The expectations for Pulaski County’s next veterans service officer will be a little higher than originally thought. The county commissioners announced Monday that two people have applied for the open position. But Tom White, the northwest district officer for the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs, says the state has a number of requirements that aren’t explicitly listed in the county’s job description.
“This position has typically been coveted by counties over the years as a position where someone can sit back, listen to the radio, feet up on the desk, and pull down a check. That is no longer,” White told the commissioners. “It’s too much that we owe our veterans, and for someone to be pulling a check down, they should be working for it.”
Among other things, a veterans service officer must have at least six months of active duty experience and has to have lived in Indiana for at least five years. White said candidates also have to be able to explain state and federal laws, help veterans with complicated paperwork, and handle sensitive medical records.
He noted that the state accreditation process is rigorous, but he’ll be available to help the new officer through it. “With accreditation, the first thing is the individual has to take a 16-module exam,” White explained. “Most people don’t pass it on the first and second time. It takes about two weeks just to prep for the exam. This is a pretty intense position.”
White said a big part of the job will be to visit local veterans organizations and attend community events, since many veterans may not be aware of the benefits available to them. “When you have a very strong veterans service officer, that can bring lots of federal dollars into your county, and that is so important,” White said.
In the end, the commissioners decided to have White interview the two candidates and make a recommendation. The commissioners said they want to get the position filled as soon as possible, but White stressed that it will take a bit of time to get the new veterans service officer up to speed. He said that in the meantime, officers in surrounding counties will be able to help.