History

VETERANS SERVICE OFFICE DIRECTOR HISTORY

2013 to Present Rodney Eversole
2006 to 2012 Robert Wessel
2003 to 2006 William Morris
1990 to 2003 Robert Wessel
1981 to 1990 Walt Cowan
1976 to 1980 Kenneth Rhinehard
1955 to 1976 Ralph Palmer
1945 to 1955 Dr. Herschel Williams

Historical Narrative

Service Officers, it seemed advisable to relate briefly.

In the preparation of a history of the Ohio Association of County Veterans Service Officers, it seemed advisable to relate briefly the history of events leading up to the necessity of Counties employing Veteran Service Officers, and organizing these into an association. The purpose of the Association is to exchange ideas, procedures and theories with respect to Veteran’s benefits, the forming and scheduling of panels made up of persons well versed in Veteran Affairs, thereby keeping abreast with the constant and continuing changes in laws benefiting Veterans, Veterans Administration regulations, etc. and to maintain a high standard of Veteran Service in several counties of our state.

In the early days of benefits made available to the Veterans of the State of Ohio, (the law making benefits available having been enacted on May 19, 1886), one – tenth of one mill County Tax funds were set aside in each county for the relief of indigent Union Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. The administration and distribution of these funds to eligible Veterans or their dependents was by a County Soldiers and Sailors Relief Commission. The earliest available record of such a commission functioning is September 7th, 1891.

In 1887, the law was amended making available for such use three-tenths of one mill, and changing the eligibility by adding the words, “Honorably Discharged” Veterans, and in 1900, was further amended to include Veterans of the Spanish American War.

In the codification of the Ohio laws in 1910, this law was entirely re-written and made no reference to Veterans of any particular war and the scope of the benefits available being made for indigent Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and their dependents. This codification, either by design or oversight, omitted the words “Honorable Discharged” Veterans, and in the same re-writing, the amount of tax that might be levied was increased to five – tenths of one mil, where it has since remained.

It must be noted how careful and precise legislators were in enacting these laws and amending them to insure that not only those who left their homes for the battlefield, but all those who might be legally classed as dependents, should share in the benefits made available by the State of Ohio. A perusal of subsequent legislation, Attorney General’s opinion and judicial decisions indicates the same care and precision to be certain that no Veteran or his dependents should suffer or go hungry.

In 1945, the enactment of Senate Bill Number 26 increased the membership of County Soldiers Relief Commissions from three to five, and also made possible the employment of County Veteran Service Officers. This became necessary because of the increased work load in the counties, and the definite need of an individual who could and would keep posted with regard to the many Federal benefits made available to Veterans by the enactment of the “Servicemen’s Re-Adjustment Act of 1944” or better known as the WW2 GI Bill.

Since this time, each successive Congress has provided additional and improved benefits and the number of Veterans eligible for these benefits, because of their service, have greatly increased. As the result of these, many additional benefits and the increased number of Veterans eligible to receive these benefits, the work and responsibility of Veterans County Service Officers have greatly increased, in assisting these Veterans, their wives, widows, children, dependent parents and other eligible Veterans in making application for and obtaining the rights and benefits, to which they may be entitled, under either the State of Ohio or Federal laws.

A number of the larger counties in the State of Ohio employ a staff of several persons to handle the work load of Service, within some cases, individuals so employed handling only certain of these benefits.

The role of the County Veteran Service Office is rapidly becoming that of a highly “Specialized” profession, with the continuing changes being made in regulations, new legislation and increasing benefits. –J.F. Munnell