Veterans - FAQs
Quick link to How do I get "Veteran" on my CA Driver's License?
Here is a page with instructions.
NOTE: these common questions and answers are meant as a guide only. We recognize that all veterans have their own individual histories and sometimes the situation doesn't neatly fit into one of these Q&A scenarios. Please, always call us and ask about your specific situation if you're at all unsure about anything.
Suggestions for more questions?
Great, they're always welcome and if you're thinking it no doubt others are as well.
Please email them to: Veteranservices-SMC@smcgov.org
Who is a veteran?
Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines a veteran as "a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonoroable."
Is the VSO part of the VA?
No, the VSO is a California and County funded organization set up to help our local veterans a) get the benefits to which they're entitled, and b) learn about the various benefits and services that are available to veterans and their families.
Do I have to live in San Mateo County to work with this VSO?
No, not at all. Naturally, most of our veterans live in San Mateo County but many live in surrounding counties or have moved away and continue to have cases handled by our office. At the end of the day a veteran is a veteran, no matter where you happen to live.
Who qualifies for College Fee Waiver?
(This is a CA State benefit) Dependents of a veteran who has a 0% to 100% service-connected disability rating (see lower down on this page for description) may be eligible for free tuition to any Community College (fka Junior College) or State and UC Universities.
What type of benefits or services are there?
Many: health, disability, pension, cemetery & burial, adapted housing, home loans, dependents' college fee waiver, "Veteran" designation on your driver's license, employment assistance, advocacy & assistance. The best way to get an overview is to download this CalVET Resource Book and then give us a call to discuss with our experts.
Are these all VA benefits?
No, some are specific to California. When you talk with a VSR they'll explain this but the main point is for veterans coming from other states who may not be aware what California offers above standard Federal benefits (College Fee Waiver being one the main ones).
What does Service Connected mean?
This is a determination by the VA that a veteran is disabled by an injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during active military service.
Can I only get service-connected due to military operations?
No. It doesn't matter if you were in combat or on peacetime duty. In simple terms there are three things we look for: 1) "something" happened to you that caused an illness or injury, or made an existing one worse, 2) you were serving in the military, 3) there is a nexus (ie a link) that can firmly establish a connection between (1) and (2), above.
Something happened to me but I didn't seek/get medical treatment at the time. Can I still pursue a claim?
Yes. It doesn't matter whether you were treated or not at the time, if the event or series of events caused you some kind of physical or mental injury (or made one worse) then part (1), above, is satisfied.
What are the levels of Service Connected?
An individual who is service-connected is rated anywhere from 0% to 100%. This percentage is determined by the VA depending on how much the condition impacts their daily activity by law.
Can a widow/widower or child of a deceased veteran qualify for benefits?
It is possible that a widow/widower and/or child(ren) of a deceased veteran may qualify for death indemnity compensation, widows pension, and/or accrued benefits.
Where can I see the different S/C levels?
This VA website has a list: https://benefits.va.gov/benefits/derivative_sc.asp
How do I start the process to get Service Connected?
The best option is call us and either have a telephone chat with a Veteran Services Representative or, if permitted, come into the office in San Carlos.
What information do I need to provide?
Firstly, proof of your service in the form of your original or certified copy of your DD-214 (see the Q below if you don't have it). In addition we'll need to order any and all records of your service. If you have them you should bring medical records and any other relevant documentation with you.
I lost my DD-214, how do I get an official replacement copy?
We have a page here with instructions on how to do this. You can of course come into the office (when conditions permit) or call our main number to go through this with a VSR.
How do I get "Veteran" on my CA Driver's License?
Here is a page with instructions.
How do I get to your office?
Our main office is at 550 Quarry Rd, San Carlos. We're on the border with Belmont and just off Old County Road. It's a white, nondescript, building opposite a big green sign for "Rockin' Jump".
How can I help get the word out?
We really appreciate fellow veterans helping out by spreading the word: "Follow" our Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/SMC_CVSO), tell others about your VSO experiences, tell us how we can improve, check back often at this website for updates and new channels (eg. Facebook and LinkedIn are in the works). Thank you for helping and thank you for your service!