V.A. benefits topic of conference for 400,000 veterans in metro Detroit


Via Hometownlife.com

Educating veteran advocates — and the estimated 400,000 veterans in metro Detroit — about benefits available from the Department of Veterans Affairs is the focus of a two-day seminar sponsored by the Canton Community Foundation (CCF) with the support of the Holbrook Charitable Trust.

The conference is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 21 and 22 at Laurel Manor and Conference Center, 39000 Schoolcraft Road, Livonia.

The first day of the conference will be devoted to the training of professionals who work for veterans, including attorneys, County Service Officers (CSO), Veteran Services Officers (VSO) and independent veteran advocates. The cost is $125.

The second day, which is free of charge, will focus on Wayne County veterans, their families and the host of benefits available through the Veterans Administration. Those benefits and programs include health care, disability benefits, social services, housing and burial.

As of 2009, the V.A. reported approximately 23.1 million living U.S. veterans, 8 percent of whom are women. But at an estimated 36 million, there are even more surviving spouses and dependent children of living and deceased veterans who may be eligible for certain benefits.

In Wayne County, the V.A. spends an estimated $400 million each year on veterans. Of that total, $191 million is spent on medical care and $154 million on compensation and pension payments, according to the V.A.

“I have seen the confusion among veterans and their families about what benefits are available to them,” said Jim Fausone, CCF board member and program chairman.

Legal advocates and attorneys will also have the opportunity to earn continuing education credits with participation in the conference. In Wayne County, 46 attorneys and 103 VSOs are accredited by the V.A. Continuing education and are required to maintain accreditation. Similar educational programs are not available currently in the metro area, Fausone said.

“This conference is an opportunity for everybody who is a veteran stakeholder to gather,” said Fausone, a partner with Fausone Bohn, PLLC. “It’s a chance to build relationships and contacts so veterans can be referred to the best resource.”

Pre-registration is required for professionals, and veterans and their families. A continental breakfast and lunch will be served both days of the conference. First-day registration for attorneys and other professionals is $125. Registration for veterans is free.

Registration may be completed online at www.cantonfoundation.org or by calling the CCF at (734) 495-1200.


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