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New county veterans service officer assisting vets

The Wetumpka Herald - 1/5/2018

Elmore County once again has its own full-time veterans service officer to assist veterans find answers to questions they might have about their veterans benefits.

"There has been an office here in Elmore County," said the county's new veterans service officer Steven Reeves, who currently works out of an office on Hill Street, but will eventually move to the Elmore County Courthouse. "They had an individual covering both Autauga and Elmore counties and she left to take another position. So then they had an individual covering Elmore County who also covered Tallapoosa County. He was coming down here twice a week."

"Back in November, the (state Department of Veterans Affairs) hired two new veterans services officers. One is covering Autauga County and I'm covering Elmore County. I'm here five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 8 to 5."

Reeves, a veteran himself originally from Mobile, was an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force for 21 years. He has lived in Elmore County for the last 10 years.

He says as a veterans service officer (VSO), he seeks to help veterans in myriad ways.

"We assist veterans and their family members with any benefits they may be entitled to," Reeves said. "Those can include like helping them get their DD2-14, which is their discharge papers. We can assist with burial benefits for veterans, compensation claims for like VA disability. We don't make any decisions on any of this. We just assist in maybe doing the paperwork or pointing people in the right direction.

"We also can assist them with filling out the paperwork for the Alabama Dependent GI Bill, if they qualify for it. That's a state program. If a veteran qualifies, one of their dependents can go to school. We can also assist them with correction of military records, spousal benefits, a number of different things."

Reeves is set to begin his third full month as a VSO, one of which was devoted to training him for his new role.

"I started Nov. 1," Reeves said. "I had 30 days of training and I've been in this office by myself since Dec. 1. Traffic's been picking up. We just want veterans and their family members to know that we're available and we're here to assist them.

"I can't say enough that we're here to assist our veterans. We don't make appointments. It's a walk-in, first come, first served operation. If I can't get them an answer I'll do everything I can to put them in touch with the people who can get them answer."


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