By John Kefalas
This is the season of gratitude and reflection as we approach the holidays and time with family and friends, and I am thankful for many things in my life – good health, my family, and our community. On November 11, we observed Veterans Day in Larimer County and across our nation, and I wish to focus this message on our veterans and their families. Thank you for your sacrifices and your service to our country – serving honorably, bravely, and without hesitation.
From the Larimer County perspective, we want to ensure that those who have given so much have the information they may need to transition from military to civilian life, which is not always easy or simple. The Larimer County Veterans Service Office (LCVSO) assists, advises, and connects veterans and their families to resources and helps them secure the Veterans Administration (VA) benefits and services they‘ve earned.
The LCVSO, https://www.larimer.gov/veterans, is comprised of a team of trained and VA-accredited staff who have earned a reputation for dedication, professionalism, and results that have helped veterans from across Colorado and the country. Did you know there are over 20,000 veterans in Larimer County, and America’s counties are home to 17.2 million veterans? Our doors are open to any veteran in need of help.
LCVSO services include information and assistance with any VA claim or benefit, including appeals and claims of eligible dependents, widows, and children. Benefits and services can include disability compensation, pension, healthcare through enrollment in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), advice and referrals on discharge upgrades, burials and National Cemetery eligibility, home loans, and obtaining military records. Our local office has a close working relationship with staff members of our elected Congressional representatives, and we maintain relationships with various community-based service groups when veterans’ needs fall outside the VSO core mission.
Through referrals, the VSO team connects eligible veterans with a spectrum of federal, state, and local resources and services including the GI Bill, employment resources, vocational rehabilitation, housing, medical, post-traumatic stress, emergency funds to bridge hardships, and more. We also undertake extensive community outreach to better inform our residents and learn from one another.
During the week of November 7-13, you may have noticed that we illuminated our county buildings and facilities with green lights. Larimer County participated in Operation Green Light for Veterans to raise awareness about the challenges and resources available to overcome the barriers that veterans may face. Counties and VSOs across America play a critical role in supporting veterans and their families, and each year they help veterans secure about $52 billion in federal VA benefits. We are all in this together!
John Kefalas is a Larimer County commissioner representing all of Larimer County.