Veteran’s Representatives Meet for Information Exchange


John Griego Meeting with Prowers County VSO Gary Harbert


John Griego, Military and Veterans Constituent Advocate from US Senator Bennet’s office, visited with the Prowers County Commissioners along with Dwight Gardner, Regional Director for Senator Bennet.

Gardner said the visit was part of the Senator’s general community outreach program intended to visit each county in the state and allowing residents one-on-one opportunities to express their concerns or ideas.

Griego visited the VA Clinic on South Main Street in Lamar and also met with the county’s Veteran Service Officer, Gary Harbert to discuss veteran’s issues that had been brought to Harbert’s attention.

“I offer facts for veteran retires and their spouses on healthcare issues when I visit as well as coordinate with each VSO in the state. Colorado is fortunate in that there is a veteran’s representative in each county where other states have a regional representative,” he explained.  Griego added he will work hand in hand with the VSO’s when disability benefits are applied for in an effort to reduce the amount of red tape that sometimes accompanies such requests.  “We try to compliment their efforts and slice through the red tape that can accompany these types of filings.”

Another facet off his position is to help connect veterans with the proper representatives at Health Net, the provider that transacts the financial payments for the veteran with the medical provider. “This can be a challenge as some providers are dropping out of the program due to the difficulties of being reimbursed in a timely basis,” he said.

Griego said he is working to facilitate legislation in the veteran’s affairs committee next month that is intended to fix some issues with the Choice Program which allows a veteran to use a local medical provider when they would have lengthy travel to another city or even state to be treated. He said one portion of the program will be to consolidate non-VA expenditures into a single account to repay providers more quickly instead of a 180 day turnaround for claims.

Harbert’s office is located in the Prowers County Annex and can be reached at 336-2606, Monday through Friday for local veteran’s affairs. He makes a monthly report to the Prowers County Commissioners as well as providing service in the county’s Vital Statistics Office.  Harbert is still seeking volunteer drivers who can transport veterans to their medical appoints several times a month.  The day trips will be to La Junta, Pueblo, Colorado Springs or Denver.  He said the per diem payment can range between $40 and $50 per day trip.

Harbert also noted that veterans and their spouses should be aware of the phone number to call if a veteran requires emergency, life-saving medical service and no VA site is available. The call to 888-795-0773 must be made within 72 hours of the emergency.  He said this will aid in payments for the emergency medical care.

By Russ Baldwin


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