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Hundreds of veterans helped: Vets praise VA outreach effort

Posted September 15

— Veterans continued to flock to the Herb Young Community Center in Cary on Friday to resolve problems with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The American Legion and the VFW sponsored the Veterans' Experience Action Center for a second straight year. About 500 veterans were helped last year, and more than 600 have already been assisted this year with one more day to go.

Army and National Guard veteran Joseph Lovelace, 74, came to convince the VA his hip and back surgeries are service-related, and VA representatives agreed.

"An event like this shows that government cares, but they need more of them," Lovelace said.

Chris Warguez of Veterans Benefits said the line of veterans seeking help speaks to the desperate need. The event also offered his team of volunteers a chance to tackle paperwork problems that often get lost in an impersonal online process.

"We love these opportunities, and these are the opportunities to support our mission and why we're here," Warguez said. "It's really the face-to-face value, working with the veteran, being able to hear his story."

William Padilla, an 18-year Marine veteran, brought his 90-year-old father-in-law, Jose Vazquez, who served in the Army during World War II and kept track of German ships in the Atlantic.

"This makes up for the long waits. This would have taken us months to do on our own. Having done it in one day saves a lot of time," Padilla said.

Not all veterans got the benefits they wanted, but they got straight answers and a chance to be heard in person.

The Veterans' Experience Action Center continues 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Veterans are advised to bring their medical records with them.

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