I recently had the opportunity to attend a discussion with VA Undersecretary for Benefits Joshua Jacobs, who thanked and acknowledged DAV for our work with veterans and their families.

Since the PACT Act became law in August 2022, more than 1.3 million veterans and their survivors have filed claims for ailments stemming from toxic exposures. Additionally, more than 5 million veterans have undergone VA toxic exposure screenings, along with nearly a quarter-million new enrollees for VA health care.

These numbers are a testament to how well outreach efforts have gone so far, and Jacobs brought up an excellent point of how it extends beyond helping veterans with toxic exposure.

Veterans who may not have had toxic exposure, had a previous unpleasant experience or never engaged the VA, may have heard about the PACT Act and are now coming to us to learn more about benefits they have rightfully earned.

Hearing this is absolutely great news because we know that veterans who receive disability compensation experienced improved health outcomes compared to veterans who have been denied service-connected disability benefits. This also reinforces the importance of having free, professional representation when veterans, families or survivors apply for their benefits.

One of the most effective methods of outreach for DAV is to host a free information seminar. Information seminars are a great way for departments and chapters to spread awareness about veterans benefits and services, and how DAV can assist in obtaining them.

They also allow DAV an opportunity to educate veterans and their families in communities nationwide about the benefits available under the PACT Act and more. DAV’s highly trained benefits advocates are experts on veterans’ benefits and provide best-in-class counseling and claims filing assistance.

In 2023, DAV hosted 414 information seminars nationwide, assisting more than 17,000 veterans, families and survivors with their benefits. Overall, DAV benefits advocates took nearly 2.9 million actions to advocate for veterans and their families, resulting in more than $28.4 billion in earned benefits.

To request an information seminar, departments and chapters can contact their nearest national service office to schedule an event.

You can find the 2024 information seminar schedule at http://dav.la/3oy or for more information on contacting your nearest DAV service office, please visit benefitsquestions.org.