Beginnings and Endings
In the year 2007, I was appointed to the job of Whitley County Veterans Service Officer. That was the start of a journey which has proved to be very rewarding for me. There have been many changes over the years. In the beginning, my office was in my home at Shriner Lake. Veterans had to make appointments. Most of the time I met them at the library, at the senior center, or at a fast food restaurant. Claims were written by hand instead of on the computer. My training for the job consisted of a briefing from Gerry Boyd, the officer I replaced, and a short orientation session at the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs in Indianapolis. Each year all of the County Veterans Service Officers (CVSOs) were required to attend a three day training conference in Indianapolis. A test was given and all of those with a passing grade received a ‘Certificate of Proficiency and Completion’ signed by the Director of the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs.
The old era has ended and we now have a lot of new beginnings. We have a new handicap accessible office in the Government Center at 220 West Van Buren Street. I have a part-time Assistant Veterans Service Officer who is fully qualified. We have a part-time secretary. In 2013, legislation was passed requiring all CVSOs take training and pass a test qualifying them to be an ‘Accredited Representative’, as prescribed by the Code of Federal Regulation 14.629(a)(1)(i)(ii), for the purpose of representing Claimants before the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They must work at least 1000 hours a year to be eligible to take this training. In addition, they are expected to take the VA’s Training, Responsibility, Involvement, and preparation of Claims (TRIP) training and pass a test. Also, there will be no more paper files. All claims and correspondence are done on the computer and electronically transmitted.
Effective December 31, 2014, I will retire from the position of Whitley County Veterans Service Officer. It has been a pleasure to serve the veterans and widows who have come to us for help. It is especially gratifying when they receive a favorable decision on a claim for benefits or when they get enrolled in the VAs Health Care system. Thank all of you for the opportunity to be of assistance.