FORT LEE, Va. (April 1, 2010) – There’s a new resource available for Fort Lee members who are retiring, separating or recently left the service.
American Veterans, a non-profit organization, now has an office within the Soldier Support Center and is available to help transitioning military members with their Veterans Affairs benefits.
“AMVETS helps veterans with disability appeals, educational benefits and housing benefits,” said Arthur Bell, Fort Lee’s AMVETS National Service Officer. “While I only work on medical claims, I have access to resources to handle the other aspects.”
Bell, a former quartermaster who retired at Fort Lee, said he looks forward to helping veterans with their medical claims. There are two major programs that the medical claims fall under: Benefits Delivered at Discharge and Quick Start.
Benefits Delivered at Discharge is for servicemembers who have 60-180 days remaining and are looking to submit their medical packages to the VA early. Quick Start is for servicemembers with less than 60 days remaining.
It’s important to use a service like AMVETS during the transition period, Bell said, because they work for the military member to help them with any questions about their VA claims.
“I’m an advocate,” he said. “It’s advised by VA to use a service officer to file your claim. We have the skills to properly file the claim. That’s not to say an individual can’t submit a package on their own. But by using a national service officer, you have an advocate who will follow that package. If something goes wrong, you can always go back to the service officer to get assistance.”
Fort Lee also has a local AMVETS chapter, which is headed by Bruce Brown, AMVETS Post 804 commander. Brown said the addition of an AMVETS NSO to Fort Lee will have many benefits.
“This is a great opportunity for all who serve or have served in the Armed Forces to receive assistance with their veterans benefits and the VA claims process,” said Brown. “You would be astonished by the number of veterans who do not understand the VA claims process. Some retire or leave the armed forces and never filed a claim.”
Brown also said it’s important for military members to be represented by an advocate to ensure their claims are filed timely and correctly.
“The importance of AMVETS is that the veteran is represented by a veterans’ service organization during the VA claim process,” Brown said. “Having a VSO to assist the veteran in filing a claim is a big plus for the veteran and the VA. A veteran should never have to go through the process alone. ‘Veterans assisting veterans’ is the key to the total VA claim process. You do not have to be a member of our organization for the AMVET National Service Officer to assist or represent you during the claim process.”
Those interested in membership with the local AMVETS chapter can visit the Web site at www.amvets.org or stop by Bell’s office in the SSC for more information.
The SSC AMVETS office supports Fort Lee and 63 counties within Virginia. Bell said he looks forward to helping fellow logisticians with their medical claims.
To make an appointment at the local office, veterans should call (804) 722-0074 or toll-free 1-877-320-0074 or stop by his office at the SSC building in room 120F.
Bell suggests transitioning military members meet with him after they have received their VA brief during their transition classes. For military members who have already separated, Bell said they could come by anytime.