Benedict stipulated that the grant money must be spent specifically on veteran assistance. For example, a veteran can apply through Choices.tlc to receive assistance for utility or medical assistance. "I asked Representative Benedict if there were any grants available because I hadn't been able to find any. Her office contacted me, approved the grant and took care of the paper work," Smith said. "I was in awe when I was contacted that I would be getting grant money."
While Smith volunteers her time to run Choices.tlc, she did not want the grant to help with her expenses. She just wanted funds to be able to provide veterans with more assistance. Veterans assisted under the grant, will sign a statement for what they are requesting, and agree to what it will be applied towards.
The grant is just another step in the right direction for Choices.tlc., which has worked quietly to assist veterans. Smith was proud to share the news that as a veteran's widow she has been working with, has received her benefits and back pay, after a waiting process of approximately five months. Asked why it takes so long, Smith replied, "I don't know. It depends on if the right paper work is filed. I'm learning as I go along what it takes." Smith's knowledge and assistance helps veterans know exactly what paperwork to fill out, and, as she learns, Smith believes she can be a better advocate for veterans.
In regard to the VA, Smith said, "I've been blessed. Nine times out of ten, I can call the hotline and get someone to help me." She doesn't let claims sit, she is persistent on checking on the claims she has assisted in filing, and follows up to make sure the claims are going in the right direction.
The VFW in Mammoth Spring is getting involved by forming a committee to approve veterans applying for assistance through Choices.tlc. Benedict suggested, "I would make an application form for veterans to apply, and set a $50 to $100 limit per person in order to help more veterans." The grant money is to be used for veterans in Fulton County.
Smith said to Benedict when presented with the check, "You have no idea how you have blessed me." "It is not much, but I wish I could have come up with more to assist the veterans," Benedict replied.
When asked how the grant money was available for Choices.tlc, Benedict answered, "The grant money came from general improvement funds. Each legislator is granted a certain amount of money, and the $1,050 is the last of what we had to spend."