County VA office could see more traffic

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Covington County Veteran’s Service Office isn’t among the 17 offices outlined for closure on June 1; however, those closures could bring more veterans to the local office, said county VA service officer Gary Petty.

The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs cited cuts in state funding for closures in Baldwin, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Colbert, Crenshaw, Hale, Henry, Lawrence, Perry, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Washington, Wilcox and Winston counties.

Baldwin and Tallapoosa counties have multiple offices and only one will close in each county.

“A lot of times, veterans came here for services because it was easier,” Petty said. “I expect others will do the same. We’ll see a little increase, but I don’t think it will double our numbers or anything.”

“It was a difficult decision, but the only decision the department could make,” said ADVA public information officer Robert Horton of the closures. “We’re at a point now where we just don’t have the funding to keep the offices open.”

Petty said the Crenshaw County office, which is located in Luverne, was only open one day per week.

The closures are the result of a 15 percent cut in the ADVA’s allocation in the 2012 General Fund as well as projected cuts in its 2013 budget, which include a 34 percent reduction from $2.8 to $1.8 million.

For the past several years, a veterans services officer has been available at least once a week at the locations scheduled to be closed to offer assistance with disability compensation, pension benefits and other claims as part of an itinerant services program, which Horton said pulled the officers away from the counties where they provide full-time services. Because the VA offices to be closed are currently vacant, no ADVA employees will lose their jobs.

Petty said veterans can seek assistance at any service office in the state; however, they are encouraged to use the office that services their home county.

“That’s because a veteran’s records are sent to their home county office, but if there is an issue, bring a copy of the letter and what you have, and we’ll be happy to do whatever we can do that day,” he said.

Friday’s office closings will leave 53 ADVA locations to serve more than 420,000 veterans residing in the state.

To view a list of veterans service offices to be closed, visit