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Amstrong veterans urged to file discharge paperwork

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 1:11 a.m.

Armstrong County officials are encouraging local veterans to file their discharge papers with the county's office of Veterans Affairs to ensure they do not see delays in receiving any benefits.

Rich Croyle, director of the Armstrong County Veterans Affairs office, said any veterans living in the county can record their discharge papers, known as DD2-14 forms, with Marianne Hileman, the county's Register and Recorder of Deeds.

“I can't overemphasize the need to have them filed enough, especially if they're applying for any type of veteran benefits,” Croyle said. “If it gets lost, it takes several months to be replaced, which could cause delays in receiving benefits.”

According to the United States Department of Defense, there are an estimated 5,860 veterans residing in Armstrong County.

Veterans who lose their discharge forms must send a formal request to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., he said.

It's not unusual for veterans to have their benefits delayed if they cannot find their discharge papers, Croyle said.

Hileman said her office will record and provide certified copies of the forms at no cost to veterans. It could provide veterans with peace of mind to know their discharge forms are stored safely, she said.

“Once it's recorded, we return the original form, but we will have record of their discharge in our offices,” Hileman said. “If they ever lose their original form, we can still provide certified copies.”

Discharge records are not considered public records and can only be accessed by the person named on the document, their spouse, immediate family members or designated legal representatives. Proper identification and authorization in writing or a federal, state or county court order is required for access, according to county commissioner Bob Bower.

The discharge papers, which provide proof of military service, are required for a variety of veteran benefits, including retirement and death benefits and property tax exemption, Bower added.

In addition, discharge papers are needed for veterans' children and spouses to receive any post-death benefits, Croyle said.

“When they pass away, there are benefits out there for survivors and dependents, but they can't get them either without the veteran's discharge,” Croyle said.

Veterans can file their discharge forms at the county's Register and Recorder of Deeds office, located at the Armstrong County Courthouse, 500 Market St., Suite 102, Kittanning, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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