Missouri Veterans Commission services
“We exist to help veterans secure their benefits and educate them on what are available,” William Gillette, veterans service officer from the Missouri Veterans Commission, told the Nevada Rotary Club during its May 4 meeting.
“We are a liaison or advocate for the veterans. We are not with the VA, we are your liaison to the VA,” he said.
The Missouri Veterans Commission operates three core programs established by state statute: Veterans service program, Veterans Homes Program and Veterans Cemeteries Program and four specialized outreach initiatives focusing on the unique needs of certain veterans: Women veterans, minority veterans, incarcerated veterans and returning and current active duty service members. The commission also has a veterans ombudsman who works with unusual and extraordinary issues faced by veterans, service members and their families.
Gillette said his job as a veterans service officer is to help veterans and their families get benefit information and claims assistance. He and other VSOs help in preparing forms, submitting applications, answering VA letters and providing follow-up claims for VA benefits.
He said there are veterans service officers in 40 of Missouri’s 115 counties. Gillette, who is based here, provides service for Bates, St. Claire, and Cedar counties as well as Vernon County. If a veteran lives in an area without a service officer he can also get assistance through a local veterans organization, like the American Legion or VFW, which usually have a volunteer who can provide help.
He said he could help veterans apply for benefits, widows pension, health care eligibility, home loan guaranty, burial benefits and survivor benefits, as well as long-term skilled nursing care.
The seven veterans homes Missouri operates provide 24/7 care with an RN, as well as, other physician care and other specialized serviced, he said.
“They don’t compare to any other veterans home I’ve ever been in,” Gillette said.
To be eligible a veteran must have lived in Missouri for 180 days, meet the criteria for veteran status as established by the VA and require skilled nursing services.