Section 3. The mayor of each city except Boston shall, and the selectmen of each town may, annually in April, appoint a veterans’ agent to act for him or them in the disbursement of veterans’ benefits by such city or town; provided, however, that in each town having a part time veterans’ agent the town clerk shall receive applications and assist applicants for, veterans’ benefits, and shall turn over said applications to the veterans’ agent. Two or more contiguous towns may, by vote of the selectmen, appoint one person to serve as veterans’ agent for such towns and may apportion the payment of compensation among such towns.
Every veterans’ agent shall, from time after the original allowance of any claim for veterans’ benefits, make such investigations of the necessities and qualifications of the claimant as to prevent the payment of any such benefits contrary to any provision of this chapter.
Every such agent shall, within three days after his receipt of an application from or in behalf of a civil war veteran, his wife or widow, for special care, under the provisions of section two, notify the commissioner thereof upon blank forms approved by him; upon his refusal or unreasonable neglect to give such notice, such agent shall be punished by a fine of twenty-five dollars.
Upon the request of any veteran, the veterans’ agent for the city or town in which he resides shall record his discharge or release papers, without charge, in books kept by him for that purpose. Said agent shall keep an index of papers so recorded, and copies thereof, if attested by him, shall be admissible in evidence to the same extent and with the same effect as the originals.