Unknown benefits “unveiled” for Veterans


Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

Many Veterans and their widows or spouses have no idea there are benefits available to them for their physical and/or emotional needs that have not yet been tapped into right now.

“Most people do not know if they qualify for any special benefits,” explained Billy Lee, Post Commander of Local VFW #4491. “We want to help get this information into their hands and also line them up with someone who can guide them.”

On Saturday, June 17 at 1 p.m., Wanda Baier-Bordeaux from the Salem (VA) will be conducting an in depth, informational seminar on what is new in VA Benefits and Claims, at the local VFW Post #4491, located about one-fifth of a mile past Camp Mitchell.

“Many Veterans do not know that these exist,” Baier-Bordeaux explained. Having served in the Marine Corps for 11 years, as well as being the daughter of two Navy Veterans, she enjoys her job as a National Service Officer with the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart Foundation raises money to support programs and services available to any Veteran who has served in the United Sates Armed Forces, whether or not they have received the Purple Heart Medal.

Purple Heart Services is a division of the Purple Heart Foundation. It’s website states that, “It provides innovative services to disabled veterans and their families and prides itself on adapting quickly to modern-day challenges faced by combat-wounded and disabled veterans.”

“Any Veteran, widow or family member is invited and encouraged to attend this meeting,” Lee shared. Lee also mentioned a couple of examples which he was familiar with, where Veterans were unaware of possible benefits. “Some ships had asbestos in them which has caused Veterans problems,” he said. “Also, if you were stationed at Camp Lejeune, the water was very bad there and people have a lot of kidney problems from it.”

Lee added, “Also, it is now suspected that the ‘Agent Orange’ that was used in war, is now linked to coronary artery disease.” Other topics will include; the Appeals Process, Aid and Attendance, Traumatic Brain Injury and Gulf War Illnesses.

Sadly, when many military persons came in from serving 13 months at Vietnam, many were given two choices. The first was to stay for a few weeks and have tests run on them to see if they had any diseases, etc.. The second was to sign a waiver saying they were not sick. “Most of us had been in Nam for over a year, and to sign the paper to go straight home was a no brainer at that time,” Lee said.

After the meeting, she will remain to discuss individual veteran’s situations. Also, Baier-Bordeaux will be able to take claims from current MOPH clients. “This is an opportunity to save the time to drive to Roanoke and the headache of trying to find parking at the Poff Federal Building as well as meet with our local veterans,” she shared. “If they fall into a specific category the one on one is where to address it, because people should not be asking personal medical questions in a public forum.”

There will be flyers available for more in depth information and benefit information and the VFW will also be serving hot dogs and drinks for everyone to enjoy.

“We want to get all of the information we can to our Veterans,” Lee exclaimed. “If you know of someone who you believe can use this information, we invite you to this seminar and hope that people will leave feeling like they can get some needed help.”

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