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Jill Atwood ReportingUtah soldiers continue to battle the heat and the enemy overseas in Iraq. And once home many will still have to battle the lingering effects of the war whether they be physical, mental, or even financial. The local Division of Veterans’ Affairs hopes this generation of Utah veterans isn't too proud to ask for help.
The director of Veterans’ Affairs says there are too many veterans of past wars here in Utah that don't take advantage of benefits available to them. From World War Two to the Korean War, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, Utah boasts about 161-thousand veterans.
Annually the state pays out about 129 million dollars in benefits, but according to the VA's office that's nothing when you consider a state like Maine who pays out 200 million to roughly the same amount of people.
Director Terry Schow blames this discrepancy on a lack of funds or veterans simply not realizing what they have coming.
Terry Schow Divsion of Veterans' Affairs: "There are literally thousands of veterans out there, both guard and reserves, both that have served in both Vietnam and Korea who have service connected disabilities who are just not getting the word."
Utah's Veterans’ Affairs office is a fairly small operation compared to other states. The only way they can grow is for demand to increase, and right now Utah is below the national average as far as veteran's benefits being paid out. Schow hopes it's not a pride thing.
Terry Schow Divsion of Veterans' Affairs: "Some veterans have been made to feel that applying for VA benefits is like applying for welfare and that is clearly not the case. I guess my principle message today if you're a veteran, I don’t care if it’s World War II to the present, and if you're hurt as a result of that military service, we want you to come in and see us and file a claim if it’s appropriate."
Getting VA benefits can take a while, and no doubt sometimes there is a lot of red tape to cut through, but you may be entitled to prescription benefits if you're over 65 and a veteran, among a lot of other things. You never know unless you ask.