Understaffing isn't a new issue at Veterans Services office
By Jessie Burchette
Lack of adequate staff is not a new issue for the Rowan County Veterans Services office.
A district veterans official said the local office has been understaffed for some time.
Ronnie L. Cox, District 8 officer with the N.C. Division of Veterans Affairs, wrote in an e-mail that the two prior Rowan Veterans Services officers, Boyd Morgan and Rick Gatien, requested state assistance.
And Cox noted that in the past, the district office has voiced concerns about staffing to Ken Deal, Rowan County’s director of administration, who previously supervised the local veterans services officer.
But Cox wrote that staffing and budget concerns are no reason for a veterans officer not to assist veterans in any way possible.
While Rowan County has one veterans officer who reports to the Senior Services director, Cabarrus County has three veterans services officers and a secretary. Currently, the Cabarrus office reports to the county manager.
Cabarrus has 26,000-plus veterans who visit the office in the Cabarrus Governmental Center on Church Street in Concord.
Pam Scheffer, a Cabarrus veterans services officer, said many of those who use the Cabarrus office are from Rowan County.
“We get a lot of veterans from Rowan County, China Grove, Landis, Salisbury,” Scheffer said. “It doesn’t matter what county you live in. It’s good to stay in the same state.
“We’re here. We’ve got three officers sitting here ready to help.”
The district veterans affairs official is offering suggestions to improve service and avoid problems.
Cox suggested that veterans need to schedule appointments, rather than dropping in.
And for officers, he said that while the application process for veterans benefits is too complex to be processed via e-mail, such electronic communications are very important and should be responded to in a timely fashion.
The N.C. Department of Veterans Affairs has no supervisory responsibilities over hiring or termination of a county officer, but does provide training and technical supervision for VA claims.