A National Service Officer with the Military Order of the Purple Heart was at the Bethel Veterans of Foreign Wars Tuesday and Wednesday helping veterans and their families to file claims related to Veterans Affairs Claims or entitlements from the V.A.
Carlton Lewis says he was here to help all veterans, whether they were Alaska Territorial Guardsmen or veterans from the Vietnam Era and Persian Gulf Wars.
“What’s very important with any veteran that comes into talk to us is your 2-14,” said Lewis. “And most veterans know what your 2-14 is. That’s your discharge paperwork that was given to you upon exiting the military. So that’s what lays our foundation for being able to assist with completing claims.”
Lewis along with Irene Washington of Bethel were at the V.F.W. to answer any specific questions veterans may have related to the claims and entitlements.
Lewis was also able to help family members of deceased veterans file claims. He said to file these packages they have to talk with surviving children or spouses to get correct information and to submit correct paperwork.
Lewis says the whole process is complicated and takes time.
“It doesn’t happen over night,” said Lewis. “Sometimes when you file a claim, you can expect well over a year process to get a claim accomplished and get your findings back. That’s faced across the whole spectrum, the Lower 48 and to include us up here. It’s very time consuming.”
Lewis also says Vietnam Era Veterans need to get into the Agent Orange Data base. He says there are 15 presumptive sicknesses associated with Agent Orange exposure. The same goes for current veterans associated with the Gulf War. Veterans who were in the Gulf War need to get entered into the Gulf War data base because there may be some types of disabilities associated with exposure to the desert.
Lewis says there are Tribal Veteran Liasons who have been trained to help veterans in Y-K delta villages.
Also, Irene Washington here in Bethel, can assist village veterans file claims by mail or by telephone.
To talk to Irene Washington in Bethel: 543-6705.