The government’s helping hand can be a little slippery and hard to hold on to — especially for veterans.
For the last few months, NPR has featured an ongoing series called Back at Base, which chronicles the lives of American troops all around the world. A special part of that series, released just a few weeks ago, looks at the experience of veterans as they deal with healthcare concerns following their years of service.
Part 2 of that series is entitled “Without Help, Navigating Benefits Can Be Overwhelming for Veterans,” and it’s really helping a wider audience to understand just how difficult this well-meaning process really is.
They tell the story of Tom Nichols, a 29-year-old veteran of Indiana’s National Guard, who returned from Iraq a few years ago and has suffered from PTSD and addiction since.
Tom’s had trouble getting the help he needs. He tries applying for benefits, but the questions are tough and the application is long. Tom isn’t a doctor. He’s suffering. The idea that he can’t access the help he needs because the application itself is an obstruction seems acutely unfair, but for many, it is reality.
There is good news, though. The system is accessible to veterans like Tom. They might just need a little help.
“You never want to apply for benefits on your own,” a Veterans Services Officer tells NPR, “unless you have some experience with it.”
Too often, otherwise eligible veterans have their applications rejected because they tried to undertake the effort entirely alone. Others are eventually approved but only after significant delay.
This problem isn’t exclusive to veterans, actually. The elderly face similar application hurdles when trying to access government assistance for long-term care, as recently highlighted in News-Press.com, a spin-off of USA Today.
But in both these cases, professional help can make all the difference. In fact, NPR cites official data in reporting that veterans who seek assistance with their applications can receive double the benefits compared to those who don’t — and months or even years sooner.
Part of my practice is helping our nation’s heroes access the Veterans Benefits to which they are entitled under the law. The complex application process keeps too many people away from assistance that could make a radical difference in their lives.
If you have questions about your own eligibility for benefits, or if you need help with the applications, please don’t hesitate to give me a call. After all, you’ve served our country. Now, I welcome the opportunity to be of service to you.