HAZLE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Getting the answers you seek to puzzling questions can be extra difficult when you don’t know who to talk to or where to go. The department of veterans affairs is trying to remove that obstacle. A service on wheels is helping vets throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania.
George Millet just wants to know what benefits his mother is entitled to following the death of his Army veteran father. Frustrated by trying to find out on the phone, the Tamaqua man took his quest to what’s called the Mobile Vet Center. “As you can see, I’ve got stacks of paperwork. If I can go and talk face to face with somebody it really helps out a whole lot.”
The idea behind this supersized R-V is to ease that difficulty by traveling to nearly a dozen northeastern and central Pennsylvania communities on a regular basis. This stop at the Laurel Mall happens the second Tuesday of each month. “We’re here to help the veterans and help the veterans and their families get the benefits they need from when they served,” said Joseph May who does more than assist individuals with applying for VA benefits. He is a certified counselor skilled in marital, family and bereavement counseling for veterans and their family members. “If they want to, you know, engage in like you know therapy or treatment with me I would need the veteran and their discharge paper but if they want to come in and ask any questions they’re more than welcome to. We’re very lenient with that.”
Mr. May’s role as a certified counselor isn’t his first experience with the Mobile Vet Center. He was among those veterans who was helped by this service. “It was just easier to see someone who looked like me or kind of talked like me and I was just able to just, you know, talk to them,” he said.
This mobile one-on-one opportunity is growing in appreciation. Maryann Sokolofski of Hazleton is married to a veteran. “Places like this for people who are limited to where they can go, they can’t travel, is an excellent thing to be able to come here and sit and talk to someone,” she said.
Pennsylvania is home to three of the nation’s more than 50 Mobile Vet Centers.