Grant to allow hiring of West End County Veteran Service Officer

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County is one of three counties to receive grant funding to hire a County Veteran Service Officer.

Clallam, Stevens and Pacific counties were selected after a review of their applications which documented how a County Veteran Service Officer would serve veterans and their families in the respective counties, according to the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

Clallam County received about $178,000 to fund the position.

A total of $450,000 was made available with a requirement to fund at least two County Veteran Service Officers. Funding is available through June 30, 2021.

“I’d like to say thank you to the folks that made this happen,” said Commissioner Bill Peach during Tuesday’s business meeting.

State Reps. Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger, who represent Legislative District 24 covering the Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County, sponsored the bill that made the funding possible.

The County Veteran Service Officer will help veterans and family members with claims to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for VA Disability Compensation, Pension, Survivors Pension and other financial assistance programs.

Peach said the position is expected to be filled by Jan. 1. He said the Veteran Service Officer will primarily serve veterans on the West End, including people in Jefferson County and members of several tribes, helping them navigate bureaucracy so they can get the aid they need.

“The bottom line is that it will significantly decrease the time necessary for people to get help,” Peach said.

Peach credited Commissioner Randy Johnson with doing much of the leg work to secure the grant, including going to Olympia to testify.

“The bottom line is that Randy Johnson is the commissioner representative for veterans,” Peach said. “He really carried the torch and it paid off.”

County staff also worked with West End resident Ed Bowen on the grant proposal.

Successful claims often result in the veteran or family member receiving monthly compensation which provides a stable source of income.

In Washington state, veterans and their families receive more than $3.4 billion each year through VA Disability Compensation, Pension or Survivors Pension.

The service officers will also help connect veterans and their families to other benefits such as health care, housing, and education.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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