Recent high demand for services has pushed the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 5 to a new location in West Bremerton.
After 45 years of operation on Burwell Street, the chapter’s scope has grown to where veterans are coming from as far away as Kent to seek help in filing a claim, according to a statement from the group. The nonprofit’s current building did not conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act and lacked sufficient parking for clients. The new building will be at the former Navy Federal Credit Union at 4980 Auto Center Way.
“We’re quite excited about the new building,” Chapter 5 Commander JoAnn Gavin said. “The interior is really nice, we have more offices, and we are training additional service officers, which will reduce the long wait times created by the demand.”
“Because each veteran is unique, we might spend 20 to 30 minutes on a new claim or two hours on an appeal,” Gavin went on to say. “With more service officers and the possibility of scheduling appointments for some cases, we should be able to reduce the wait dramatically.”
During the 2018 federal fiscal year (October-September) Kitsap County veterans received $172 million for service-connected disabilities and pensions from the VA.
“We are a large influence in getting those benefits to veterans based on the volume of applicants we’ve seen over the years,” Gavin said.
A service-connected disability means the disability was a result of disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service, according to DAV Chapter 5 documents. Documents also show that the veteran population has been declining since 1990, while the number of veterans with a service-connected disability has risen by 117 percent in that timeframe.
“Last year we had 3,027 visits from veterans and family members seeking help filing disability claims with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA),” Gavin said. “This includes new claims, appeals, and surviving spouses.”
The nonprofit organization is geared toward helping Disabled American Veterans and their families with resources and services within the community for Veteran Affairs claims and death benefits.