American Legion Service Officers – A Great Way for Veterans to Help Veterans
We as Legionnaires are rightly proud of our programs to the serve youth, promote Americanism and support our local communities. But one of the forgotten benefits of our legion membership is the way veterans help veterans. One of the programs we often overlook is our Service Officer program. I recently made use of it when I wanted to see if I could receive medical care through the VA system.
Last year my family doctor told me he was retiring soon. Knowing that so many of my Legion friends received great care in the VA system, I decided to see if I could receive similar care. I found out that because of my income I’d be placed on a long waiting list. I stopped in to visit one of our Legion Service Officers to see what could be done. There, I discovered that if I had at least a 10 percent disability rating I could receive benefits. We did a search of my military medical records and found out that as the result of a deployment to Iraq I had knee surgery and still had knee pain. Also, my medical records indicated that I had hearing difficulties following that deployment due to the exposure to high noise.
Paul, my service officer had helped me make an application. Within a few months I was scheduled for a physical to verify that these injuries were continuing problems. Within a week of that physical I was approved for VA health care.
My work as a Pastor had me realize the following:
- I was starting to ask people to repeat things often and misunderstand words people were saying. The VA audiologist through my hearing test could recommend a set of high tech hearing aids to address this problem and they would be provided at no cost to me. While I’m receiving a small monthly pension now, what was important to me was the medical care. Likewise I will soon be able to receive all my medications at a very low copay.
- I realized I could have been receiving these benefits for many years but never knew they existed.
Perhaps you or another Veteran could be eligible for similar benefits to improve your quality of life. I never thought to apply before. I thought that I really didn’t’ need them and should save the government resources for those who need them more. But as Paul reminded me, I’ve already paid for these benefits by my service to our nation. If you are curious about your eligibility for veterans benefits, visit one of our service officers. They are located throughout the state and help any veteran regardless of their legion membership. It’s a great service and shows one of the ways the American Legion is a great group of veterans helping other veterans.