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Thursday, February 29, 2024
HomeCommunityCounty Veterans Service Officer - Part 3

County Veterans Service Officer – Part 3

As I leap into part three, here is the obligatory recap from the previous articles. CVSOs are Veterans providing a free service assisting Veterans and their families with benefits. CVSOs are not VA employees, do not make decisions or awards, and do not have secret VA phone numbers. CVSOs do not have a master list of Veterans. CVSOs are dedicated and driven to ensure all Veterans receive benefits they have earned. All Veterans should reach out to their CVSO and make themselves known.

This is where I am supposed to transition gracefully from the previous thought into the next, which I am failing to do. Becoming a CVSO requires meeting the basic eligibility requirements and getting hired. Day one begins with a large rock tied around the neck and being thrown into the deep end. My first year on the job included at least 150 hours of required training from VA, MDVA, NACVSO and MACVSO (national and state associations). I underwent multiple background checks to include a federal (FBI) check with fingerprints and the name of my first-grade teacher. I received accreditation from five national service organizations and access to Department of Veterans Affairs computer systems. I am required to complete 20 hours of continuing education each year.

Along with a significant amount of training, within the first two years a CVSO will gain a tremendous amount of experience by assisting Veterans. This might include applying for enrollment in VA health care, navigating Community Care, applying for the Family Caregiver Program, or sharing the Emergency Care Reporting number. Perhaps it involves developing a disability claim, applying for Veterans pension, appealing a previously denied decision, or assisting a surviving spouse with a DIC claim. The more challenging experiences include the previously mentioned interactions with surviving family members, completing an application for a headstone or burial benefits, or requesting Military Funeral Honors.

Training, experience, compassion, and empathy are just a few reasons to place your trust in a CVSO. Your CVSO may not have all the answers or solutions, but likely will have the drive and resources to get you closer than you are able to on your own. Once you have started your benefits journey, keep it mind these are your benefits, your claims, and ultimately your responsibility. Your CVSO is a helping hand to get you to the finish line.

Brad Anderson is the Lake County Veterans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.834.8326, or cvso@co.lake.mn.us

Karen Christianson is the Cook County Veterans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.387.3639, or karen.christianson@co.cook.mn.us

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