COLUMN: Lesser-known veterans services

Published 11:00 am Friday, June 21, 2024

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By Tom Mastaglio and Laurie Clay

This month we offer a potpourri of services available to veterans, some that are not necessarily well known.

Want to refresh memories of your service, tours of duty or learn about other facets of the history and culture of the Army?  The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) at the US Army WAR College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is a resource that allows one to delve deeper into U.S. Army history. They preserve the memories of Soldiers and their families, honor their service, and educate the public on the contributions of Soldiers to our nation’s history. Here is a search engine for USAHEC materials:  Visitors are always welcome, but If you want to conduct in-person research, make an appointment at their main website

Veterans Affairs is hosting VetFest on Aug. 3 at the Hampton VAMC, an event to inform Veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors about the PACT Act and help them access the health care and benefits they’ve earned. You will be able to meet VA benefits professionals who can answer your questions about how the PACT Act eligibility and the application process.  VetFest will provide:

Applications for benefits: Getting assistance with filing for PACT Act-related benefits, submitting an intent to file, or enrolling in VA health care.

Toxic exposure screenings: Receive a screening by VA staff to determine if you are eligible for benefits due to toxic exposure.

If you are a Veteran with aspirations of entrepreneurship and business ownership who would like assistance putting your idea into action, Warrior Rising can help you. It is non-profit organization launched by Veterans for Veterans in 2015. Warrior Rising is dedicated to creating “Vetrepreneurs” who create sustainable businesses, perpetuate the hiring of fellow Veterans and earn their own future.  This free program from the U.S. Small Business Administration includes four weeks of web-based instruction, followed by other programs (Warrior Academy, Warrior University – a Veteran Business Accelerator program, virtual-live Coaching, and Master Class sessions).  See

Often we write here about programs to aid veterans with their disability claims and physical health needs.  Two topics that may be uncomfortable for many veterans are mental health and financial issues.  

If  you or a veteran in your family is facing financial problems which could result in foreclosure on a home loan, the VA has established the Home Retention Waterfall program.  If a borrower experiences repayment difficulty, but wants to retain their home by securing a VA-guaranteed loan, servicers follow specific steps. Servicers determine and offer the most appropriate home retention option by contacting the borrower, reviewing the borrower’s answers to a series of questions and, if necessary, by reviewing the loan and other details. Search for VA HOME RETENTION WATERFALL at or visit for details.

Mental health issues are difficult for veterans and their families to confront.  A resource for connecting with peers and, if desired, requesting care is available from CHECK-IN, a collaborative effort through the Veterans Wellness Alliance.  It is a user-friendly tool designed to connect Veterans with high-quality, compassionate care for mental and brain health through a first-of-its-kind network of trusted peer-led organizations and service providers.  See

We generally shy away from political commentary or requests in this space, however we believe it is important to make an exception.  We suggest you support a special session of the Virginia General Assembly, request your legislators support postponing the upcoming changes to the Virginia Military Survivors & Dependents Education Program (VMSDEP).  Those changes will modify eligibility for tuition support at state colleges and universities for the children of veterans. Much of the deliberation for these changes occurred without public input or dialogue.  Given the impact on military families, it is crucial that the General Assembly take time to reassess these changes thoroughly. We must act before July 1st to mitigate the impact on this year’s students.

Thomas Mastaglio is an Army veteran who serves as media officer at American Legion Post 49. He can be reached at Laurie Clay is an Army veteran who serves as service officer at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8545. She can be reached at