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Congressman’s rep helps locals with agencies

POSTED: May 28, 2012 6:00 p.m.

Brooke Childers, district representative for U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s Savannah office, gets a lot of requests for assistance for help with problems with federal agencies.

The most requests are about claims submitted to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Probably 70 percent of our cases are complaints about the VA,” Childers said. “And most of those complaints are mostly how long it takes the VA to resolve a claim.”

Childers usually sees as many as 10 people during congressional “day office” visits, which are held throughout Georgia’s first congressional district several times a year. Day Offices are held in Liberty and Long County every other month, she said.

She was recently in Hinesville at the courthouse annex.

“The only way we make any headway in these cases is to make a personal connection with someone at the VA or Social Security Administration or IRS or whatever federal agency they need help with,” she said. “I can say the Social Security Administration is pretty good about responding about the status of a claim and how long to expect for it to be answered.”

She said most federal agencies operate under the executive branch. The Social Security Administration is technically an independent federal agency, she said.

Although federal agencies like the VA and IRS fall under the executive branch, Childers said Kingston reaches out to them on behalf of his constituents. Positive results are not guaranteed, she emphasized, but Kingston’s caseworkers can help to navigate the bureaucracies.

She added that Kingston is concerned about veterans, noting he is the only congressman to have an annual forum that brings local veterans face-to-face with VA officials.

In addition to requests for assistance with federal agencies, she said some people come to her with concerns, comments and complaints about a variety of issues, from education and employment to noise from Fort Stewart’s firing ranges. Some people just want to vent on an issue, she said.

“I’ve had people come in with a list — not just with federal issues — but personal problems, some relating to local issues, like potholes in the streets,” Childers said. “I maintain a working relationship with (local) elected officials just so I can relay these concerns on behalf of the citizen and Congressman Kingston.”

Another service her office provides that few people are aware of is assistance with getting passports, she said. She said residents needing passports in a hurry still have to go through a passport agent to fill out the forms, then he or she can bring the paperwork and photo to her office in Savannah.

Childers will then forward the paperwork directly to a “special issuance” officer. Residents usually get their passport in seven to 10 days, rather than four or five weeks, she said. Those needing the passport sooner are advised to go to the passport office in Atlanta, she said.

She said Kingston strives to be available to his constituents and has offices in Savannah and Brunswick and an interactive website, www.kingston.house.gov. Local residents don’t have to wait until a day office to request assistance, Childers said. Anyone needing assistance can call Kingston’s Savannah office at 352-0101.

 

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