Veterans’ Agent Provides Support, Information for Wrentham’s Vets

Grace Allen
Issue Date: 
November, 2018
Article Body: 

On November 11, Veterans Day, Americans will pause to acknowledge and honor the sacrifice and bravery of the nation’s military veterans. Behind the scenes, however, a town’s veterans’ agent strives to make sure veterans’ needs are taken care of every day, not just on the holiday.
Ken Oles has been Wrentham’s veterans’ agent for seven years. The appointed, part-time position is designed to assist veterans and their dependents with federal and state benefits to which they may be entitled. Massachusetts Chapter 115 funding provides financial and medical assistance for eligible veterans and their families.
Veterans’ agents are also known as veterans’ service officers.
One part of Oles’ job is to make sure veterans are aware of possible benefits pertaining to their particular service in the military. For example, Oles says veterans of the Vietnam War may be entitled to medical benefits if they were exposed to Agent Orange during that conflict.
Similarly, veterans stationed at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina from the 1950s to the 1980s may have been exposed to contaminated drinking water, and there is evidence those contaminants can cause leukemia, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer, as well as other diseases. As a veterans’ agent, Oles can help veterans from Camp LeJeune navigate the process to apply for disability benefits or cost reimbursements related to illness.
Veterans’ agents can also help educate spouses and dependents of deceased veterans about substantial benefits for which they may qualify, such as life insurance, pensions, and senior care.
“Many widows are unaware that they may be eligible for some benefits due to their husband’s service to the country,” said Oles.
The VA can also help with some burial expenses, and provides bronze cemetery markers for the graves of deceased veterans.
According to Oles, Wrentham’s veterans range from ages 18 to 92. The bulk of his work is with the older veterans; younger vets can usually manage their own cases online.
Oles himself served in the Navy for three years and the Naval Reserves for eighteen years. He taught school in Canton for 35 years before retiring. He has been an ordained deacon at Saint Mary’s Parish in Wrentham for 37 years. He is a URI Master Gardner as well as a beekeeper and member of the Norfolk County Beekeepers Association since 1994.
Protecting the rights of Wrentham’s vets and helping them and their families navigate the VA system is gratifying, said Oles.
“There is satisfaction in helping veterans receive everything for which they are eligible, and it is an honor to help veterans in this town.”
Contact Oles at 508-384-8333 if you are a veteran or spouse of a veteran and need assistance or information about benefits.