Department Service Officer

OUR OFFICE –

We are staffed by two volunteer VA Accredited Veterans Service Officers.  The only person receiving a salary is the administrative assistant.

From 8:30 until 10:00 a.m. we assist Veterans and their families on a walk-in basis.  This allows us to see more people during the day.  During walk-ins we answer questions and screen claimants to determine what is needed and to set up an appointment to complete claims actions.  Walk-ins are seen Monday through Thursday except holidays.  Fridays are dedicated to administrative tasks and training.

 We are the only Service Organization in the Philippines that has office hours in the Manila Veterans Regional Office.  We are there on Wednesdays from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  You can call the office in Angeles City at (045) -321-0084 to schedule an appointment or ask to see the Service Officer at the VA intake desk.

INTENT TO FILE –

 There is no longer an informal claim, it has been replaced by the Intent to File.  If you are going to file a claim and need some time to gather your medical evidence then file an Intent to File on VA Form 21-0966.  You can mail it or fax it to the intake center in Janesville or submit it to the VARO.  Once received by the VA you will have up to one year to file the claim.  Two other ways to “file” an intent to file is to start a claim on EBenefits or a VSO starts a claim using the Stakeholders Enterprise System.  We can usually assist you in submitting this if we represent you.  Both representation and an Intent to File can be accomplished on a walk-in basis. 

REPRESENTATION AND THE POWER OF ATTORNEY –

We can assist you with your claim/appeal only if we represent you before the VA.  There is no charge for representation and you do not have to be a member of the VFW.  Representation is accomplished by completing a VA Form 21-22 which is the signed by an Accredited Service Officer.  You may also appoint a Service Organization if you have a Prime EBenefits account.  These are placed online for our review and acceptance.  The advantage of EBenefits is that once we accept the POA we can see all your files stored at the VA.

INQUIRIES AND UPDATES –

 Should you need an update on the status of a claim the easiest way to do this is through EBenefits.  The quickest way to get a prime account for non-retiree personnel is with the VA staff.  This can be done at the VARO and at outreaches.  Veterans outside the Philippines will need to contact their servicing VARO.

You may also contact the Post Service Officer at your local VFW Post.  Provide him with your complete name, SSN, and nature of your request.  This will be securely forwarded to our office and you should receive an answer the next business day.

ONE LINE –

All VARO’s have gone to a single line system to contact them via telephone.  The Manila line is (02)-550-3888.  This is for the VARO and the OPC.  Just follow the instructions once you are connected.

SUCCESS STORIES –

     HOMELESS VET – A homeless Vet contacted us at our Manila office.  He had been out of the military for several years and had not filed a claim.  He had a tour of duty in the Horn of Africa while on active duty.  We filed a claim which was expedited based on his situation.  Today, he back on his feet with the assistance of VA compensation through a properly completed claim and follow-up actions by Service Officers.

     WIDOW -  A widow was granted Dependents Indemnity Compensation (DIC) based on the service-connected death of her Veteran spouse.  She received retro-pay exceeding $20,000 which was deposited in her direct deposit account.  The bank refused to release the money to her for over two years before coming to our office.  Once we were made aware of this we contacted the Manila VARO and the money was released to the widow less than two weeks later.

We offer these success stories to highlight why you should consider seeking the assistance of an Accredited Veterans Service Officer to assist you with your claim.  A more thorough article will appear in the January issue of the Typhoon. 

REMINDER –

The VARO, OPC and our offices are closed on holidays.  In some cases we are not made aware of a holiday until the day before.  Secondly, there have been several demonstrations at the US Embassy in Manila.  Please stay abreast of the situation when traveling to and from Manila.  If you must reschedule an appointment insure you contact the OPC.

 

 FROM ALL OF US TO EACH OF YOU, BEST WISHES FOR A JOYOUS AND SAFE HOLIDAY SEASON.

 

Yours in Comradeship,

 

Donald Melendy

 

Every day is Veterans Day in our office.

 

2013 © Department of Pacific Areas Veterans of Foreign Wars