September Lunch and Learn with Ryan Kegley, Veterans Services Officer

September Lunch and Learn with Ryan Kegley, Veterans Services Officer

image of Vietnam veteran Tony LittleHawk waving eagle-feather fan

Our September 26 Lunch and Learn speaker was Ryan Kegley, Veterans Services Officer, Manager of the Stanislaus County Veterans Services Office.

Kegley shared a list of services their office provides and gave details on some of those services. He also clarified an area that I, personally, needed cleared up: their office is not a part of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs — it’s a county office that advocates with the federal offices for our local veterans, surviving spouses and dependents to be sure they receive the benefits they are entitled to receive.

About 50 percent of their work is helping veterans access compensation for disability incurred as a result of military duty. They assist in preparing claims, and the most challenging part of that is finding evidence. Sometimes it has been lost or destroyed, has disappeared, or was never documented. A long-term care benefit for in-home and assisted living is available for veterans who served in wartime and their dependents. Reimbursement is needs based, but the cost of care reduces the income calculation, so folks may be eligible who would not expect they would get that benefit.

In addition to the work they do with the Veterans Benefits Administration, they can help vets connect to the Veterans Health Administration and even the Veterans Cemetery Administration. (Who knew these are actually each separate agencies?) Kegley says walk-in appointments are available daily 9:00-3:30 with scheduled appointments on Friday afternoons. One of our members testified to the great service he’s received from this office and mentioned the remarkably short wait time for a walk-in visit.

Their phone is 209-558-7380, and their website is Veterans Services shares a building at 3500 Coffee Road with the Area Agency on Aging and is often able to connect veterans with additional services from that agency. Kegley mentioned that the Hi-CAP (Health Insurance: Counseling and Advocacy Program) office is very helpful in assisting Medicare recipients to select the most suitable supplemental plan.

By Julie Saugstad

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Stanislaus County