The Department of Veterans Affairs, cleaning up tag ends of its postwar labors, is conducting a different kind of treasure hunt. It’s looking for some 150,000 veterans of World War II to pick up $21 million they’ve left kicking around the federal treasury.
The money is the last dribble from the vast pool of $384 million re-establishment credits that DVA has handed out to Canadian exservicemen since the war. Most veterans who were entitled to the credits have used them for the purposes designated by the government: to buy property under the Veterans’ Land Act, furniture for a home, tools and equipment for a business, even dentures or a hearing aid. Between 1945 and 1952,
55,000 laid out a total of $134 million getting a college education.
But thousands of others walked away and forgot the money. In the Toronto area alone, DVA estimates that there are 24,000 with a total of $3 million coming to them. The average unclaimed credit is $130, but some veterans have more than $500 waiting for them.
Are there any strings attached? A few: Veterans can’t take their credits in cash: they have to be put to the uses listed above. Also DVA has ceased to finance veterans in college. But it is coming up with new ways in which ex-servicemen can collect. One of these is government insurance, which can be paid for in whole or part in amounts up to $10,000. In most cases discharge
medical records are accepted in lieu of a medical examination required by most insurance companies.
What’s keeping the veterans away from this pot of gold? DVA has tried to advise them of their waiting credits, but there are thousands with whom it has lost touch. Some are single and don’t need or want land, homes or furniture. Many have left the country, leaving $3 million behind. In cases where a veteran has died his widow may claim his credits; dependent children could also collect.
But nobody’s rushing to get in on the gravy, DVA admits. "They don’t even seem to care,” says one department official unbelievingly.
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