Consolidation doesn't serve our veterans

Letters to the Editor
Published October 6, 2006

Re: Officials reassure veterans on merger, Oct. 4 Times:

The story brought issues forward that note Administrator Gary Kuhl made a business decision in a right-to-work state to demote Hernando County Veterans Services Officer Larry Davis, readjust his salary and unceremoniously make him an equal to his staff.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Davis lost his credibility to be the spokesman for Veterans Affairs among veterans organizations. He lost his ability to address the press on critical issues and changing laws affecting veterans. He lost his consummate advocacy for veterans in decisions that protect their federally classified and protected claim issues in assuring volunteers would not have access, but urging a staff person with a background check would direct calls and make appointments.

Jean Rags would appear less than credible visiting veterans organizations. Commissioners who formerly felt comfortable visiting veterans organizations would be met with suspicions in the loss of an advocate from the county veterans office.

Veterans organizations are rapidly taking charge of veterans affairs and assuming advocacy formerly offered by the county service office. American Legion Post 186 is bringing in a service officer now with years of experience. VFW 9236 of Hernando Beach is discussing bringing in an experienced service officer. DAV Chapter 67 of Brooksville already offers full veteran services and assists some 40 veterans or their dependents each week and accepts as many calls for help. Marine Corps League 708 has an active service officer. The Korean War Veterans organization and Marine Corps League 1002 refer veterans to the DAV in Brooksville. Both the Brooksville VA outpatient clinic and the Port Richey VA outpatient clinic rely on certified veterans service officers from the ranks of volunteers in referrals for walk-in appointments, rather than having veterans wait weeks for an appointment from a county service office.

The state veterans services organization exists as a strong advocate for veteran affairs, moves its members toward those counties with a promise for independence and credibility, and openly opposes counties that meddle with services and staff members who are credentialed under the auspices of this visible organization.

Hernando County will struggle to attract future leaders for its county veterans services office. That leadership has been stripped in the business decision Kuhl allowed in placing Rags at the helm of county veterans services.

Deron Mikal, Brooksville

Veterans, make some noise about cutbacks

There comes a time when citizens must stand up for the rights of people ignorant of what county government does to pinch pennies.

In recent months, the county Veterans Services office has lost several very good service officers due to the noncompetitive wages Hernando County pays. To make matters worse, they have turned the county service office over to the human services entity that knows nothing about how to handle claims for compensation and pensions for disabled veterans.

There are 25,000 veterans in Hernando County, many of whom have disabilities and need attention by certified service officers. Although most service organizations, such as the VFW, American Legion, DAV and the Marine Corps League, are not supposed to be involved in politics, there comes a time when we, as private citizens, must stand up for our rights.

The county commissioners have cut the millage rate by a half-mill and have cut services to make up for the shortfall. There must be a direct link between the County Commission and the county service office, as it was before Ken Wrinkle died this year. As director of the county service office, there was direct communication with county commissioners.

There are weeks left before Election Day, and I feel an obligation to get the information out to all veterans of Hernando County about this serious situation.

Organize a letter-writing campaign to let the commissioners know how serious the veterans of Hernando County feel about the current situation at the county service office.

Manas Miller, Brooksville