Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Sept. 18 newspaper on Page A1.
Editor’s Note: Each year, the Red Cross of Southeastern Ohio honors local residents and groups as part of the Hometown Heroes program. Our 2019 series continues today.
Veterans served our country, and the Athens County Veterans Service Office wants to serve them.
For their dedication in helping area veterans, the Red Cross is honoring employees of that office with this year’s Workplace Hero award.
Employees of the office include Executive Director Kim Spencer; Assistant Veterans Service Officer Rashawna Dempsey, and Investigators John Woods and Deborah Karns.
“We’re very happy for it,” Spencer said of the honor. “We are very pleased we’re getting it. We do a lot here.”
The office, located at 70 N. Plains Road, The Plains, primarily assists veterans with filling out VA claims and going through the VA process.
The four employees stay busy — Spencer said the office helped to file 164 new claims in 2018, bringing in $33 million to local veterans for things like healthcare benefits, pension claims, education funding and other needs.
It’s an ongoing challenge to make veterans aware of the services available to them, Spencer said. This is especially true for younger veterans who are settling back into civilian life.
Also involved is a related Athens County Veterans Service Commission, made up of a handful of veterans representing local organizations. Spencer described the Commission as overseeing her county office. Commissioners and office employees meet regularly to review cases and solve any issues that arise. Commissioners also act as a go-between from the county office to the organizations they represent.
Commission members include President John Matheny (American Legion), Vice President Jim Mitchell (VFW), Secretary Robert St. Lawrence (Vietnam Veterans of America) and Jim Michael (Disabled American Veterans).
St. Lawrence nominated the county veterans office for the Red Cross award. In his letter, St. Lawrence outlined the many ways the employees help veterans throughout their lives, and even in providing money for indigent burials.
He also noted a new program for this Thanksgiving and Christmas wherein the office will provide hams and turkeys to Athens County veterans.
For more details on that program and other services provided, contact the Athens County Veterans Service Office at 740-592-3216.
The Workplace Hero Award is sponsored this year by McDonald's. This office and eight other Hometown Heroes will be honored at a banquet on Thursday, Oct. 3 at Christ Community Wesleyan Church, Albany. Tickets are available through Sept. 30 at the Athens chapter office (100 S. May Ave.).