By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: June 6, 2019 | 3:15 p.m.
SUSSEX – “I’m excited about it!” said local vet and Wakefield Councilman Wayne Jones, speaking of the new traveling veterans’ assistance outreach program that recently began meeting Wednesday afternoons in The Wakefield Foundation.
“This guy is bringing a lot of knowledge here, and he wants to focus on everybody – male female, black, white, Asian, rich, poor,” Jones continued. “I know with this we’ll be able to help EVERY veteran in the area. We’ve experienced people who had been denied thirty years ago from the Vietnam era that gave up, finding out now that they’re eligible to get claims. There are a lot of veterans in this area, and he wants to get those people help. And besides meeting with us on Wednesdays he’s willing to go to homes to help.”
“He” is Jamar Blyther, Veterans Center of VA Veteran Outreach Program Specialist, who recently began coming to the Sussex and Surry area after Jones called to get help for a friend.
Himself retired army, Jones said that he is particularly excited about helping to bring Blyther to Sussex and Surry because he feels so fortunate to have been able to move back to the area and now he wants to help others.
“We’ve already got about 10 vets in the community signed up,” he continued. “Helping them get medical records, 214s, things like that. And there’s a counselor he’s bringing to screen for PTSD or other areas as he’s trying to see what help and services are needed. There are services available anywhere from educational benefits for spouses and children to medical benefits or sometimes monetary entitlements. If he doesn’t know an answer, he’ll get someone. Any service they need he can help. Filing claims, helping fill out paperwork, even teaching members how to apply for housing assistance.”
Blyther, himself an Army combat veteran who served in Iraq in 2003, works for the Department of Veterans Affairs from an office in Norfolk, but said that his main goal is reaching out to offer help to veterans in rural areas who might not have access to or even know of the availability of many of the services available.
“I remember when I left the military, confused like everybody else – as did my wife,” Blyther said. “Folks in Norfolk HAVE help. I want to offer access to people who may not have – or know about – benefits that can make a real difference in their lives. At the Vet Center, we’re mainly providing counseling and working with people transitioning. So often someone was transitioned overseas or in another state, and when they come back home they don’t have the services they need. So we ‘re trying to bring those to them.”
Blyther said that after two months here, he finds the people to be very open, and added that the biggest challenge has been that when people don’t know who you are or why you’re here, they can be hesitant to come in for help.
“I just really want people to know that the V.A. is reaching out to help the community,” he continued. “ People like Mr. Jones and Sheriff Giles have been so helpful And Miss Drewry at the Foundation, letting us use this beautiful building and the computer so we can research and print out forms and information for folks has been a huge help. The group that’s been coming out is already applying for claims and getting appointments for screening for medicals in the area.”
“I always say that even though I come talk about benefits, the biggest benefit is the counseling. There’s people who are really suffering and just don’t know how to deal with things like anger or lack of concentration. Whether you’re a vet yourself or maybe you have questions about an uncle who’s a veteran, you can come on out and see us every Wednesday afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30 at the Wakefield Foundation or call my office – 757-623-758. I just want people to know that we’re open to everybody, not only veterans, but family members also. And we really want to help.”