Veterans get needed assistance

Published 4:44 pm Monday, July 29, 2019

VALLEY — Members of American Legion Post 67 and the local chapter of Vet to Vet were pleased with the results of Saturday’s A Day for the Veteran event at Valley Community Center.

There was a steady stream of local veterans throughout the day. They asked lots of questions and received advice about the benefits they are eligible for due to their military service.

“We’ve been meeting some veterans who have not been involved with the VA,” Post 67 Commander Lanny Bledsoe said. “They haven’t gotten their paperwork done. That has to be taken care of before you can get into the system. We’ve been running into that today.”

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Bledsoe said he’d talked to one man on Saturday who had served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1957 and had yet to get into the system.

“It can be handled easily if they have all of their paperwork,” he said. “They need to know that before they can help you. The reason we’ve been having this program in recent years is for veterans to come out and ask questions. We appreciate Shawn Draper of the VA being here with us today and talking to veterans one-on-one. We also appreciate Sam Cofield, Charles Jackson and Jim Davis of Vet to Vet being here today. Sam is really good in helping them through the process.”

Cofield said the main thing that needs to happen is getting the process started.

“Then they will be OK,” Cofield said. “The way I look at it, if we can get just one veteran get his health care set up it’s worth it to be here today.”

It’s pretty safe to say that more than one local veteran was helped with that on Saturday.

Of the Vet to Vet representatives present, Cofield and Davis are veterans of the Vietnam War and Jackson is an Iraq War veteran. Cofield was in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967 as a member of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. He said that involvement in the Vet to Vet organization has been rewarding to him.

“The way I look at it if I can help someone the blessing is mine,” he said. “Our local organization meets every Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Lanett Church of Christ, across from the high school. Anyone who wants to talk to me about Vet to Vet can call me any time at (706) 518-5003.”

Vet to Vet is all across the U.S. The central district office is in Columbus. Cofield said he especially enjoys interacting with Vet to Vet participant Henry Johnson of LaFayette.

“I go and pick him up and bring him to the meetings,” Cofield said. “He’s a World War II veteran who now gets around in a wheelchair. He celebrated his 96th birthday not long ago. We took him down to Mobile to see the USS Alabama. He told us he’d never forgotten seeing it in Tokyo Bay following the Japanese surrender ending the war.”

He said the VA had taken good care of him as a veteran.

“I want all veterans to feel the same way,” Cofield said. “I believe it can be if it’s handled the right way. If veterans know what to do, they will be OK.”

Bledsoe said there has been a problem getting veterans to Tuskegee.

“We no longer have a van to drive them there,” Bledsoe said. “There’s a new program that will let veterans see local doctors. We want them to know about that. Veterans have earned the right to health care. They deserve it, and we want to help them know how to access the system.”