By Sherrod Brown
A lot of the work I do has nothing to do with committee hearings or Senate floor votes. As your senator, one of my most important jobs is helping Ohioans cut through red tape when dealing with the federal government. That means helping seniors access the Social Security benefits they have earned, assisting veterans and their families in obtaining military records and medals that they never received, and helping small businesses that are looking to create jobs and tap into federal tax credits or lending programs.
In more than 200 roundtables that I have held all over the state, I’ve heard from constituents who spend hours on the telephone correcting a paperwork problem with a federal agency. They shouldn’t have to do this, and my offices are here to help ease this burden.
That is why my offices located in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Lorain are open every business day to serve you. With field offices in every region of the state – including rural areas in Southeast and Northwest Ohio – my top priority is constituent services.
Ohioans in need of assistance can visit http://brown.senate.gov/ohio/constituent_services/ or call my office toll-free at 1-888-896-OHIO (6446).
Here are a few recent examples of ways my constituent services team has assisted Ohioans in the past, to give you a better idea of how we could help you, too.
A constituent from Richland County contacted my office to address an issue with the Social Security Administration. In July, he was notified that he’d receive disability benefits within 60 to 90 days. When that time passed and he still hadn’t received final approval my office went to work. Soon after, he received formal notification that his benefits were approved and my office worked to expedite their disbursement. He’s now receiving the Social Security insurance he paid into while he was working so that he’d be protected if he became disabled.
Military families – who often moved from base to base during their service – may not always have access to the documentation and records needed to receive service-related benefits and medals. Last year, my office helped more than 500 Ohio veterans and their families find these records so that they could apply for their medals or the benefits they earned.
An 88-year-old veteran from Northeast Ohio contacted my office to find out if he was eligible for a Purple Heart, having been hit by shrapnel in his back as he was shot down by a German plane during World War II. My office discovered that he was not only eligible for a Purple Heart, but he also earned an additional Bronze Star and three other awards for his bravery.
He later received his newly-discovered and highly-deserved awards at a Veterans of Foreign Wars event. As a proud member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, it is always a privilege for me to help veterans and military families obtain replacements for lost medals and new medals that servicemembers may have never received.
Sometimes there are Ohio companies who want to expand operations and hire new workers, but are burdened by federal bureaucracy standing in their way. Omega Automation, a family-owned small business in Dayton, produces equipment for the appliance, commercial, electronic, and automotive industries. The owner of this Ohio company learned about a Small Business Administration loan program at one of my office’s small business workshops. He then applied for and received a loan that helped him save the jobs of 18 employees he had at the time. After pursuing a second loan, Omega Automation has grown from 18 employees to more than 40.
While the unemployment rate in Ohio has dropped by about a third over the past three years, too many Ohioans are still struggling.
One of my most significant jobs as Senator is trying to help them—whether cutting red tape or assisting with government resources. If you or your family needs assistance, please contact my office at 1-888-896-OHIO. It’s an honor to serve you.
Sherrod Brown is a United States Senator from Ohio.