Health care, housing and more: Resources for Alaska veterans

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 11:09 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Tens of thousands of military members — active duty, reserve, retired, along with their families — call Alaska home. Most are connected to the state’s nine military bases, but veterans make up a big part of many communities.

In celebrating Alaska’s and America’s troops, Veterans Day is also a good reminder that many servicemen and women could use some assistance following their active and reserve duties. Many resources in Alaska happen to be available to veterans all year round.

“Veterans need to understand they won’t take away from any other veteran that they believe deserves it more than them,” said Verdie Bowen, director of Veterans Affairs for the State of Alaska.

“There’s a lot of things that have been restricted due to COVID,” he added, “but we’re still able to file claims for them, help them with their medical coverage as well, home loans. Not only besides mental health and the other issues that come through, veterans have a huge pile of benefits they earn from their service."

Bowen, a veteran himself, said the biggest issue is not that resources aren’t available, but that people aren’t committing to accessing them — in many cases, due to the often time-intensive efforts required to get there.

“Sometimes veterans will not apply,” Bowen said. “Sometimes it’s very arduous. It’s a long process. But you know, you don’t join the service and the next day you’re an NCO or officer and know everything there is to know. They just need to be patient, and in the end, if they get through the process, it will be wonderful. Really.”

Benefits available to Alaskan veterans include health care, home and housing solutions, assistance with employment, connections with various community groups and more. It can just take a bit to get to them.

And while the VA is more statewide, with a federal connection, other opportunities are more centralized and can be found in local communities. For example, the University of Alaska Anchorage has a setup specific to both current and prospective students who are veterans.

“Across the UAA campus, active duty military — if you add in National Guard and veterans and immediate family — veterans make up more than 18% of our total student body,” said Peter Clemens, the UAA Military & Veteran Student Services Program director. “That makes up a pretty sizeable portion of students.”

Clemens said students can contact the department anytime for assistance. Most all services are currently online, he said, but even so, he’s found his group is able to work closely with people to get what they need addressed.

“It’s the saying of, serving those who served,” he said. “So many of our military and veteran students have sacrificed so much for our country, and it’s an honor to be able to give a little back to them for all that they’ve done for us.

“Our office is a one-stop shop,” he added. “We may not have all the answers or be able to do everything the student may need to do to get through the application process, for example, but we always like to have students come to us to make sure we can help them and send them to the right people and resources they need.”

As a veteran, whatever you’re looking for, there’s likely a group that can help.

“I truly believe we can change our city, change our state, change our community," Bowen said, “just by bringing people to the resources they earned. It can take a while. It isn’t quick, but it is worth the effort in the end.”

Below is a list of a few of the various local resources for Alaska’s veterans. Keep in mind, separate from health, work and other resources, many companies also offer benefits for members of the military.

Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs: (907) 334-0874, or click here for website

Alaska Department of Administration Division of Motor Vehicles: (907) 269-5551, or click here for website

Alaska Veterans and Pioneers Home: (907) 745-4241, or click here for website

Alaska VA Healthcare System: (907) 257-4700, or click here for website

Alaska’s Healing Hearts: Click here for website

American Legion, Department of Alaska: (907) 278-8598, or click here for website

Justice for Vets: (703) 575-9400, or click here for website

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans: (800) VET-HELP, or click here for website

National Resource Directory: (800) 827-1000, or click here for website

Project Healing Waters: Click here for website

Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Alaska Behavioral Health: (907) 762-8668, or click here for website

UAA Military & Veteran Student Services: (907) 786-6962, or click here for website

Veterans Discounts and Services via American Legion: Click here for website

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the phone number for the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Alaska Behavioral Health.

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