Frank Strom, of Lithia, the managing director for Veterans Affairs in Hillsborough County, said the agency’s new Office of Veterans Affairs in Brandon will make it more convenient for the large number of veterans in the eastern part of the county.
“We have a heavy population of veterans that live in Brandon,” Strom said. “Forty-eight percent of our clients come from the Brandon area. It’s the ideal location. Our goal is to be more accessible to veterans and their families.”
He said their main office, 311 Pauls Drive, Suite 100, opened July 1. It’s also referred to as their Brandon Regional Service Center.
“Our focus is to assist veterans, their survivors and dependents in obtaining federal VA benefits,” he said. “We also serve our active duty military.”
They also have a number of “annex offices,” or neighborhood service centers throughout the county to assist the more than 94,000 veterans living in the area. They can also help clients access any state and local benefits that might be available.
Strom said the Tampa annex office, 2410 North Tampa St., provides general assistance as well as special help for the homeless through the Homeless Recovery and Homeless Veteran Reintegration programs.
Two case managers and one job developer help veterans at the downtown Tampa site.
“Their job is to identify homeless veterans, remove barriers such as lack of transportation, housing and health care,” he said. “The main focus is to help them gain employment.”
Additionally, the James Haley Veterans Administration Hospital site, 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Room 1B-156B, is only one year old, said Strom. Through this location, they have been able to reach out to younger veterans.
Hillsborough County has the fourth largest population of veterans in Florida.
For more information on the main office in Brandon, call (813) 635-8316. The Brandon office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For information on the VA Hospital site, call (813) 903-4884. The hospital site is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For information on the downtown Tampa site, call (813) 635-8316 or visit them Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Other sites include 201 14th Ave. S.E., Ruskin, open the second Wednesday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon by appointment only, call (813) 246-3170, and the Plant City Neighborhood Service Center, 307 N. Michigan Ave., Plant City, open the second Wednesday of the month from 1 to 4 p.m. by appointment only, call (813) 246-3170.
To learn more about the programs, visit hillsboroughcounty.org/veterans.