(KCPW News) As lawmakers wield their axes to chop the state's budget for this year and next, Veterans Affairs officials are hoping the blade doesn't cut their department too deeply. Director Terry Schow is specifically concerned about the department's outreach program, which informs veterans about available benefits.
"The economic folks tell us that the dollar turns over five times. And so, if you bring in $7 million dollars to veterans and their families, that has an economic benefit of probably in the neighborhood of $35 million dollars," says Schow. "And it does become a quality of life issue, so we're certainly hoping that the legislature will help to keep a good portion of those funds intact."
According to department information, the outreach program helped bring $7.2 million dollars in benefits to veterans living in Utah with only a $200,000 appropriation. That's a return of $36 for every dollar spent. And according to Schow, there are still plenty of Utah veterans who need help.
"Utah is below the national average in the percentage of veterans who are receiving compensation and pension for their service connected disabilities. And we are also below the national average on folks who are enrolled in the VA health care system," says Schow. "So, it's part of our mandate to make sure that veterans and their families understand about their benefits."
Veterans who believe they may be eligible for benefits are encouraged to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs by calling 1-800-894-9497. The department's address is listed below:
Utah Department of Veterans Affairs
550 South Foothill Drive, Suite 220
Salt Lake City, Utah