Ask a Service Officer: Role of a VSO

Q: What is the role of a veterans service officer?

A: A veterans service officer (VSO) is an individual who advocates for veterans benefits. They should never take an action which they believe to have a negative impact on the veteran or family of the veteran. The VSO is also responsible for being proficient in the areas of customer service, technical knowledge of regulation and law as it pertains to VA matters, and proper disposition of claims and appeals. They too should be empathetic, understanding and helpful.

I commonly group misconduct by VSOs into two sections: illegal and unprofessional. It is very rare that a VSO willingly executes an illegal action so I will focus on some issues which may constitute unprofessional conduct. These actions can include not filing a claim in a timely manner, unprofessional conversation with a client, and willfully submitting fraudulent evidence or documentation.

It is very important when seeking a professional VSO that you take several factors into consideration. First, verify that the service officer is accredited by a veterans service organization, such as The American Legion. Second, if a VSO attempts to charge you money for services rendered, either covertly or overtly, they should be reported to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Third, you should make an appointment with the prospective representative to explain your case and get a feel for how well they do their job. If you are not satisfied, find another VSO that you feel comfortable with. The VSO is your lifeline to VA benefits, and you must ensure that they are providing everything you deserve.

It is important to The American Legion that all of our accredited VSOs are competent, capable and professional. As an American Legion department service officer (DSO), one of our duties is to assure wholesome and professional service to veterans who have honored us by allowing us to represent their interests with VA. If you experience what you believe to be substandard service, you should contact the DSO for your state and file a written complaint.

Contact a Legion service officer to assist with a VA claim or benefits: