To the editor:
We veterans are deeply concerned about Judge Kelly’s plan to eliminate the Veterans Service Office which he made public at the May 11 Commissioners’ Court meeting. It costs just $103,000 per year.
Yet, Kerr County benefits from a nearly uninterruptible, tax-free stream of VA monies that flow unseen to its veterans from disability payments and survivor benefits, etc.
In 2018 the total exceeded $77 million and in 2019 it had risen to $83 million per VA’’s annual Report of Geographic Distribution of Expenditures.
Veterans comprise 10 percent of the county’s population. This percentage reflects only those enrolled in health care at the Kerrville VA Medical Center. Getting enrolled is no small achievement.
The 2012 County Commissioners’ Court under former Judge Pat Tinley (deceased) wisely recognized the vast monetary benefits that veterans and KVAMC’s 400 employees with a payroll of $35 million bring to county businesses.
In Sept 2012, this Court authorized a funded Veteran County Service Officer to help veterans get the VA benefits earned though their service to country.
For veterans to get all benefits due them requires special skills and knowledge: eligibility requirements are based in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 38. A VCSO is like a paralegal with expertise in the aforementioned law. The Texas Veterans Commission requires on-going training such that our two VCSO’s initiative resulted in their quickly receiving VA accreditation which allows them access to pertinent VA files to monitor progress of claims.
The Judge's plan to eliminate the Veterans Service Office’s cost of $103,000 is inexplicable and seems short-sighted to forego this cost given the millions of dollars the VCSO’s help bring in as return on that investment. Thus, we ask the CC to continue funding this office. It's the right thing to do for county veterans and it’s affordable.
– Vicki T. Marsh, Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
President, Hill Country