Bainbridge Field Service Office ready to assist local veterans in filing for VA benefits

Published 8:38 am Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Special to The Post-Searchlight

Whether a veteran’s condition is the result of recent or long past military duties, the door remains open 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 processes and rules of law affecting a decision may not be fully understood by the veteran.

The Georgia Department of Veteran Service is the agency of state government 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.

Wheeler encourages Georgia veterans living in Bainbridge and the surrounding counties to visit Terrie L. Hurst at the Veterans Field Service Office in Bainbridge (307 E. Broughton Street) for information concerning their eligibility for federal and/or state benefits and on how to go about filing a claim for these benefits.

The Bainbridge VFSO’s phone number is (229) 248-2599, and it is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, except on approved state recognized holidays.

“Our job is to explain in detail federal and state benefits and, if entitled, assist veterans and their dependents in obtaining them.” Wheeler said.

Wheeler further explained the necessity for personal assistance in pursuing, filing, and tracking claims results, from the legal principle that veterans’ 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 a Georgia veteran or the dependent receive any and all benefits to which they are entitled.”

According to the most recent data available (FY 2010) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 5,871 veterans that live in Decatur County and the surrounding counties that this office serves (Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Early, Quitman, Randolph, Seminole and Miller) benefited in approximately $21 million (tax free) of the more than $3 billion the VA spent statewide.

Hurst can also assist in certifying a veteran’s eligibility for the many benefits provided by the state (for example, driver’s license, special motor vehicle license plates, honorary hunting and fishing license, discounts at Department of Natural Resources facilities, Certificates of Exemption from payment of certain fees and taxation).

A summary of benefits provided by the state of Georgia and the department’s 2010 Annual Report can be found on the department’s website under the “About Us” link at www.sdvs.georgia.gov.

Veteran benefits information can also be found on the department’s Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/gavetsvc.