ANNVILLE – The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) reminds veterans that the start of the new year is a good time to meet with a professional to ensure they are receiving the benefits they have earned through their service and sacrifice.
“All veterans should occasionally check with an accredited veteran service officer to see if changes in a veteran’s circumstances or changes to benefit policies may have modified the programs they are eligible to receive,” said Joel Mutschler, director, Bureau of Veterans Programs, Initiatives, Reintegration and Outreach.
“There are numerous accredited veteran service officers and veteran service organizations around the state that are eager to help, so I encourage veterans be proactive in maximizing their benefits by reaching out to them.”
Mutschler said safeguarding military paperwork, especially the DD-214, which is used to verify military service, is an important first step for securing benefits.
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 toll-free 800-547-2838 or e-mailing: RA-REQ@pa.gov.
Another key step, says Mutschler, is for veterans to apply for federal health care and state benefits by visiting their local county director of veterans affairs or area accredited veteran 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 here: County Directors of Veterans Affairs.
In addition to connecting with a county director or an accredited veteran service organization, Mutschler 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.
Mutschler cautions that “Veterans and their dependents should never pay for help to apply for veteran’s benefits because plenty of free, professional help is available.
There are about 200 veteran 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.”