At the Hot Springs Village Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC) meeting on Friday, November 4, 2022, two guest speakers were originally scheduled. The topic of the day was Veterans’ Services Offices in Saline and Garland Counties.
Although two guest speakers were planned, only Richard Green, Garland County Veterans Service Office Director, attended as the other scheduled speaker Nathan Looper, Saline County Veterans Service Office Director, had a family emergency. The information in this article is beneficial to veterans and their families residing in both Garland and Saline County.
GAC Member Paul Bridges introduced Chief Master Sergeant USAF (Retired) Richard Green, Director of the Garland County office. “Richard comes to us with 50 years of public service, 38 years in the military,” stated Bridges. Green is a retired Chief Master Seargent with impeccable credentials with 9,000 hours of flying time in the Air Force, and he has been honored with many awards.
“Richard was the first inductee of the Arkansas National Guard Enlisted Hall of Fame,” said Bridges.
Green was asked by Garland County Judge Darryl Mahoney to take the Veterans Service Officer position. “I love the job. It’s wonderful to work for the veterans,” enthused Green. He said he works with the Veterans Administration, and his office is a busy place.
The Garland County Veteran population is over 9,000, and it is the busiest county in the State of Arkansas for Veteran Services Offices. Green also said, “Garland County is probably one of the busiest counties in the nation.” Every county in the State of Arkansas has a Veteran’s Service Office. Because of an act recently passed by Congress on August 10, 2022, the Veterans’ Services Offices are even busier.
PACT ACT Has Expanded VA Health Care And Benefits To Vets Exposed To Toxic Substances
Services for some Veterans have been greatly increased due to the PACT ACT, which was passed by Congress.
“The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. The PACT Act adds to the list of health conditions that we assume (or “presume”) are caused by exposure to these substances.“
What Kind Of Assistance/Benefits Can Vets Receive Through the Veteran’s Service Office?
- Assistance in receiving both health and disability benefits, including PTSD issues. Green is on the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Team. The suicide level for Veterans is high, but about 70% of the Veterans committing suicide were not registered with the Veteran’s Service Office.
- Help for Vets and their families with pensions and life insurance. Families may not be aware of what benefits and services they are eligible for after the death of the Vet.
- Aid with assisted living arrangements (in the vet’s home), and sometimes a family member can be paid for help. Services can include cleaning, cooking, or anything the vet may need.
- Special needs and equipment for automobiles for Vets
- Home loans
- Education through the GI Bill
- Vocational Programs
- TriCare (Insurance) Questions
- Funeral expenses and helping the deceased Vet to receive military honors at the burial. Headstone markers are available to any Veteran.
Area Pharmacies Not Servicing TRICARE
Ex-Officio GAC Member General Tom Arwood said that area pharmacies will not service TRICARE. Arwood is not sure about the numbers today, but at one time, the Village had more Vets than any other county in Arkansas.
According to TRICARE, “Starting Oct. 24, about 15,000 independent pharmacies will no longer be in the TRICARE retail pharmacy network.
Click here to read the October 13, 2022 TRICARE Newsroom article concerning the pharmacy issue.
Green said, “we are working with senators and congressmen.
“I wanted you to be aware that this will continue to be a major problem,” stated Arwood.
Arwood talked to Senator Cotton within the past few weeks about this issue. “The Office of Secretary of Defense has taken a position that says we think the problem is being raised by the providers and the people getting the service are not having that much trouble. This is not accurate,” explained Arwood
Green said he would contact Representative Westerman’s office to try to resolve this issue. “This is critical, and I understand the situation in the Village. I promise you, I will stay on top of it.”
GAC Committee Chair Bob Pettey asked, “is there a chance for you to come to the Village instead of veterans coming to you?”
Green said, “absolutely.”
Saine County Justice of the Peace, Keith Keck, said that in the past, Veteran representatives have come to the Village.
It Is Important For Vets To Register With The Veteran’s Service Office
Green asked for all Garland County Veterans to come into his office and register. Registration only takes ten minutes. “If something does come up, and you start having problems with something, then we’ve already got you in the program,” stated Green. If a Veteran is in the VA system, he is not necessarily in Green’s system. If you reside in Saline County, you can register at the Saline County Veterans’ Services Office.
Garland County Veterans’ Services Office Contact Information
Richard Green’s office is located at the Garland County Courthouse at 501 Ouachita Avenue, Room 105, Hot Springs, Aransas. His email address is email@example.com, and he can be reached by telephone at 501.622.3795.
The Garland County office hours are Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. by appointment. Walk-ins are also welcomed.
Saline County Veterans’ Services Office Contact Information
The Saline County Veterans’ Services Office is located in downtown Benton at 209 North Main Street between Cleo’s Furniture and the Revenue Office.
Phone: 501-303-5646 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Report by Cheryl Dowden