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Veterans Get Boost

October 7, 2010, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell is implementing a plan to better support Alaska's veteran community. The Office of Veterans Affairs, in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), is moving from Fort Richardson into a more easily accessible office close to the new federal Veterans Administration (VA) out-patient clinic in East Anchorage. The DMVA will also open a state Veterans Affairs Office at Alcantra Armory to better serve the growing veterans population in the Mat-Su Borough.

By moving the state Office of Veterans Affairs to a more accessible area, expanding the Veteran Service Officer Grant Program to guarantee a Veterans Service Office in every major community, and extending veteran outreach efforts into rural Alaska, the state aims to provide better service, based on more accurate information, and to leverage the VA for permanent improvements in benefits.

An 800 number has been established to assist veterans. A new web page has also been established to help veterans sign up for benefits. 

"Our Office of Veterans Affairs does an outstanding job," Governor Parnell said. "I want to give that office the resources to make an even greater impact, as more veterans choose to stay in Alaska after their tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The state Office of Veterans Affairs advocates for the needs of resident veterans before the federal Department of Veterans Affairs and administers grants to congressionally chartered veterans groups that provide service officers who help veterans navigate the bureaucracy to get benefits earned through military service.

"When military members separate from their uniformed service, they do not automatically receive benefits from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs," said Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus, commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. "We are working to make sure that all veterans are registered with the VA and that none of them get short-changed on the benefits they risked their lives to earn."

Only 26,000 of the estimated 77,000 veterans in Alaska are registered with the VA, which limits health care benefits. Veterans may call 1 888 248-3682 or visit http://veterans.alaska.gov/ for assistance.

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