Yolo County Veterans Services Offices hosts veterans benefits presentation

ZACHARY LACSON / AGGIE

Presentation given to educate veterans on their government benefits

In the spirit of Veterans Day, the Yolo County Veterans Services Offices hosted a veterans benefit presentation at the Davis Senior Center on Thursday, Nov. 8. This presentation provided information for Yolo County veterans on benefits sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a federal agency that provides compensation for disabilities resulting from military service.

“The military recognizes that veterans will deal with disabilities from service for the rest of their lives,” said Salvador Torres, the veterans services officer for the Yolo County VSO. “We are trying to help the process of continuing veterans’ lives.”

The Yolo County VSO is an office established by the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. The VSO is committed to assisting veterans, their dependents and survivors in accessing benefits from the various agencies in the VA.

“Educating and helping veterans are our main goals,” Torres said. “Majority of veterans don’t know that they have benefits out there. They have no idea that their kids can get education benefits or that they can get a disability compensation for all their disabilities from their service.”

Torres’ presentation highlighted a variety of benefits offered by the federal government that veterans are entitled to as a result of their military service. Common veteran benefits cover areas such as disability, pension, education, employment, housing, rehabilitation and healthcare.

“These benefits are made for them because a lot of veterans come out of the military with an array of mental and physical health issues,” Torres said. “We follow claims all the way through to support veterans in the process of obtaining benefits.”

The VSO works with federal, state and local government agencies to address veterans issues such as health care, homelessness and education.

“We are working within Yolo County to address the homeless population of veterans,” Torres said. “We worked recently with 114 homeless veterans to file claims so that they could receive monthly compensation for their disabilities.”

The Yolo County VSO works with the VA Medical Facility in Mather and the Veterans Homes program in Yountville and Barstow to provide disabled veterans with facilities to receive appropriate care. Torres works between offices to ensure veterans receive the compensation they are entitled for from their service.

“It’s important for veterans to know that we exist to help them go on further in life,” Torres said.

The presentation was hosted by the Davis Senior Center, a community center and multi-purpose facility serving individuals who identify as seniors.

“We try to provide an array of services and programs that serve the senior community,” said Lisa DeAmicis, the information and assistance coordinator for the Davis Senior Center. “Veterans represent a good part of our senior community.”

The veterans benefits presentation is one of many supportive services provided by the Davis Senior Center to educate their members on eligible benefits in the community.

“It’s good to hear that local counties are providing opportunities to increase awareness on VA benefits,” said Frank McClelland, a Vietnam War survivor residing in Solano County.

McClelland, like many veterans, returned from his service dealing with severe hearing loss. Hearing problems such as tinnitus are the most common service-connected disabilities among American veterans, according to research conducted by the VA. This damage makes it difficult for veterans to understand speech and is often linked to blast exposure from service.

“I want to see an increase in veterans care,” McClelland said. “Not just honoring them on Veterans Day — we need to see more legislation that helps those of us dealing with disabilities from service.”

McClelland is one of many veterans suffering from a disability from military service. The Yolo County VSO and other county offices will continue to provide veterans with more information on their benefits in hopes of providing them with the necessary care to continue their lives.

Written by: Brooke Hill — city@theaggie.org