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Brunswick County Veterans’ Coalition

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC

“How many military veterans are in the state of North Carolina”?  Google will tell you there are 620,969 as of 2022.  There are only four other states in the nation with a higher number of veterans.  Several years ago, the Director of the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Winston/Salem Regional Office stated only 35% of North Carolina veterans have applied and use their VA benefits.  Some people call them entitlements rather than benefits.  If true, that equates to approximately 217, 400 veterans take advantage of what the American people are providing to them for the disabilities they have incurred while in service, educational assistance, or housing loans.  Why is that?

One reason that has surfaced is veterans especially Vietnam era veterans don’t know of the benefits they are entitled to receive.  Unlike today where veterans are required to attend class or classes before they are discharged explaining their benefits, veterans who were in the service a half a century ago did not have such counseling.  Those who came back from the war and arrived in the United States were met with discharge papers and a “thank you for your service”.  Many could not wait to shed their uniforms and get on with their lives and wanted nothing to do with the military or the VA.  As time went on, their health deteriorated, and many found themselves on fixed incomes.

Today there is an effort to educate not only Vietnam era veterans but also those veterans who failed to take advantage of all that is being offered.  The citizens of the United States through their respective Congressman, Senators and President have generously provided a large sum of money in annual budgets to take care of our veterans.  This year’s VA budget was over $300 billion.  Legislation signed by the president both past and present have expanded health benefits due to exposure to Agent Orange, suicide prevention and homelessness.  Yet, today according to some, only 40% of veterans use their entitlements.  Why?  Again, one answer is they don’t know what these benefits are.

Hence the Brunswick County Veterans’ Coalition was created.  The mission of the Coalition is: 1) Inform veterans and their families of the benefits they are entitled to receive, 2) Assist veterans and their families in need, and 3) Provide a venue for veterans to express concerns to their representatives in Congress on veteran issues.

Created in May 2017, the Brunswick County Veterans’ Coalition conducts meetings every other month and invites veterans and veteran organizations to send representatives to these meetings to listen to the latest information on veteran disability and medical benefits.  Since its inception, approximately 40 veteran and civic organizations focused on veteran assistance have sent their leadership to these meetings to listen to a variety of guest speakers.  Speakers for the Department of Veteran Affairs from the Winston-Salem Regional office, the VA Wilmington Medical Center, the Red Cross, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and many, many more have briefed the assembled group on how they can support the veterans in Brunswick County as well as surrounding counties.  Some of the topics of most interest to the Coalition members include: Dependent Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC), VA Caregiver program, Community Care, VA Suicide prevention programs and several civic programs available to veterans in the area.

The next Brunswick County Veterans’ Coalition meeting will be conducted on May 8, 2024, in Building N of the Brunswick County Government Complex located in Bolivia, NC.  The meeting will start at 10:00 AM and conclude at 12:30 PM.  Veterans and their spouses are encouraged to attend to learn about the importance of a will or trust as well as VA benefits both disability and health.  Light refreshments will be provided.  For further information contact [email protected].


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    Lane AdrianMay 1, 2024 at 9:43 am

    Well stated Colonel, keep up the good work