Getting help with veterans benefits isn’t all that difficult, and it’s a wonder more veterans don’t do so. Veterans can get help with their benefits from all sorts of places, including the places listed here.
Veterans benefits and the American Legion
Many of these posts have accredited American Legion representatives to help veterans with their VA claims and appeals. These services are free, and you don’t have to join the organization to receive these services. Local American Legion posts are usually listed in the phone book.
You can also contact the group at American Legion National Headquarters, P.O. Box 1055, Indianapolis, IN 46206, 317-630-1200.
Veterans benefits and the Defense Finance & Accounting Center
The folks at the Defense Finance & Accounting Center are the ones to contact if you need help with your military retired pay or Combat Related Special Compensation. You can contact the center at DFAS Cleveland, Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building, 1240 E. Ninth St., Cleveland, OH 44199-2055, 800-321-1080.
The center's website supports an online system called MyPay, where you can make changes to your pay account, such as updates to your address, phone number, and tax information.
Veterans benefits and the Disabled American Veterans
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) staffs 88 offices with a corps of 260 volunteers who are certified and authorized to directly represent veterans with claims for benefits from the VA and Department of Defense. This free service is available to all veterans.
You can contact the DAV at Disabled American Veterans National Headquarters, 3725 Alexandria Pike, Cold Spring, KY 41076, 877-I Am A Vet (877-426-2838) or 859-441-7300.
Veterans benefits and the National Veterans Legal Services Program
The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent, nonprofit, charitable organization that recruits, trains, and assists thousands of volunteer lawyers and veterans advocates to help veterans with their VA claims and appeals. The organization also represents veterans and their dependents who are seeking benefits from the VA and in court.
Here’s how to get in touch with the group: National Veterans Legal Services Program, 1600 K St., NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20006, 202-265-8305.
Veterans benefits and the Noncommissioned Officers Association
The Noncommissioned Officers Association (NCOA) is well known for its employment programs. Through its Veterans Employment Assistance program, the NCOA has helped more than 60,000 veterans find employment.
Presently, the NCOA has two programs that assist veterans: The Job Leader National Job Fairs and the Internet job board located at MilitaryJobWorld. You can contact the NCOA at Noncommissioned Officers Association, 10635 IH 35 North, San Antonio, TX 78233, 210-653-6161.
Veterans benefits and the State veterans offices
Every state and several U.S. territories have their own veterans affairs office, division, or bureau that is funded and managed by the individual state government. Although these offices are primarily responsible for processing veterans benefits for their residents, many of them have skilled counselors who can help veterans obtain federal veterans benefits as well. Often, state veterans offices can also assist in preparing for or obtaining employment in the state.
Veterans benefits and VA regional centers and Vet Centers
The VA isn’t there just to process your paperwork. VA regional centers and vet centers have highly trained counselors who can help you put together a winning veterans benefit claims submission.
Under a law known as the “VA’s duty to assist,” the VA is required to assist you by telling you exactly what evidence you need to support your claim for benefits, as well as doing everything in its power to help locate that evidence for you.
The smart veteran will take advantage of this law by contacting his nearest VA regional center or vet center to sit down with a counselor before submitting his claim.
Veterans benefits representatives on college campuses
Most colleges and universities in the United States have a veterans affairs office. The folks in these offices are very helpful when you want to apply for veterans education benefits.
If you want help getting started with or continuing a college degree or training program, these are often the best folks to ask. Not only are they knowledgeable about federal benefits, but they have the latest information about state veterans education benefits as well. Call your local college or university and ask if it has a veterans office.
Veterans benefits and the Veterans of Foreign Wars
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) strives to be a voice for returning and currently deployed service members and their families.
The VFW maintains a nationwide network of service officers, which includes full-time professional veteran advocates and trained volunteer advocates, each of whom is certified by the VA to represent veterans on matters of claims and appeals. These services are free, and you don’t have to join the organization to take advantage of them.
Local VFW posts can be found in your phone book, or you can contact the national headquarters at Veterans of Foreign Wars National Headquarters, 406 W. 34th St., Kansas City, MO 64111, 816-756-3390.
Veterans benefits and the Vietnam Veterans of America
The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the only national Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families. The VVA has a network of national service officers who are trained advocates to assist Vietnam veterans and their family members with VA claims and appeals. As with many other VSOs, their advocates are certified by the VA to represent veterans in such matters.
You can contact the VVA at Vietnam Veterans of America, 8605 Cameron St., Suite 400, Silver Spring, MD 20910, 301-585-4000.