In a perfect world, veterans and their families get all of their benefits, all of the time. No hearing required.

But the claims process is complicated. An appeal will sometimes wind up before a judge in the federal Veterans Affairs office in Winston-Salem. That can be a long way for Mecklenburg County veterans to travel so they can argue for their benefits.

But there’s some good news. Mecklenburg County vets can visit our local Veterans Services Office, which holds virtual appeals hearings in a space designed for that purpose.

Keeping a Hearing Local

Since opening in 2020, the room has saved hundreds of veterans and their families the hassle of driving miles up the interstate for their appeals hearings.

Veterans Services staff in hearing room.
Inside the Janene McGee Appeals Room: Scott Garlow, Veterans Services Director; Daren Graves, Veterans Services Officer; Shreasia Sweat, Veterans Services Officer; Crystal Miller, Veterans Services Supervisor

Only in Meck County

Several N.C. counties hold hearings in their offices. But Mecklenburg is the only county with a space dedicated to helping these vets get their answers.

It’s called the Janene McGee Appeals Room, in the Valerie C. Woodard County Services Center. The room was named in honor of the late Veterans Services director, who died in 2020.

Janene McGee, 1978-2020
Janene McGee, 1978-2020

Supporting Each Step, Even Your Hearing

Virtual appeals hearings became popular during the pandemic. So our Veterans Services team set up a room that mimics an in-person hearing in Winston-Salem. Clients and staff meet in the room, and the judge joins virtually.

The room lets veterans stay close to their home. Plus, they get to work with staff they know and trust, instead of hiring a lawyer or working with N.C. staff that they don’t know.

Daren Graves, Veterans Services Officer

“It is such a benefit to the veterans because we are approachable and they’re more comfortable talking to us. And we do it all for free for them.”

Daren Graves, Mecklenburg County Veterans Services Officer

Veterans Services Officers = Guardian Angels

Since the appeal process takes up a lot of time and paperwork, it makes a big difference for veterans to have someone on their side. Veterans Services Officers help fill out paperwork and review aspects of the case that might have been overlooked. They decide what to highlight during the hearing and provide any new evidence to help decide the case.

During the hearing, the officer presents evidence on why a claim should be approved. Then the veteran or family member answers questions and tells their story, in their own words. Live testimony is powerful and can provide missing links in a claim that has been denied.

Shreasia Sweat helps with documentation and tracking of the appeals.

Shreasia Swear, Veterans Services Officer

“This process gives everyone the opportunity to work together as a team to get the best results possible. At the end of the day, we all look forward to providing the veteran with the respect, honor, dignity, and compensation they deserve.”

Shreasia Sweat, Mecklenburg County Veterans Services Officer

Mecklenburg County Veterans Services is committed to serving those who have served our country. Staff are dedicated to connecting our local veterans with the benefits they’ve earned and can provide multiple valuable resources.