Services for veterans important in Denton County

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With our country’s birthday, Independence Day on July 4, fast approaching, our thoughts turn not only to those patriots who founded America and fought for our independence, but also to those more contemporary patriots who have served throughout modern history to preserve our liberties. Here in Robson Ranch, we are blessed and grateful to have many veterans of several wars and conflicts.

The veterans who served all of us are owed a great debt of gratitude by a grateful nation, and here in Denton County, we are especially conscious of our obligation to these heroic men and women, which is why our county created a veterans’ services department years ago.

With 45,000 military veterans, the need is strong,and the Denton County Veterans Service Office continues to see a growing number of veterans needing assistance.

Of the 5,376 total client visits in 2018, 25 percent were new veterans. Veteran Community Navigators assist veterans with emergency financial assistance, a place to stay if they are homeless or referrals for mental health care. In 2018, these Navigators assisted 280 veterans who received $43,721 in emergency financial assistance.

So far this year, Veteran Community Navigators handled 214 referrals with 166 receiving consultation and referrals. Nearly 100 of the veteran households were at risk of becoming homeless, 33 had their utilities turned off or were at risk of a disconnection, 35 were homeless and 50 needed transportation assistance ranging from vehicle repairs to gas vouchers or bus tickets.

Additionally, an estimated 118 veterans were in need of emergency medical assistance so far this year, with 54 needing food, 52 mental health resources, eight substance abuse treatment. Another eight were victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.

Navigators also assisted 77 veterans with accessing veterans’ benefits for pension, medical needs or other assistance. 17 sought tax assistance, 11 needed furniture and 14 requested education resources.

The Veterans Service Office is committed to assisting veterans in getting the resources and benefits they need to help them and their families lead full, productive lives. The staff, under Veterans Service Officer Paul Bastaich, works diligently to answer a growing number of calls for assistance. In addition, the Veterans Service Office has expanded the number of locations to serve veterans. The five locations in Denton, Lewisville, Carrollton, Frisco and Flower Mound take scheduled appointments from both veterans and their family members by calling 940-349-2950.

There are many programs for which veterans can seek assistance, including compensation, pension, disability retirement, death indemnity compensation, appeals to the Board of Veterans, hospital and outpatient programs, Texas Veterans Land Board programs, educational and vocational benefits, debt waivers, obtaining lost military records, SPAN transportation to DVA medical facilities, review of military discharge, claims for insurance payments and burial allowance.

A list of frequently asked questions is available on the Denton County website at dentoncounty.com/Departments/Veterans-Service/FAQs.

In addition, a new VA Behavioral Health Center is now open at 406 S. Carroll Boulevard in Denton, just down from the Denton County Veterans Center. The behavioral health center helps veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress and other behavioral issues.

The Denton County Veterans Coalition – a partnership between veteran service organizations, non-profits and government entities – creates a network of available services to help veterans in need. The idea is that all veterans are valuable community assets and should receive assistance if they are having trouble reintegrating back into civilian life.

Thank you to all veterans who have served our country in the wars and conflicts over the years. We owe you so much for your service and dedication.

If you would like to receive an e-newsletter, please contact Precinct 4 Commissioner Dianne Edmondson at [email protected] or 972-434-3960 and ask to be placed on the email list. Her office is located in the Southwest Courthouse, 6200 Canyon Falls Drive, Suite 900, in Flower Mound.