Director Ben Camacho of the CNMI Military and Veterans Affairs Office yesterday urged all veterans residing in the Commonwealth to register with their office.
Knowing how many veterans are in the Commonwealth would aid the office in providing them assistance, said Camacho, who was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting at the Hyatt Regency Saipan.
While they do have a list of veterans currently residing on the islands, it is not updated since it does not take into account those who are new to the community or have left the islands permanently, Camacho said.
“I don't have an accurate number right now because we are still trying to get all the vets to come out and see me so we can have a good number of vets we have here. I need numbers to do some of my work,” said Camacho.
He pointed out, though, that veterans can register at any veterans' center and still receive the same privileges and entitlements befitting anyone who has served in the military.
Camacho said the CNMI Military and Veterans Affairs Office is the state office that assists veterans in qualifying for VA benefits.” These benefits include medical benefits, disability compensation, survivors' benefits, pension, education, home loans, vocational rehabilitation, life insurance, and burial benefits.
He said the office also provides various services to veterans in the Commonwealth, including the VA Outreach Clinic run by Dr. Norma Ada at the MH II Building at the Marina Heights Business Park, and counseling services for those who lost a loved one.
Camacho noted that veterans also have the option to avail of the VA direct home loan program, which is facilitated by the Northern Marianas Housing Corp., or education benefits for those who enlist in the armed forces through the Montgomery GI Bill, which is handled by the Northern Marianas College.
“We have these various types of programs but other smaller programs are on a case-by-case basis,” he added.
Camacho, who took over the post vacated by Ruth Coleman, told Rotarians that he was in active duty for 24 years before his retirement in 2007. He has been serving in the CNMI Military and Veterans Affairs Office for some 10 months now.
Part of his duty, Camacho said, is taking charge of the Memorial Day and Veterans Day commemoration-a challenge given the limited resources of the government.
“Thanks to the agencies and companies that support me, it all works out,” he added.
Officials of the Tan Holdings Football Club present boxes of industrial cleaners to San Antonio Elementary School principal James Sablan and several students in a brief ceremony at the Home of the Octopus grounds yesterday morning.