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Jill Atwood ReportingThe Department of Veteran's Affairs finds itself inundated with calls now that many veterans of the war in Iraq are returning home. Many guard and reservists now have a special veteran status and could be entitled to benefits they may not know they're entitled to.
Too often benefits go unclaimed, mostly because people just don’t know. Most Utah Guard and Reservists signed up for one weekend a month and two weeks annual training. But times have certainly changed for the so-called "weekend warrior.” First it was Operation Desert Storm, and now most recently Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Many part-time soldiers found themselves on full time active duty for over a year, many saw combat, some were wounded and some didn't come home at all.
Terry Schow/Director, Veterans Affairs: "We've had a few of those from Utah sadly and they do pay off benefits to the widows and there are educational benefits for the children."
Terry Schow is the state director of Veteran's Affairs. It's his job to make sure all veterans get what's coming to them including VA home loans, medical and dental benefits, job training, schooling, compensation for those wounded in battle, even psychological help for those still re-living those battles.
Also, some veterans may come home with an injury that stops them from doing what they did before. For those veterans there's a program called Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment.
Terry Schow: "You go see the folks here in this building and they'll do an evaluation of you determine what might be best to train you in as to not aggravate your disabilities. Then they will pay for that, four years worth of college, stipend and medical care."
The veterans office says if you're in doubt call and at least check, you just never know. Surprisingly Utah is below the national average as far as veterans taking advantage of benefits. Of course the plan is to change all that.
For more information, call 1-800-894-9497.