Photo by Frank Prager
C.J. Lucy-Yarian and Tim Turner of the Madison County Veterans’ Assistance Commission.
In spite of all of the programs and assistance available to our nation’s veterans, finding the resources for a specific need and navigating the administrative complexities involved can be a daunting task.
The Madison County Veterans’ Assistance Commission (VAC) can be instrumental in helping veterans and their families connect with those resources and get the help they need.
Founded in 1936, the VAC office in Edwardsville provides more than 1,000 assists every month to people seeking their help. In addition to hundreds of office visits, the office fields phone calls and emails requesting help on everything from financial assistance to support in working with the Veterans Administration and other government agencies.
Tim Turner is a service officer at the organization, working directly with the people who contact the VAC for help. Retired from the Navy, Turner has served with the organization for seven years.
The VAC is not part of the Madison County government.
“Our organization has no political allegiance,” Turner explains. “We exist as an agency by the will of the taxpayers.”
The services are provided to honorably discharged veterans or their family members.
The VAC works closely with all veterans’ organizations as well as local, state and federal agencies to ensure the rights to which each veteran is entitled have been granted. Services include interim or emergency veterans’ assistance, administrative case work, advocacy-related services, employment center services and VA medical-related transportation services.
Turner describes one veteran who was homeless when the VAC provided assistance to him.
“We helped him get housing and utilities and pay for his food,” Turner says. “We connected him with other agencies who helped him get on his feet and find employment.”
Turner goes on to say the individual recently landed a well-compensated job and has turned his life around because of the commission’s assistance.
“There are a lot of services available to veterans, but they don’t know about them or how to acquire them,” Turner says.
He explains the agency helps veterans from all eras and notes they have even assisted World War II veterans.
“We work with a lot of Vietnam veterans who are needing help,” he points out.
Many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and need assistance with psychological problems, substance abuse issues or involvement with the criminal justice system. While programs are not permanent assistance, what is often needed is simply a way for the men and women to get back on their feet. The VAC fulfills that role.
The commission is located in Suite 115 in the Madison County administration building at 157 N. Main St. in Edwardsville. The office is open 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached at (618) 296-4554 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available online under “Departments” at www.co.madison.il.us. Turner advises veterans to make appointments but says the office is willing to accommodate walk-ins as its schedule allows.