Veterans Service Officers unite in Biloxi

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The National Association of County Veterans Service Officers (NACVSCO) play a vital role in helping veterans get the benefits they need and deserve.

"We are advocates for veterans," said James Young, President of NACVSO. "We don't charge for our services and we are in 31 states across this country. We assist people in applying for the benefits they are entitled."

Young is enthusiastic about his job.

"I got involved because I'm a vet myself, 25 years in the Army. And when I was discharged, I retired in 1990," Young said.

"I was refused service at a local VA hospital and I said at that time if I ever got the chance to get a job to help people, I would. I got that chance in 1998 and have been happy ever since. It has been wonderful."

Most other Veterans Service Officers share a similar personal connection to the job. Tim Vasquez works with the Veterans County Service Officers in Texas.

"I'm a veteran and I was helped filing my benefits. I found it a calling," Vasquez said.

Harrison County Veterans Officer Julia Encalade was not a veteran but is the proud daughter of one.

"When they have actually called to say hey look I have just gotten an award letter thank you so much it's like ching, ching. A job well done I guess, you have help them, you have served them, you have given back," Encalade said.

"It's just, they have finally been recognized. And the fact that they have been recognized speaks volumes. My father was never recognized."

Every year, service officers from across the country gather together to get up to date information from the Department of Veterans Affairs about the ever changing process of filing for benefits.

And for the first time ever, this group of helpers is meeting in Mississippi, thanks in a large part to Encalade.

"We have all come together and they are all proud of our state. We are hospitality and that is one thing we want to show."

The group will spend 10 days training at the IP in Biloxi. Good Morning America Anchor Robin Roberts helped kick off the conference as the guest speaker. She told the attendees,"You must realize what you are doing is making a difference to us all."

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