Forum for NJ Veterans to raise awareness about benefits and help with access
Not all veterans in New Jersey are aware of the benefits available to them. MyVA New Jersey Veteran and Community Collaborative Network is hosting their first ever public forum this Saturday in Middlesex County aimed at raising awareness of existing programs and services as well as providing help on how to access them.
MyVA New Jersey operates independently from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but the organizers were approached by the VA to be a sort of outsource arm, working entirely on donations, according to network co-chair, retired Army Col. Stephen Abel. Abel concedes the federal agency isn't perfect, but notes it does have a lot to offer.
"If needed, we're anxious to help folks break through any kind of bureaucratic barriers that they might perceive is holding them back from their benefits and services," said Abel.
In addition to the VA, Abel points out there are other opportunities for veterans to receive help in their local communities without having to travel to the Federal Agency.
"I don't know how many veterans know that they can physically start the application for medical benefits from the VA online," Abel said.
Representatives from the VA, local Veteran Service Organizations and Veteran advocates will be on hand to provide information and answer questions about related to healthcare, housing, education and employment.
Some examples of nonprofit organizations that help military members and their families find work and connect to housing and healthcare services include the GI Go Fund and Soldier On.
"Soldier On does a great job of helping veterans who are about to become homeless or who are homeless in getting into permanent housing, covering deposits and rent for some number of months as a veteran gets settled and works on full-time employment," said Abel.
Over 100 veterans are expected to attend Saturday's event. It's being held from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Johnson & Johnson headquarters, 1 Johnson & Johnson Plaza, New Brunswick, in the Corporate Conference Center.