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Disabled American Veterans helps local vets file claims

By Alison Parker
Published On: May 15 2013 03:59:12 PM CDT
Updated On: May 15 2013 04:40:43 PM CDT
HAVELOCK, CRAVEN COUNTY -

Army veteran Wayne Williams relies on the Veteran Affairs office to get by. He stopped by the Disabled American Veterans Mobile Service Office in Havelock Wednesday to get some help on filing a new disability claim.

"I'm hoping they can help me fill out forms because I'm not capable of doing a lot of this stuff myself," Williams said. "My mind doesn't work as it did before."

Havelock's chapter of the DAV hosted the event. Service Officer Pace Ashworth says claims can take one to two years to be processed.

"The VA is working on getting programs for the computers to try to make things go faster," Ashworth said. "They're trying everything they can, but basically it's too many of us, and not enough of them."

Ashworth says there are about 800,000 veterans and their dependants in North Carolina. He says right now, there are around 57,000 pending claims at the VA office. That's hard for families like Karen Arner-Conley's to hear.

"Maybe he can get it going a little faster, or get us to the right people, you know," Arner-Conley said. "That's the biggest thing -- getting to the right people who can help you."

Ashworth agrees that can help ease the process.

"The veteran needs to go somebody that knows what they're doing because the VA's paperwork and the law aren't the easiest thing in the world to understand," Ashworth said.

Another option is getting a head start before leaving the military. Ashworth recommends getting copies of all of your personnel and service medical records in case they're lost and begin filing for claims about six months before leaving.

Williams says this help gives him hope.

"I don't want to go on like I am, either," Williams said. "It's too tough."

The mobile service office will be in Jacksonville at 301 Roosevelt Street Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring your social security number and any other pertinent documentation like medical records or personnel records.