VFW volunteer gets new office space to serve veterans

A volunteer who helps veterans process claims said he has secured new free office space in Kingman after being notified nearly three weeks ago that he needed to vacate the outpatient clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tom Murray, Veterans of Foreign Wars service officer, said he has obtained new office space in a business at 1910 E.

Andy Devine Ave.

and will move in Monday.

He said he will maintain the same office hours as he had at the VA clinic at 1726 Beverly Ave.: noon to 2 p.m.

Mondays and Wednesdays and 9 a.m.

to 3 p.m.

Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The new site will have a sign notifying veterans of his presence, Murray said.

He added that Mohave Cellular has furnished him with a cell phone.

"I'm looking forward to getting back to work and helping the veterans and their families," Murray said.

Murray said Linda Holbrook, the registered nurse and office manager at the VA clinic, notified him around June 20 that he needed to vacate his office at the clinic to create room for two mental health service providers.

He said he volunteered at the clinic for 3.5 years, saw between 100 to 150 veterans a month and logged more than 2,700 volunteer hours.

Holbrook declined to meet with a reporter of the Miner and referred calls to the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System in Prescott, site of a regional VA hospital.

VA spokesman Frank Cimorelli said VFW services officers, such as Murray, provide a "very important function," but explained mental health providers need the space at the Kingman clinic for private consultations and counseling with veterans.

"The reason for asking this gentleman to vacate is directly related to providing greater mental health services to the veterans of Mohave County," he said.

"Again, the way we look at it is as something to be applauded."

Cimorelli said the VA has been recruiting for a mental health practitioner to work at the Kingman clinic, but is not sure whether the position has been filled and whether it will be full or part time.

The clinic currently is staffed with one doctor, registered nurse and physician's assistant apiece, and two licensed practical nurses and patient services representatives, Murray said.

Cimorelli said it is "fantastic" that Murray has a new location.

Murray, an Army veteran who served in the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea in the 1960s, said "quite a few" veterans have complained about losing his office space at the clinic.

"I provide a needed service here," he said.

"It's not only the disability claims.

I provide for the burial benefits and death claims for widows and children and stuff."

Murray has helped veterans "tremendously," said Al Cierzan, a World War II Marine veteran who along with Murray is a member of VFW Post 3516 in Kingman.

He said Murray has helped some veterans draw as much as $250,000 in back pay and other compensation.

"Some of the VA (forms) to fill out is a long, drawn-out process," Cierzan said.

"It is not understood fairly decent by all the individuals."

Cierzan said the VFW posts and auxiliaries in the area pay for postage and other supplies for Murray.

Murray can be reached beginning Monday at 716-8387.