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Non-profit helps disabled veterans in Idaho Falls

When people leave the military, many who have been injured anticipate their earned benefits to begin automatically. But non-profit organization Disabled American Veterans says this is not the case.

The DAV offers free services for disabled vets and their families, providing help with filing claim forms for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The organization said some people who file claims end up waiting years for the VA to process. The DAV helps that process move quicker.

“I want straight, clear answers from you because I’m here to help you with your issues,” said DAV National Service Officer Robert Bigness.

Vietnam War vet Patrick who didn’t want his last name mentioned is from Idaho Falls and he’s been fighting the system for a long time. He says he’s not able to work due to many health conditions from serving.
“I have headaches almost all the time and I don’t know if it has something to with PTSD or is it because I’ve hit my head so many times because I’ve fallen backwards,” said Patrick.

Bigness travels throughout Idaho in a service van. He’s helping Patrick and his wife fill out claim forms.

“She’s left alone with less income, less husband and no benefits because the condition is not service connected,” said Bigness. He said his job is more than just a paycheck for him. “It changes their lives, they need these benefits. If they come and ask us we help them apply for it. It’s an awesome job,” he said.

The DAV says the average veteran claim takes more than 260 days for the VA to process. The service van will be in Pocatello Wednesday.

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