Alaska VA tests pilot program in Kodiak

The Anchorage branch of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs will hold a claims clinic in Kodiak this weekend. Veterans and their family members will be able to meet with Veterans Benefits Representatives, who will help them in making new claims and moving claims along, as well as provide other assistance like answering questions on pending claims.

Carrie Epperson is a Coach at Veterans’ Benefits in Anchorage and says the program is an attempt to connect with veterans, reestablish trust, and provide a better overall experience.

“The Anchorage Regional Office was recently selected as part of a pilot program for this new claims clinic,” Epperson said. “We’re one of six stations nationwide that is doing it, so we’re really excited to be able to be selected for this pilot, and we’ve chose Kodiak as our first event.”

Epperson says they made that decision in part because VA does not normally service Kodiak.

“There’s not a VA representative in the area. It is considered a rural area. We are based in Anchorage. And then we’re also looking at proximity. Kodiak has a large military. The Coast Guard. So, they have a large veteran population. We figure that we’ll be hitting a lot of veterans in that area,” Epperson said.

She says as part of the new claims process, VA will also use technology to speak with veterans.

“It’s called Jabbar. We’re gonna have some computer monitors set up with folks here in our regional office in Anchorage and in Kodiak, so they had can have face-to-face interaction with representatives on the computer,” Epperson said. “It works just like FaceTime. It’s something that will help us to be able to bring this to more rural areas and maybe not have to travel folks out.”

Epperson says they hope to open more clinics around the state if the pilot program is a success.