Veterans and their dependents should never pay for help to apply for veterans’ benefits, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA). That’s because federal and state law makes provisions for accredited veterans service organizations to provide free advice and assistance to veterans as they apply for veterans’ benefits.

“Unfortunately, there are individuals and businesses who may take advantage of our veterans by charging them to apply for the benefits they have earned by their military service,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA. “Accredited veteran service officers are available to help veterans prepare claims and advise them as their claim is processed and reviewed. Pennsylvania’s veteran service officers are experienced, trained professionals who provide veterans with the best advice and assistance available at no cost.”

There are approximately 200 veteran service officers in Pennsylvania who work with organizations such as the DMVA, county veterans affairs offices and several veterans service organizations.

Accredited veteran service officers provide veterans and their dependents free assistance to identify, determine eligibility for and apply for a wide range of benefits on the local, state and federal levels, including payment of burial allowances; Ensuring grave markers and headstones are properly requested and placed; The Disabled Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption Program; Veterans emergency assistance; Blind and paralyzed veterans pensions; The Education Gratuity Program; Service connected disability and non-service connected disability pensions; Federal health care benefits; and Survivor benefits.

To locate your county director of veterans affairs or for more information on other veterans service organizations and to find out more about veterans benefits, visit the DMVA online at www.dmva.pa.gov and click on Veterans Affairs, or follow DMVA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/padmva or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/padmva.

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