Monday, March 20, 2023

THE VETERANS' PRESS: What we learned

by DON WALKER/The Veterans' Press
| May 31, 2021 1:06 AM

In December 2020, we published an article about our volunteer organization Veterans Help Net. We stated who we were, why we started and what we did in the first two years to help provide “Help and Hope” for our veterans and their families.

During that time, we published more than 50 monthly editions of the Veterans Chronicle (Spokesman Review) and The Veterans' Press (Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press). We visited dozens of veterans service organizations and groups. We interviewed many veterans and their family members and published hundreds of articles and stories, all with the objective of increasing awareness in our communities to the benefits and services available to our veterans. All of this was done to provide “Hope and Help” through information and awareness.

As we evaluated the past years, we thought it might be important to let you know what we learned …

We will divide what we learned into four sections:

1) Perceptions

2) Observations

3) Obstacles to Success

4) Conclusions

1) Perceptions:

*Note: These are not our perceptions, these are what we heard.

A) Most veterans and families were not aware of many of the benefits and services they have earned with their service.

B) Many veterans think the process is too hard, so many never tried.

C) Many veterans found it difficult to get started, so they quit trying to get help.

D) Most did not know how to start the process of getting their benefits or obtaining VA medical help.

E) Many veterans did not seek help because they thought other veterans needed or deserved it more and thought that they would be “taking someone’s place in line.”

F) In general, we found a large amount of negative perception from the public and many veterans about the VA’s treatment and accessibility to services.

Many have lived or heard about the horror stories associated with some past VA treatment or handling of veterans who tried to get help and were turned down or treated poorly.

2) Observations:

A) The VA today is not the VA of 10 years ago.

• We also found that the most veterans that were currently in the VA system had a significantly more positive perception and thought they were getting great help.

• Veterans currently using the VA medical programs stated clearly that they thought their help and services were not just good, but great.

• Help is there if you have patience and are willing to do your part to complete the forms and provide the required documentation.

B) The process is Hard: Without the help of a local Veteran Service Officer VSO (see “How can I get help” section in The Veterans' Press North Idaho Resource Directory) many veterans struggle with the online application process on and became frustrated and confused about what to do next and how to get started.

C) You have earned the right to get help. The VA has the desire and the capacity to help all the veterans that have earned the benefits through their service.

3) Obstacles:

A) The Veteran Service Officers are very busy and are sometimes overloaded. They are also working under the COVID-19 restrictions, so it will take some time for them to get to you and start the process. But you must start the process and be patient as they will get to you and help you move through the system.

B) You may not be aware of all the benefits available to you and your family.

• Ask your VSO for a benefits review.

• There are lots of resources to read (including our website

• All states and counties have Veterans Service Centers and websites to help you discover and understand your benefits.

C) Find or order your dd 214 or certificate of service as you can’t start without it. Here is a link to order yours: (See the section in this publication (“How can I get help?")

D) If you can’t use the online process or struggle with it.

• You could ask a friend or family member to help you.

• You can contact a local VSO or go to the local VA Hospital and make application for your records.

4) Conclusions:

• It is worth it!

• You do deserve it!

• You can get through the process!

Look, Soldier … “You Served." Because you served, you owe it to yourself and your family to seek the benefits or services that you “EARNED WITH YOUR SERVICE.”

• If you quit … Try again.

• If you never started … Start now.

• They won’t do it for you …

• You have to do your part.

• Make your application, gather your information or documents they ask you to provide.

• Ask for help.

• “You will never know unless you ask.”

• Don’t wait … Don’t be the veteran that says “I should have done this 10 years ago…”

Hey vets!

• Make your life better.

• Find out your options.

• Apply for the benefits or services you have earned.

• How do I start? See the “How can I get help?” section in this publication for sources in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Information: Don Walker and Bryan Bledsoe,, "Helping Veterans find Hope and Help," 509-655-9266,, Facebook@Veterans Help Net

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