Written by VFW Post #516 commander Bob Fullam Thursday, 07 August 2014 00:00
Being a veteran myself, I understand what it takes to readjust back to civilian life. Questions like: What benefits did I earn? Where do I go to retrieve this information? How to I gain access to this information?
To begin with let me thank all the veterans for your service. You should all be proud to have helped secure our precious freedoms for our great country. Freedom is not free but attained through the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices of you veterans. Regardless of what branch of service we were involved with and whether we volunteered or not, we gave up part of our lives to help the oppressed people of this world and also protect our American freedoms.
To ease your transition, I suggest you make copies of your discharge — or “DD214” — and then register it with your county of residence. If it is incomplete or to correct any errors or omissions you will have to complete a 180 form.
Some of your benefits include medical, which the VFW Post provides free transportation to and from the VA hospital in Northport, and education which is covered under the GI Bill.
Earlier this year, on June 20, the New York State Legislature passed a bill that provides up to three years of service credit to members of the public retirement systems of the state for military service rendered during time of peace. Currently, the Military Service Credit buy-back is for those who served during conflicts.
Now that we depend on volunteer Military personnel, to try and encourage citizens to become members of the military, the state needs to recognize all veterans by allowing them to access the Military Service Credit Law. Senate Bill S7839 is still awaiting Gov. Cuomo’s signature.
I also encourage any veterans to join an organization where you can speak to a trained Service Officer or the Commander so they can guide you in the right direction to achieve the results you are looking to attain.
If you have earned a campaign ribbon you have earned the right to join the Veterans of Foreign Wars — the oldest veterans organization in the country — which has many posts county councils and districts all across the nation. Each state has its own Department of Veteran Affairs and a national office as well. Remember the more members we have, the more congress listens to our needs. Most of our meetings are held at night to accommodate those who work or go to school.
Bob Fullam currently serves as Commander of the VFW Post #516 in Farmingdale, where he has served for past six years. During his time with the VFW, Fullam served as District Commander (Nassau, Suffolk, Queens and Brooklyn) Nassau County Commander and achieved his Master’s Degree through the GI Bill.