ATLANTA — Whether a veteran’s condition is the result of recent or long past military duties, the door remains open for him or her to seek help and submit a claim to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for disability compensation.
Each claim submitted is processed and answered with an explanation as to why it was or was not approved. Policies governing how a veteran’s claim is processed and rules of law affecting a decision may not be fully understood by the veteran.
The Georgia Department of Veterans Service is the agency of state government that was established for the purpose of advising, counseling and assisting Georgia’s veterans and their families in receiving their rightful benefits under the vast, frequently changing and complex framework of veterans’ laws.
“We exist to serve those who have served,” said Georgia Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Pete Wheeler.
“Our job is to explain in detail federal and state benefits and, if entitled, assist veterans and their dependents in obtaining them,” Commissioner Wheeler points out. “We have 47 field offices located throughout the state and a claims division whose mission is to do just that — assist and advise all veterans, their dependents and survivors.”
Veterans and their dependents can receive personal assistance in filing for VA benefits and other entitlements at any of the 47 field offices. The department’s claims staff, located in the VA Regional Office Building in Decatur, monitors VA claims filed and, when needed, assist with the preparation and presentation of appeals.
Commissioner Wheeler further explains the necessity for personal assistance in pursuing, filing, and tracking claims results from the legal principle that veteran’s benefits are not awarded automatically — all must be applied for.
“The VA pays a veteran exactly what he or she is entitled to by the law, and no more,” Wheeler said. “Our ultimate goal is to ensure that a Georgia veteran or his or her dependents receive any and all benefits to which they are entitled.”
The field offices staff can also assist in certifying a veteran’s eligibility for the many benefits provided by the state (for example drivers licenses, special motor vehicle license plates, honorary hunting and fishing licenses, discounts at Department of Natural Resources facilities, Certificates of Exemption from payment of certain fees and taxation).
Wheeler encourages all Georgia veterans to visit the department’s field office nearest to where they live for information concerning the possibility of being eligible for a federal or state benefit and on how to go about filing a claim for benefits.
Contact information of the nearest field office can be found in a local phone book in the state government section under Department of Veterans Service or through the department’s Web site at www.sdvs.georgia.gov.
All offices are open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on state holidays.