There are at least six Congressionally chartered veterans organizations in Southern Nevada that offer no-cost consultation and filing for veterans benefits, and yet there are still many individuals who say they are unable to get help or locate specialized information.
Active-duty military personnel often find themselves in similar circumstances. I sometimes receive calls from such individuals and do my best to advise them on where to turn for their concerns.
In this month's column I will report on some of the places that veterans and military can go for specialized assistance and also note a few upcoming statewide events for veterans and their families. In addition, I have an update on cost-of-living (COLA) payments.
VETERANS LICENSE PLATES
There are 21 styles of veterans license plates available to Nevadans who can prove their affiliation. The plate styles, which in some cases include a service logo and in others wording that reflects the affiliation, are: Air Force, Army, Army Airborne, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Navy Seabees, Air Force National Guard, Army National Guard, Congressional Medal of Honor, Disabled Veteran, Ex-Prisoner of War, Fallen Military, Gold Star, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Pearl Harbor Veteran, Purple Heart, National Guard Active, Female Disabled Veteran and Woman Veteran.
The Department of Motor Vehicles offices or website (dmvnv.com) can provide eligibility requirements.
A topic that has often been ignored or kept out of the limelight, suicide prevention has more recently been discussed as the military works to try to find a way to reduce the number of suicides by soldiers.
For reasons unknown at this time, most military suicides are not accomplished by combat veterans but rather by those who have not been deployed. Help is available now more than ever. If someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.
DISABLED VETERAN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS
In Nevada, statutes provide for service-connected disabled veterans who own their own businesses to have a preference regarding contracts for purchasing and state public works contracts under $100,000. The same criteria are accepted for employment preference when competing for state jobs. Go to Nevada's website (nv.gov) for details on these and other veterans benefits.
NATIONAL LIBRARY SERVICE FOR THE BLIND AND PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED
This group offers a free loan service of recorded and Braille books and magazines, music scores in Braille and large print, and specially designed playback equipment. Go to www.loc.gov/nls for more information.
This is a gateway to consumer education materials for veterans covering consumer protection issues from auto leasing to identity theft and other topics. It allows members of the U.S. armed forces to enter consumer complaints directly into a database that is accessible by more than 500 law enforcement organizations in the U.S., Canada and Australia. The information is used to target cases for prosecution and allows the Department of Defense to help protect service members and their families from consumer-related problems.
MILITARY COMMUNITY SUPPORT
Various branches of the military have community support services available. The major ones are as follows: Air Force Community Readiness and Family Support: 703-697-0067, www.afcrossroads.com; Marine Corps Community Services, 703-784-0275, www.usmc-mccs.org; Fleet and Family Support Programs, 800-372-5463, www.nffsp.org; U.S. Coast Guard, 800-368-5647, www.uscg.mil; Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Family Programs, 703-681-5375; and the Wounded Warrior Resource Center, 800-342-9647, firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (VA)
The local VA offers many services to veterans and their families and gets high marks for doing so. The main local VA office has moved into the new medical center in North Las Vegas at Pecos Road and the 215 Beltway. The local number is 702-791-9000. Extensions for various departments at the facility include enrollment, 14368; eye clinic, 19125; infectious disease, 18690; pharmacy, 14103; veterans transition center, 19386; and volunteer services, 15909 or 15053.
The contact information for several VA offices in Washington, D.C., includes veterans benefits, 800-827-1000 or www.vba.va.gov/VBA; veterans health 877-222-8387 or www.va.gov/health; and national cemetery programs, 202-461-6240 or www.cem.va.gov.
LAUGHLIN VETERANS FESTIVAL
This town has announced its first festival honoring veterans. It is scheduled for Nov. 9-11 and is to be co-sponsored by Las Vegas Events and Source 1 Events in association with Radar Entertainment Group. It will take place on the event lot between the River Palms and the Golden Nugget Laughlin.
SPARKS HIRING OUR HEROES
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 29, a job fair is scheduled in Sparks for veterans, active-duty military personnel, guard and reserve members as well as military spouses. The location is the American Legion Post 30, 730 Fourth St. It's free for employers and job seekers. Employers must register at hoh.greatjob.net.
Above are only a few of local and national contact numbers for veterans, but it's a start for any veteran who needs help and does not know where to turn. And a call to one department can lead to a referral to another department or contact.
Keep a positive attitude, and don't give up.
Finally, here is an update on a probable COLA adjustment for disability and survivors benefits. The House has passed legislation, but the Senate has not. The amount has not been calculated, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that if passed, the increase will be at least 1.3 percent. About 3.9 million veterans or survivors would be affected.
The VA has announced that the increase could show up in January payments, but only if legislation is passed no later than the first week in December.
Journalist and author Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a recipient of the Purple Heart. He is the managing editor of Nevada's Veterans Reporter newspaper and the host of the "Veterans Reporter Radio Show" on KLAV (1230 AM) from 8-9 p.m. Thursdays and the "Veterans Reporter News" at 2:30 a.m. Fridays on VEGAStv KTUD-Cable 14).