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This Veterans Day, the Linn County Veteran Affairs Department thanks all veterans for their service and wants veterans and their families to know about the services the department provides.
Linn County Veteran Affairs has four nationally accredited Veterans Service Officers who help veterans navigate the complexities of the VA system to get the most benefits they have earned. This free service is available for all Linn County veterans and their dependents. These services include helping veterans submit compensation and pension applications that will result in more than $47 million in federal veterans benefits for Linn County veterans this year.
Nicole Kehres was named as Linn County’s new Veteran Affairs Director in December 2020. She has been a County Veterans Service Officer since 2009 and has dedicated the past 12 years to serving veterans and their families.
“We are here to assist veterans and their eligible dependents with the benefits application process. It can be a confusing and complicated process to navigate. We have the experience and knowledge to answer questions and to make applying for federal benefits easier. It is our job to ensure that veterans and their dependents are getting any and all benefits that they are eligible for,” Kehres said. “Benefits are constantly changing at the Department of Veterans Affairs, especially when it comes to claims for service connected disability. Unfortunately, the lists of Vietnam, Camp Lejeune, and Gulf War Presumptive conditions continue to grow. Veterans must stay informed on these conditions, and they should update their claims to add these new conditions as quickly as possible. That way if something happens to them as a result of one of these presumptive conditions, their families will get the benefits that they deserve faster than they would had they never filed. It is extremely important for veterans to know their benefits. I encourage all veterans to contact our office and speak to one of our service officers so they can assist them in filing their claims.”
In addition to federal programs for compensation and pension, additional benefits available to eligible veterans may include:
Linn County Veteran Affairs and the Mental Health Access Center are also working together to assist with the mental health needs of veterans. According to the National Council of Mental Wellbeing, at least 30 percent of veterans have a mental health disorder, but less than 50 percent of them receive any type of treatment for it. The Mental Health Access Center is available for walk-in mental health and substance use disorder crisis care from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday with Foundation 2 Mobile Crisis available during non-walk-in hours. When a veteran receives services from the Access Center, staff will help connect the veteran to Linn County Veteran Affairs staff. The Mental Health Access Center is located at 501 13th St. NW in Cedar Rapids.
If you or someone you know may be eligible for veterans’ benefits, call Linn County Veteran Affairs at 319-892-5160, email Veteran Affairs, or visit LinnCountyIowa.gov/Veteran to fill out a contact form.
Linn County Veteran Affairs is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Staff are available to take walk-ins; however, appointments are encouraged. We recommend contacting the office prior to your visit, to ensure that you are aware of what documents will be needed for the services you are requesting.