Northwestern Press

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Guest View

Thursday, May 24, 2018 by The Press in Opinion

Applying for veterans benefits should never come with a fee

Veterans and their dependents should never pay for help to apply for veterans’ benefits, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

That’s because federal and state law makes provisions for accredited veterans service organizations to provide free advice and assistance to veterans as they apply for veterans’ benefits.

“Unfortunately, there are individuals and businesses who may take advantage of our veterans by charging them to apply for the benefits they have earned by their military service,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA.

“Accredited veteran service officers are available to help veterans prepare claims and advise them as their claim is processed and reviewed. Pennsylvania’s veteran service officers are experienced, trained professionals who provide veterans with the best advice and assistance available at no cost,” he stated.

There are approximately 200 veteran service officers in Pennsylvania who work with organizations such as the DMVA, county Veterans Affairs offices and several veterans service organizations.

Accredited veteran service officers provide veterans and their dependents free assistance to identify, determine eligibility for and apply for a wide range of benefits on the local, state and federal levels, including:

• Payment of burial allowances;

• Ensuring grave markers and headstones are properly requested and placed;

• The Disabled Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption Program;

• Veterans emergency assistance;

• Blind and paralyzed veterans pensions;

• The Education Gratuity Program;

• Service connected disability and non-service connected disability pensions;

• Federal health care benefits; and

• Survivor benefits.

To locate your county director of veterans affairs or for more information on other veterans service organizations and to find out more about veterans benefits, visit www.dmva.pa.gov and click on Veterans Affairs, or follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/padmva or on Twitter at twitter.com/padmva.