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Campbell, Milot Are Devoted Veterans Service Officers

Ana Milot and “Art’’ Campbell are always ready to assist military veterans.

Bulletin Staff Writer
When military veterans in Bellingham need assistance or advice, Warren “Art’’ Campbell and Ana Milot are the go-to individuals to see at the town’s Veterans Service office at the Municipal Center.
The 70-year-old Campbell served as a sergeant in the Marine Corps as a radar technician for six years and the 58-year-old Milot, who’s an Army veteran, served in the Reserves for 21½ years before retiring in 2004 as a Staff Sergeant. She was a personnel records specialist and a flight medic.
The tandem is ready, willing, and able to provide help for veterans, whether the assistance is about Chapter 115 benefits or about federal Veterans Administration (VA) claims.
Chapter 115 benefits provide financial aid for food, shelter/housing, clothing, fuel and medical assistance for veterans and their dependents who have limited incomes. The program is overseen by the Mass. Department of Veterans Services (DVS) in partnership with local Veterans Service Officers (VSO). 
“The DVS pays 75 percent, and the town pays for 25 percent,’’ said Milot, who also works in the finance department for the Bellingham school district. “For fiscal year 2023, the total benefits paid out to recipients was $74,215, and the reimbursements received from the DVS was $48,019.’’
Campbell and Milot are Bellingham’s Veterans Agents, trained to provide assistance not only for federal and state benefits, but also to provide information on resources, such as compensation and pensions, health care, education and training, employment, burial and survival issues, transportation and military records.
“When a veteran needs VA help, we do an intake interview and assist in getting the claim completed,’’ Campbell said. “If the VA requires a physical exam, for example, then it will make the necessary arrangements and inform the veteran where and when his/her appointment will be held.’’
Campbell and Milot, who attend two seminars annually that focus on updates on current services, are well-equipped to assist veterans with issue linked to the PACT Act, which expands and extends the scope of VA health care.
“That legislation enables veterans who experienced toxic exposures to be eligible for VA health care,’’ Campbell said. “That includes veterans of the Vietnam era, Gulf War era, and post-9/11 era. The conditions include exposure to agent orange, burn pits, and asbestos. Other situations covered are PTSD, military sexual trauma (abuse) and other service-related injuries. We can definitely assist veterans with these issues.’’
The VA indicates that since the act was signed into law in August 2022, it has conducted more than 4.5 million toxic exposure screenings and approved more than 400,000 benefit claims at a 78 percent approval rate.
Milot became a Veterans Agent in September 2022, and Campbell joined the office in July 2023. “Our goal is to help as many veterans as possible in whatever ways we can,’’ they said. 
Campbell, on duty at the office Monday through Thursday, says he assists 10 veterans a day at the office, takes about a dozen phone calls daily and makes three or four house calls a month.
Veterans Service Officers continually have to deal with excessive paperwork and regulatory procedures and must stay ahead of what seems like a never-ending learning curve. So, why are Milot and Campbell attracted to the task?
Campbell, who also is the Veterans Agent for Millville, considers his work a mandatory outreach. “For 27 years I’ve been involved with VA health care for my own service-connected disabilities,’’ he said. “It’s about giving back. It’s my desire to give back and help out fellow veterans.’’
Milot says her role is to ensure that veterans are respected and get access to what they need. “As a veteran, I am committed and passionate about serving our veterans,’’ she noted. “Every veteran deserves to be respected and I want to make sure veterans have access to the support and resources they need. Even if it’s just to stop in and chat.’’
Both agents emphasized that what they do gives them “a great deal of satisfaction.’’
Campbell, who worked in electronics for defense contractors before turning his full attention to veterans, is troubled by the low number of people who provide services for veterans.
“In all my years of handling veteran affairs, I’m amazed at the large number of veterans who need vital services, and the low number of people who provide services,’’ he said. “My suggestion to Bellingham residents is to consider what you can do in whatever way to help and assist those who made huge sacrifices to serve and preserve our freedoms.’’ 
Milot added: “See a Vet, thank a Vet.’’
Military veterans Art Campbell and Ana Milot, devoted to the needs of those veterans who courageously chose to defend America, are the right people at the right time to occupy the seats at Bellingham’s Veterans Service office.
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