March 13, 2020 — Veterans who live in the Florence area have recently received some good news. Lane County Veteran’s Services, a program overseen by Lane County’s Health and Human Services Division, is working with members of Florence’s Disabled Veterans Services to provide a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) twice a week at a small office located at 1845 Highway 126 in Unit E.
VSOs play a critical role in assisting veterans in navigating the bureaucratic challenges that can be associated with clarifying and receiving benefits due to a former military service member. VSOs are trained, federally accredited and state certified to provide counseling, represent and advocate for veterans, their dependents and survivors in obtaining benefits to which they are entitled.
There has been a VSO at the Florence location one day a week for the last two years or so, and the addition of another day to help local veterans with paperwork and online communications will increase the number of veterans that can be helped each week.
Wallace Morey, with Florence Disabled Veterans Services, said he is glad for the increased time that the VSO will spend here.
“This is a something we really needed. The VSOs are important in making sure the vets in this area get the attention they deserve. And having them here on Thursday will really help a lot of our local vets,” Morey said.
The veteran population in Florence remains high; however, as individuals of the Vietnam conflict age, they require more services to maintain their health and independent lifestyles.
This is also one of the reasons the additional day was scheduled for a VSO to come to Florence, an acknowledgement by Lane County that this area has an increasing need for this important service.
In addition, there are often obstacles presented to veterans that are more easily dealt with by someone familiar with the Veteran’s Administration rules and regulations in place at the county, state and federal levels.
More than 30,000 veterans call Lane County home. Lane County Veterans Services is charged with meeting with those who need assistance and either providing direct help or pointing them in a direction where they can receive help.
Another local organization, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), also has a VSO available at their location at 1715 21st St. on the last Friday of every month.
The Florence DAV Chapter has also taken on the responsibility of transporting veterans who need medical care to hospitals in other areas which offer medical options unavailable in Florence. Once a week buses, leave Florence to go to Portland or to Eugene carrying veterans who need medical attention
VSOs also answer questions and advise veterans and their families on what benefits are available from federal, state county and local resource. The VSO can assist veterans in filing the necessary paperwork for claims and may even represent those individuals in a hearing related to the action. VSO assistance to veterans and their families can be:
Due to concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Lane County Veteran Services is now offering phone-in services through 541-682-4191. The county suggests instead of coming to a walk-in session, veterans may call instead. Veterans will be put on a sign-in sheet just like they at a physical meeting, and then receive a call when their turn comes.
For more comprehensive information on veterans’ issues, contact Lane County Veterans Services at www.lanecounty.org/cms/one.aspx?pageId=4133203 or email [email protected]