Only half of eligible vets receive assistance

Milaca VFW Commander

A couple of months ago I attended a meeting at our Mille Lacs County Courthouse. It was an informational meeting put on by our County Veterans Services Officer Mike Bina.

I was accompanied by three of my fellow VFW members, but unfortunately there were only four others there and one of them was county commissioner Jack Edmonds. The poor turnout surprised me but I was more surprised to learn this was about the norm.

I guess the poor attendance at these meetings prompted me to decide to do this monthly column. I thought hopefully I might reach some veterans who are not aware of the many things the Veterans Administration can help them with. Facts say that only about 50 percent of the vets who are eligible for some percentage of disability payment each month are in the system and able to draw that money.

Probably the most common eligibility issue is the Agent Orange ordeal. Most of you readers who were in Vietnam know what this chemical was all about. Right now there are some 15-plus diseases associated with this horrific chemical. And now the geographic areas have been expanded to parts of Korea and Laos.

This is just one thing that your Veterans Services Officer could help you with and if he by chance doesn’t have an answer for you he will find the answer and get back to you.

Mike, working alone, is a busy person. He handles about 20 files a day, fields phone calls when he can and may see a walk-in veteran if it’s possible. He is only able to put in 40 hours per week so he must make every minute count. Mike also takes appointments once a month in Wahkon and Princeton. You will have to call for places and times.

Mike’s office is located in the Community and Veterans Service Building at 525 2nd St. S.E., Milaca. He can be reached at 320-983-8208 and/or 888-270-8208. If you need to you may reach him by fax at 320-983-8306.

Remember, if you have questions or concerns for Mike pursue your concerns and be patient and you will succeed. If there is anything that either myself or my VFW Service Officer Walt Capps can help you with, feel free to contact us at 612-356-4114 or 320-267-7354 respectively. Perhaps we can help you streamline your route to get to Mike.

Until next time.