To Our Veterans

Got your attention with that headline, didn't I? All right, so maybe I didn't. Anyway, this has nothing to do with regaining one's youth. If that's what you have in mind, I think there's someplace over around St. Augustine where you can get that done. This dissertation has to do with the subject of being a veterans service officer in Dixie County.

I'd like to mention that I wouldn't necessarily want the job just anywhere. A friend of mine who got in this line of work at the same time I did, which was back in the year 2000, worked in another Florida county that was somewhat bigger than Dixie (Imagine that!), so he had an office staff. Anyway, when times got tough a few years ago, they cut his office staff down to an illiterate typist with bad eyesight, so he ran for county commissioner and got elected.

Most service officers who got short-changed by the recession weren't that fortunate, however though in my case, this wasn't a problem, because it is a one-man (or woman a lot of them in this business, actually) operation. There's no heavy lifting (well, there was this 450 pound guy who was trying to get help for an eating disorder and got stuck in a chair but that was exceptional) and very few cases of BA (that's Bad Attitude), but one does come along now and then, and that's when one's public relations skills come in handy.

I recall one fellow who came in demanding to know why he couldn't get 100% disability compensation (about $2,800 a month) for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a condition he was either faking or he acquired upon flunking out of boot camp in his third week because this mean old drill sergeant yelled at him. It is exceedingly difficult to be tactful when dealing with this type, however we are expected to do our best.

Far more typical is the veteran who qualifies for the benefits he seeks, but is frustrated at having to wait for the time it takes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to get his claim processed. The VA has caught a lot of flack recently for the backlog, but one must consider that a decade of involvement in hostilities in the Middle East has a lot to do with this problem. The agency deals with approximately 31 million claims a year, and I have not found the bureaucratic indifference in VA personnel that we hear so much about in certain other government agencies. On the other hand, the federal government does seem to spend a lot of tax money on, shall we say, "less worthy" commitments?

One of the things that makes Dixie County special for somebody doing my job is the people. We respect those who have served and support those currently serving. Participation in events like the annual Veterans Day parade is always enthusiastic. I'm on my 14th year as county veterans service officer, and I can truthfully say that I have never started a day on this job wishing I didn't have to go to work.

If you're a veteran or you know one who needs help apply-inf for a VA benefit, my number is (352) 498-1246.

Where the Suwannee River, the Steinhatchee River and a National Wildlife Refuge
meet the Hidden Coast on the Gulf of Mexico


Brought to you by the Dixie County Florida Tourist Development Council
Email Cheyenne Stemple by Clicking Here
Phone (352) 498-1403