“I had to be medically retired. I want to say thank you to the military and the veterans service center … for helping during that time,” said Nyajuok Mangongo, a retired Army Captain. Watch her full story and others at Bexar VCSO video. Pictured is veteran Jeffery Hof telling his experience with Bexar VCSO.
“Our focus is to be the premier organization that provides transition services, career counseling classes, and employment assistance. Additionally, our organization is staffed with state and nationally certified Veteran Service Officers to help veterans navigate all the complexities they may encounter when seeking VA benefits, pensions, aid and attendance, as well as assisting survivors with funeral claims,” said Karen Rolirad, Air Force veteran and Executive Director, Military and Veterans Service Center and Bexar County Veterans Services Officer. “We can also assist Veterans with upgrading discharges, and ordering DD-214s, service and medical treatment records. We oversee the Unaccompanied and Homeless Veteran Burial Program. This important program ensures all veterans, regardless of circumstances, receive a dignified and proper burial at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.”
Pushing through the pandemic, her team filed over 980 claims last year and assisted more than 170 veterans into jobs.
“In addition, my team specializes in pre-discharge claims, upgrades and appeals. Our priority is find, file and create the documentation needed to win the appeal,” said Rolirad
Regarding employment and placing over 170 military, veterans, and their spouses into jobs, she noted “jobs with salaries that averaged approximately $20,000 above Bexar County’s $46,600 wage average. We achieved this despite increased unemployment due to COVID.”
As part of their success in getting veterans their benefits, the Bexar County Veteran Service team gets out into the community. They visit senior centers and at various locations hold “Document Day” for records collection and processing.
“We don’t just work in our offices, our community outreach includes providing support at senior centers where we educate Vietnam, Korea and WWII Veterans and/or their surviving spouses regarding the benefits and pensions available to them,” said Rolirad. “These efforts have resulted in approximately 20 pensions and Dependent Indemnity Compensations filed in the last year. The greatest reward is just educating this generation on their benefits to include burial benefits. These elderly veterans feel better prepared and are appreciative of the help filling out the complicated paperwork.”
On Documents Day, veterans bring all their documents, such as DD214s and medical records, to a participating site for immediate processing. While doing this, the Bexar County team answers veterans’ questions about VA benefits, pensions, employment and other benefits.
“This event allows us to connect with unserved veterans who may not have access to technology. During our Document Days, we often collaborate with other Bexar County offices such as the County Clerk and Tax Office. We want these opportunities to be meaningful with tangible results for the Veteran,” explained Rolirad. “The County Clerk can officially store DD 214s and provide certified free copies to the Veteran. The Tax Office helps with tax exemptions and DV plates.”
Held monthly, the next document day is scheduled for March 19, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and held at VFW 8541, 2222 Austin Highway, in San Antonio.
Partnerships are vital to the Bexar County team. “We would not be successful without partnerships,” said Rolirad.
Their partnerships include GI Forum, Grunt Style, Black Rifle Coffee Company, the City of San Antonio’s Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, the Texas Military Institute and the Marine Corps League.
Additionally, Bexar County has the support of a Texas Veterans Commission Fund for Veterans’ Assistance grant.
“The grant allows us to provide both mortgage and rental assistance to qualified veterans. This has proven to be very important during the pandemic,” said Rolirad.
Rolirad invites veterans to “Call us. I am proud of my team of professionals. I am confident that they will go above and beyond to provide outstanding support to those who served the nation. It’s my priority that we will answer the phone in person or call you back. We pride ourselves on our relationships with our customers and our willingness to serve on their behalf.”
Veterans may contact the Bexar County Veterans Service Office by phone at 210-335-6775 or email Vets@bexar.org. Located in San Antonio, the office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Pictured is Rolirad.