Helping veterans is more than a job, it's a calling.

During his four years in the Marine Corps, Bradley Hazell served two tours in Iraq as an infantryman and squad leader. His steadfast bravery earned him a Purple Heart and a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a Combat "V” when he was wounded in an IED attack.

He put his neck out for his comrades then, and now is no different. Hazell no longer serves this country in uniform, but he has never stopped serving his comrades.

Today, Hazell works as a VFW Pre-Discharge Claims Consultant at Camp Pendleton in California, where he advises separating service members as they prepare to enter civilian life. His job is to interview them, review their records and, if necessary, help them prepare a fully completed VA claim. It’s a job that hits close to home for Hazell.

Two years after Hazell’s second deployment to Iraq, he found himself filing a VA claim.

“I was blind to the whole process,” said Hazell. “A VFW advocate came to the VA clinic and walked me through it. It made a huge impression on me.”

Now that Hazell is a VFW advocate, he feels he’s found his niche.

“I can’t imagine life without this job,” said Hazell. “I’m in this for the long haul.”

At Camp Pendleton, Hazell sees an average of eight veterans a day.

“I get to help people for a living,” said Hazell. “I educate them, and I’m always here to answer their burning questions.”

Hazell recalled two cases that he calls the highlights of his work so far.

“One veteran was a service-connected amputee. For years he tried to get benefits but was going about it all wrong. Another veteran suffered from a severe condition related to secondary herbicide exposure,” said Hazell. “Giving these veterans the help they need is what gives my life purpose.”

Hazell has always been drawn to veterans and the military. His father was an Air Force lifer.

“I always knew my path would be military related … that I would serve a greater purpose,” said Hazell. “I just want to help as many veterans as I can. A veteran should never face the VA alone.”

Hazell is just one of more than 1,200 VFW-accredited service officers nationwide who stand ready to assist veterans free of charge. VFW-accredited service officers can be found at many VA regional offices and on 15 military installations, where they help transitioning service members, veterans, dependents and survivors navigate the complex VA benefits system. Learn more at vfw.org/NVS.



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