Struggle for Benefits

Veteran's Application for Compensation and/or Pension
"There are so many rules and regulations that you wouldn't know unless you studied it"
Dale White
Certified Veterans Advocate

As Sherri mentioned, we went to the Lone Star Cafe in Tonasket, where Mike Stewart and Dale White routinely help veterans with their benefits claims.

Getting benefits can be especially difficult for veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, White said. The rules and regulations for benefits claims are complicated and numerous. Having an informed third party help with claims can make it a lot easier.

"Most of them take one look at (the paperwork), toss it in a bag and that's where it stays," White says.

Bill Dowd left the Navy more than thirty years ago and he's still trying to figure out his benefits claims. He has been working with White and Stewart to get what he says "he deserves" for his service. Stewart and White act as his personal liaison with the VA.

Dowd remembered coming back from Vietnam and "being spit on." He still wonders why the war protestors directed their anger at the soldiers and not the leaders running the war.

He says he wouldn't be able to navigate the system without the two Tonasket advocates.

White estimates that it takes between 9 months and a year for veterans to receive their claims. Attached is the first form veterans have to fill out for their claims. It's crucial for the veterans to get this form right, Stewart and White said . After all, a few mistakes on paperwork along the way can set the process back another year.

Stewart and White are both working as volunteers and nearing full retirement. Both wonder who will help the veterans when they're gone.

Posted in