After serving and providing vital support for their country, many Veterans find the transition back to civilian life challenging, including experiencing financial hardships, struggle with mental health, and a lack of community connection. To help address these issues, Veterans are entitled to services and resources that aim to support them and their families in their health and well-being. These resources are always free.
Buncombe County Veterans Services Officer Heath Smith reminds the community that they should never pay for help filing for Veterans benefits or obtaining military records: “Veterans can also take advantage of free benefits assistance from the Buncombe County Veterans Service Office (VSO) or your local county VSO. Veterans should never sacrifice any of their pay or benefits in the process.”
These benefits include:
- Disability Benefits
- Education & Training
- Health Care
- Home Loans
- Life Insurance
- Vocational Rehabilitation & Training
- Burial Benefits
- Dependent and Survivor Benefits
These free services are available to Veterans, Veteran’s dependents, a surviving spouse or child of a deceased Veteran, a member of the Reserves or National Guard, and Active-Duty service members.
In addition, we want to remind the community that there are scam operations that unfortunately target Veterans.
Here are some tips that Veterans and their families should follow when approached about resources available to them:
Never Share Your Personal Information: Do not share any form of personal, medical, financial, or VA benefit-related information with a individual, especially if you did not initiate contact. Instead, work with Veteran Service Organizations to find a representative accredited by the VA.
Do not sign incomplete agreements: If you receive a call or email from a law firm assisting with veteran’s benefits, it may not be trustworthy. Never sign a blank form or agreement without fully understanding what it is you’re agreeing to. Make sure you understand all the terms of the agreement you wish to enter into.
Report suspected fraud: Contact the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov and report any VA-related scams to the VA benefits hotline at 1-800-827-1000.
“Buncombe County has a highly trained and caring staff dedicated to assisting Veterans. Those who have served our country are entitled to access this assistance free of charge. Veterans and their dependents should never be pressured into paying for these services. Most times these companies have a flashy sales pitch guaranteeing to cut through the government red tape and expediting services. This is completely fraudulent! Please contact BC VSO if you or a loved one needs assistance,” says Veterans Services Supervisor Heath Smith.
If you have any questions regarding Veterans Services you can call (828) 250-5726 or visit the Buncombe County Veterans Services Office Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 40 Coxe Avenue in Downtown Asheville, which has free parking at the adjacent parking deck.
Veterans experiencing a mental health crisis or a concerned loved one can access the Veterans Crisis Line, a free, 24/7, confidential resource. The line can be reached by calling 988 and pressing 1, texting 838255, or chatting online.