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Minnesota veterans are not taking advantage of county service centers

Veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are eligible for disability and other benefits from the federal government. County veterans services offices can serve as a main point of contact for veterans who need help with veterans benefits – but Minnesota county veterans service officers say that the new generation veterans is not taking advantage of the service.

In Anoka County, visits to the county veterans service office fell to 6,337 last year, from 7,121 in 2012. In Sherburne County, visits fell to 3,395 in 2013 from 3,742 in 2012. In Hennepin County, the number of claims filed through the center fell to 1,883 in 2013 from 1,994 in 2012. Since 2008, however, the number of claims filed by the office increased by 50 percent.

Officials say some veterans avoid coming to the center due to pride, a preference to use the Internet and a resistance to government programs. Hennepin County’s veterans services officer says that veterans who have just returned from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan may feel invincible and believe that they do not need to go to a government office to learn about benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veterans service centers offer services such as financial and mortgage advice, helping with forms for medical assistance, and providing resources for health issues. Veterans are not obligated to use these services, but they should know that they may be entitled to VA disability benefits and other benefits. An experienced disability attorney can also assist with VA benefits and appeals and assess  whether you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Source: Star Tribune, “Veterans forgoing use of county services centers across Minnesota,” Paul Levy, April 17, 2014

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