Kingman volunteer helps Mohave County veterans

A services officer with the Veterans Affairs clinic in Kingman volunteers his time for local military veterans.

Tom Murray, a Veterans of Foreign Wars state services officer who sees about 100 veterans a month, recently helped a Korean War Army veteran get 51 years of back pay.

Veterans Affairs had given the veteran an incorrect rating of the severity of wounds suffered in 1951.

Murray's digging led to the back pay.

Murray would not say how much the veteran received but that it was a lot of money.

"It was the biggest restitution I ever had done in this kind of work," Murray said.

Murray, who served three years in the Army, has volunteered with the VA clinic in Kingman for three years.

"I love the work," he said.

"I enjoy helping the veterans and their families and the widows.

It's a necessity.

We need to be here.

There's a definite need in this community."

However, the hardest part for him is working with veterans who are terminally ill, usually those who were exposed to atomic radiation in Japan or Nevada during World War II and the years after the war.

It is estimated that about a thousand World War II veterans die each day in the country, he said.

Murray, who is on VA disability, served in Korea from 1965 to 1966 as a squad leader of a reconnaissance platoon along the demilitarized zone.

About 400 American soldiers died fighting North Korean infiltrators during the late1960s, he said.

Services at Murray's office include claims-form assistance for death, disability and medical benefits, home loans and claims for vocational rehabilitation and education benefits.

Many veterans who come to the clinic do not realize the benefits due them.

Others may not even be aware of the clinic, Murray said.

"Lots of veterans are not aware that with their service to the country they have these benefits," he said.

"That's what I do, help them in the right direction."

Murray said he would like to see a VA hospital built in the county.

Veterans currently have to drive to Prescott or Phoenix for medical services.

Murray, who averages about 16 hours a week helping veterans, said he would volunteer his time even if an office were not in Kingman.

Murray said he moved from Alabama to Kingman in 1993, mainly because of the climate, the town and the friendliness of its people.

The VA clinic is bolstered by fund-raising drives like the poppy drive, in which a dollar buys a poppy.

Contributions, like a $600 donation from VFW Post 3516 Ladies Auxiliary, also help pay for the clinic, which has been open about three years.

The hours are 7:30 a.m.

to 4 p.m.

Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m.

to noon Friday.

Murray's hours as a service claims officer are noon to 2 p.m.

Monday and Wednesday and 9 a.m.

to 3 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday.

The clinic is available to any honorably discharged veteran.

Murray estimates that there are 28,000 veterans in Mohave County.

The VA medical outpatient office is staffed with a doctor and three nurses and a physician assistant.

The clinic is located at 1726 Beverley Avenue.

For more information, contact Murray at 692-0080.