Tips on getting help from the VA

(Source: WGCL)

Pamela Parker's story of getting raped in the Marines, and living out of her car on-and-off for decades after, stunned viewers.

But it didn't come as a surprise to other veterans who are dealing with similar issues.

CBS46 skyped with Mark Walker from the American Legion in Washington D.C. to find out how veterans can get help when the VA isn't stepping up to the plate.

“We have three main programs," said Walker, director of homelessness for the American Legion.

When it comes to homelessness, the government has programs that not all veterans know about, and the American Legion helps veterans get enrolled.

There's the grant per diem program, which offers homeless veterans with transitional housing. There's also the SSVF program that helps veterans in danger of becoming homeless keep their homes.

And there's HUD-VASH program, which provide housing vouchers from the government and supportive service from the VA.

But Parker was never informed about these programs, and Walker says it could be because not all staff at the VA is well enough trained.

“You're going to have maybe a few folks who don't understand the programs that they should and give veterans bad information,” said Walker. “That happens and that's terrible, and again, the American Legion is here to advocate."

Gerardo Avila is deputy director of benefits with the with American Legion. He helps veterans get benefits from the VA.

Avila says it can get complicated when applying for benefits because the Department of Defense and the VA don't share medical records, and the veteran is responsible for transferring all paperwork when they leave the service.

"What we're advocating for is for DOD and VA to work on a for-one record,” said Avila. “It would be simpler."

Until then, veterans are encouraged to keep track of all paperwork and keep a written record of every encounter with the VA.

You can also reach out to groups like the American Legion for help.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Multimedia Journalist

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