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Q&A: Nobles County Veterans Service Office

Tim Middagh/Daily Globe

The following is part of a series of Q&As with Nobles County departments to educate the public on the services provided. April is County Government Month.

Veterans Service Officer Bill Brockberg

Q What are the primary responsibilities of the Veterans Service Office?

A The Nobles County Veterans Services Office provides services to all veterans and their dependents. Services include assistance in completing claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for benefits. The County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) develops plans and directs strategy for submitting benefits claims (well-grounded claims). He determines completeness of information; collects supportive evidence; lobbies for reconsideration (appeals) and constructs supportive appeals of unsuccessful claims.

Veterans’ services include maintaining a computer database, preparing correspondence, completing DVA forms and filing reports. The CVSO conducts outreach visits and participates in Veterans Day and Veterans organization events as a guest speaker and participant. A CVSO maintains “power of attorney” for veterans and dependents that have initiated benefit claims to the DVA. A CVSO maintains liaison with “key” personnel from county, state and federal government and related service organizations who may assist in the claims process. He assists survivors and dependents of military service casualties.

Outreach and liaison maintenance activities also include visits to veterans in nursing homes, shut-ins, guest speaking at veterans’ information seminars, veterans’ Town Hall meetings and providing news releases to local media.

The CVSO conducts and/or attends District Service Officer meetings, Veteran group seminars and semi-annual training classes sponsored by the Minnesota DVA as required for certification.

Q Please explain how those responsibilities serve the public.

A The Nobles County VSO serves veterans, his or her spouse and dependents. The responsibilities of the office are to ensure any claim for benefits to the Federal and State DVA are well-grounded, complete, accurate and supportive to collect the maximum amount of benefit in the shortest amount of time for the veteran.

The VSO serves as a subject-matter expert, an investigator, administrative support specialist and advocate for veterans and their dependents. When making any claim, seeking information or just trying to get enrolled for health benefits, often times the VSO is the first and most accessible person to assist in a wide array of claims and benefits processes and procedures conducted through the DVA. Having a VSO to advocate for veterans saves those veterans time, meets deadlines, and all their claim work is done correctly and backed by research.

Q What are some of the VSO’s major accomplishments over the past year?

A Increased enrollment for Veterans in the Veterans Affairs Health Care Services Center medical care program; reduced waiting time for a veteran from claim for benefits submittal to claim decision; and increased number of applications for benefits from younger veterans, under age 40.

Q Expectations for the coming year?

A Continued increase in enrollment for benefits among veterans under the age of 40; enhanced and improved communications, administration and network processes between the county VSO and the Federal and Minnesota DVA through advanced computer software, networking and access programs; and Improved and faster completion of enrollment and claims forms through administrative and information management systems.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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