Virginia veterans benefits

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By Donald Mustard

    This month 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 the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (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. 
    Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) representatives are available in most offices to assist veterans in finding jobs.  The Lynchburg office is located at 3125 Odd Fellows Road (434-947-2071).
    Veteran’s preference for hiring by state agencies is covered in the Code of Virginia (§2,2-2903 and §15.2-1509).  Veterans who apply for state jobs which require a written examination will receive a 5 percent increase in their exam score.  Veterans with a VA-assigned disability rating will receive a 10 percent increase.  For positions that do not require a written exam, the veteran’s military experience will be taken into consideration during the selection process provided the veteran meets all knowledge, skill, and ability requirements for the position. 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 the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  The cost is $10 to veterans who have a service-connected disability or veterans who are totally and permanently disabled.  An annual basic hunting license is available at a reduced cost to veterans who have a 70 percent disability rating. 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 to any of the above subjects and others of interest to veterans and dependents.
    .If you have questions about veteran’s benefits contact the Service Officer for DAV Chapter 8, VFW Post 8184, and American Legion Post 16 at 434-401-7335.  The office is in the American Legion Post 16 building at 1301 Greenview Drive, Lynchburg and is open for walk-ins on Tuesday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Thursday by appointment.
    Source: Virginia Department of Veterans Services, Web site as listed above.