Army veteran Henry Dumas knows the importance of military benefits.
The Queens native served in Korea, Germany and Panama. When he returned and needed a job, Helmets to Hardhats, which finds constructions jobs for veterans, helped him. Now he wants a house and hopes the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) can help with that.
“I have been thinking about it for a while and it would be good if the VA could assist me in doing that,” Dumas, 36, said.
Dozens of veterans attended a forum at Maspeth High School on July 15, which Congressmember Grace Meng and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley organized, to learn about available services and benefits.
“When you are physically separated from family, from jobs, it’s hard to come back,” Meng said. “And to have to get readjusted to society it’s something that’s very difficult for them. We want to make sure that our veterans are taken care of.”
The forum featured a lecture by Edward Perry from the VA’s New York office. Perry explained how former military personnel can apply for compensation. He also described stipulations for the VA pension and touched on veterans’ life insurance, home loans and the eligibility details of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Various veterans’ groups also gave out information about their programs, ranging from assisting with unemployment to equal rights, education and legal services.
The Allied Veterans Memorial Day Parade Committee of Ridgewood and Glendale took time at the event to honor Crowley with a plaque. She was able to get funding to save the group’s parade several months ago.
Crowley said she hopes the forum can become an annual event, something Dumas agreed with.
“These things should happen more often,” he said. “There are benefits that are available to us and veterans should know about them.”