North Texas Daily

Veteran’s Service office helps with struggles

Veteran’s Service office helps with struggles

April 17
11:25 2013

Caroline Basile / Contributing Writer

When members of the military return home, their lives can become complicated.

They are sometimes faced with filing for numerous benefits, and the mountains of paperwork to go along with them. But that’s where the Denton County Veterans Service office can help the most.

“We’re not the [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] by any means,” said Paul Bastaich, Denton County’s veterans service officer. “We’re here to assist veterans in filing claims with Veterans Affairs, or pointing them in the direction of other resources they could use.”

The office assists veterans with a variety of things, such as filing claims for compensation or pension, disability retirement, or helping them figure out educational benefits.

“Many forms can be completed online,” Bastaich said. “But we can help them piece together a claim and send it in so that the file is complete and is more likely to be accepted and looked over when it reaches the VA’s hands.”

The office, located inside the Mary and Jim Horn Government Center in Denton, has three assistant veteran service officers to help Bastaich with the numerous veterans who visit every day.

Nearly 48,000 veterans live in Denton County, Bastaich said, and his office has seen more than 18,000 of them. On any given day, the office sees 40 to 45 veterans.

“You don’t know how long you could be spending time with someone,” Bastaich said.  “We normally spend 30 to 45 minutes with someone, but it could be anywhere from a quick 10-minute conversation about jobs or an hour working on filing a claim for Veterans Affairs.”

Bastaich also manages the office’s Facebook page, which alerts subscribers about events for veterans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, job fairs, and other programs that can assist them.

“They really provide a necessary service to veterans,” said Mary Horn, Denton County judge. “Often times vets don’t realize everything that’s available to them.”

Horn added that she thinks it’s important that area vets know all the resources that are available to them.

“There have been really heartwarming stories coming from that office,” she said. “Paul and his fellow officers’ work doesn’t go unnoticed and they really make a difference in the lives of everyone they assist.”

Bastaich served 25 years in the U.S. Air Force before retiring. He’s been with the office for five years, starting as an assistant service officer before being promoted to the primary position of county service officer.

“I really do love this job,” he said. “Our staff is fantastic and this job is so fulfilling. To help a veteran, especially someone who is severely disabled, get something that makes their quality of life improve, it sometimes brings tears to my eyes. And to see their gratitude, even if it’s a simple thank you, just means the world to me.”

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