Many dependents and surviving spouses of veterans aren’t aware they are missing out, says one official.
Surry County Veteran Services Officer Mike Scott said many family members of veterans have no idea they can get benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The lack of knowledge regarding programs is something which often affects surviving spouses.
Scott said while the faces change, the stories are usually similar. A surviving spouse wanders into his office to learn he or she has been entitled to benefits, including monthly compensation, for many years. Most of the time, the spouse has been struggling financially for a period of time, which sometimes lasts decades prior to making it into Scott’s office.
“I get too many surviving spouses coming to us asking about benefits too many years after the fact,” explained Scott. “They go far too long not knowing they were ever entitled to any VA (Veterans Affairs) benefits.”
On Sept. 19, Scott is going to try to take a step toward fixing the problem. His department has planned a series of two seminars to help bring veteran dependents into the know about what benefits they have available to them.
Some of those benefits include compensation for spouses of a veteran who dies on active duty or from a service-connected injury or disability, pension for low-income spouses, home loans and educational assistance for dependents of veterans who are totally and permanently disabled due to a service-connected condition.
Scott said a lot of folks know nothing of these and many other programs.
“(The) VA does not advertise these programs, and there is far too much of a disconnect between the VA and the veterans and their families,” noted Scott. “Our veterans and families have no idea in many cases how or what to do to apply for benefits, and that’s sad.”
Education is on tap at the event, said Scott. A guest speaker from the N.C. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs will lead the two seminars, one of which begins at 3 p.m. The other begins at 6 p.m. Each one should last about two hours, and the event will be held at the VFW and American Legion hall located at Veterans Memorial Park in Mount Airy.
“We will be addressing all the benefits they could possibly be eligible for and then some,” said Scott. “It just rips my heart out when I get a widow in here, and she has struggled for years financially and gone without knowing she could have gotten some help from the VA. It’s truly life changing for many of our clients.”
Those in need of additional information may call Scott’s office at 783-8820.
Veterans Memorial Park is located at 691 West Lebanon Street in Mount Airy.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.