What is a County Veterans Service Officer?
A County Veteran Service Officer is a professional veterans advocate that provides information and assistance to veterans and their beneficiaries. They offer a variety of services, anything from filing for disability compensation to filing for government grave markers. If you have any questions, or require assistance with any VA matter, please reach out to our office.
Who is a veteran?
Minnesota Statute 197.447 defines a Veteran as a citizen of the United States or a resident alien who has been separated under honorable conditions from any branch of the armed forces of the United States after having served on active duty for 181 consecutive days or by reason of disability incurred while serving on active duty, or who has met the minimum active duty requirement as defined by Code of Federal Regulations, title 38, section 3.12a, or who has active military service certified under section 401, Public Law 95-202. The active military service must be certified by the United States secretary of defense as active military service and a discharge under honorable conditions must be issued by the secretary. Therefore, to be eligible for any Veteran program with the State of Minnesota, you must meet the definition contained in this statute.
Do I need an appointment?
You do not need an appointment, though it is strongly encouraged. Scheduling an appointment prevents you from having to wait in the lobby until another veteran has completed their business. It also allows both of us to ensure that everything is prepared for when you arrive.
What do I need to bring?
This varies from case to case. Most usually, a veteran who has never visited our office should bring a copy of their discharge form. This allows us to record your military data in our system. It also provides us with the proper framework for determining which benefits you may be eligible.
It is also encouraged for you to bring in a copy of your service treatment record (STR) if you have one available. This makes it much simpler to develop a claim for disability and provide direct evidence of nexus between your claimed disability and your service.
If you are married, or have dependent children, it is encouraged once more that you bring in the marriage certificate and accompanying birth certificates. This ensures that if you receive a disability percentage of 30% or greater you receive the appropriate adjustment to your monthly compensation.
For those who are not the veteran, you must be listed on a 21-0845 release of information that was completed by the veteran before you may be spoken to regarding their claims. If the veteran is no longer of sound mind, you must bring in a copy of the power of attorney to prove you can complete paperwork on their behalf.
What is the VA basing the rating of my disability on?
VA ratings are determined based on its relation to your service and how it currently impacts your standard of living. The guidelines for VA determinations is written out in the 38 CFR. Each type of disability and its relative rating schedule is contained within.
How is my total disability calculated?
The way the VA calculates total percentage can be tricky. To better understand how they come to that percentage, watch this video.
If you would like see what your overall percentage might be, try this Combined Disability Rating Calculator.
How much money will I get from my granted rating?
The VA compensates you based on your total disability percentage. This amount tends to increase each year, but an increase is never guaranteed. Your percentage and dependency status also affects how much you will receive each month. Go here to see the 2022 Compensation Rates.
Can you provide me with a copy of my service record?
No, you must request this yourself through the National Archives.
Can you provide me with a copy of my medical record?
No, you must sign a release of information with the medical facility and receive it through them.
Can you provide me with a copy of my C&P exam?
No, your must request this through va.gov.
How do I request my travel pay?
There are a couple common ways that you can claim travel reimbursement through the VA. The first way is to complete a VA Form 10-3542 Veteran/Beneficiary Claim for Reimbursement of Travel Expenses. A manually completed 10-3542 can then be turned it at whichever VA you are receiving care at.
The second way is to file for reimbursement online. This can be completed through the BTSSS Veterans Portal. You will be prompted to choose a secure VA partner to sign into the Veteran Travel Claim Entry. If you have not before, you will need to select one and create an account. The two that are recommended are either My HealtheVet or ID.me.
After signing in with one of these partners, you will then be redirected to the Terms and Conditions, click the box that states, I agree to the terms and conditions in the above paragraph. Then, click the button that says, Proceed to Profile Review.
This will take you to the a page that displays your profile information, including your address and banking information. Review this thoroughly before proceeding as this could impact the pace at which you receive compensation. After all has been reviewed and is accurate, click Proceed to Dashboard.
The following page will display two boxes, one called My Claims and one called My Appointments. Review the appointments box to see if your recent appointments are displayed. If they are visible, under the field titled Associated Claim click Create Claim.
The next page will have you confirm you address then click Create Claim and Expenses. Proceeding on, you will have to verify your appointment details and mileage. After confirming your mileage, you will submit the claim. It will then show under the My Claims box. It will indicate who created the claim, the date submitted, its status, appointment type, the appointment date, the claim number, and which facility is responsible for the reimbursement.
If your appointment did not show up in the My Appointments box, you will click the blue button with the blue cross in white circle emblem that says Create. If you still don't see the appointment, click Add New Appointment, fill in all appointment details, and proceed as above following all the same instructions to submit it.
Why haven't I received my travel pay?
This is an ongoing issue. The VA travel pay department is short manned and backlogged. The VA anticipates that you should receive your travel pay 3-4 months after reporting it.
This office is a separate entity from the VA. We cannot view the status of your travel pay request. The veteran must reach out directly to discuss this matter with the VA. There may be extensive hold times and you may need to leave a message. If you use the Sioux Falls VA system, you may call:
ext. 7065, or
Travel Pay Direct
Can you issue new military IDs?
No, our office cannot print off any type of military IDs. This service is provided by the Military Family Assistance Center though. The closest one to Cottonwood County is the Mankato site.
100 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.,
Mankato, MN 56001
Where can I get my Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)?
Speak with the enrollment coordinator at the VA nearest you. Ask the coordinator to help you arrange to get your picture taken for your new Veteran Health Identification Card.
You can also ask for help with getting your picture taken at your next VA health care appointment.
You should bring a current, unexpired:
- State-issued driver’s license, or
- U.S. passport or passport card, or
- Other government ID issued by a federal, state, or local government agency
Note: This ID must show your picture and date of birth. If it doesn’t also show your address, you’ll need to bring a separate document to confirm your address. This may include your electric bill, cable bill, voter registration card, or another mailed document.
It generally takes 10 days to receive your card afterwards.
Are there any rides available for my VA appointments?
This office does currently support volunteer drivers. Though we offer this service, it is not guaranteed. These rides are provided by the driver using their personal vehicle, so we cannot accommodate those who may require lifts, or equipment. Their vehicles do not possess this capability.
Should you require assistance to attend your appointment, please call this office to schedule in advance. These drivers volunteer in their spare time, so they may not be able to accept your request if they aren't made aware in advance.
The county provides this service with the following charge:
- Transportation to VA Clinics $25.00
- Transportation to Minneapolis $35.00
- Transportation to Sioux Falls $35.00
Should we come to you to file for community care or long-term care?
No, the most efficient way of handling requests related to your healthcare is to speak with your provider at the VA you're receiving care at. Your provider can make requests and write out orders based on medical evidence they are directly observing. Most often the provider can write out these orders after discussing your needs over the phone.
Call your provider and discuss your options for:
- Community Care
- Long-Term Care (Including in-home care, nursing homes, adult daycare)
- Prosthetics (Including wheelchairs, walker, etc.)
- Whole Health (Including massage, acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, etc.)
- Mental Health
Press 0 - Ask for provider (leave message if necessary)
Why did I receive this bill from the VA?
In cases where you have received a bill from the VA, or a facility you were approved for care for through the VA, you should contact the VA billing department. This office is a county department and not an extension of the VA. We cannot see why you were billed or your status. They will need to discuss this will you personally.
Sioux Falls Billing
How do I get my property tax exemption?
Veterans who are rated at 70% or greater are eligible for a property tax exemption in the state of Minnesota. Veterans from 70% - 90% are eligible for up $150,000 of their property value. Veterans who are rated at 100% permanent and total disability are eligible for an exemption of up to $300,000 of their property value. Once you fall within these ranges you should take your award letter as proof to the County Assessor. This exemption will apply for the following year.
Note: This exemption will need to be confirmed annually. You will receive an annual award letter from the VA that indicates your rating for that year. Provide this to the assessor annually.
How do I replace lost military records or medals?
There are instances when military records such as DD-214s may become misplaced or damaged. When this occurs, first check with your County Recorder or County Veteran Service Officer. If a copy is not on file at either office, the veteran or family may request replacements be sent to them through the National Archives. This process is simple, but there is a significant wait time, up to a year as of recently. The national archives can also assist in replacing medals for the veteran or family members.
How do I find CVSOs in other counties?
If you are going to be out of the area, or are checking for someone else, you may use the MACVSO Find a CVSO Tool. This tool only locates Minnesota CVSOs.
If you are going to be in another state, or checking for someone in another state, please use the NACVSO Find Service Officers Tool. This tool can be used to locate CVSOs in all states that have service officers.
Note: Refer Here to see all participating states.
Who is eligible for a government headstone or marker?
Check this link to see if you, or a veteran who has passed is eligible for a headstone, marker, or medallion.
Who is eligible for burial in a VA National Cemetery?
Click this link to see if you or another veteran is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
What burial benefits are available?
Click here to see what burial benefits may be available.
What is the VA's 5, 10, and 20-Year Rule?