Ocean County Press Release

THREE LOCAL veterans were recently awarded a combined $500,000 in retroactive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, thanks to the efforts of the Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau.

In the last month, a federal judge issued the rulings to the three Berkeley Township veterans, agreeing that they had not received their full share of benefits from the VA.

"Thanks to the hard work of Director John Dorrity and his staff, theses brave men who served their nation have finally received the benefits they deserve," said Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Veterans Service Bureau.

One of the primary missions of the Veterans Service Bureau is to represent local vets as they seek compensation from the VA.

"Our office has been extremely successful in its hearings with the VA," Little said. "Our veterans have been awarded approximately $175 million a year in retroactive payments and other benefits."

Dorrity said he was also successful in having the three Berkeley Township veterans reclassified as 100-percent disabled vets.

"Just the reaction from these guys makes all of the effort worth it," Dorrity said. "These are men who gave their all for their country. It really is a privilege to work for them and help them get the assistance they have earned."

During the past six months alone, Dorrity has handled 246 appeals hearings before a VA judge at the federal building in Newark.

But positive judgements don't happen overnight.

"These cases alone took years to settle. One went on for more than seven years and the other two lasted more than five years each," he said.

Each hearing also involves a 160-mile round trip to Newark, though that might soon change.
"We're having talks with the VA about having video conferencing where we can go before a judge on camera from the Brick clinic," Dorrity said. "That would make a real difference to many of our older veterans who have trouble making such a long trip."

The Veterans Service Bureau, located at 1027 Hooper Avenue in Toms River, recently began manning a satellite office Monday through Friday at the Southern Service Center on Route 9 in Manahawkin.

Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines said the second office now serves the veterans' population in the southern half the county and helps older and disabled vets avoid the long drive to Toms River.

While the southern office will be staffed Monday thru Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm, Dorrity asked anyone wanting to visit the office to make an appointment first.
"Some of the services we offer, including assistance with V.A. claims, can take some time," Dorrity said. "To avoid a wait, please call ahead first."

Appointments can be made by calling Denise from Wednesday to Friday at (732)929-2096.

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