Nonprofit informs Lincoln veterans on how to claim the benefits they’ve earned
Advocate says many of vets' health problems can be traced to their service
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – An advocate for disabled veterans came to Lincoln on Monday to help veterans understand what they’re eligible for.
Disabled American Veterans is a nonprofit group working to help injured service members and their families get support and access to their benefits.
Mike Webb, a supervisor from the national office, held a seminar at the Lincoln chapter that covered a number of issues that veterans deal with, like disabilities and the benefits offered by Veterans Affairs.
He also answered questions from veterans on how to get assistance.
Webb, who is a veteran himself, said many of the claims he helps with have to do with hearing loss and tinnitus.
“If you’re a Vietnam veteran, some of those things might be associated with exposure to herbicide,” he said.
“You might not think of them as a disability,” he said, but things like asthma, sinusitis and rhinitis could be covered under veteran benefits.
Webb said those problems often come from being exposed to hazardous chemicals and burn pits, which were common in Iraq and Afghanistan and even as far back as the Korean and Vietnam wars.
“When a civilian raises their hand and swears to defend the Constitution, to go where the military sends them, to do what the military asks them to do, we’re trained to do that job,” Webb said. “We didn’t realize that we were gonna be test subjects.”
He said the PACT Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in August, allows the VA to provide proper benefits to veterans exposed to toxins.
Webb says there are also a lot of veterans who struggle with mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder, and he encourages them to reach out to places like the Lincoln Vet Center and the VA office.
“To recognize that there is an issue is the first step,” he said. “To reach out is the second.”
Danny Reese, the Lincoln chapter’s leader, said he’s met a lot of veterans who haven’t had their health problems checked out.
“We’re there to help veterans, ’cause we’re not gonna forget them,” Reese said. “We’re gonna be here for them, and if they need help, we’ll do the best we can to get ’em the help they need.”
Reese and Webb both encourage any veteran in need to reach out to a counselor or someone at the VA to get support.
Webb says once they get to talking with someone about their struggle, it opens the door to address other problems and get signed up for benefits, compensation and health care.
Anyone looking to reach out to DAV, can go to its website or call its National Call Center at 888-604-0234.