Provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs:
The New Year is a time for resolutions and fresh starts. The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) wants veterans to also review their benefits with a professional to ensure they are receiving the benefits they have earned through their service and sacrifice.
“All veterans should occasionally check with a Veterans Service Officer to see if changes in a veteran’s circumstances or changes to benefit policies may have modified the programs a veteran may be eligible to receive,” said Brian Natali, chief, Division of Veterans Services and Programs. “Veterans should take these important steps to secure their benefits, and there are numerous accredited Veterans Service Officers and organizations eager to help.”
Natali said safeguarding military paperwork, especially the DD-214, which is used to verify military service, is an important first step.
The easiest way to manage military documents is to make sure they are filed in a safe place immediately upon leaving the military. Veterans often find that filing their documents for free at their county courthouse of record is an easy way to secure them until needed, which can often be decades into the future. Anyone needing assistance locating their military documentation can count on assistance from the DMVA by calling 717-861-8910 or e-mailing: RA-REQ@pa.gov.
Another key step, says Natali, is for veterans to apply for federal health care and state benefits by visiting their local county director of veterans affairs or area accredited service organizations to take a look at what benefits they may be eligible for and to get help applying for those benefits.
A complete list of county directors and their contact information can be found by clicking here: County Directors of Veterans Affairs.
In addition to connecting with a county director or an accredited service organization, Natali recommends that every one of Pennsylvania’s nearly 800,000 veterans should sign up for the DMVA Veterans Registry, an extremely helpful, free tool that electronically delivers timely information about the many state benefits, programs and services available to veterans. Veterans, family members and people who work with veterans can sign up by computer or mobile device at www.register.dmva.pa.gov.
Natali cautions that “Veterans and their dependents should never pay for help to apply for veteran’s benefits. There are about 200 Veterans Service Officers in Pennsylvania who work with organizations such as the DMVA, county veterans affairs offices, and several veterans service organizations. They are experienced, trained professionals who provide veterans with the best advice and assistance at no cost.”