Many area veterans turned out last week to garner the assistance of Disabled American Veterans (DAV) national service officers.
According to Trudy Huffman, the Mount Airy DAV auxiliary post’s treasurer, 35 area veterans showed up at the post’s headquarters at Veterans Memorial Park last week for help in navigating the Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits system.
An event on April 22 brought a mobile center housing two national service officers to Mount Airy. The mobile operation began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 3:30 p.m.
Huffman said many veterans simply don’t realize they are entitled to VA benefits. The 35 veterans who came for aid last week included four Korean War veterans who weren’t receiving any sort of disability compensation.
“They were getting medications from the VA, but they had never filed for disability compensation,” explained Huffman.
She said many “prideful” veterans don’t file for benefits upon leaving service to their country. Then, oftentimes medical issues don’t present themselves until much later in life.
Huffman said one example is hearing loss. A veteran who worked around loud explosions or equipment while serving might not notice the effects until his or her condition worsens years or decades down the road. Post traumatic stress disorder is another health issue which could lay dormant for many years.
Many of the 35 veterans who sought the help of the DAV were filing initial claims for disability compensation, and others were following up on existing claims or appeals, according to Huffman.
While the vast majority of folks filing for VA benefits are veterans, Huffman said the effects of military service can also be felt by future generations.
She described the situation of one woman whose mother was exposed to agent orange in Vietnam. The woman now suffers from spina bifida, and the effects of the agent orange have even shown themselves in the woman’s children, the grandchildren of the Vietnam veteran.
In instances such as that, Huffman said those family members are likely entitled to compensation for the ailments which resulted from their descendant’s military service.
DAV members and members of the post’s auxiliary were also on hand to pass out snacks and literature.
The DAV meets every third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. for a meal followed by a business meeting at the post’s headquarters located at Veterans Park. The post may be reached at 789-0328.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.