Inside the Veteran Service Office: How They Assist Our Service Members

If you’ve served in the military and have been discharged, you are entitled to a wide range of veterans’ benefits ranging from medical disability compensation, education tuition, and assistance on transitioning to civilian life. Wartime veterans are also entitled to additional benefits depending on the nature of their service.

However, receiving these benefits can be complicated, especially as you deal with the breadth of challenges associated with your return to the civilian world.

This is where the veteran service office comes into play. Veteran service offices have the primary responsibility of guiding veterans and their families through this intricate web of post-service benefits, entitlements, and other services.

The Role of the Veteran Service Office

At its core, a veteran service office functions as an advocate for veterans.

One or more veteran service officers will work within the office to help you navigate your benefits. From accessing medical care, housing assistance, and education opportunities, the veteran service office is there to support you every step of the way.

Some of these key benefits include the following:

1.      Medical or disability compensation and pensions

If you were injured or became ill because of your military service, you are entitled to specific disability payments associated with those conditions. The veteran service office will assist you in securing the necessary paperwork, properly filing claims in a timely manner, and making sure that administrative errors or other factors do not get in the way of you receiving your benefits.

2.      Education and training

The GI bill provides educational benefits to veterans who have served. Your veteran service office will guide you through this application process and ensure you can access tuition and financial assistance to help pay for higher education or vocational training programs.

3.      Healthcare

Even if you were not directly injured during your service, you can still access the VA healthcare system to ensure you receive standard medical care after you leave the military.  Your veteran service office will assist you with this application process.

4.      Housing and loans

The VA offers home loan guarantees and other programs to assist veterans in purchasing, building, or improving their homes. Your veteran service office can give you information on these programs, and guide you through the application process, such as finding a mortgage lender who can work with you.

5.      Counseling and support

Many veteran service officers who work at the office are also veterans themselves and have firsthand understanding of the difficulties you are facing as you return to civilian life.

These include finding counseling, emotional support groups, and other services that can help you and your family successfully readjust. Even officers who are not veterans still have the training and empathy to help you get what you need.

Finding a Veteran Service Office

You can search directly on the VA website to help you find a veteran service office near you that can help you navigate your benefits and assist with the previously discussed challenges.

Specialty veteran service offices

Certain organizations specialize in helping specific populations of veterans that tend to have similar needs. These can be related to medical conditions or the specific wars where you served.

If you fall into one of these categories, consider searching for a branch of that organization that’s close to you.

The following are just a few of these organizations. You can find a larger list of these organizations online, for example through the National Guard Reserve website.

Disabled American Veterans (DAV)

The Disabled American Veterans organization specializes in serving veterans that have disabilities, including physical or mental disabilities associated with their services. They can help with benefits claims, medical transportation, and other specialty needs for these populations.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)

The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization specializes in serving veterans with overseas conflict experience. Assistance areas include VA benefits claims, educational assistance, and medical services.

American Legion

The American Legion is another organization that serves all veterans but does have a special focus on wartime veterans. Some of their specialties on top of navigating benefits claims include community engagement and advocacy for veterans’ rights.

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)

The Paralyzed Veterans of America organization focuses on veterans with spinal cord injuries or diseases. In addition to medical claims, they specialize in advocacy for these paralyzed veterans and support research into spine injury related issues.

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)

Vietnam Veterans of America is a veteran service organization specialized in serving veterans from the Vietnam War. They can be better able to assist with Vietnam-specific claims such as issues associated with agent orange exposure.

Limitations of veteran service offices

While veterans service offices are an invaluable resource for you and your family, they do have limitations.

The veteran service officers working in each office have specific training in navigating benefits claims, however they do not have in-depth legal experience when it comes to specific situations in which your claim may be denied.

an image of an American flag and a button to download a VSO checklist

On a related note, veteran service offices have a wide scope of needs they address that go beyond medical claims, and as such are more of a generalist service for veterans.

As government funded and nonprofit organizations, they have limited staff and resources for dealing with difficult claims.

Furthermore, you are often limited to the offices located in your county unless you are willing to travel very far. If you live in a rural county, this can be a problem.

If you or a family member have been denied medical claims by the VA, and your veteran service office has been unable to help, it’s time to consider a professional veterans’ law service.

Veterans’ lawyers specialize in navigating difficult claims and have extensive legal training. If you need assistance securing the benefits you are owed, contact Veteran’s Law Group for a free consultation.

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