Veteran

Sevier County Veteran Services Officer Jessie Horton and Sevier County Judge Greg Ray, brought in a team of officials from the U.S. Department Veterans Affairs and the State of Arkansas Veterans Affairs, Wednesday at UA Cossatot, to, to meet with local veterans and hear their concerns.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Nathaniel (Nate) Todd, the director of the State of Arkansas Veterans’ Affairs, told the audience of maybe 20 local vets,  that in the last two years, the VA healthcare system had become the best in the United States.

“If they’re the best in the U.S., then they’re probably the best in the world,” he said. 

Todd talked about the three areas of veteran benefits, healthcare, education and housing, but the meeting stayed focused on veteran healthcare. He said there were 800 veterans living in Sevier County and 220,000 in the state of Arkansas. He talked about the service of the Vietnam vets, the 9/11 Desert Storm vets, and the following generations of vets to come. He also mentioned the service of the National Guard, which he said had been deployed more during the country’s recent campaigns, than ever before. He said there are 10,000 national guardsman in the state and that through their service, they were entitled to tuition waivers so they can attend college. He then told the veterans of the benefits of living in Arkansas, which beginning last Jan. 1, no longer required them to pay state taxes on their military retirement pay. 

“That’s  pretty significant, sir,” he said.  

Todd said that the Sevier County Veteran’s Service Office fell under the supervision of the Fort Smith District officer and said that the veteran service officers were “highly qualified” to deal with veteran administration policy, which changes from year to year, causing frustration to the veterans it was created to serve. He touched on the appeal process, when a veteran is denied benefits, and how the waiting period to have an appeal heard, under the right circumstances, had been cut from an average of seven years to 61 days. He said that most cases were being “positively adjudicated” and that the department was working equally hard to make sure they get it right on the front end first. 

 “If we were an industry, we’d be the fourth largest in Arkansas,” he said. “We veterans are contributing tremendously to Arkansas. 

He then answered questions from the audience about their personal experiences dealing with the VA, many of them discouraging though others praised the agency. Todd said that that the grievances were similar to others that they had heard and that that was the reason they had come to De Queen; to intervene on behalf of the local vets. He urged them to meet with the seven volunteers that were attending the meeting to get info and help with overcoming the government bureaucracy. 

Lisa Morphew, RN, BSN, of the McCurtain County VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Idabel, Okla., told the veterans of the services they offer at the facility, including telemedicine, and that they accept walk-ins for veterans that don’t have time to schedule an appointment. The clinic accepts veterans from every state. 

Retiring Sevier County Assessor Judy Smith spoke to the audience, telling them to come by her office at the courthouse where they can get information as to whether they qualify for tax breaks on their vehicles and properties.

“Even if you just have questions, the number is 870-584-3182,” she said. 

Todd encouraged the vets in attendance, and all Sevier County vets, to meet with Horton at her office in the county courthouse across from the Assessor’s Office. Horton, who is also commander of the local American Legion, said that even if she is not in her office, veterans can call her any time and she will help them or find help for them. She said that her business cards with her contact information are available in the Judge Greg Ray’s office or at the assessor’s office. 

“Any veteran can call me anytime during the week,” Horton said. “I’m here for you guys; you call me anytime and I’ll figure out the situation.” 

Judge Greg Ray praised Todd and his team and offered appreciation for them coming to De Queen and sharing with the local veterans the services they were providing. 

“They’re a class act,” Ray said. “They care and they’re here to help you.” 

He also said he was thankful to have Horton as the veterans services officer. 

“We can look far and wide and not find someone as good as her,” Ray said. 

Others that spoke and provided information at the meeting and their contact information are listed below, though vets are encouraged to call Horton first so that she can be aware of the situation the veteran is dealing with. 

 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Little Rock VA Regional Office

Jay K. Mergenschroer

Public Affairs Officer

Supervisory Veterans Service Representative

VA Regional Office (350)

2200 Fort Roots Drive, Building 65

North Little Rock, AR 72114-1756

Telephone: 501-370-3771

Fax: 501-370-3895

E-mail: james.mergenschroer@va.gov

 

State of Arkansas

Department of Veterans Affairs

Gina Chandler

Assistant Director of Veteran Services

2401 John Ashley Dr.

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Phone: (501) 683-2382

Office: (501) 682-6487

Fax: (501) 683-5732

Email: Gina.Chandler@va.gv

Gina.chandler@arkansas.gov

Web: www.veterans.arkansas.gov

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ADVAVETS

 

McCurtain County VA CBOC

903 SE Washington St.

Idabel, OK 74745

Lisa Morphew, RN, BSN

Clinic Manager

Tel: 580-920-7200

Fax: 405-456-7438

STGi

VA/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

 

Sevier County Veteran Services

"Working for our Veterans and their families"

Jessie Horton

County Veterans Service Officer

Sevier County Courthouse

115 North 3rd Street

De Queen, AR 71832

870-642-6622

360-880-8910

jessie.horton@icloud.com

 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Overton Brooks VA Medical Center

Kenda R. Watson, RHIA

Privacy Officer

Office of the Director

Overton Brooks VAMC

510 E. Stoner Ave.

Shreveport, LA 71101-4295

Telephone: (318) 990-5091

E-mail: kenda.watson@va.gov

 

State of Arkansas

Department of Veterans Affairs

Nathaniel (Nate) Todd, Director

Colonel (Retired), U.S. Army

501 Woodlane Drive, Suite 230C

Little Rock, AR 72201

Phone: (501) 683-1787

Fax: (501) 682-4833

Email: nate.todd@arkansas.gov

Web: www.veterans.arkansas.gov

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ADVAVets

 

State of Arkansas

Department of Veterans Affairs

Eric Siddons

District 6 Veteran Service Officer

District Veteran Service Office

616 Garrison Ave.

Fort Smith, AR 72902-1987

Cell Phone: (479) 966-5295

Fax Number: (479) 784-9250

Email: Eric.Siddons@arkansas.gov

Web: www.veterans.arkansas.gov

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ADVAVets

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