From 2016 to 2019, American Legion Post 67 in Cary, North Carolina hosted three Veterans Experience Action Centers (VEACs), bringing Department of Veterans Affairs personnel face-to-face with veterans. veterans in need of help. The events came as a result of North Carolina Department Duty Officer Cajun Comeau organizing similar centers.
Nearly 3,000 veterans attended the three Post 67 events, with some receiving life-changing VA disability ratings on the spot. But then came a global pandemic. As a result, no such event took place in 2020 and 2021. But there was still a need, as was highlighted during the opening day of the 2022 version of VEAC.
From March 17-19, Post 67 again played the sponsor of a benefits relief event, now titled Veterans Benefits Live. The position attracted nearly 30 VA employees, including those from the Veterans Benefits Administration and Veterans Health Administration, as well as more than a dozen veterans service officers from across the state.
On opening day alone, approximately 400 veterans from North Carolina and surrounding states showed up at the Herbert C. Young Community Center asking for help filing claims, checking on pending claims, filing calls and other areas of need.
Looking across the largest room in the center and seeing dozens and dozens of veterans waiting to be seen showed “it’s really needed, and we’re doing the right thing,” said said former North Carolina Department Warrant Officer and Commander Frank Stancil, a 67-year-old Post member and former aide to former National Commander Ray Smith. “It was something that needed to be done to help the VA. They are overwhelmed, it seems everywhere. We started this when I was the department warrant officer. (Cajun) came up with the idea…and it’s blossomed ever since.
Post 67 Commander Richard Spyrison, who was the organizer of all of his post’s benefits assistance events, said VEACs and its current version provide veterans with an opportunity “to be able to sit down and talk with the VA about their particular grievances and issues. . To give this particular veteran a chance to get answers, maybe get a rating. But when a veteran speaks with the VA about their issues and can’t get a grade, they’ll get a roadmap on how to finish. It’s a key. Our goal is to give this veteran as much information as possible to help them complete the process with the VA.
And that’s what US Army veteran Bradley Moses of nearby Raleigh got when he came to see if he could raise his VA disability rating. Moses walked out of the center thinking he was going to get the raise.
“(Coming to the center) was very beneficial,” said Moïse. “The evaluator explained the process, which is good. Often you don’t understand how these things work. It’s faster. Faster and more thorough. You understand better how things work and where you are. I think that’s great. I think it’s fantastic.
South Carolina Department Commander Ron Young and First Vice Commander Jim Jarvis also attended the first day of Veterans Benefits Live, who came to observe and learn more about how to organize such an event. .
“Quite frankly, we don’t have anything like that in South Carolina,” Price said. “We are working to make this happen in South Carolina. We hope next year we can get something of that nature there with the (State Veterans Affairs), as well as the VA facilities there.
Price said it’s clear how important the events of Post 67 have been in helping veterans. “The need is huge, and it’s obvious,” he said. “You have people here from Maryland. You have people here from several other states in the region who come here. So, there is not only a strong need here in North Carolina, but there is a strong need throughout our country. That’s why South Carolina is trying to get involved in this project.
Check back later this week for more Veterans Benefits Live coverage.