Thursday, February 18, 2016

Taxes, Hosting and VA Update

Yes, even if one ditches suburbia to happily wander the country, taxes must be done. A highlight of our day was getting ours completed and submitted! It is a bit odd to be down from 10 dependents to 4. ::wink::  I greatly enjoyed  this perk of retirement - Michael did the taxes! 

We've submitted applications to host at State Parks this summer in ID, MT, and CO and a military recreation site in WA.  We'll continue to look at State parks, National Parks, Military Fam Camps,  Harvest Host or WorkKamper locations. We aren't desperate to find free rent - but it would be very nice not to have to stress about finding vacant weekend spots when the hoards hit the highways. It's a jungle out here. 

Makes me smile at first glance I thought it said "Defying Excellence"
I can see the VA claim process is going to give us much prayer fodder and testimonies to answered prayer. No, they have still not scheduled Michael's intake appointment. We need to stay in this area until that happens. We submitted the claim 1 Nov. We were told we could stay at this Fam Camp for four months. We were also told by VA reps we "should" have an appointment by the end of February. This means the timing "should" have been perfect - though 4 months to schedule an appointment seemed a tad bit long. The reality is we're still waiting for the appointment to be scheduled. 

I talked to the camp manager last week and was told we'd have to move out for 45 days before we could come back. We are only allowed to stay here four consecutive months. I understand they were full. However, something ticked me off quite frankly. There are many who live here year round - 25% of the campground. Active duty families are allowed to stay 2 years (though I did meet one last summer who had been here 3 years), contractors who stay year round (not active duty nor retired - we have wonderful contractors on both sides of us), retirees who are allowed extended stays.....but the percentage of full time has to be kept at 25%, and it is there, so we would be asked to leave. Again, we understand the intent of the policy and why the camp manager would ask us to leave. We simply think the policy didn't take into account WHY folks are asking to stay - that they should rack and stack the requests. We decided, if the VA intake appointment didn't happen by the end of Feb, we'd appeal to the commander for a waiver. Seems  RETIREES who are here for VA appointments should have as much consideration as contractors who are being paid to do a job and are not military.  We don't want to live here for years - we want to stay until the day after the VA  intake appointment.  I asked the Bible Babes, my online study group, to pray we could extend here while we wait for the VA appointment. Michael felt it was time for both of us to  talk again with the camp manager. If she said no again, we'd get the name and contact info of the appropriate commander for a waiver and let her know we were appealing. She told us the commander would ask her if she had room and she didn't have room. (I suspect the commander hasn't considered that possibly retirees should get as much consideration as non-retired contractors if they ARE full). When  she pulled out her page to show us how full they are in March, she said, "We  had one cancellation late yesterday."  

"Ok! We'll move sites....."

"Oh, it's for your site. We aren't full, I don't have a problem extending you for another month in your site." 

 If we had not gone in THEN, someone else would have called in and been given our site and they would have been "full" again.  Shew. God's timing is amazing - and I'm thankful for a husband who was sensitive to timing. I was trying to school. LOL We are quite hopeful we'll have the intake appointment by the end of March.  This is our new fervent VA prayer. 

Meanwhile, Michael has spent much time on e-benefits and calling his VSO.  WHY did it say they were waiting for documentation, when the  submitted  documentation was showing up online????? Finally dogged it down - they want it on a different form.  I think we could have waited for years with NONE of them mentioning they wanted the same info on a different form (other than the form we were told to use in Nov).  From this we good as a VSO is...he has hundreds of clients.....we are going to have to be the squeaky wheel.....this is our new retirement squeak! ::snort:: 

Note, due to new changes and a desire to make this smooth for our military members, this is now typically done while active duty so earned VA compensation begins the day after retirement is effective. This did not happen for us as they advised us to wait until the neurology referral was complete to submit the claim, then opted to retire us instead of extend us until the VA claim was processed.  The system never works well for all cases.

We're content. We just want that appointment so we can move from Beale. We're planning to go to OR in April for Bella's arrival, TX in May for Jared's graduation and JaRissa's  wedding, back at Beale for neurology for a week in June and then hopefully to host for a bit of time in the ID, MT, CO area.....we shall see. AND Stacia and I are dreaming of a trip to the NE in September.....but first we need that VA intake appointment so we can leave Beale.

Any guess on when the VA intake appointment will be? Winner gets a huge atta boy!