Tuesday, June 7, 2011

WDVA: Supermarket of Veterans Benefits Reaches Out to Veterans in Northeastern Wisconsin

June 7, 2011 -  Contact: Kathleen Scholl 608-267-3582

For Immediate Release

Supermarket of Veterans Benefits Reaches Out to Veterans in Northeastern Wisconsin

(MADISON) – The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) hosted a Supermarket of Veterans Benefits in Green Bay, Wisconsin as part of its “I Owe You” outreach campaign to state veterans and their families. About 450 participants attended the two-day event held on June 3rd and 4th at the National Guard Armory in Green Bay. The federal VA, veterans service organizations, and County Veterans Service Offices (CVSOs) also participated in the event to provide information and assistance to veterans in applying for benefits, services, and claims.

“The Supermarket is a way that the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs can reach out to veterans to help them learn about and apply for federal and state programs and services,” said WDVA Acting Secretary Donna Williams. “This event provided information about our veterans homes, women's veterans programs, awards and medals as well as education and loans programs. There were over 35 providers present for veterans and family members.”

Since 2000, WDVA has hosted Supermarkets of Veterans Benefits across the state as part of its “I Owe You” outreach campaign in an effort to draw federal, state, and local agencies together in a single location at various venues around the state to reach out and assist Wisconsin veterans.

Tom Eifler from DePere said, “I came here to find out about programs available to me as a Vietnam veteran. There’s free education I found out about that I didn’t know about.”

Marlon and Angie Starkey, a married couple of veterans who served from 1998-2003 and 1999-2002 respectively, said they stopped in at the Supermarket to find out about “education, health care, disability, and whatever we’re entitled to basically as veterans,” Angie Starkey said. Marlon Starkey mentioned, “We got a lot of information from people here we’ll be in contact with. There’s a lot more information than I thought. We’ll come back to the job fair here on Wednesday.”

A 90-year-old World War II veteran from Green Bay, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1941 and served from 1942-1946, is a veteran of D-Day Okinawa in April of 1945. Bob Brown said, “I served in the South Pacific during the war. I went in as a Hospital Corpsman and left as a 1st Class Petty Officer.” About the outreach event, Brown said, “When I saw this in the paper, I talked to my CVSO Jerry Polus and I was interested in a scooter and what the policy is because I’m starting to have trouble with my legs. He is going to find out something for me from the Wheelchair Shop at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King. I’m glad I came here. Everyone is so helpful and friendly.”

Some of the providers on site, such as the VA Health Care booth, said visitors were steady. Mary Lou Coleman of the Brown County Veterans Service Office said it was helpful for her to talk with other providers and share information. Holly Hoppe, the Oconto County Veterans Service Officer, added, “Supermarkets are a good avenue to inform veterans of their benefits and ensure we take care of them. Also, it’s a good referral system for our local communities and other services that are available.”

One veteran, towards the end of the event on Saturday afternoon, summarized his experience at the Supermarket of Veterans Benefits. Ray Chapman, 63, of Wrightstown, is a Vietnam veteran who served from 1968 to 1971. “I learned more today in one day than I did over the last 40 years,” Chapman said. “I feel that something will get done. I learned about my medals, funds for a burial plot through the VA, and I registered for the VA health care.”

For more information on Supermarkets of Veterans Benefits, visit the website at www.WisVets.com/Supermarkets, contact a County Veterans Service Officer or Tribal Veterans Service Officer, or call WDVA toll-free at 1-800-WIS-VETS (947-8387).

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