In the past year I have submitted anywhere from 150 to 200 claims, and as of today, I am 100 percent on my claims; every single claim I have sent in has gotten an increase.”Mitch Maddox
CULLMAN – Veterans can have a hard time re-adjusting to civilian life. Not only do many of our veterans need help adjusting to what we call “everyday living,” but they also need help completing and filing all the paperwork necessary to get their VA benefits started as well. Thankfully, Cullman veterans now have an additional resource available to them – free of charge.
Meet Marine veteran, Mitch Maddox. Mitch currently volunteers his time at the Cullman VFW Post from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday through Friday assisting veterans who are applying to the VA for benefits. In the past, this help was only available by going to the Cullman County Courthouse. Unfortunately, there are so many veterans needing this service, there’s just not enough time for the courthouse to help everyone.
“I am here to help veterans because I once needed help and couldn’t get it,” he explained. “I mean, nobody would help me. I finally decided to figure all this stuff out for myself. I first became a volunteer for the VFW as a Service Officer, and then got to work learning all I could about that position.”
According to www.vfw.org the Service Officer’s responsibilities include:
- Offer research and advice to veterans who wish to handle their own claims.
- Assist veterans who are filing original claims for compensation and/or pension with the Department of Veterans Affairs and complete the required VA forms on behalf of the claimant.
- Assist veterans in reopening claims for service-connected disabilities and complete the required VA forms.
- Follow up on status of claims filed by veterans with the VA Regional Office.
- File Notice of Disagreement with the VA Regional Office if a veteran believes the decision made by the VA was incorrect.
- Review statements of the case from the VA regarding denials of claim and assist veterans with the preparation of responses.
- Assist veterans or surviving spouses in the preparation of appeals for denial of claims and file the appeals with the local VA Regional Office for forwarding to the Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington, D.C.
- Complete VA Forms other than for original claims.
- Answer/research telephone inquiries regarding medical, death/burial and other miscellaneous benefits.
“I sat down, got on the computer and studied until I became fluent in all aspects of the job, which took about six to eight months,” he added. “Now I am certified by the National Veterans Administration to help all veterans honorably discharged to receive their benefits,” he smiled. “Afterwards I was hired by the VFW to do this. Before long I became the Service Officer for all of North Alabama, not just VFW Post 2214, so now I cover everything from Jefferson County north – all that area.”
Maddox seems to have a real knack for the job; earlier in the day he received some big news concerning all his hard work.
“In the past year I have submitted anywhere from 150 to 200 claims, and as of today, I am 100 percent on my claims; every single claim I have sent in has gotten an increase,” he chuckled. “I just got the news on one of my claims today, which made 100 percent.”
“He's a good guy looking to help his fellow veterans get the benefits they deserve,” said Marine veteran Jeremy Hogan, founder of Saving Forgotten Warriors. “We use him when we need to get veterans’ benefits packages done! He is also a disabled veteran himself and deals with a lot of the same issues we all do. He knows the struggle and is always happy to help.”
Maddox doesn’t just help veterans with paperwork; he offers a lot of other assistance too.
“I also counsel veterans who are just coming home and don’t have anyone to talk to and are having a hard time,” he explained. “I am authorized to sit and talk to them – I have been there and done that, you know. Psychiatrists have no clue what we’ve been through,” he shook his head. “So I am certified to do counseling and things like that with veterans and their spouses. Also, my wife is starting a spousal support group starting next month.
“Remember, the services are free of charge. If people need my services they can come to the Cullman VFW, but if they are disabled or elderly and they can’t get out, then I can go to them. I am at the VFW from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Then I am out and about in the community the rest of the day.”
From one veteran to another, Maddox offers a very valuable service to the community – FREE of charge. If you or someone you know is a veteran and needs some help, please give him a call or stop by the Cullman VFW.
The VFW is located at 112 Veterans Dr. SW, Cullman, AL 35055. Maddox is available 24/7 for any questions you may have, just give him a call. The VFW Post phone number is 256-739-6611. Maddox’s cell number is 256-339-6926.