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What VSOs Can Do For You

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 3rd Class Rosa A. Arzola

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 3rd Class
Rosa A. Arzola/Released

As service members transition to veteran status, they will begin to explore the services and benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) including:

  • Disability
  • Education and training
  • Vocational rehabilitation and employment
  • Home loan guaranty
  • Dependent and survivor benefits
  • Medical treatment
  • Life insurance and burial benefits.1

When navigating VA benefits, service members and veterans can tap into a variety of resources. VA offers direct benefits information and assistance to service members and veterans by phone at 1-800-827-1000 or in-person at a VA regional office. Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) are another resource that service members and veterans can use to understand VA benefits and services.

While all VSOs have a shared purpose to serve the needs of veterans, VSOs are divided into chartered and non-chartered programs. Chartered organizations are federally authorized to represent veterans before VA. For example, chartered VSOs may prepare and present veterans benefit claims to VA.

Additionally, in the event a veteran or their beneficiaries are not satisfied with the results of a veterans benefit claim, chartered VSOs may legally represent the veteran or their family before the VA Board of Appeals.2 Non-chartered organizations may provide you with information on veterans services and benefits, but they cannot serve as a representative for veterans or their beneficiaries before VA.2


Real Warriors Campaign Partners with VSOs

The Real Warriors Campaign partners with federal, military and local non-profit organizations that share the goals and messaging of the campaign, while providing resources and/or assistance to service members, veterans and military families. Several partners are congressionally chartered VSOs and recognized by VA:

  1. The American Legion 
    The American Legion is the largest VSO in the United States, with 55 state headquarters, 14,000 Posts and 2.4 million members. The American Legion provides claim and appeal support to veterans; the representatives providing support are professionally trained to walk veterans through the process of obtaining their benefits and making claims. To learn more about the American Legion or how to join, visit www.legion.org or call 1-800-433-3318.
  2. The American Red Cross 
    The American Red Cross has an Armed Forces Division, which exclusively provides support to service members, veterans and their families. These programs include emergency communications, support to military treatment facilities and family support. To learn more about the American Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  3. Blue Star Mothers of America 
    The Blue Star Mothers of America (BSMA) is comprised of mothers who currently have or have had children honorably serving in the military. The organization focuses on supporting veterans while promoting patriotism. BSMA coordinates volunteers at more than 150 VA Medical Centers and healthcare facilities across the country. Through their worldwide campaign, “Sew Much Comfort,” they provide more than 1,200 clothing items and accessories to returning service members each month. To learn more about Blue Star Mothers of America or how to join, visit www.bluestarmothers.org.
  4. Congressional Medal of Honor Society 
    The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is a VSO comprised of recipients of the prestigious Congressional Medal of Honor. The society provides aid to all Medal of Honor recipients, their widows or their children. To learn more about the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, visit www.cmohs.org or call 843-884-8862.
  5. Disabled American Veterans 
    Disabled American Veterans has provided services for disabled veterans and their families for more than 90 years. The organization provides free claims representation, helping approximately 250,000 veterans receive benefits annually, and also offers transition service for active duty and reserve component military members. To learn more about the Disabled American Veterans or how to join, visit www.dav.org or call 1-877-I AM A Vet (1-877-426-2838).
  6. Gold Star Wives of America 
    The Gold Star Wives of America is an organization with membership comprised of widows and widowers whose spouses lost their lives while on active duty or as the result of a service-connected cause. The organization assists widows and widowers in understanding and obtaining veterans benefits. Additionally, you can find members of the Gold Star Wives of America volunteering in VA Medical Centers and military hospitals around the country. To learn more about Gold Star Wives of America or how to join, visit www.goldstarwives.org or call 1-888-751-6350.
  7.  United Service Organizations  (USO)
    The USO is a global organization designed to support service members by providing morale, welfare and recreation services to service members and their families. Today, there are 135 USO centers worldwide, which are visited approximately 6.9 million times each year. The USO also has a variety of wounded warrior programs and partnerships including: Operation Proper Exit, Ride 2 Recovery, USO CarePages, Transition Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and the Moyer Foundation’s Camp Erin. To learn more about the USO, visit www.uso.org or call 1-888-484-3876.

Today, there are hundreds of VSOs around the country that share the common goal of providing resources to service members, veterans and their families. Together with VA, they help service members transition to veteran status and assist them in obtaining veterans services and benefits. Please visit the Real Warriors Campaign partnerships  webpage to find additional information and resources from other partners.

Additional Resources


1New to VA,” Department of Veterans Affairs. Last accessed Feb. 24, 2016.
2How Do I Appeal?”, Department of Veterans Affairs. Published May, 2015.


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