Sacramento County is home to a growing population of military veterans. Whether they are a veteran of World War II, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Iraq War or times of peace, our veterans and their dependents are eligible for many services and benefits through the Department of Veteran Affairs.
“We want to do everything we can to help veterans get the benefits they have earned and help connect them with services in our community,” said Paul Lake, Director of the Human Assistance Department.
The Sacramento County Veteran Services office is a place for veterans to go for help to process a claim, which includes claim assistance for the veteran and/or their dependent(s), follow the claim through processing and submit supporting evidence on their behalf. “Navigating the complicated systems can be daunting,” Lake said. “We want to help them make sense of it and make it easy as possible wherever we can.”
One of the key areas the Veteran Services Office assists with is the administration of the College Fee Waiver Program for spouses, unmarried surviving spouses and children of veterans with a service-connected disability or service-connected death. This program provides a tuition and fee waiver to eligible dependents while attending a California community college, a campus of the California State University (CSU) system, or a campus of the University of California (UC) system. This program provides both an incentive and means for family members to gain a valuable education.
The Department of Human Assistance (DHA) also helps veterans apply for compensation for service-connected disabilities. Wartime veterans or a surviving family member who meet certain service, income and asset limits may be eligible for the pension program, providing a monetary compensation for veterans.
“One of the most common challenges is that veterans do not label themselves as a veteran because they did not serve during wartime. Additionally, some have difficulty with disability claims or asking for help,” said Laurie Carriker, Program Manager for Veteran Services. “Veterans are extraordinary people. We want to help and advocate for them so they get the valuable services they have earned.”
One veteran applied to Veteran Affairs for disability compensation in 2008; over the next two years, he was denied compensation three times. Frustrated, he went to the Sacramento County Veteran Services Office, where he worked with a Veterans Claim Representative to submit an appeal to be sent to Washington, D.C. Based on that appeal and additional supporting evidence, the veteran was granted his disability compensation and full back pay from when he originally applied in 2008.
Sacramento County Veteran’s Services Office is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. No appointment is needed and drop-ins are welcome. All the services are free.
DHA Veterans Services can help veterans apply for the following:
Service-Connected Disability Compensation Benefits
Non Service-Connected Disability Pension Benefits
Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Benefits
Death Pension Benefits
Aid & Attendance Entitlement
VA Medical Care Eligibility and Access
Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits Information
California College Fee Waiver Program
VA Life Insurance Information
State Veterans Homes
Requests for Military Records
Discharge Upgrade Information
Other Ancillary Benefits and Programs
“We can also refer people for food, housing, and medical assistance and various other needs as well,” said Carriker. “If they just stop by, we would love to help them.”
The County is expanding outreach and services to Veterans beginning in spring. A veteran’s claims representative will soon be available at the County’s North Service Center one day a week to assist with submission of claims and paperwork, and later this year a claims representative will be housed at the Mather Veterans Hospital. With one-time funds from the California Department of Veterans Affairs, free Veteran Identification cards will be offered to assist veterans obtain discounts that are available through local merchants and services.
“We are improving the services and bringing them into the communities where they are needed,” said Bradley J. Hudson, County Executive.
The Veteran Services Office is located at 2007 19th Street, Sacramento, CA 95818.
Writer: Kaitlin Bane, Communication and Media Intern