Philadelphia City Office of Veterans Affairs Reaches out to Serve

Filed under: Featured News |

CARLO ARAGONCILLO

BY CARLO ARAGONCILLO
The City of Philadelphia offers a wide range of services to residents who have served in their nation’s military. It is my privilege to share some insights we operate by, as director of the Office of Veterans Services.

(1) Leadership Philosophy – When I came back home from Iraq in 2017, I was unfamiliar with the environment coming back home. With Veteran status in-hand, I knew that the City of Philadelphia has been a leader in the veteran space given its stature as the nation’s first capital and the birthplace to three of five military branches – Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.

Coming from a Marine Corps family, I held onto the values and traditions of the military growing up, which ultimately led me to my own military career in the U.S. Army. I continue to serve our city’s veterans and their families by providing and improving services, building relationships with supporting organizations, and increasing awareness of our successes.

(2) Direct Services – Philadelphia’s Office of Veterans Affairs is located at City Hall of Philadelphia, Room 127. It is wheelchair accessible on the first floor and the only office with a U.S. flag on the outside. There are two core services we directly provide, and they are:

(A) VA Claims: if you have any physical/mental service connected injuries that you want to file with the VA, come see our Veteran Service Officers (VSOs), so that we can start your claim for compensation, or we can refer you to an organization of your choice.

(B) Pennsylvania State Benefits: if you are blind, an amputee, or paralyzed as a result of your service, we help you file for Pennsylvania State pensions; if you have a 100% permanent and total disability rating through the VA, you may also be eligible for Real Estate Tax Exemption pending review of your documents.

(3) Government – The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Veterans Affairs is not only a service office, it is a resource and touchpoint for other organizations within the community. To date, there are over 4,000 nonprofit organizations serving Philadelphians; some of which are Veteran-specific. By being engaged with the local, state, and federal government levels, Veterans can make their voices heard to see change in policy and legislation that directly impacts them and others in the community.

(4) Current State – The City of Philadelphia is uniquely positioned because of its roots in rich military history. As veterans’ needs grow in awareness, we also have a responsibility to share the successes we’ve seen throughout our community.

The issues of homelessness, affordable housing, employment opportunities, economic development, etc. are not unique to veterans as they are everyday issues many people across the nation face today. If we are able to successfully support veterans, we can start effecting change at scale throughout the community as a whole.

(5) Future State – The Office of Veterans Affairs is growing our ongoing awareness campaign. For the first time since 1957, the office is being invited to State- and federal-level committees and programs to drive change for the veteran community.

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