MARTINEZ – This week’s series of earthquakes, power outages and industrial explosions serve as an important wake-up call that life can change in an instant.
For veterans and their families, one of the potentially devastating effects can be losing valuable paperwork – – their lifeline to entitled benefits. Often these important documents can be displaced when the veteran or their family needs to find them, or even destroyed during natural disasters.
Contra Costa County is hosting a free event next month to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Veterans and their families are invited to “disaster proof” their honorable discharge documents at the County’s third annual “Operation Documentation” veterans’ assistance event on Wednesday, November 13th from 8:00 am to Noon at the Contra Costa Clerk-Recorder-Elections Office, located at 555 Escobar Street in Martinez.
“Contra Costa County cares about the welfare of its veterans, and hopes to have the opportunity to serve them and their families,” Veterans Service Officer Nathan Johnson said. “A lot has changed in regards to VA benefits, and this event will be an important opportunity to advise veterans on these changes.”
The Clerk-Recorder offers veterans a place to record and store their DD-214 documents free of charge. These documents provide veterans and their spouses or other family members access to Veteran benefits, medical insurance, compensation, and even discounts at some retail stores.
At Operation Documentation, former military members and their families can record original or certified copies of DD-214 honorable discharge documents free of charge, receive a comprehensive overview of the VA benefits they may be eligible to receive, and sign up for a Veteran’s distinction on their state driver’s license. Those who served in the Reserves and National Guard are now eligible for this distinction.
Representatives from various county departments will also be at the event to share tax breaks, job opportunities and other perks veterans may be eligible to receive.
Though there are over 54,000 veterans in Contra Costa County, less than 150 of those recorded their DD-214 documents from 2007 to 2016. However, since the creation of the Operation Documentation event in fall 2017 nearly 150 more veterans have taken advantage of this free service.
“It’s one less thing for veterans and their families to worry about. Like one veteran told us at the first year of the event, it provides peace of mind,” Clerk-Recorder Joe Canciamilla said. “We’re pleased to be able to provide this service for those men and women who proudly served our country.”
There is no cost for veterans and their families to record DD-214s or to retrieve a certified copy of the document, once it is recorded.
Active duty military who purchased their marriage license in Contra Costa County can also receive a complimentary copy of their certified marriage certificate.
The Clerk-Recorder’s Office, located at 555 Escobar Street, is open weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. For more information, call 925-335-7900.