CHICAGO – Effective this week, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) is announcing the addition to two new Veterans’ Service Officers (VSO) in Winnebago and Stephenson counties. Located throughout Illinois, VSOs are subject matter experts on federal, state and local benefits and programs available for the state’s veteran community.
In Winnebago County, the new VSO is Matthew Taylor, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Taylor is based at the Machesney Park National Guard Armory, 10451 N. 2nd Street in Machesney Park. He joins fellow VSOs Jessica Holm and Dave Davis at this location. The office is open daily from 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Taylor’s phone number is (815) 633-5875.
In Stephenson County, the new VSO is Randall Vetter, a U.S. Navy veteran. Vetter is based at the IDVA office, 223 West Stephenson St., Suite 201 in Freeport. The office is open from 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. Vetter’s phone number is (815) 233-5092.
Veterans wishing to contact a VSO in between office days may use the “Stand Up and Be Counted” online tool at www.veterans.illinois.gov. Veterans who do will also be assisting their fellow veterans by helping IDVA and the entire veteran advocacy community to gain a better understanding of who and where Illinois’ veterans are. This will help us plan for future services, lobby for further federal VA funding and facilities, and generally serve Illinois’ veterans better.
The Winnebago and Stephenson Veterans’ Service Offices are part of a statewide network a statewide network of VSO's who assist about 800,000 Illinois veterans in navigating the network of resources and benefits available to them. Offices are staffed by VSOs who provide accurate, up-to-date information, answer questions, assist with paperwork and filing of claims for federal, state and local benefits completely free of charge.
Assistance provided by VSOs includes:
• Compensation Benefits and Document Assistance – Combat and service-related bonus payments and compensation, DD214 certificates.
• Survivor and Burial Benefits – Graves registration, grave markers.
• Educational Benefits – G.I. Bill, Troops to Teachers, Scholarships.
• Employment Benefits – Employment preference, Jobs for Vets program.
• Real Estate and Permits – Homestead and Disabled Veterans Standard Homestead exemptions, Adapted Housing exemptions, camping and admissions fees, hunting and fishing licenses.
• Referral Assistance – Facilitating access to federal VA health care and counseling services.
• Illinois Veterans Homes – Assist in applying for admission to one of four state-managed homes throughout Illinois.
For more information, please visit www.veterans.illinois.gov or call 1-800-437-9824.