Idaho AARP hosts town hall addressing veterans benefits

Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 20, 2023

IDAHO — Idaho AARP and The Idaho Division of Veterans Services arehosting a town hall on Wednesday, June 21. The focus is on helping veterans discover access and information regarding benefits they may be missing out on.

One main topic is the PACT Act which passed in August of 2022. Since its enactment, 5 million Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 veterans have benefited.

“Every time we can get out to the public and help spread [information on] what is available and what the requirements are, we just love the opportunity to do so,” said William Heyob, Bureau Chief and State Service Officer with the Idaho Division of Veteran Services.

There are over 122,000 veterans in the Gem State, with only 32% of them accessing their free benefits at the VA for healthcare. Nearly 60% of all veterans are eligible for VA healthcare services.

“There are so many programs that are offered by the Idaho Division of Veteran's Services that many veterans just do not take advantage of. And so the more we can get the word out, the better it is for all our veterans and their families,” said Tom Ressler, a local veteran.

Scams are unfortunately a large part of veterans' benefits. Many scammers, posing as Veterans Affairs representatives, try to take money from veterans. Getting information out and spreading the word about accurate assistance programs helps the VA and Division of Veteran Service give the best care and assistance to veterans.

“There's a bunch of poachers out there taking advantage of our veteran population. You do not need to spend money for free benefits from the VA,” said Heyob.