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New VTF grant approved for 2010-11

I have some exciting news for the coming year I would like to share with all of our local veterans.

The American Legion Post 108 and the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, with the support of the Archuleta County government, has been successful in applying for a new 2010-2011 grant to the Colorado Veterans Trust Fund for a total of $30,000.

This grant will continue our assistance to our local veterans with their VA Health Care appointment transportation costs.

This money is used to assist those veterans traveling to VA Health Care appointments that do not receive travel assistance from the VA.

I estimate more than half of all veterans driving to Durango VA Clinic, Albuquerque VA Medical Center, and other VA medical facilities do not get any financial assistance with travel money. If a veteran does not have any service-connected disabilities or is paying co-pays to the VAHC system, they usually are not eligible for VA assistance. It is in those cases that our local grant money steps in to assist the veterans that do not get travel money from the VA.

Actual money in hand for this assistance probably won’t occur for another 30 days or so, since the wheels of government (and money) turn so slow.

In addition to the money earmarked for travel assistance of $24,000 for the coming year, we will also have an emergency fund of $6,000 to assist needy veterans with help paying for such things as a utility bill, food, gas and other onetime payments. A veteran that is in need can contact this office to apply for assistance. A panel of three veterans including myself, the American Legion Commander, and a veteran at large from the community will review the application and decide if assistance is warranted.

I plan to be on vacation Aug. 6 through Aug. 13 and the Veterans Service Office will be closed during that time, or open on very limited hours with the assistance of a VSO volunteer. It is always best to call the office in advance to insure someone is here to assist you.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call Mike Dunaway, 247-2198, and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays, call Harriet Mulnix, (505) 793-1782.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Blvd. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.