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VA office to expand hours

January 25, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Starting in early February, the state Veterans Affairs office in Hagerstown will go from limited Tuesday hours to being open five days a week, officials said.

A full-time Veterans Affairs officer has been hired to staff the office, and will begin training and orientation for the job this week, said Paul Prozialeck, director of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Service Program.

The office, in the Washington County District Court building at 33 West Washington St., will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, Prozialeck said. Currently, it is only open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, when the officer from the state's Frederick Veterans Affairs office comes to Hagerstown.

The office provides veterans with assistance in filing claims to receive compensation for service-related disability benefits and pensions. On average, veterans receive more money when they seek assistance in filing their claims, Prozialeck said.

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"It just is a matter of having someone on the inside who knows the ins and outs of claims processing," he said. "That's part of our job, to know the benefits and make sure they're filing for all the benefits they could possibly be eligible for."

Aaron Clark, the man hired to staff the Hagerstown office, has completed two tours in Iraq, Prozialeck said. He will train for his new duties under George E. Kauffman, the Veterans Affairs officer in the Frederick service center.

Until a date has been announced for the opening of the full-time office, veterans should call the office at 301-791-0356 to ensure it will be open before visiting, Prozialeck said.

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