Some local Vietnam War veterans are concerned that their younger counterparts aren’t aware of available resources and therefore are missing out on services to which they are entitled. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3976 in Sugar Creek is hosting what members believe could be the answer to this dilemma in its first annual “service day” from noon to 5 p.m. today at the VFW hall, 12798 E. Kentucky Road. The free, informational event will include services available in several categories with representatives on hand to help veterans sign up, said Quartermaster Warren Atchison.
Categories include educational and financial services (including loans), housing programs including free new houses for homeless veterans as provided by Tiny Houses, health and mental health care as offered through the Veterans Administration Hospital and bereavement support and plots available at veterans’ cemeteries. Attendees are asked to bring their discharge papers (DD 214), which offer basic information, including establishing where they served and for how long, Atchison said.
“There’s a lot of young men from Iraq and Afghanistan who don’t know about these benefits,” Atchison said. “We’re trying to give them the proper direction.” Jim Cooper, whose leadership title at the post is “judge,” said while some posts have hosted such sessions, they are not regularly held. He hopes Saturday’s session will be the catalyst for making the event annual and nationwide.
The mission is simple, he said.
“We just want to reach out and let them know we’re here.”
John Musgrave, an Independence native who was prominently featured in the Ken Burns Vietnam War documentary that aired PBS in 2017, will be a special guest.
Musgrave said there is a lot of information to share. For instance, many veterans aren’t aware that if they legally assign power of attorney to a veterans’ organization, that group can lobby on the veteran’s behalf to get them compensation. Many also aren’t aware that they should establish contact with groups such as the VA Hospital before care is needed.
“It’s important to at least get on paper with the VA so if something crops up later, they’re already in the system,” he said.
Musgrave, a 1966 Van Horn High School graduate, will be available to share stories about not only his time in Vietnam but also the impact of his experience being interviewed for the documentary.