By Joey McWilliams
DURANT – Those needing assistance with veterans’ benefits have some new help in Bryan County.
The local Chapter 26 of the Disabled American Veterans in Durant, which serves those in the much of the southeastern Oklahoma and northeastern Texas areas, recently sent five men to Catoosa for Service Officer Training.
Don “Pappy” Papin, commander of the DAV, said the men obtained training to assist local veterans in getting help from the Veterans Affairs.
“We paid for five veterans to go up for a week,” Papin said. “It was the state convention of the Disabled American Veterans. They go through a service officer training for three of those days, which teaches them how to manipulate the forms and what the V.A. requires to be sent in to file any claim for a veteran or for a veteran’s spouse or families or whatever they need.”
Those receiving their annual training were Jack Accountis, Papin, Paul Pharm, Lynn Skocdopole and Ray Williams.
Papin stressed the importance of knowing how to complete the paperwork properly.
“With the Veterans Administration, if the forms aren’t filled out correctly, they will turn down a claim really quickly. So we teach them how to do it – what to fill in, what not to fill in. We have a complete list of all the forms of every type of benefit they’re applying for.
“We have a national service officer that sits in Muskogee and when we write the claim up for the veteran, then we submit it to our national service officer, who goes over it to make sure everything is correct, then he takes it across the hall to the Veterans Administration. They’re in the same building in Muskogee.”
The local DAV rents space and an office in the Veterans of Foreign Wars building 123 S. Second Ave.
“We’re open every day,” Papin said. “We’ll have a service officer here from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., five days a week. Or they can call me and set up an appointment. The VFW also has service officers and most the veterans’ organizations have a service officer affiliated with their posts.
“If anyone needs help with these claims, the best way is just to call me at (580) 317-7418.”