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SHREVE -- Congressman Jim Renacci is making it a little easier for veterans to get assistance to determine their eligibility to receive health-care benefits and get answers to questions they have.
On Feb. 7, Renacci announced the times and locations of the mobile office via a press release and, on Wednesday, Feb 22, representatives from The Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Regional Office (VARO), National Cemetery Administration and the Wayne County Veterans' Service Commission, among others, made a stop at Shreve American Legion Post 67 to assist area veterans.
As a civilian, it can take more than 12 months to receive records and personnel files. Representatives who work directly with the different agencies can expedite records, and in most cases cut the wait time down to 45 to 60 days.
"So far we have had 10 people and we aren't even an hour into it," said Bryan Bowman from Renacci's office. "This is bringing all of the federal, state and local offices together in one place to assist veterans."
It is important that veterans come and at least see if they are eligible, said Bowman.
"Only about 20 percent of veterans in this area are signed up for VA Healthcare and close to 40 percent qualify," Bowman said. "So they don't even know they are eligible and it is pretty good coverage that is available to them. There is a strong veteran population in this area, that is why we came here. The representatives can explain what they may be eligible for and answer any questions regarding claims."
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently implemented a pre-need burial eligibility determination program to assist anyone who would like to know if they are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery.
"The VA came out with this program and launched it recently," said Todd Morris of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. "You can visit va.gov and it will show burial benefits, download the form and send it in. The back of the form tells exactly how to fill it out. This really helps family members out at a difficult time."
Anyone who has served in the military is encouraged to visit a mobile office and discuss their needs. Representatives can get answers to many questions regarding a veterans earned benefits.
"The big thing is to come in and talk to us," said Brian Maurer of Veterans Administration Healthcare. "Every veterans situation is different, they have served in different locations, we want to sit down face-to-face and discuss their needs. It only takes 20 to 30 minutes."
For more information, contact Renacci's office at 330-334-0040.
Reporter Dan Starcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is @danstarcher on Twitter.