Magazine article VFW Magazine

VFW Service Officer Garners Record Claim of $500,000

Magazine article VFW Magazine

VFW Service Officer Garners Record Claim of $500,000

Article excerpt

For one Vietnam veteran, walking into the VFW service office at VFW National Headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., was a life-changing experience.

In April 2013, the 66-year-old Marine Corps vet, who has asked to remain anonymous, received $500,000 in compensation. He also gained a 100% disability rating for claims related to PTSD, ischemic heart disease and service-connected hearing loss.

That was all after working with Rachel Powell, a VFW-accredited service officer. It is the single largest monetary award Powell says she has seen a veteran receive.

The veteran first filed a claim in 1996, but it was denied, and he did not file an appeal until 2011 when ischemic heart disease was added to VA's presumptive list for service-connected issues.

With help from Powell, the veteran received retroactive compensation for the years he waited between claims.

Powell has worked in the National Veterans Service office in Kansas City for nine years and has been an accredited service officer for six. She says that the benefits of working with a service officer far outweigh filing a claim alone.

"We understand the 'VA jargon,' so we can cut through the red tape, so to speak," Powell said. "We know what the letters are asking for, so we can easily navigate the system."

In 2012, some 125,000 veterans worked with 276 VFW service officers to recover nearly $3.7 billion in VA benefits. This is a free service available to any veteran, regardless of VFW membership.

VFW service officers offer knowledge and experience to veterans. …

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