CHICAGO – Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Acting Director L. Tammy Duckworth today announced that the annual free hunting and fishing licenses for disabled veterans are available. IDVA is reminding disabled veterans that the 2006 Illinois issued hunting and fishing license will expire on March 31st. Disabled veterans must visit one of the state’s 51 Veteran Service Offices to renew or obtain the free hunting and fishing license.
“I want to encourage our veterans to visit their local Veteran Service Office and apply for this free license. Our veterans should be able to enjoy and experience the natural wonders of our country that they so bravely protected. And while visiting the Veteran Service Office, veterans can learn about the other state programs and benefits that are available,” Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Acting Director L. Tammy Duckworth explained.
The State of Illinois grants free hunting and fishing licenses to disabled veterans on a yearly basis. Licenses are available to qualified disabled veterans starting today and will expire March 31st of 2008.
To be eligible for the free hunting and fishing license, the veteran must have a service connected disability; be in receipt of a total United States Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) disability pension; or be in receipt of a military disability retirement pay and can present a letter from the USDVA showing the veteran who would be entitled to VA compensation at a rate of 10% or greater if military pay was waived. Out-of-state disabled veterans are also eligible for the license. Those veterans drawing retirement pay only and have not applied to the USDVA for a service-connected rating, will not be issued a license until after the USDVA has made a service-connected rating.
The veteran must provide disability documentation that is no more than one year old to IDVA. Only when the veteran provides proof of the disability or pension benefits, the license will be issued. In those cases where a veteran has been receiving service-connected compensation for more than 10 years, the one year rule for documentation will be waived, but periodic checks every two years on continued receipt of benefits will be made in order to validate eligibility. Pension cases will be verified annually by documentation.
The hunting and fishing licenses will not be mailed out. The eligible veteran must visit one of the Veteran Service Offices for issuance. A full list of the state’s Veteran Service Offices can be found on IDVA’s website at www.state.il.us/agency/dva or by calling 1-800-437-9824.
The state’s 73 Veteran Service Officers help veterans cut through the red tape and bureaucracy associated with applying for and receiving compensation and other benefits from the federal Veterans’ Administration. Their primary job responsibility is assisting in applying for nearly $400 million in federal money that goes unclaimed each year by the 26.4 million veterans across the country, and serve as a liaison between the state and the federal VA.
Veteran Service Offices also serve as sign-up locations for Governor Blagojevich’s health insurance program, Veterans Care. Under the first phase of Veterans Care, jointly designed by Gov. Blagojevich and Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, veterans who don’t have access to health insurance would be covered. Participants who take part in the pilot program would be charged a $40 monthly premium. Prescription drugs and doctors office visits would require a minimal co-payment, ranging from $6 to $15.