SERVING OUR VETERANS: North Dakota veterans service officers
Did you know all 53 counties in North Dakota have a Veterans Service Officer (VSO)? They are hired by and paid by their respective county. Nearly all of them have served in the military. Several of the more heavily populated counties have assistants working with the VSO. Several of VSOs serve two or three counties in low populated areas. Overall, the number of VSOs and assistants works out to be about 53 statewide. Of this, there are nine VSOs that are women. The four Native American Reservations in our state have their own Tribal VSOs. There are presently nine of these serving the four reservations. The heavily populated counties have VSOs that work full time. The less populated counties, with smaller budgets, may have their VSO as a part-time position and work in their office from one, two, or maybe three days a week. A few of the VSOs, in counties with a low number of veterans, do not have regular office hours, and may work out of their home by appointment. Cass County has the largest number of veterans at 10,492. Slope County has the fewest at 47. Pierce County is listed as having 404 veterans.
All North Dakota County Veteran Service Officers must be accredited by the North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. Accreditation is obtained by continuing education credits received at spring and fall conferences. The spring conference is held in Bismarck and the fall conference in Fargo. Newly hired VSOs also receive a week of additional training within their first year. Some of the VSOs have also followed on receiving their national accreditation.
Since being hired by Pierce County on October 2, 2017, I have now received a week of one-on-one training and attended two of the informational and training conferences. Having passed the required tests, I am now fully accredited as a North Dakota Veterans Service Officer. By no way does this mean I am an expert at my position. But, I am learning and committed to doing my best to serve the veterans of this county. Having now met many of the other VSOs at our conferences, I can honestly say North Dakota is fortunate to have such a dedicated group of men and women willing to see their veterans receive all the benefits they are entitled and deserve. So veterans, do not hesitate in contacting your local VSO should you need assistance with a claim or questions regarding benefits.
Again, my office hours at the courthouse are Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or by appointment. I can also be reached by phone anytime. I feel one of the best ways I can honor those veterans who have sacrificed their lives for this country, is to take care of their living comrades. I am privileged and honored to be able to do that in this VSO position.