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Compton: Park passes based on disability rating

By George Compton
Saturday, November 1, 2008

Q I know there are free passes for national, state and county parks. Can you explain the differences, the criteria for receiving the passes and how to apply?

A. There are free national and state park passes for veterans, and they are based on the veterans' having service-connected disabilities.

To be eligible for the national park pass, a veteran only needs a disability rating of at least 10 percent. I received my pass at Channel Islands National Park in Ventura.

To receive the state park pass, a veteran must have served during a time of conflict and have a disability rating of at least 50 percent, or have been a prisoner of war. There is a form to send to Sacramento to apply, and the veteran needs a letter from the VA to verify service and disability. This office has the applications and will assist in requesting the VA letter. I received my pass in about 10 working days.

Ventura County parks honor the state park pass.

Q. My civilian doctor prescribed a new medication, and before I see my VA doctor, I would like to know if the VA can furnish that medication.

A. You can check if the medication is on the VA formulary by going to the VA Web site ( Once there, go to benefits, scroll down to pharmacy benefits and then go to National Formulary.

Your VA doctor is still the best place to find out about your medication and if any other medication can be substituted.

Q. In a recent column you stated that ALS was a service-connected condition. My father, a veteran, died 15 years ago from ALS. What benefits would there be for my mother?

A. Your mother could be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. The compensation includes a monthly award, which is currently $1,091, a medical program and, because there is no time limit to file for burial benefits for a service-connected death, some repayment for funeral expenses.

Contact this office and we will explain eligibility and ancillary benefits.

— 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:

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