For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

Service reps are
accredited by the VA

Question: How can I become a service organization representative?

Answer: Service organization representatives are benefits counselors who service veterans and their families. Service representatives are full-time, paid, professionals. They are accredited by the Department of Veteran Affairs and have been appointed by their parent veterans service organization to function as their representative and receive continuing education in VA claims processing from both their organization as well as from the VA. In addition, accredited representatives who successfully complete VA's training program, may be allowed access to VA's highly secure electronic information databases to assist a veteran with his or her claim.

Veterans have the option of choosing and designating a service organization to represent them. Upon doing so, they convey power of attorney to the representative, who thereafter receives copies of all VA correspondence sent to the veteran. The representative then becomes the veteran's consultant, who can be helpful in communicating the status of a claim, clarifying correspondence communications, assisting with a formal appeal, or participating in a hearing. The power of attorney designation remains in effect until specifically revoked by the veteran. For more information, contact the VA at (800) 827-1000.

Q: I have a VA service-connected disability rated at 100 percent. Am I entitled to commissary and exchange privileges?

A: Yes. Certification of total disability is done by VA. Privileges overseas are governed by international law and are available only if agreed upon by the foreign government concerned. Though these benefits are provided by the Department of Defense, VA does provide assistance in completing DD Form 1172, "Application for Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card." For detailed information, contact the nearest military installation.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin, can be reached by phone at 294-4075 or by e-mail at gkakesako@starbulletin.com.

See also: In The Military

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