Veterans learn about benefits

Local veterans and their families learned about benefits and opportunities at an Information Expo hosted by Hamilton County Veterans Affairs on Thursday.

LuAnn Jackson, assistant director at Hamilton County Veterans Affairs, said dozens of veterans came out to learn about filing claims, job and education opportunities, loans and much more. The expo hosted representatives from hospitals, local organizations and other groups to answer any questions that local veterans and their families might have.

“We bring them in so that they can give the answers that we can’t,” Jackson said.

For instance, Jackson said one representative dealt with women’s health issues. She said several veterans in the county have worked through that representative to get care through the VA in Iowa City.

There are also benefits that spouses of veterans can receive. Jackson said surviving spouses may be eligible for pension help or money if they require the aid and attendance of another person. Spouses and veterans can also receive burial benefits. Jackson said the local VA can assist with local funeral homes to set up funerals, obtaining niches and finding a place at a veteran’s cemetery.

Jackson said the VA is able to help veterans with many things. That includes adding a veteran identification to a driver’s license. Those with a veteran designation can receive discounts at stores that offer them to veterans.

“It’s not like it gives a whole lot, but it’s a nice pat on the back,” Jackson said.

Veterans with questions are encouraged to contact the office at 832-9595. The Hamilton County Veterans Affairs office is located at 500 Fair Meadow Drive. It is open Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

While the VA is embattled with scandal at the national level, Jackson said the local VA office has not been largely effected. She said a few people have had their appointments postponed. However, she said those delays mostly involve hearings and not urgent, life-threatening conditions.

Several local representatives attended the expo. Among them was Denise Morgan, of Ti-De Creations. Her husband, Timothy, is a veteran. The couple sells hand-crafted leather products and is home-based in Kamrar. She said Timothy used education benefits to earn his bachelor’s degree. They spoke with veterans about those benefits as well as well as benefits for veterans looking to start their own businesses.

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Kathy Vaughn, certified healing touch practitioner, spoke to veterans about the full body energy therapy she offers. She said benefits of the therapy include relief form pain, stress reduction, pre and post surgical support and more. She said the Oklahoma VA is investigating the use of Healing Touch therapy as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Vaughn practices the therapy at O’Hearn Family Chiropractic in Webster City.

Pat Nokes represented the American Legion Auxiliary at the expo. The Auxiliary supports veterans and their families. This past year, Nokes said the Auxiliary gave three scholarships to children of veterans and paid for one Honor Flight. To raise funds for those efforts, the Auxiliary sells poppies.

For more information on the local Auxiliary, contact Nokes at (515) 209-8083.