Veterans say R.I. needs to do better on outreach

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veterans day

By Jennifer McDermott Associated Press

PROVIDENCE — The state is on the verge of hiring a director to oversee its veterans’ affairs division, though some veterans say what they really need is someone to work directly with them and help them get the benefits they’re entitled to.

Rhode Island’s veterans division does not have a person focused solely on outreach and helping veterans with claims. Many other states and towns employ veterans’ services officers. Massachusetts has one in each municipality, according to its department. Connecticut assigns them by congressional district.

Leaders of Rhode Island veterans’ organizations say that the state tries to help its veterans but that the efforts are often disjointed. They worry veterans don’t know about their benefits or don’t pursue them, in part because the state doesn’t have someone dedicated to working with their groups and federal officials to help.

‘‘They just don’t know what’s available to them,’’ said David Smith, commander of the Disabled American Veterans of Rhode Island. ‘‘And I don’t know if all the veterans’ groups know all the information.’’

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