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Additional veterans’ resources and benefits

By Raymond Taylor
SUN Columnist

Veterans meeting the requirements may apply through the Division of Motor Vehicles for one free Disabled Veteran Plate.

To apply you will need to submit:

• Completed disabled veteran license plate application.

• DD214 demonstrating honorable discharge.

• An eligibility letter from the Veterans Affairs office stating: 1) the veteran has a 50 percent or greater disability and 2) the disability is service connected and 3) the disability is permanent. To obtain the letter call (303) 284-6077.

• The registration of the vehicle if currently registered or a title receipt or title completion notice from the county.

• Proof of emissions.

• Proof of Insurance.

Submit the packet to: Colorado Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles Denver, CO 80261-0016.

Branch and award specific plates

The State of Colorado offers veterans a distinct license plate to display their service in the Armed Forces through a Military Veteran Recognition License Plate Program. The veteran must provide proof of military service and/or proof of award of a military related medal. To obtain a “Veteran” license plate, take your DD-214 to your local DMV Office. License plates include: U.S. Air Force, Fallen Air Force, U.S. Army, Fallen Army, U.S. Army Special Forces, U.S. Coast Guard, Fallen Coast Guard, U.S. Marines, Fallen Marines, U.S. Navy, Fallen Navy, Honorably Discharged Veteran, Veteran of Afghanistan War, Korean War Veteran, Veteran of Iraq War, Veteran of World War II, National Guard, Vietnam veteran, 4th Infantry and NORAD.

Medals available include:

• Congressional Medal of Honor.

• Silver Star.

• Navy Cross.

• Air Force Cross.

• Bronze Star with Valor.

• Bronze Star.

• Pearl Harbor Survivor.

• Prisoner of War.

• Purple Heart.

• Distinguished Service Cross.

Operation Recognition

Operation Recognition is a program to award high school diplomas to deserving and qualified World War II, Korea, and Vietnam era veterans. Operation Recognition is authorized by Colorado State Law and is offered by the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Association of School Boards. The program operates on a voluntary basis among those high schools.

This is a program providing high school diplomas to the veterans who left school to defend freedom. What started out as only a vision and a promise to honor and thank the veterans who were former high school students who left school to serve our nation in her time of need has become a national program titled “Operation Recognition.”

“Operation Recognition” honors the individuals who are the true heroes and real patriots of our country. One day these individuals were carrying textbooks and the next they were carrying weapons in order to protect our nation and preserve our freedom. The sacrifices they made changed their lives and teenage experiences, and in turn, made ours better.

A WW II veteran was quoted as saying, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first and the lesson afterwards.” Each and every veteran obtained experience the hard way and then learned the lessons of life.

Upon request, a diploma may be awarded to the honorably discharged veteran or veteran’s family member if requesting posthumously if he/she:

• Served in the armed forces: WWII, Korea, Vietnam.

• Left high school before graduating on order to serve in the U.S. armed forces.

• Is at least 60 years of age.

• Has not received a high school diploma (may hold a GED).

• At the time of making the request, resides within the school district.

• At the time of leaving high school to serve in the U.S. armed forces, resided within the school district.

Required paperwork

• Application.

• Copy of Honorably Discharged paper.

 Further information

For further Information on VA benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

I will be out of the office on the following days for regular scheduled meetings:

• Vets4Vets: Tuesday mornings, 0900-1200.

• Arboles Community Center, first and third Thursdays. Back around 1400.

• Pagosa Outreach Connection, 0830 to 1000 every Thursday.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office. If the office is closed, I am out assisting veterans, leave me a message and phone number to contact you.

The following Veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Quality Resort.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: Every other Monday, 6 p.m. St. Patrick’s Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte: 731-1025.

• Point Man Ministries’ Breakfast for Veterans 8:30 a.m. each Tuesday at Buffalo Inn, 164 N. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Vincent:  (435) 618-0049, Vfortunato777@gmail.com.

This story was posted on December 5, 2013.