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Pennsylvania VFW offers a variety of assistance to both members and non-members

May 14th, 2014 | By | Category: Features, Lead Article

The Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars invites veterans of all ages from all service eras to utilize its Service Officer Network to receive free information and assistance for government benefits including VA healthcare, compensation, pension, education and dependent benefits. You do not need to be a VFW member to benefit from this program.

As part of its statewide network, the PA VFW has fully accredited Service Officers available to meet with veterans at numerous locations including the VFW State HQ in Harrisburg (off the Union Deposit exit of Route 283), the Ephrata VFW Post 3376, the Womelsdorf VFW Post 6558, the Reading office of State Senator Judith Schwank and the Lebanon VA Medical Center. These Service Officers can also visit veterans in their homes if disabilities prevent them from driving to appointments. Many veterans in your area do not know that they are eligible for VA benefits.

To schedule an appointment or to inquire about possible benefits veterans should call the VFW State Headquarters at (717) 234-7927, ext. 111.  Veterans should bring documents that explain their medical conditions if they have already been diagnosed with a condition.

Veterans must provide a DD-214 discharge form and possibly other information about their military service. Veterans who have received assistance from other veterans groups or a County Veterans Affairs office will need to complete a power of attorney change form if they want a VFW Service Officer to represent them.

Veterans with claims pending should try to work with the organization who initially filed the claim, but if this is not possible the VFW can help them check the status of past claims filings.

Veterans should bring documents that explain their medical conditions. If they have already been diagnosed with a condition they should gather paperwork—including doctor reports—that define the injury or illness. Veterans who want the VA to review earlier claim decisions due worsening health will need to demonstrate that the condition has further escalated. Submitting new medical evidence with the claim will help minimize delays in the VA rating review process.

Vietnam veterans should know that the VA has defined some health conditions as being “presumptive” of being caused by exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange. Veterans with these health conditions may be eligible for benefits (there are qualifying issues with each condition): AL Amyloidosis, Chronic B-cell Leukemias, Chloracne, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin’s Disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Parkinson’s Disease, Peripheral Neuropathy/ Early-Onset, Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers, and Soft Tissue Sarcomas. For more details visit www.va.gov and search for Agent Orange information.

In 2007, the PA Legislature passed Act 66 to appropriate funds to assist veteran’s service organizations in guiding veterans from all over the state with the government benefits. The PA VFW used grant funds to expand its service network in part by adding a Harrisburg-based office to give veterans in the Capitol region greater support in receiving benefits.

Each year, the PA VFW helps veterans receive millions of federal benefit dollars through its Service Office network, which hires and trains full-time Service Officers to work with benefit claims during all stages of processing including appeals to VA decisions. Last year alone, PA VFW Service Officers in PA connected veterans with more than 40 million in federal benefit dollars.

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