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Benefits available to veterans

By Richard Rourk

There are many programs for veterans in the United States, but there is one issue – most veterans do not know how to get the benefits that they deserve. That is where county Veteran Service Officers (VSO) come in.

According to Washington County VSO, Jerry Story, who has been a VSO for five years, the job of a VSO is to help veterans find and apply for benefits.

“We have 93 officers out of 95 counties (in Tennessee) and we are there to help veterans locate the benefits that are there for them,” Story said. “Unfortunately, many of the older veterans do not know how to find information on the internet. We deal with claims for veterans, spouses and children that are seeking service-related disabilities, education and many other items.”

Story hosts a monthly radio program to provide information to those that may not be on the internet.

“I do a program on WJCW at the end of the month during the morning show to update listeners of the programs for veterans,” Story said. “We provide info such as emotional, physical and mental disabilities and their benefits, death benefits and family benefits. For example, if someone was injured and documented during service time and the injury comes back later, they would be eligible for disability benefits. So many times the vets I meet don’t realize they qualify for benefits.”

According to Story, the main thing that any concerned vet would need to bring to a meeting with a VSO is the release from the military.

“That release is crucial for us to assist in finding benefits,” Story said. “To set up an appointment, all a vet needs to do is reach out to their local VSO.”

Unicoi County’s VSO is George Hall, and was unfortunately unavailable for an interview.

For more information in regards to veterans’ benefits, please visit va.gov.