by Matthew Snider, Veteran who resides in Traverse City, MI
The Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center and Traverse City VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic invite Veterans, Family Members and all interested Community Partners to the VA Town Hall meeting on Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. The meeting will take place at American Legion Post #35 (1231 Hastings Street, Traverse City, MI). The Town Hall meeting will provide the opportunity to voice your concerns. Positive changes will not occur if the leadership fails to become aware of issues in community.
“I had no clue that these benefits existed,” is the reply that I have often encountered when talking to many fellow veterans in regards to the various offered benefits. I have encountered veterans of the Vietnam War that waited decades to apply for benefits, or seek treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Those lost benefits can add up to thousands of dollars over the years, on top of missed opportunities for education and medical treatment.
The returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan that live with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injuries, is estimated at 14-20% for PTSD and 19% for TBI. Half of those veterans do not seek treatment.
“Hurry up and wait,” the everyday story of our lives in the military. The waiting period alone for basic procedures, exams, mental health can take anywhere from one to three months. That time extends if you have to cancel your appointment for any reason. Many veterans decide the wait is not worth it.
Lost medical records and awards that help establish claims, lends to the discouragement. Another option available for veterans, is the use of the Veterans Affairs ‘Statement In Support of Claim’ form VA 21-4138. By having any available witness to your injury or award, properly give their sworn statement, may establish the facts in support of your claim.
The waiting period on claim decisions may take many months, and even years. The best advice that I give to every fellow veteran, “Be proactive.” Those benefits will not find you. Don’t sit around and wait, go after all that you earned.
Jessica Bachmann of Disability Network can provide resources to those benefits. She can be contacted at 231.922.0903, ext. 13.
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