VA to open full-time office in Hagerstown

May 09, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs will open a full-time office in Hagerstown by the end of this year.

Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary James A. Adkins said Thursday that officials are aiming to open the office in July on the second floor of the county building at 33 W. Washington St.

The state currently operates a Veterans Affairs office in Hagerstown on a part-time basis.

"It's very important that we provide this service to our veterans," Adkins said. "Too many of them don't receive the benefits they've earned. We wanted to make Hagerstown a high priority to open up a full-time office."

Adkins, who also is the state's incoming adjutant general, visited Hagerstown with Gov. Martin O'Malley and other members of the state cabinet Thursday as part of Capital for a Day, a program under which the governor and his cabinet conduct business in cities other than Annapolis. Hagerstown is one of eight cities that were invited to participate.


The Hagerstown office is part of a $363,000 initiative that will include the opening of Maryland offices in Bel Air and Charlotte Hall, he said.

Paul Prozialeck, the state's director of Veterans Service programs, said the office in Hagerstown will help veterans and their dependents file claims to receive compensation for service-related disabilities and pensions, among other things. On average, each veteran receives about $4,700 more when they seek benefits through a Veterans Affairs representative, he said.

In some cases, veterans are unaware that the state has a veterans affairs office and, as a result, only apply for federal assistance, Prozialeck said.

"It's things they've earned," he said. "It's not giveaways. It's not handouts."

Prozialeck said the state will start advertising as soon as possible to find a Veterans Affairs officer for the Hagerstown office. Although the state would like to find a veteran to fill the position, nonveterans may apply, he said. The salary would start at about $35,000 a year.

Veterans in Washington County may learn more about receiving benefits by calling Veterans Service Officer George E. Kauffman at 301-791-0356. Kauffman is available at the Maryland Veterans Affairs Office in Hagerstown, 33 W. Washington St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Secretary of Md. Dept. of Veterans Affairs visits armory

James A. Adkins, secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, visited the National Guard Armory south of Hagerstown on Thursday to tour the facility.

Capt. Bryan Hughes, operations officer of the 729th Brigade Support Battalion, briefed Adkins, the state's incoming adjutant general, on some of the unit's future plans and recruiting success. In addition to the tour, Adkins spoke with a few of the soldiers on duty.

Adkins was in town as part of Capital for a Day, a program in which Gov. Martin O'Malley and members of his cabinet conduct the state's business in cities other than Annapolis. Hagerstown is one of eight cities to receive the honor.

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