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Although women have long served in the military and are increasingly in combat roles, there is little awareness of veterans' benefits for women. Mostly when we think of vets, we think of men. But the Department of Veteran Affairs in Arizona wants to change that.
The state's Department of Veteran Services this spring is holding four conferences targeting women veterans specifically. The department's director, Colonel Wanda Wright, told NBC News that the specific focus on women veterans is necessary because women who do not serve on combat units often fail to recognize themselves as veterans and miss out on services and benefits available to them.
As a vet, you can get assistance with healthcare, disability, education, employment, pensions, and more. Veterans may be eligible for loans with better mortgage rates or vocational training in order to find work, and people who serve in the military do have rights of re-employment under federal law.
The extent of services available is impressive but obviously nothing is automatic. While you may be eligible for a benefit, you must still apply to receive it. The national Office of Veterans Affairs website has a lot of information on the different programs available to veterans.
Keep in mind too that at a local level your state Veterans' Affairs office may have additional services available. This is precisely why Colonel Wright is holding conferences for women veterans. "Whatever needs you have, you can call one of our offices and we can refer [you] to whatever assistance might be needed," she said.
As for this year's first conference, Wright said, "We've has about 100 ladies show and we've provided them some benefits and services and education so that they can leave here and know how to work within the system to help them with their veteran needs."
Although you are entitled to benefits as a result of your military service, claims do sometimes get denied. The military even provides a range of services to assist you in applying for claims and fighting denials. Should you need assistance, you can request an attorney, claims agent or Veteran Service Organization representative to help you. Once you are registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs eBenefits program, you can even do it all online.
If, however, you want to choose a representative on your own, you may do so. If you are interested in finding out more about benefits and denials and would like help navigating the government's system, consider hiring a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss any potential claims.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.