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Compton: Local VA can help locate a war buddy

Q. My father talks about a buddy he had in Vietnam. Will the VA help me locate him?

A. The Privacy Act obliges the Department of Veterans Affairs, as a federal agency, to protect the privacy of veterans' personal information. Therefore, VA cannot release personal information about a veteran in its records system without that person's permission. VA can, however, forward a message from you to the veteran, providing VA has a current address on record.

Write a message to your friend and place it in an unsealed, stamped envelope. Include a note to VA explaining who it is that you are trying to reach and add as much identifying information as you have. Put all of this in another envelope and address it to the VA Regional Office Los Angeles, 11000 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024.

Another method for finding your friend would be to use one of the military/veterans Web sites. I have had some of my soldiers find me using http://www.military.com. Another way is to use such veterans organizations as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars or Disabled American Veterans. Each of those organizations has a national magazine with a locator section.

Q. I am rated 60 percent disabled by the VA. I am being paid at a rate that includes my daughter, who will soon be 18. She still lives at home, and the VA notified me they would take her off my award. How can I keep her on my award?

A. She can remain on your award if she is still in high school or attending college. She can remain on your award up to age 23. This office will assist you in completing the paperwork to show she is a student. Depending on her income, she could be eligible for a California College Fee Waiver.

Q. I am scheduled to see a QTC doctor because I have a claim for service connection for my diabetes. My appointment states the exam is for diabetes and possible secondary conditions. What are secondary conditions?

A. Secondary conditions are medical conditions caused by a service-connected condition.

Your diabetes is service connected because of exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. If the VA finds you also have diabetic neuropathy or diabetic retinopathy, they would be service connected and rated in their own right.

— George Compton, retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the County of Ventura, Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033; phone number: 385-6366; fax: 385-6371; or e-mail: George.Compton@ventura.org.

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