Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017 by Chantalle Edmunds
There are over 40,000 veterans living in northern Virginia. The new Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) Loudoun office will serve veterans and their families in its home county and parts of Clarke, Fairfax, and Frederick counties.
The new facility is located at the Lakes at Ashbrook, Building 2, 44345 Premier Plaza, Suite 200.
McAuliffe, whose father was an Army captain and whose son is in the service, said Virginia has a proud history of firsts when it comes to helping veterans. He talked about the commonwealth being the first in the U.S. to essentially end veteran homelessness and how the state was also the first to enable veterans to file benefits electronically.
“The benefits office is so important to veterans. We are going to hit 30 offices by the time I leave office,” McAuliffe, whose term ends in January, said. He added it is vital veterans are able to access “federal and state benefits they have earned by their service to our country.”
The new Ashburn office, like others in the state, will provide benefit services and family services along with education and employment services while helping former service men and women transition into civilian life.
McAuliffe spoke the importance of making sure veterans can be moved straight into employment once they’ve left the armed forces. He touted the success of Cyber Vets Virginia, an initiative announced by the governor in 2016 to provide veterans with cybersecurity training opportunities and resources leading to employment in the cybersecurity field.
The new office is part of a statewide effort to expand veterans’ services throughout the state. There are two long-term care facilities for veterans in Old Dominion and another two in the pipeline. The new Puller Veterans Care Center in Fauquier County is expected to open in late 2019 and will offer in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s and memory care and short-term rehabilitative services for veterans.
Thomas J. Herthel, VDVS benefits director, said veterans in the state were entitled to benefits and other forms of help as a “result of service.” Herthel said it’s hoped the office will help over a 100 ex-servicemen and women a month with claims.
Cold war veteran Tony Schaffer from Leesburg told the Times-Mirror the help he had received from the VDVS was invaluable.
“They’ve given me resources and personal support which we wouldn’t have known about,” Schaffer said. He only became aware of veterans benefits offices through a nonprofit in the area.
“Trying to navigate services is extremely difficult,” he said.
Schaffer added he hoped word would get out to veterans about the new office.
Also attending Wednesday’s opening ceremony were Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-Va.-10th) Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd) and Chairwoman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Phyllis Randall (D-At Large).
Comstock called Virginia “a veteran family commonwealth.” She said it’s imperative veterans get the care they need and specifically mentioned opioid addiction as a danger for veterans.
Randall spoke about her father, a 26-year Army veteran, and how he taught her the valuable lessons of giving back and “figuring out how to serve.”
Greason, who served in the Army, said the new office was “another shinning example of how we are taking care of our veterans.”
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