Manners, etiquette and common sense

You might think this is a strange topic for a column that is about veterans. Some of the following thoughts and information can help you and, at the same time, help someone who is trying to help you with better, faster and more accurate assistance.

I’ll explain.

1. Turn off your cell phone: When you come to my office or to the office of anyone that you want to help you, please don’t waste their time and your time by answering a cell phone. It’s disruptive and is very aggravating to the person trying to assist you. Turn your cell phone off before you visit the office.

2. Children: Please arrange for someone to care for small children when visiting this office. I love children too, but they can be very disruptive while trying to resolve, and assist with, complicated matters.

3. Phone messages: When you leave a phone message for someone, please make your message very brief, with your name and a phone number where they can reach you. Give your name and phone number at the beginning of the message, not at the tail end. Speak very slowly and clearly, especially with phone numbers, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to listen to long messages with hurried phone number information that I have been unable to decipher, and finally gave up in frustration. Guess what: You won’t get a call back!

4. Veteran contact please: It is always best that the veteran himself or herself call or come by the office for assistance. Veterans, please don’t ask your spouse or others to come to the office on your behalf, because you are “too busy.” By all means, I encourage your spouse to get involved and come with you. All VA matters are very complicated. It is best if they are explained directly to the veteran, and most all, VA benefit applications require the veteran’s signature.

5. Letters, paperwork: If you have documents, letters, etc. that you need assistance with, it only makes sense to bring that paperwork with you when you come to the office. I can’t tell you how many thousands of times I have had veterans or family members refer to official paperwork they need help with, only to tell me they left the paperwork at home. Get your act together, get organized, and you’ll get the fastest possible assistance.

6. Call before you come by: Give a quick call to the office before you make a special trip here, to make sure I am available. I may be out of the office or not available, and I know how frustrating it is for you to come to the office and find I am not here. If I know you’re coming, often I can prepare for your visit and give you faster service.

These little courtesies can help any service person assist you much better.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays — call Mike Dunaway, 247-2198 — and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays — call Harriet Mulnix (505) 793-1782.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 400 South Camino Del Rio, Suite G, next to Big 5 Sports. Phone number is 247-2214.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center. The office number is 9731-3837, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is The office is open from 8 a.m to 4 p.m, Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.