Veterans at Marshall learn how to receive compensation for injuries
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 23:02
Marshall University veterans met in the Shawkey Room of the Student Center Tuesday to learn more about service-connected compensation and how to receive the most benefits.
Dustin Murphy, Student Government Association veteran’s affairs liaison, organized the event. Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, knows firsthand how difficult and confusing it can be for veterans filing a claim with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I wanted to do this because, honestly, it took me filing two or three years to become the percentage I am at now — 50 percent service connected,” Murphy said. “It is one of those things that didn’t come overnight.”
According to the VA department website, service-connected compensation is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to veterans with disabilities brought on by injury or disease incurred while on active duty.
Douglas Woodard, a national service officer with Paralyzed Veterans of America and a graduate of Marshall, led the discussion. The PVA is a non-profit organization was started in 1946 and assists veterans with disabilities and their families.
Woodard, a veteran of the Navy, said the initiative to help soldiers when they come back home started with Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address after the Civil War.
“In his speech he stated, ‘To care for him who shall have worn the battle,’” Woodard said. “He was talking about veterans.”
Murphy said there are many benefits for students who are veterans at Marshall and in West Virginia, but many don’t know about them. Many benefits also require a service-connected compensation at 20 percent or higher, so it is also important veterans learn how to file a claim.
“When a veteran is on active duty, regardless of the time period, if he or she incurs or aggravates a disease or injury, that veteran can receive monetary compensation for the duration of their life if it is deemed to be a chronic condition,” Woodard said.
Woodard explained the three pieces veterans need to have their claim approved; documentation of active duty, a current diagnoses and a link or nexus that connects the two.
If a veteran is denied a grant, he or she can chose to appeal the decision. Woodard said that many times, veterans do not have all three elements they need to be approved.
“What happens is so many veterans will be missing one of the three elements, and they get mad,” Woodard said. “They think ‘Why are they doing this to me? I served my country.’ But you know what, the VA officials don’t know you and they have black and white language they have to go by. You have to have evidence.”
Woodard was available for the rest of the day to answer specific questions posed by veterans and to meet one on one.
Taylor Stuck can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.