Veterans on the Peninsula get new service center in Williamsburg

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other local and state leaders celebrated the opening of a veterans services office on Thursday.

The office will help military veterans and their families access federal and state benefits. It’s the 29th office for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, which is working to expand assistance to those who’ve served.  

“They’ve worn the cloth of the country and when they come back, we have to do our part to get their benefits, health care they need,” said Gov. McAuliffe.

McAuliffe says nine percent of the state’s population and 14 percent of our region’s population are veterans. By offering help, it not only keeps them here, but attracts others to stay.

“We are here to help our veterans no matter what the issue may be. If you need help in Virginia we will be at your side,” he said.

The office is the only one located in the Historic Triangle. Officials say it will serve 50,000 families in the Williamsburg, James City County, New Kent, Gloucester, York and surrounding areas.

Joe Adair, who is the American Legion Post 39 commander, believes the new office will help guide local vets.

“A lot of the veterans that are here in Williamsburg just don’t know where to go or know what to do when they get out,” Adair said.

Before the opening of the office, which is on the College of William & Mary’s campus, Adair says they had to drive long distances to reach other offices.

“The big thing is they have some place local. They have somebody here that’s staffed. They have someone here that believes in what they’re doing and believes in taking care of veterans and I’m proud to be part of that,” he said.

The office, which is in collaboration with William and Mary’s Law School’s Lewis B.Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefit Clinic, helps veterans file claims for federal benefits.

McAuliffe says in 2016, the state helped facilitate $3.1 billion back to veterans. The office is open five days of the week and welcomes walk-ins.

It’s located at 203 Ironbound Road in the College of William & Mary Dillard Complex. For more, visit the Virginia Department of Veterans Services website.