What is a Veterans Service Officer
South Dakota State Law directs that the Board of County Commissioners of each county in this state shall employ a County Veterans Service Officer also referred to as CVSO. Indian Tribes may appoint Veterans Service Officers who shall serve under the same terms and conditions as County Veterans Service Officers. They are known as Tribal Service Officers or TVSO. In most cases the Service Officer is located in the county courthouse or at the tribal headquarters.
The County or Tribal Service Officer provides information, assistance, counseling and referrals on a wide range of subjects, benefits, and veteran programs. The people who are served by Service Officers are referred to as clients and they come from a wide range of society, including the veteran, widows of veterans, dependent children of veterans as well as dependent parents who lost a son or daughter in military service. In addition the Service Officer must work closely with people in charge of cemeteries or mortuaries; with loaning agencies; realtors and of course officials of County and State Government and all veteran organizations.
Each County or Tribal Veterans Service Officer receives training from the staff of the Department of Veterans Affairs and each of them is trained to furnish information or assistance on a wide range of topics. The topics are not limited to the ones listed here but these do indicate the variety of issues in which they might become involved in any given week. This list includes GI loans, compensation, pensions, education (On-The-Job Training and Apprenticeship Training), rehabilitation, medical and dental treatment, hospitalization or outpatient treatment or nursing home care, residency at the State Veterans' Home, other state benefits, Social Security, alcoholism and drug dependency treatment, employment and unemployment, small business loans, corrections of military records, review of discharges, burial in a national cemetery, expense reimbursement, headstone or burial allowance, obtaining flags, as well as the protection of veterans' and widows' preferences. These are some of the subjects but there can be many more and that is why one of the most important people for a veteran, widow or dependent to know is his or her County or Tribal Veterans Service Officer.
County and Tribal Veterans Service Officers have an important yet difficult role. Many of the issues are complex and if a Service Officer does not know all the answers due perhaps to complexity or the ever-changing federal laws-be assured that they know where to obtain the information and how to help each of their clients cut government red tape.
The County and Tribal Service Officers are a fine group of people. They are dedicated to serving veterans, dependents and survivors. Each year the importance of this office is becoming better recognized. It is evident they are moving up to become one of the top appointed officials of county government. The importance of the position of Service Officer to the taxpayer and the demand for service will continue to increase with the aging of our veteran population.
It is each veteran's responsibility to know who his Service Officer is and how to contact him or her. The Service Officers are a veteran's friend and they are willing to assist.
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