Many veterans are letting benefits they are entitled to go unclaimed, according to veterans groups.
To rectify this situation, the Queens Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America will holds its annual Veterans Information Day Saturday at Lost Battalion Hall, 93 23 Queens Blvd., in Rego Park, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Queens Chapter 32 has held the event for the past 15 years. It is open to veterans of all eras, from any military conflict, along with their dependents.
Veterans service providers, employers, state, federal and city agencies will be in attendance to provide free compensation and pension claim assistance, information on Veterans Administration health care services, updated benefit information and help in retrieving service documents that may be needed.
The Vietnam Veterans of America started the event as a way to remedy widespread ignorance about benefits among veterans. Part of the problem is that many veterans have never needed to look into what they are entitled to, according to chapter officials.
However, as Vietnam veterans move closer to retirement age, medical problems connected to their military service are just beginning to emerge.
Benefits relating to exposure to Agent Orange are one class of benefits that Vietnam veterans are particularly unaware of. In the 1980s, it was extremely difficult to prove exposure to Agent Orange, but lobbying by veterans groups has changed procedures.
Many veterans are also unaware that they can claim benefits if they have any of the 43 diseases associated with exposure to the carcinogen. These include a wide array of conditions ranging from cancer to Type 2 diabetes.
Another benefit that is underutilized is counseling for post traumatic stress disorder.
There will also be information on employment opportunities, although chapter officials said there would be fewer than in previous years.
To participate, veterans will need to bring a copy of their discharge papers or DD 214, if available, and a current resume.
The event is sponsored by Council members Dennis Gallagher, Melinda Katz, John Liu, Joe Addabbo and Helen Sears, as well as Queens’ Assembly delegation, Sens. Frank Padavan, Serphin Maltese, Malcolm Smith and Toby Stavisky.