Veterans and their dependents should be aware that there is no charge to apply for the benefits they have earned, according to Senator Randy Vulakovich, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee.
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) is advising veterans that federal and state law makes provisions for accredited veterans service officers (VSO) to provide free advice and assistance to veterans when they apply for veterans’ benefits, according to Senator Vulakovich.
VSOs are trained and accredited by the Veterans Administration (VA) to assist veterans, their dependents and survivors by filing disability claims, obtaining military records and accessing programs and services including: healthcare assistance, education benefits, burial benefits, and housing.
Senator Vulakovich offers outreach services to area veterans from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month in his Shaler Township District Office in the Shaler Township Municipal Building, 300 Wetzel Road, Second Floor, Suite 302, Glenshaw, PA 15116. Senator Vulakovich said veterans can make an appointment with his office to meet with a VSO during that time by calling (412) 487-6600.
“This is a great resource for veterans and their families in obtaining benefits that can be helpful to them,” Vulakovich said. “My staff and I are happy to serve as a liaison in this effort to assist those who have served our country.”
There are approximately 200 VSOs in Pennsylvania. Veterans can also contact their county director of veterans’ affairs or for more information on VSOs. They can also visit the DMVA online at www.dmva.pa.gov and click on Veterans Affairs.
VSOs provide free assistance regarding a wide range of benefits 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.
Contact: Melissa Girty (412) 487-6600