Opinion

Veterans assistance — a community outreach

JUST JACK

Each year, during legislative session and in the nation’s capital, a level of concern is demonstrated about the attention we pay to those who served us in our time of greatest need: our veterans.

While that legislative attention is important, those of us who are veterans must not overlook that we have a personal responsibility to receive the benefits available to veterans. To be better informed of legislation that matters to you as a veteran, you may go to the Washington state Web site or contact the office of your state representative or senator. Their office staff will be able to direct you to the pending legislation and advise you of how the senator or representative stands on each bill.

In almost every case, to establish eligibility for a benefit under a veterans program, the individual must first be registered with the VA. The process is not automatic. The process is not difficult. But failure to register can result in lost benefits to the vet and to his family members.

American Legion (and other service related organizations) provides no cost assistance to veterans attempting to access programs. Those programs range from health care to widow’s assistance, replacement of medals to disability and compensation programs. If there is a veteran program, the service officers are ready to assist. In these times of economic downturn, access to a veterans program may make the difference. These are benefits earned, not handouts.

The service office is located in the North Kitsap National Guard Armory at 19133 Jensen Way in Poulsbo (next to City Hall). The office is open every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You may contact the service office at (360) 779-5456 or alpost245@earthlink.net for directions or to learn more about the office.

If you are a veteran, honorably discharged from the service, all you will need is your discharge papers or your DD214 when you visit the office.

If you want to know more about what is going on in Olympia regarding veterans programs and other veteran-related legislation, you may contact Heidi Audette at the department of veterans affairs at HeidiA@DVA.WA.GOV. Heidi will be more than pleased to add you to the e-mail distribution of the WDVA “Legislative Updates.”

If you have any other questions or concerns about possible programs and benefits for which you might be eligible, please do not hesitate to contact any American Legion post, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post or any DAV post. Those organizations exist to serve veterans. They may not have the answer you need, but they know how to find the answers and are willing to assist.

Jack Hamilton can be reached at gradiver@wavecable.com.

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