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Triplett discusses her job assisting veterans, helping them get benefits they deserve

VALLEY — Chambers County Veterans Service Officer Yvonne Triplett talked about her job duties at Monday’s meeting of the Valley Lions Club.

Veterans service officers are trained by the VA and other recognized organizations to provide assistance to U.S. veterans, their dependents and survivors. This includes applying for federal and state benefits and providing information on resources related to compensation and pension.

Triplett has an office on the second floor of the Chambers County Courthouse Annex in Lanett. She is there from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday. Her position is funded by the state.

Triplett has ties to the local area and is glad to be in Chambers County. Both she and her husband are veterans.

“A majority of Alabama counties have veterans service offices,” she said. “We are fortunate to have one in Chambers County, and it keeps me very busy.”

More than 3,000 of Alabama’s 377,000 veterans live in Chambers County.

As any veteran knows, it’s important to keep up with your DD-214 form. It includes information on your discharge from service and your eligibility for benefits, retirement, employment and membership in veterans organizations.

“If you have lost yours, I can help you get another one,” Triplett said. “I can make sure you receive the benefits you are entitled to due to your military service. If you have any questions about those benefits, come and see me.”

Lots of local veterans use the VA Hospital in Tuskegee, but it’s not the only one they can go to.

“There’s a new one off of I-20 in Oxford,” she said. “There’s also one in Newnan, and another one is going in at Fort Benning.”

Triplett said she understands how difficult it can be for veterans to navigate the federal system to find out about their benefits. Many veterans are unaware of benefits they have earned. Triplett has a lot of experience in navigating the system and can help.

A new veterans home is being built in Enterprise. It will be much like the Bill Nichols Veterans Home in Alexander City.

“The VA will pay for nursing home care, but it won’t pay for assisted living,” she said.

Veterans programs also help with continuing education.

“I had my master’s degree paid for by my veterans’ benefits,” Triplett said.

Triplett has dealt with some heartbreaking cases of veterans in dire need.

“I have talked to people who are homeless,” she said. “This is more common than a lot of people think, especially when a veteran has not gotten an honorable discharge. Local organizations like the Christian Service Center and the Chambers County Circle of Care Center for Families has helped some of them.”

There are differences between state and federal benefits. Triplett said federal benefits include compensation, educational training, health care, home loans, pensions, life insurance and help with burial costs. State benefits include claims representation and counseling, scholarships for dependents, having a veteran’s driver’s license and a veteran’s tag, eligibility to live in a state veterans’ home and burial in one of four veteran cemeteries in the state.

Triplett said she loves to help aging veterans.

“I have a veteran who is 90 years old and lives in Lanett and another one who is 94 and lives in Valley,” she said. “Anytime they receive something in the mail that has VA on it, they come to see me and ask what it means.”

A Lions Club member asked Triplett what was the most frequent complaint she had heard from local veterans.

“It’s the timeline,” she said. “It sometimes takes a long time to get anything done.”

Triplett is of the belief that there are some Vietnam veterans who are entitled to agent orange benefits but are not getting them.

“There were six to eight different kinds of agent orange,” she said. “It was a herbicide before it was sprayed. Just being around it in any form was dangerous. I believe if they were exposed they should receive benefits.”