DAV of Minnesota Department Service Officers – Helping Veterans and Their Families

In January 2015, DAV became the first and only organization authorized by 1 million veterans as their accredited representative for claims before the Department of Veteran Affairs.   Veterans earn benefits and compensation for the sacrifices they and their families endure while serving in the military and often long after he or she has hung up the uniform.  But too often the veteran does not know what is available, what has been earned or how to go about obtaining it, said Stephen Whitehead, DAV of MN Adjutant/Executive Director. He went on to say.  “That’s why we have Department Service Officers (DSOs) Officers located at the St. Cloud and Minneapolis VA Medical Centers.  They are certified to provide the best representation for Minnesotan Veterans from all service branches and all eras who served for our country and our freedom.”

Department Service Officer at Minneapolis VA Medical Center

At the Minneapolis VA Medical Center I help on average approximately five veterans every day with advice and information about claims beyond actually taking the claim, said Babette Blumenauer DAV Dept. Service Officer.  She went on to say. “Last year I completed 76 veteran application for compensation and/or pension. The individual circumstance determines which action to take, and it is interesting how many unique circumstances there are. In addition to taking claims I explain what different benefits maybe available to a veteran.  Often they want to know the status of their claim. If a claim is denied we review the claim, and identify the reason and see what can be done to refile and get the claim granted.  I work closely with the NSO office to make sure what is done is correct and in the best interest of the veteran.

During the year, I participated in numerous “Outreach” events such as: going into the into the VA hospital wards to take claims, had a DAV Banner at the Salute to Service Women Golf Tournament, participating in last year’s  State Fair DAV Department information booth, hosted a DAV table at  the Stand Down which took place in August 2014.”

Department Service Officer at St. Cloud VA Medical Center

At the St. Cloud VA Medical Center I helped approximately 500 Veterans in the past year, said Trent Dilks, DAV Dept. Service Officer.  He went on to say. “Assistance ranges from Veterans in need of a claim filed to identifying other DAV programs.  Over 200 contact briefs were sent to the Nation Service Office for processing.  Forty Veterans were assisted who were returning to work through the St. Cloud Assistance Program.  Sixty “Outreach” events were held across the state putting me in direct contact with well over a thousand Veterans and allowed me to give information on benefits, as well as an opportunity to inform Veterans and non-Veterans about the DAV.  Every week benefit briefing are held in an informal setting for Veterans participating in the St. Cloud VA Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program setting where they feel free to ask questions about the claims process and state specific programs.” 

Looking Forward to Next Year

As we look forward to the next year, we want to increase “Outreach” in more parts of greater Minnesota, said Mr. Whitehead.  “This can be achieved by our department service officers attending chapter events, colleges and university campuses throughout the state to bring expert claims representation directly to veterans and their families.  Every veteran should be able to get the help they need, regardless of where they live.”

Need Help?

If you have questions related to filing a claim, contact:

  • Minneapolis VAMC DSO Office: Babette Blumenauer, Phone 612-467-1498
  • Cloud VAMC DSO Office: Trent Dilks, Phone 320-252-1670 ext. 6676