Officials want vets to know benefit help is free

Authorities say so-called financial planners and veterans

VA clinic in former Fort Sanders Hospital in Sevierville set to open in September. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Veterans Affairs officials in the states are going after scams that charge veterans for help to obtain benefits.

It's illegal to charge a veteran for help filing a claim for disability or pension benefits.

Authorities say so-called financial planners and veterans' counselors have found a loophole by calling their services "consultations" and charging fees of up to $700. The Montana Veterans Affairs Division found some long-term care facilities seeking to fill beds were involved with the counseling scheme.

Sen. Bob Corker held Washington hearings and recently sponsored events to help Tennessee veterans and administrators of facilities connect with free resources on the county and state levels.

The Utah Department of Veterans Affairs plans to collaborate with the state's attorney general's office and consumer protection agencies for a similar effort.

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