. (Office of Rep. Lois Capps)

Rep. Lois Capps (D.-24th Dist.) recently met with local veterans and their families in her Santa Barbara office to hear about their experiences during and following their military service, as well as the unique and complex challenges they faced in obtaining their veterans’ benefits.

Capps’s staff worked with each of the veterans to successfully resolve their case and ensure they received the benefits and services they deserve.

Cheri Owen, a Desert Storm veteran, originally filed a disability claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2012 for multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Aid and Attendance (A&A, a benefit for assisted living in the home for veterans with a disability).

Owen initially was denied coverage for most of her claim. Capps' office worked with her for more than a year, and in February 2015 Owen was awarded full coverage for PTSD, including retroactive pay, as well as A&A and unemployability benefits due to her disability.

Phil Merritt served in the second Korean War (DMZ Conflict) and underwent testing by the Army with chemicals at Edgewood Chemical Center in Maryland. Consequently, he suffered lifelong health issues and was denied a VA coverage claim for PTSD in 2014.

After working with Capps’ office, Merritt was granted coverage for PTSD going back to the original date of his claim as well as for unemployability, amounting to significant retroactive pay for him and his family.

Ashley Nancarrow’s husband, Jeffrey, suffered from PTSD following his service in Iraq. He later committed suicide in 2012. Nancarrow was denied by the VA for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) or spousal compensation due to impending paperwork involving the death investigation.

Capps’ office assisted Nancarrow in obtaining an expedited appeals process with a video hearing before the Board of Veterans Appeals. The judge finally closed an open claim her husband had filed for a traumatic brain injury, rating him at 100 percent.

The judge granted in Nancarrow's favor for DIC, allowing her to receive spousal survivor benefits.

“The service and sacrifice exhibited by these individuals and their families cannot be overstated,” Capps said. “I am moved by these stories of trial and perseverance through not only military service itself, but the complications and even tragedies that can arise after coming home.

"The variety in Cheri, Phil, and Ashley’s experiences show that war affects our veterans and their families in many different ways according to an individual’s unique service and access to resources.

“Working on behalf of our veterans has been one of the great honors of my career," Capps said.

"The assistance my office can provide to help veterans navigate what can be a complicated system is a civic duty I proudly take part in. Moreover, I am grateful to have courageous people like these local veterans fighting for our country and then reaching out to fellow community members once they return.”

— Nicole Silverman for Rep. Lois Capps.

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