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America Supports You: Group Works for Injured Veterans

By Paul X. Rutz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2006 – For over 85 years, Disabled American Veterans has been giving support to wounded heroes. Representatives from the group were on hand to answer questions yesterday at the Washington Capitals' "Salute to the Military Night" at the MCI Center here.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Peter Collins (left) and Gregory Jones pass out complimentary mouse pads at the Washington Capitals "Salute to the Military Night" Jan. 19. Collins and Jones work for Disabled American Veterans, an organization dedicated to helping injured veterans get help. Photo by Paul X. Rutz

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

While thousands of servicemembers and their families enjoyed free tickets to the hockey game, DAV representatives Gregory Jones and his colleague, Peter Collins, talked with troops about benefits.

"We're benefit specialists," Jones said. "We help them through the bureaucratic maze of the VA and filing for benefits that they may be entitled to receive because of their service-connected wartime injuries."

Formed in 1920 and chartered by Congress in 1932, the organization offers a nationwide network of services free of charge to all veterans and their family members. DAV receives no government funding and is supported mainly by membership dues and contributions from helpful citizens.

DAV is also a member of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which aims to highlight private and corporate support to U.S. servicemembers.

The MCI Center event allowed Jones, a Vietnam-era veteran who has worked with DAV for 27 years, and Collins the opportunity to spread the word about services offered by DAV.

"We're here handing out our literature to let these guys know that we're available to them when they come back," Jones said. "We're seeing a lot of guys coming back from the war injured. With the advancement of medicine a lot of them are surviving, more so than they did in some of the previous wars."

Jones said money to give wounded veterans the care they need is very tight, and the group is constantly working on ways to keep veterans benefits at the top of the national government agenda. At the moment, they are gearing up for legislative testimony to the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, which will be held in late February. He said the major goal of that presentation is "to bring to the forefront our health care needs for the veterans."

On behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Jones said, each year DAV must lobby Congress for adequate funding for disabled veterans.

"Of course with the rising cost of health care, everybody wants their piece of the pie, and it becomes more difficult every year to get adequate funding for these guys coming back from the war," he said.

Besides lobbying and communications efforts, the group sponsors many other programs. Volunteers work as counselors, physical therapists, drivers, laboratory assistants, and even honor guards in support of servicemembers who return.

"We don't take a position one way or another on the war," Jones said. "We just hope the war ends soon."

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