Get help accessing veterans services
Although based out of Marion County, veterans service officer Marlon Holloway, 58, a retired Marine, comes to the Franklin County Courthouse in Russellville every Thursday to help veterans and their spouses and dependents. Holloway sad he wants to make sure these groups know he is available to assist them.
“I’m here from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.,” said Holloway, “but I will stay longer if I have a vet that’s in here needing help. I encourage anyone who has questions to come by or call, and I keep my business cards on the outside of the door of my office. It’s located next to the tag office.”
He explained while he’s assigned to Marion and Franklin counties, there are a lot of “halfway points,” and anybody can come in his office. “I provide service for any veteran, whether they’re from Alabama or not.”
Holloway said filing a VA claim is a tedious process, and it’s his job to help take care of veterans and their families by making that easier.
“I don’t work for the federal government, but rather for the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, and they don’t decide yes or no,” he added. “I make sure the right paperwork is filed and gets where it needs to be. I don’t turn anyone away. If you’re willing to wait, I will see you.”
The VA of today, Holloway said, is “much more efficient than it used to be.”
“I assist with filing claims, looking at the evidence and advising which way to go,” he explained. “I’m very passionate about my job. I really want to see more vets coming in to find out what they may qualify for.”
Certain factors, such as place of service and whether activated for combat, can affect what services are available to a particular veteran. Holloway said a veteran can make an initial visit to figure out what kind of documents they need to proceed with applying for whatever they might qualify for, including pensions, disability and a GI scholarship.
While the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs encourages making an appointment, it isn’t required.
Holloway said too many people listen to what friends and associates have told them without stopping to check into their own specific situations.
“I can advise on what the current policies and regulations are and assist to see if compensation or other benefits are due,” said Holloway. Among the possible benefits, for veterans who meet the necessary qualifications, their children can go to college tuition-free.
“I want people to know they have a representative here and that the money the VA pays out to veterans, spouses and dependents is tax-free,” Holloway emphasize. “Generally, if a vet is drawing some kind of compensation when they die, the VA will pay a certain amount toward the funeral.”
Holloway said for most vets, the most important piece of paper they can bring with them is their DD-214, an official discharge document that validates military service type and dates. Once the document is registered with him, it doesn’t have to be presented again.
It’s also important to bring a proper photo ID, such as a driver’s license or military ID. Members of the National Guard should also bring their NGB-22.
Veterans who need help acquiring these documents can also contact Holloway for assistance with that.
Another matter where Holloway can assist is aiding those veterans who will qualify for a burial flag. Holloway said having their military service already registered expedites that process, while having to start from scratch could result in being unable to obtain the flag in time for the funeral.
Online options exist through the website Ebenefits.va.gov, but Holloway said some people in need of services might not be technically savvy, might be intimidated by the process or might lack good internet access. Even those who start a claim online can still contact Holloway for help.
Holloway can be reached at 256-332-8845 at the Franklin County Courthouse on Thursdays and at 205-821-3161 at the Marion County Courthouse in Hamilton Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.