Veterans Affairs service representative Edward A. Croft conducts a slide presentation Tuesday at Sasebo Naval Base.

Veterans Affairs service representative Edward A. Croft conducts a slide presentation Tuesday at Sasebo Naval Base. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Servicemembers in Japan now have greater access to direct counseling with a Department of Veterans Affairs representative about benefits after retirement from active duty.

Edward A. Croft, a VA service representative visiting Sasebo this week, said there are six service representatives in the VA Overseas Military Coordinating program: two stationed in Germany, two in mainland Japan, one on Okinawa and one in England.

Croft is assigned to Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station and plans to spend one week each month at his Sasebo office, located in the Fleet and Family Support Center, he said Tuesday.

“This marks the first time we’ve had two VA service reps in mainland Japan,” Croft said. “This is a trial program brought on mostly by Marines in Iwakuni suggesting they simply needed more expertise regularly on site to answer questions about VA issues.”

Before Croft arrived to serve Iwakuni and Sasebo, the lone service representative in Japan operated from Yokosuka Naval Base, he said, making treks to Sasebo, Iwakuni or Misawa Air Base on a quarterly schedule at best.

“This new program approach is funded by the Department of Defense, and it easily triples the attention given servicemembers and retirees at Sasebo Naval Base. Probably more than triples,” Croft said.

In a classroom briefing Tuesday, he provided an overview of VA capabilities and how the department’s functions apply to retiring and retired servicemembers. At least 30 people attended the morning session.

“It was quite helpful, especially if you’re trying to learn how to get things done in consideration of certain types of disabilities,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Beverly Pillow, a hospital corpsman retiring in about six months.

“In the overall picture, we looked a lot at issues that seemed to deal with compensation. However, having him come here once a month, I think is a good idea and will help a great deal,” said Pillow, attached to Sasebo’s Navy Branch Medical Clinic. “Being here more, of course, creates more chances for one-on-one sessions that people need.”

Croft said he’s in Iwakuni and Sasebo to provide both the broad-stroke classroom training and the one-to-one counseling.

“We are the experts in residence. The one stop for answers, and if we don’t have the answers someone might need about a VA program or process, the onus is ours to find the answer,” Croft said.

“People come in for personal appointments mainly just wanting to know, ‘What’s out there for me?’” he said.

“They tell me they were simply unaware of some of the benefits and procedures I am able to help them with,” he added. “I make them aware. I explain. That’s my job.”

Call DSN 252-3120 or 252-3114 in Sasebo, or DSN 253-4149 in Iwakuni, to schedule an appointment with Croft. Croft also can take questions via e-mail at

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