Supermarket of Veterans Benefits - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/07/05

Supermarket of Veterans Benefits

Are you a veteran? And have you signed up for veterans benefits? Today, the state was asking those questions and answering a whole bunch more. Veterans old and new took advantage of what was called the Supermarket of Veterans Benefits.

A few thousand veterans came to the National Guard Armory in Savannah, all with one goal.

Staff Sgt. Virgeannia Raines plans on retiring from Hunter Army Airfield next May. "I've been in 19 years, seven months and a few days," she said. "I'm getting ready to get out soon."

Raines admits taking the next step presents a lot of unknowns. "You've been under this blanket for 20 years, and when it times to come from underneath this blanket of security, it's a little bit scary."

The doors at the armory opened at 9am. There were at least 1,000 people waiting, and there was been a steady stream of veterans all day long. The message is simple: if you don't sign up, you won't get your benefits.

"No benefits are automatic," said Pete Wheeler, commissioner of the Department of Veterans Services. "You got to apply for them."

There were 30 state and federal agencies on hand to answer questions and sign veterans up for benefits. Wheeler says, since it's only held for one day, it forces some people to get moving. "I think a lot of people procrastinate, but with a one-day thing, it forces people to come out."

"It's all the information you need under one roof," said Raines.

By next May, Raines hopes she has all the answer to her military retirement questions. "I'm not as prepared as I want to be. It has helped me get more prepared."

And she's not alone. More than 3,100 veterans attended today's supermarket, which is only the 40th event held since 1966. More than half of those veterans who attended had benefit claims which were processed.

If you missed out on today's event, there is a Veterans Services office in Savannah located at 325 Montgomery Cross Road. You can call them at 921.3744.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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