VA officials to provide information to Petal veterans

By HASKEL BURNS,

To add a level of convenience to veterans’ affairs in Petal, several representatives from the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center and the Jackson VA Regional Benefit Office will soon set up temporary shop in the Friendly City.

Officials from the two institutions will be available from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. April 26 at Petal Civic Center, 712 S. Main St. in Petal. Veterans will be able to receive information on eligibility determination, registration, enrollment, My HealtheVet, physical exams, patient education, veterans benefit literature and women veterans literature.

“They can actually help a veteran start a new claim if they don’t have one in,” said Tom Hardges Jr., director of the Petal Parks and Recreation Department. “If they have a claim already in the VA system, they can check the status of it.

“As far as the medical side, if you’re a veteran and you haven’t enrolled in the medical side, you can actually enroll right then and there, here in Petal, instead of having to go all the way to Jackson to the main clinic. We thought it was a great idea, with all the veterans that we have here in the Petal/Forrest County area, that if we could get (the VA officials) down here, that would help out a lot of folks with not having to make that drive.”

About 10 to 12 VA representatives will be on hand for services. Veterans are asked to bring a copy of their Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty form, commonly knows as a DD 214.

This marks the third year VA officials have visited Petal to help with local veterans’ affairs. City officials plan to hold similar events in August and October, with the exact dates to be released in the near future.

“We average somewhere between … 75 (participants) or more that come in there,” Hardges said. “According to the VA – because they do this outreach thing throughout Mississippi – they consider that a very high number, to have that many veterans to show up for this.

“Normally, I guess it’s a lot less when they go to other places, and they say they’re just kind of shocked. That’s why they had to have more (representatives) come down – they usually have about two or three people come down, but now you’re talking about 10 or 12 having to come down for us.”