Veterans Corner: Many services available to those who served

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, November 22, 2023

By Thomas Mastaglio
Contributing writer

Now that Veteran’s Day is our rearview mirror, your local newspaper has agreed to publish a monthly feature with information specifically for local veterans. 

I offered to write that piece, with future help from other veteran-oriented organizations. Hopefully all veterans were recognized and thanked for their service by friends and family — if not, it’s never too late.  

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As the first column, I want to provide an overview of what is available to veterans locally to insure they take full advantage of services which are in place. In Smithfield, we are fortunate to have both an American Legion Post and a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. If you do not belong to one of these, please consider joining one of them. Their modest membership fees help provide support to veterans in need and their families, through their national organizations.  The Legion meets monthly at 5 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month, while the VFW meets at 6 p.m. on the second Wednesday.

Veterans Service Officers are available to assist you with Veterans Affairs medical support or apply for any disability to which you are entitled through the Veterans Benefits Administration. 

The American Legion VSO is Joe Grocki, a volunteer who is extremely knowledgeable and experienced in helping veterans. He can be reached at  Joe is available at Post 49 from 9-11 a.m. every Monday. 

VFW Post 8545 is very fortunate to have Laurie Clay as its service officer. A former VA employee and the Virginia VFW VSO, she provides support to veterans throughout the commonwealth. You can call and leave her a message at 757-542-5785.  

Every veteran should be enrolled with Veterans Affairs. You do not need to be a disabled veteran or retiree to use their services, only a discharged serviceman or woman. You can visit the Hampton VA center to enroll or seek assistance from one of the above VSOs. This is a benefit of having served

Your level of medical support will depend on a number of factors, but regardless of your status, enrolling with the VA and getting an ID card from them should be on your to do list.  

It is important to understand that there are two VA organizations, Veterans Affairs which provide healthcare through their medical centers or civilian doctors, and the Veterans Benefits Administration, which reviews, awards disability ratings and compensation based on your applications. You can apply online for a disability review and award at or get assistance from the VSOs.

I will conclude with a somber note. Veteran suicides have reached epidemic proportions in this country. The American Legion, through its “Be the One” initiative, is seeking to identify and provide assistance to any veteran at risk; the VFW has similar programs.  

Don’t hesitate to contact one of the following organizations or call 988 for assistance. You are not alone and there are many veterans prepared to assist you.

American Legion Post 49 is located at 818 S. Church St. in Smithfield or can be reached at 757-870-4647. Smithfield’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1545 is located at 223 Washington St. and can be reached at 757-542-5785

If you have information to include in future columns or suggestions for content please contact me. 

Thomas Mastaglio is a member of American Legion Post 49 and can be contacted by email at