February marked the first month with expanded visits by a Veteran Service Officer at the Los Banos Veterans Memorial Hall. Previously a VSO would come to the hall twice a month to assist veterans with understanding their benefits and to help them file claims.

After seeing how great the need was, the Merced Veterans Office decided to send a representative four times a month: the first, third and fourth Thursdays and the second Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

We can see how beneficial this has already been as over 30 veterans met with the VSO in February. We anticipate this number will increase as word about the additional availability gets out to the public.

The Commanders of the American Legion and the VFW have brought other resources to the Veterans Memorial Hall.

In addition to the VSO, representatives from the San Joaquin National Cemetery, the Fresno Vet Center and Fresno Connective Care have also been in attendance. The individuals from these organizations and departments strive to help veterans in whatever way they can.

The next VSO day is Mar. 7 at 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. While no appointment is required, there is a sign-in sheet. People are seen in the order of the sign-in sheet.

Reminder, tickets to the Central Valley Honor Flight (CVHF) Rigatoni drive-thru dinner are still available to purchase.

Each ticket is $10 each. The drive-thru is on Mar. 11 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the DES Hall. Contact Patricia McCoy at 209-587-5033 or Mike Hughe at 209-704-5301 if you would like to buy some tickets or donate to this worthy cause.

Patricia McCoy

Patricia McCoy is a US Air Force veteran and the chairperson of the Los Banos Veterans Parade. She can be reached at (209) 587-5033.