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By Pat Lisi/Southern Utah Vets Aid

I talk to a ton of veterans from all ‘eras’, from all branches, and from all walks of life.  Some are combat vets and others served supporting roles to the combat crews.  All of them are honorable, courageous veterans who served their country.  Many came back and left the military unscathed physically and mentally.  But, many do not fall into that category.

When I ask certain veterans about their experiences with the Veterans Administration and how successful they were with making a claim for care and/or compensation, often times I am told by them that they didn’t bother to check in with the VA.  I’m surprised at this response, but not really at the same time.  The reasons veterans choose not to contact the VA are many, and here are some of them:

“I volunteered to join, so if I was wounded I sort of asked for it and it isn’t the taxpayers’ fault;”

“There are so many more veterans who deserve the care and comp more than me, I don’t want to short them on their bennies;”

“It’s too much hassle to fill out the application forms;”

“There isn’t a VA near me;”

“I tried once before and got nowhere;”

“I just want to be left alone;”

“My dad was wounded in the war and the VA didn’t do a goddamned thing for him.”

The list goes on and on.  I’ve heard it all.  I used to think these things, too, until I got educated by other veterans who were very successful in making their claims and getting them approved.  I especially was convinced that I could do this after meeting Jim McElfresh of Parowan, Utah who is the proprietor of Veterans Angels, LLC.  Jim, a veteran of the US Air Force, taught me that if you don’t try and keep trying, the VA will end up doing very little for you.  He also showed my how to do the paperwork the VA requires which, in all honesty, is not all that daunting if you just take your time and stay on task.

One of the things we do at SUVA is help veterans with their documentation, and the group we find that has the hardest time with forms and paperwork are the Korean era vets.  A couple of common problems seem to plague these guys and gals.  One is that the Korean War was never a declared ‘war’, so there is a feeling among these veterans that the VA doesn’t include them, which is completely false.  The other thing is that a fire that swept through the military archives in St. Louis in the 70’s nearly destroyed all the records of Korean veterans (and many Nam vets as well).  So, it is just a bit harder to prove where you were and what you did in Korea.  Many of those veterans do not have their DD214, either.

But, we don’t let that bother us at Southern Utah Vets Aid or at Veterans Angels, either.  If you have a claim to make and have any reservations about getting going on it, call us at 435-215-3090 and let us help.  We charge nothing for the work we do on your behalf here at SUVA.  The stronger point here, though, is this — if you feel you have a legitimate claim to make with the VA, do not let anything get in your way of pursuing it.  Think back on your military training and what they taught you there — keep going forward!  And if you want us to help, call right away.

And forget about this notion that you don’t deserve compensation or care because you volunteered, or that you didn’t actually see combat, or that you are stealing from a more deserving veteran.   You served, and therefore you deserve every bit of benefit you can get your hands on!  So, let’s get going.  Hang in there and fight for your rights, and if you need help call us.  We’re glad to have your back!

 

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