Help for Delaware veterans is there for the asking

DOVER — Veterans Day is a time to honor the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have and who continue to serve our country.

It’s a day when Americans enjoy the freedoms earned by those men and women.

But what happens when their services are no longer needed and soldiers return to civilian life?

Numerous organizations in Kent County are geared toward helping veterans, but it may be confusing to decipher what’s available, or to become knowledgeable as to which one may be the most beneficial to resolve a particular circumstance.

Vietnam veteran James Clark of Dover

Vietnam veteran James Clark of Dover

Vietnam veteran James Clark, of Dover, said the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs is the best place to start.

“Without their services I don’t know where I would be,” said Mr. Clark Saturday, who attended Saturday’s veterans’ events in Dover. “They’ve helped me a lot when I needed it. Anything you need they are there to steer you into the right direction.”

The Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs, located in Dover, is dedicated to assisting veterans and their family members in obtaining benefits and working with other government agencies and civic organizations to facilitate these services.

It’s an advisory board with members appointed by the governor to represent Delaware’s veterans. The commission coordinates programs and objectives in statewide advocacy for veterans. It administers policy and oversees operations of the two veterans cemeteries in the state and the Delaware Veterans Home in Milford.

Resource hub

“We’re more or less the information hub of various resources throughout the state to include federal and local agencies,” said Sable Phomphakdy, administrative specialist for the commission.

“We assist with questions and concerns that veterans may have regarding their eligibility for federal and state benefits, or questions about veterans’ IDs and other questions that they may have.”

VETERANS DAY EVENTS Air Mobility Command Museum, 10:50 a.m. Museum open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 1301 Heritage Road (off Del. 9), Dover Air Force Base. Kent County Veterans Memorial Park, 2 p.m. Dedication of Middle East Conflicts Memorial. Middle East veteran John Hampton is the keynote speaker. The park is on South Little Creek Road, Dover.

VETERANS DAY EVENTS
Air Mobility Command Museum, 10:50 a.m. Museum open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 1301 Heritage Road (off Del. 9), Dover Air Force Base.
Kent County Veterans Memorial Park, 2 p.m. Dedication of Middle East Conflicts Memorial. Middle East veteran John Hampton is the keynote speaker. The park is on South Little Creek Road, Dover.

The office has a Veterans Resource Center with various agencies that can assist veterans about jobs, education, homeless shelters, legal help, financial management and education.

“We just try to guide them in the right direction,” Ms. Phomphakdy said.

The office may guide one to the American Legion, the Delaware Veterans Coalition, Disabled American Veterans and a host of others organizations aimed at helping veterans in need.

There’s also the Delaware Trust Fund, which consists of community leaders from across the state. It helps veterans with financial emergencies by covering costs associated with transportation, home repairs, household utilities, homelessness support and educational programs.

The fund has paid veterans’ bills to prevent shutoff of utilities, repossessions and emergency repairs.

The problem is asking

“There are so many different organizations out there that I can see one not knowing where to start or get the help that they need,” said Dave Skocik, president of the trust fund.

Dave Skocik

Dave Skocik

“But some don’t want to be helped until they need it. That seems to be the problem at times because there are a lot of different resources out there, but sometimes some just choose not to get help until they’re in need.

Mr. Clark shared the same sentiment.

“It was different as a Vietnam veteran,” Mr. Clark said. “We were looked down upon. It took me 20 years for me to start using the VA to get all the benefits from it.

“I try to talk to the younger veterans to tell them to take advantage of all of the resources that are out there willing help,” he said.

“I don’t want them to wait like I did.”

Vietnam veterans and married couple Francis and Dorthy Urick, also of Dover, said being a part of the many veteran organizations has helped build a sense camaraderie among veterans similar to what they once had while in serving in the military.

“It keeps us involved,” Mr. Urick said. “We’re members of the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans Coalition, the Delaware Veterans Post No. 2 and a host of others ones.

Dorothy and Francis Urick, of Dover, are Vietnam veterans.

Dorothy and Francis Urick, of Dover, are Vietnam veterans.

“It’s being together with other veterans sharing our experiences are what my wife and I cherish the most.”

Mrs. Urick said while some organizations are designed to help those in need, others are places where veterans can just be themselves.

“I know our post is not there to really assist those that are down and out,” Mrs. Urick said. “We’re more of a social group where can get together and celebrate our activities.

She sees the need for both.

“Everyone knows about the veterans affairs and the other organizations that are out there for those specific types of needs,” she said. “But we help raise money for those organizations and donate whatever we can to support them because we know the importance of having these resources out there.”

However, for her, fulfilling the social need is important, too.

“It’s all about being a part of something with a special group of people that share the same bond as you to continue to help out anyway that you can,” she said.

Mr. Skocik said it’s important to continue to have numerous resources for veterans moving forward.

“We have to take care of our veterans,” he said. “They’ve earned that right to have these different benefits and resources once they’re not active anymore.

“We can’t break that chain,” Mr. Skocik, himself a Vietnam veteran, said.

“These people have made the ultimate sacrifice and it’s important for us to provide them with any help that we can.”

Delaware Veterans Resources

Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs, 802 Silver Lake Blvd. Suite 100, Dover. (302) 739-2792 or (800) 344-9900. To see its resource guide online follow the link at veteransaffairs.delaware.gov/. The Delaware Trust Fund is at the same address. It’s website is delawareveteranstrustfund.com

Delaware Veterans Home, 100 Delaware Veterans Blvd, Milford. (302) 424-6000

Delaware Joining Forces, public and private network of services. Email christine.f.kubik.nfg@mail.mil or visit delaware.gov/djf/

VA Regional Office (Claims & Benefits), 1601 Kirkwood Highway, Wilmington. (800) 827-1000

VA Medical Center (health care), 1601 Kirkwood Highway, Wilmington. (800) 461-8262.

Dover VA Outpatient Clinic, 1198 S. Governors Ave. (800) 461-8262, ext. 2400.

Georgetown VA Outpatient Clinic, 20653 DuPont Highway. (800) 461-8262, ext. 2300

Outreach programs

Peoples Place II, (302) 422-8033, ext. 173

Veterans United Outreach of Delaware, (302) 678-1285

Home of the Brave, (302) 424-1681

Delaware Human Service Referrals and Community Resources’ Help hotline, 211. www.delaware211.org

Air Force Sergeants Association, (302) 697-9750

American Legion, (302) 628-5221

AMVETS, (302) 629-4141

Colonial Paralyzed Veterans of America, (302) 365-5670

Delaware Veterans Coalition, (302) 736-8500

Disabled American Veterans, (302) 697-9061

Fleet Reserve Association, (302) 834-1719

Gold Star Mothers — Delaware Chapter, (302) 475-8272

40 & 8, (302) 678-8077

Jewish War Veterans, (302) 234-4785

Korean War Veterans Association, (302) 424-0461

Marine Corps League, (302) 242-7926

Military Officers Association of America,(302) 678-1603

Military Order of the Purple Heart, (302)655-3820

Military Order of the World Wars, (302)834-9659

Survivor Outreach Services, (302) 326-7787

The Reserve Officers Association, (302) 234-1418

Veterans of Foreign Wars, (302) 656-5022

Vietnam Veterans of America, (302) 697-3834

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