Belmont County Veterans Service Commission will be celebrating its new satellite office with a grand opening here at 113 W. Main St. on June 1. The main office in Bellaire will be closed that day.

The event will start with the public meeting of the Belmont County Veterans Service Commission. The meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. at the Barnesville Satellite Office, followed by the grand opening ceremony at 10 a.m.

The ceremony will include a ribbon cutting with the Barnesville Area Chamber of Commerce and speeches from local dignitaries. Refreshments will be served.

The satellite office soft opening held in April has proven successful helping veterans and their families file claims and other forms since that time.

This event will give the public a chance to see what we do and to better understand the service we offer veterans, said Lucinda Maupin, director, Belmont County Veterans Service Office. Now, with the opening of this office, we will be better situated to help veterans from all corners of Belmont County.

The new satellite office is currently open on Tuesdays and Thursdays but more days may be added in the future. All the services available at the main office are available at the satellite office and Jeremy Harrison of the Wheeling Veterans Center will be at the office on Thursdays to provide counseling services.

The history of the veterans service offices in Ohio goes back to the turn of the last century with the creation of the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Organization. In 1945 it became known as the Belmont County Veterans Service Commission.

In 2010, the main office moved from St. Clairsville to Bellaire.

The new main office provides more space, privacy and is handicap accessible and is on a bus route for veterans who do not drive.

Services available at the Belmont County Veterans Service Office include filing for all Veterans Administration claims including disability, widows pension and VA health care. BCVSO also provides financial assistance to qualifying Belmont County veterans and their families. Financial assistance is for veterans under financial stress and is available to those veterans who are under the offices income guidelines. They can apply for financial assistance to pay for utility bills, rent or groceries.

Other services for veterans and their families have included Thanksgiving and Christmas grocery orders. Last year, the office started a back to school program to provide school age children of veterans in need with back to school supplies. Coats for Veterans Kids kickoff in 2011 and this year a new Easter program was tested where the office worked with Sams Club to provide an Easter ham to veterans meeting financial guidelines. More programs are also in the planning stages.

To apply for any benefits or financial assistance, a copy of the veterans discharge papers, DD214, is required. If a veteran does not have his or her DD214 or equivalent, the Belmont County Veterans Service Office can help obtain a copy from the National Archives.

Transportation is provided for veterans, by appointment, on a daily basis to VA facilities in Pittsburgh. Pick-up locations for the daily vans are in Bellaire, St. Clairsville and Bridgeport. Special transportation to other VA facilities is also available by appoint for Belmont County veterans.

For more information about the Belmont County Veterans Service Office, call the main office in Bellaire, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 740-325-1042 or toll free at 1-877-316-0385. The Barnesville Office can be reached on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 740-619-0326.

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