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Sullivan forms committee on veterans service office

J. H. Osborne • Oct 16, 2018 at 1:00 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Commission voted Monday to form a committee to look at potential ways to create a veteran's service office.

The resolution to do so, sponsored by commissioners Gary Stidham and Joyce Crosswhite, said the action is needed to make sure something is in place by mid-2020 when the current veterans service officer serving the county retires.

That officer works out of the American Legion's offices in Kingsport. For years that organization has covered the bulk of the cost to provide that certified service officer to area veterans. And the county has made a contribution, currently $8,000 per year.

Over the years, however, counties statewide began providing county-funded offices for veteran service officers. Stidham and Crosswhite said Sullivan County is the last of Tennesse's 95 counties not to do so.

Under the plan, the committee will work with representatives of local veterans organizations to see what veterans want and Stidham said another partnership will be considered just as much as creation of a stand-alone county-funded office.

Crosswhite said ultimately there might need to be two locations, one in Kingsport and one in Blountville, that veterans could visit, even if it is one veterans service officer going between the two.

Their resolution, approved with all present commissioners voting "yes," calls for:

The committee to develop "no more than three plans for replacing the current Sullivan County veterans office partnership that will be dissolving with the retirement of the current Veteran Service Officer in July/August 2020."

The Veteran Service Office provides a valuable service to the veterans, veteran dependents and veteran widows in Sullivan County, by assisting in navigating the complex system of filling for compensation, medical benefits and burial benefits in the Veterans Administration system.

Establishing a VSO committee with local veteran organization members will provide this commission with valuable insight about the services needed by Sullivan County veterans and the ability to provide these services in a more cost effective manner, also reducing the possible loss of services to Sullivan County veterans with the future closing of VSO in Kingsport.

The committee shall consist of: the county mayor or his designee; five county commissioners chosen by the commission; and one representative from each of the nationally recognized veteran organizations located in Sullivan County (American Legion, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), for a total of 12 members.

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