McALLEN – The Hidalgo County Veterans Services Office hosted a ribbon cutting for their new office located 10213 N. 10th St., Suite B.

The building before was part of a larger county office which only three offices were allotted to the department but now they are in an office space that has seven offices. Along with each office will come a Veteran Service Officer who helps veterans receive the benefits they have earned by serving in the armed forces for the United States.

“This space helps cover all our veterans under one one roof,” Garcia said. “I hope this building serves as a message that we are here to assist them.”

Veterans of Hidalgo County are among the first to respond to the call of duty. Roughly 20 years ago former Veteran Affairs Secretary Hershel W. Gober made the trip to the Rio Grande Valley because of a large interest for a veterans hospital. He pointed out to Garcia that South Texas has more combat veterans than any other part of the United States.

The Veterans Services Office has identified 25,000 veterans live in Hidalgo County. About 23,000 are registered with the office which in turn qualifies them for federal and state benefits.

The purpose of the office is to help veterans apply for the benefits they have earned.

“What is troubling is that we also have identified at least 5,000 veterans who have not yet registered,” Garcia said. “We owe it to them to find them and help them get registered.”

The Hidalgo County Veterans Services Office receives about $169 million in federal funds and education benefits for veterans. A veteran who qualifies for 100 percent compensation can receive close to $3,000 a month for living expenses and an additional $1,200 for education benefits.

Emilio De Los Santos and his staff strive to get veterans to 100 percent compensation.

They can be reached by telephone at (956) 318-2436. All of the staff are former veterans of the armed forces.