With thousands of veterans in the community and the nearest Veterans Affairs facility hours away, Payson needed an organization to help veterans navigate various issues, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
So, Rich “Shaggy” Kudlicki and Quincy Aulisio founded Veterans Helping Veterans Inc. and they recently celebrated the opening of an office at 600 E. Highway 260, Suite 10, near Tiny’s Family Restaurant.
“Payson has more than 4,000 veterans and there’s just a lot of veterans that don’t know about the help that’s out there, the benefits and how to use them,” Kudlicki said. “I’ve been here (in Payson) more than 20 years myself and you get to meet a lot of people. We’re here to lend a helping hand and we’re out there to let them know what resources are available.”
Veterans Helping Veterans Inc. new office offers a wide variety of services for veterans, including help them get legal advice, VA eligibility cards, home loans and benefits, transportation to appointments and hospice care.
“We’ve got a lot of resources in house that we can help them with,” Kudlicki said.
They also offer crisis counseling and PTSD classes, usually every Monday, but that depends on how many sign up each week.
“Quincy is a Vietnam veteran and our crisis counselor,” Kudlicki said. “He does our group therapy.”
Kudlicki is a Navy veteran who served from 1981 to ’87 as an airman working on jet engines on an aircraft carrier.
“I got my 100% disability through an appellate court judge,” Kudlicki said. “We were just helping guys on the side and it just took off from there and turned into all this.
“We’ve got an office space and we’ve helped just in Payson alone, probably 200 file disability claims since we started this. We’ve got a lot of support now from different doctors we network with to be able to do this.”
Call 928-978-5238 to make an appointment to come in and talk to someone or visit their website at vhvinc.org.
Transportation for veterans to pharmacies and various appointments from Payson to Pine-Strawberry, among other areas, is available. They may add transportation to Tonto Basin in the future.
“There’s another van being donated to us from the VFW down there and we’re seeing if we can get enough drivers to serve Tonto Basin,” Kudlicki said. “We do whatever we can do to help veterans and their families.”
Their office was formerly located in the same complex at Suite 8.
“It’s just been by word of mouth,” Kudlicki said. “I get walk-ins daily that we didn’t have until we got an office. Somebody donated the office to us. We were there for six to eight months and we outgrew it and this space was offered to us by another veteran, Morris Williams. We moved in here on the first of September.
“There’re many resources and we’re here to stay. We have a huge staff now and some other veterans coming on board and donating their time to keep this thing going.”