Accessing your National Service Officer
Joseph Badzmierowski has a tip for those in the armed forces: when you separate from the service, go home and hug your parents, kiss your romantic partner and see a Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) national service officer (NSO). Don’t think you need a “good reason” to see an NSO.
Badzmierowski is a senior benefits advocate at Paralyzed Veterans’ Boston National Service Office, one of 69 offices in the nation. “Make an appointment, or just come in,” he said.
Scott Hilliard, acting director of Field Services, said Paralzyed Veterans’ NSOs are trained professionals who can guide them through application for benefits, appeals, and the intricacies of the system to ensure they receive everything they have earned.
“That’s what we specialize in,” Hilliard said.
Badzmierowski added veterans “should never file a claim on their own—there’s no reason to do it.”
The Veterans Benefits Department (VBD) has 85 service officers who will assist any veteran and his or her family with the claims process—not just Paralyzed Veterans’ members. Over the past decade, VBD has helped veterans receive nearly $1.5 billion in benefit awards.
Badzmierowski said veterans should also talk with service officers when they’re planning to continue their education or buy a home because there of specific VA programs to help with these expenses. In addition, he added, there are VA benefits for spouses and dependents.
Basically, “any time there is a major life change,” is a good time to consult with a service officer, he said.
Perhaps most important, veterans should talk to service officers when they have a life-altering medical event, such as the onset of multiple sclerosis or a spinal cord injury, which often are recognized as related to military service. This is one reason Paralyzed Veterans maintains offices at VA facilities.
“We have expertise in (the Veterans Health Administration) no other veterans service officers have,” Badzmierowski said. “It sounds biased, but it’s true.”
Patrick McCallister is a reporter in Florida and frequent contributor to PN Magazine.