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Remembering those who served

Services help Veterans receive compensation

Remembering those who served

American flags line the graves of veterans at Turlock Memorial Park and Funeral Home on Tuesday to honor those that have served the United States of America.

POSTED November 9, 2010 11:24 p.m.

Harold Stedman served in World War II as a paratrooper in the 101st airborne unit. He received four purple hearts, was shot four times, broke his hip and broke his back in combat.

About 30 years later, Stedman was still in pain from the injuries he received during combat and he couldn’t find any help to get himself veteran’s disability money. He was living off of state disability money and was barely surviving.

“If it hadn’t been for the help from the Veterans Service Office, I don’t know if my dad could have kept his house,” said Tom Stedman, son of Harold. “The money from the VA (Veterans Affairs) made all the difference.”

As Harold was struggling to make ends meet, his son decided to take him to the Stanislaus County Veterans Service Office in Modesto to get his dad the money he deserved from his injuries in combat.

Two years later and his dad received 100 percent disability rating.

“I can’t tell you how many people these services have helped, especially those that don’t even know that they are eligible,” said Tom Stedman, himself a veteran.

The Veterans Service Office can help veterans with compensation for service related disabilities, pension for veterans with non-service connected disabilities, education benefits, medical treatment, home loan benefits, government life insurance, burial benefits and much more.

The services provided help veterans fill out all the necessary paperwork to receive the money they need to survive after the injuries they obtained in battle.

“We are an advocate for them so they don’t have to deal with the bureaucracy of the government,” said Carolyn Hebenstreich, Veterans Service Office manager.

The office helps about 6,000 veterans a year, filling over 2,445 claims last fiscal year to ask the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair for money to help out the disabled veterans, she said.

Most veterans aren’t aware if there are eligible for money, don’t understand how to fill out the paperwork, or do not have the paperwork needed to fill out the claims, Hebenstreich said.

The Service Office can help get the necessary records and assist veterans in filling out the paperwork to file a claim, she said.

Tom Stedman had trouble finding his records to prove he was injured while on active duty and the Veterans Service Office found the medical records behind a wall in the hospital in Germany where he was seen for his injury.

“Most people don’t realize how hard it is to get compensated,” said Tom Stedman.

He recommends veterans to seek help from the Veterans Service Office to file claims in order to be compensated for injuries obtained during battle, be diligent and do what is asked to file those claims and be patient.

“These are the people that will help you,” he said. “They are miracle workers.”

Those interested in seeking help from the Veterans Service Office contact 558-7380.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015. 

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