Are You a Veteran? - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Are You a Veteran?

A Veteran- whether active duty, retired, National Guard or Reserve- is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made to The United States of America for an amount “up to and including my life”

That is HONOR and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

          --Author Unknown

There are approximately 4.5 million veterans in the United States. These men and women, our family, friends, and neighbors, risked their lives to keep us safe at home.  Many of them suffer, physically and emotionally, long after they have left the fighting behind.  Thankfully, there are organizations available to help veterans, active duty military and their families overcome the hardships they may face.  But, how to get started can be a little overwhelming.

If you served in the active military, naval or air service and are separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. It is encouraged that you apply for this. To get started, click on this link: https://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply/.  Be sure to have a recent tax return nearby, social security numbers for yourself and your dependents and any account numbers for insurance programs that you are enrolled in. 

If you are a disabled veteran, you can apply for VA disability benefits.  The local and regional VA offices and their employees are able to provide assistance if you wanted to apply in-person.  Can’t make it to the local or regional VA offices?  Applying for VA disability benefits can also be accomplished at home. To do so, go online to http://explore.va.gov/disability-compensation and register for an eBenefits account.  However, when registering for an account with eBenefits, make sure that you have already registered in DEERS first.

The American legion.  Accredited American Legion service officers are specially trained to provide          expert assistance, free of charge, to veterans and their families. The American Legion can help you file a disability benefits claim.  To learn more, head over to their website https://www.legion.org/serviceofficers

The US Department of Veterans Affairs can provide detailed information on claims submissions, appeals and local VA information. 

There are also some legal services that can help if a veteran should need one. If help is needed with a claim, The Veterans Consortium: Pro Bono Program (www.vetsprobono.org) could be able to help.  This group of volunteer legal advisors will review your BVA decision and VA claims file if you meet certain criteria. Go to “What We Do” on the site for more information. For other legal matters, the National Veterans Legal Services Program (www.nvlsp.org) may be exactly what you need. NVLSP is an independent, non-profit veterans service organization dedicated to ensuring that the U.S. government honors its commitment to our veterans and is the parent organization for Lawyers Serving Warriors.

If you feel like you might be suffering emotionally, or if you may have PTSD and need to speak to a counselor, there are some places that offer assistance, including the Red Cross (www.redcross.org). Go to “Getting Assistance” and click on “Military Families” to find out about the resources that are offered by the Red Cross with regard to counseling and other social services.  The Soldiers Project (www.thesoldiersproject.org) is a group of licensed mental health professionals who offer FREE psychological treatment to military service members (active duty, National Guard, Reserve and veterans) who have served or expect to serve in the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Need some help financially?  There are a few financial programs that may be able to assist you.   Operation First Response (www.operationfirstresponse.org) is an online application for veterans and  families, when financial hardships may occur. Red Cross (www.redcross.org) can provide financial assistance in an urgent situation, as well as food and shelter. The Semper Fi Fund (www.semperfifund.org) can provide financial assistance and support with an abundance of links to a variety of services.  These include the Americas Fund, Service Member and family support, Adaptive housing support, Adaptive transportation, Education and Career Transition assistance, and Specialized and Adaptive equipment, PTSD and TBI support, Canine Companions, Therapeutic arts and many more. The Operation Family Fund (www.operationfamilyfund.org) is a financial grant for Military and Civilian personnel to meet personal, short and long term living needs, including food, rent or utilities, emergency transportation and vehicle repair, funeral expenses, legal expenses, medical/dental expenses, assistance with a home, rental, lease, purchase or home improvements, assistance with the purchase, rent or lease of a vehicle.

For more information on these programs, plus many others just like these, head over to the Veterans Families United Foundations website (http://veteransfamiliesunited.org/2011/06/13/link-to-us/).

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