Waco: Purple Heart veterans service center to close its doors
The Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Center is closing the doors of its service center in the Waco VA Regional Office, which currently assists about 3,000 veterans in obtaining benefits and negotiating the VA bureaucracy.
"I can hear the cussing and screaming going on now," National Service Officer Lloyd Coffman said.
Coffman is one of the organization’s two national service officers in Waco.
The 24-year Air Force veteran has been helping other veterans fill out disability claims to the VA for several years.
He said he just learned that the national organization, which is not funded by the government, is shutting down all 52 of its service centers across the country.
“You're going to have a lot of upset vets about it, too, and I can't say I blame them and that's our concern."
The 140-plus claims he's working on now have come to an abrupt halt and the 3,000 veterans the local office serves will all have to go somewhere else to find help with their claims.
"I have to contact them and explain what is happening, that we have been shut down as a national program. Between now and then I will help my best to try to find another service organization to help them out."
The organization’s national office confirmed to KWTX the centers are shutting down by June 30, but said it had not yet made a public announcement.
Ron Peterson is one of the veterans the local office serves.
He has twice been awarded the Purple Heart Medal for injuries in combat.
He served his country for 23 years in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer.
"An RPG (Rocket propelled grenade) overshot one of the routes we were doing one night and blew the next-door vehicle and hit two of us and then the night I got released to go back out on patrol we drove over an IED killed one and wounded me and my driver."
Peterson relied on the local MOPH service center to help him file his claims,
"If it wasn't for them I wouldn't have gotten where I was. I probably would still be fighting it. They really assisted me in doing the right thing."
He said the closure of the service centers will affect a number of veterans.
“You know there's a lot of us that belong to the Purple Heart organization that use this office, but it's shutting down, so where are we going to tell them to go to."
"This is not a handout that the government is giving them this is something that they have earned."