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Veterans benefits provided by Virginia

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By Donald Mustard

Since July 2007, this newspaper has graciously published a monthly article concerning benefits provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  This month however, I am pleased to offer the first of two articles concerning benefits available from the Commonwealth of Virginia for veterans and, in some cases, survivors and dependents in addition to those provided by VA.  Eligibility for most state and federal benefits is based on discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions.  Benefits for survivors and dependents are based on the veteran’s eligibility.  Since space is limited this article provides a phone number and an address for use in obtaining information.

    The list of state veteran’s benefits is wide-ranging and includes;  employment assistance, home modification grants, preference for state jobs, special license plates, lifetime hunting and fishing license, long-term care, burial in a state operated veteran’s cemetery and  a Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program (VMSDEP).

    Employment assistance is provided by Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) by representatives available in most offices to assist veterans in finding jobs.  The Lynchburg office is located at 3125 Odd Fellows Road (434-947-2074).

    Veteran’s preference for hiring by state agencies is covered in the Code of Virginia.  The Governor’s Executive Order 1 (2006) permits employment preferences for veterans and specifically prohibits discrimination against veterans. Veterans may receive an additional 5% credit on the test score of the hiring agency or 10% if service connected disabled.  Please check with the state hiring agency for further details.

    Home Modification grants are available from the Granting Freedom program, a program that pays for modifications to make living spaces more accessible for service men and women who sustained injury during service in a combat theatre of operations.  For more information, visit the Virginia Housing Development Authority at www.vhda.com or call 877-843-2123.

    Special license plates for veterans and military retirees are available from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  Plates such as “Disabled Veteran” are available for eligible veterans at no charge.  Other plates such as personalized plates are available for a fee.  The Lynchburg DMV office is located at 3236 Odd Fellows Road, (434-352-5547).

    A lifetime hunting and fishing license can be obtained from Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  The cost is $10.00 to veterans who have a service-connected disability or veterans who are totally and permanently disabled.  The Lynchburg area office of Game and Inland Fisheries can be contacted at 434-525-7522 for details.  Information may also be obtained from any business that sells hunting and fishing licenses.

    The Virginia Department of Veterans Services can be contacted at 804- 786-0286 or visit the web site, www.virginiaforveterans.com for extensive information and links on any of the above subjects and others of interest to veterans and dependents.

    I am honored to have the opportunity to inform you of my recent appointment as Service Officer for American Legion Post 16 in Lynchburg.  I look forward to working with my fellow legionnaires and their families concerning benefits provided by Department of Veterans Affairs and Virginia Department of Veterans Services.

    For information contact the Service Officer for DAV Chapter 8, VFW Post 8184, and American Legion Post 16 at 434-316-0229.  The office, located in the Marine Corps League Bldg at 2337 Lakeside Drive, Lynchburg, is open for walk-ins 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and by appointment on Thursdays.

Source: Virginia Department of Veterans Services, web site as listed above.