New Menands office helps veterans get benefits

MENANDS – For many veterans, navigating benefits and paperwork can be daunting.

DAV – Disabled American Veterans – helped Bill Mangione.

"All my paperwork, my disabilities, they lined them all up, sent them in to the correct people, got me VA appointments as needed, and did followups with me to keep my appointments, and to provide me with followups from that," he said.

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The new DAV office in the old Montgomery Ward building on Broadway in Menands is where veterans can get help navigating paperwork, or learning about available benefits and services.

The day of the grand opening, a widow came here for help.

"She’s been trying and trying and trying to get her benefits from the VA," said veteran and volunteer Al Poole.

In this office, you might walk in and find Cliff Schenk, also known as "Shadow," or Al Poole. Both men are veterans who are volunteering their time.

One simple question brought Poole to tears.

"Why do I volunteer? Do you want me to cry? It’s because they’re veterans," he said through tears. "They need it, and nobody else is going to do it. It’s veterans helping veterans."

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Veterans and local leaders celebrated the opening of the new office Wednesday.

Nearby, there was an empty table for POW / MIA.

"Everybody has to know it’s okay to ask for help," said Commander Michael Martin of NYS DAV. "I don’t care if you are the most war-hardened veteran out there. Everybody needs a hand. We’re here to help."

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The office is at 150 Broadway in Menands, Suite 303. Office hours are Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The office phone number is (518) 245-6333.