After serving the United States as a member of the United States Air Force, Craig Adams now serves his fellow veterans and their families to get the support they need and deserve.
“There are always families involved. There are always spouses, there are surviving spouses of veterans who have passed on, and there are always families that are here or somewhere supporting those veterans,” Adams said.
In 2014, Adams said, 7.9 percent of the 18 years-and-older population were veterans, accounting for 19.25 million veterans and 9 percent of the labor force at the time.
That number will increase as active members of the military leave the service and take on the term ‘veteran.’
Of the 1.4 million veterans living in Texas, which ranks second most in the country, Adams said, 30,000 live in Gregg County and surrounding counties.
Through his work in the home health industry, Adams said, he kept running into veterans and their needs. That led him to Veteran Caregivers, which helps veterans get access to services and benefits available to them through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
“It’s just a lack of knowledge. They just do not know what’s available, and you’re not going to find advertisements and things like that,” Adams said, noting there are many benefits through the VA. “You see all these things about insurance and all that stuff on TV; you’re not going to see that about VA benefits, and if they don’t know even the question to ask, it’s very difficult. It’s a very complex system to navigate.”
Veteran Caregivers works with veterans to identify what is available to them and also to make sure the money associated with the benefits are used on the proper services.
“If they obtain the benefit and they spend it in the wrong way, either accidentally or on purpose, and the VA were to audit them, they may ask for the money back,” Adams said. “If it’s not spent on exactly the right kind of services or medical expenses, there could be a problem with that, so we assist them to monitor that and provide that accountability. Veterans have earned this benefit and surviving spouses have earned the benefit through their marriage to a veteran.”
In addition to Veteran Caregivers and other organizations like it, Adams said, veteran advocates at VA hospitals and county veteran services officers can help.
“We just try to be in a position to help people know about us, so we can somehow advise them or help them through the system and get some benefits that will help them,” he said.
During his presentation Wednesday, three days before Veterans Day Nov. 11, Adams encouraged the audience in Kilgore College’s Devall Student Center Ballroom to tell a veteran their service and the freedoms they helped protect are appreciated.
“I know we have various age groups in the room today, and some of you may never have to experience that, and that’s always our hope. There are many who have gone before and who serve now that allow us to have the freedoms we have to honor the flag and our country that we have and I was proud to be one of them,” he said.
Although Adams did not go overseas during his time in the United State Air Force from 1969 to 1973, he said, he was stationed at a hospital at Lackland Air Force Base.
“We saw a lot of folks that came back that needed help medically from their service in conflicts overseas, especially during Vietnam,” he said. “(I) was proud to serve and always happy to meet veterans and hear their stories, and we just need to do more of that. We need to honor the veterans more.”
For more information about Veteran Caregivers or to find out what services are available, contact Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HEADLINE: Veteran turns focus to helping other veterans