A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending nearly an hour with Sumner County’s only Veterans Resource Officer, Darryl Eubanks. We talked about a wide variety of topics, and his passion for supporting, not only veterans, but also the people of Sumner County was infectious and energized me.
Sumner County is the home to over 14,000 veterans, which is the 6th largest population out of 95 Tennessee counties. Veteran benefits bring approximately $60 million into Sumner County each year, yet Mr. Eubanks is our only resource officer. Counties with a lesser vet population often have two or even three officers to assist veterans and their families with obtaining benefits.
Applying for benefits can be overwhelming, tedious, and require the use of technology that some veterans may not have access to. An additional resource officer could expand the reach of the veteran office and will help with outreach to nursing homes and visits to elderly vets. Outreach encourages veterans to apply for benefits and be active in community activities. The investment in another VRO will more than cover the cost of their salary by bringing an influx of benefits into the county.
I recently met a 75-year-old veteran who had only been receiving benefits for a few years because he couldn’t figure out how to submit all the paperwork. (He also wasn’t registered to vote, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) Our veterans risked their lives for all of us, and we need to ensure they have the resources needed to obtain the benefits promised to them.
Veteran benefits are paid by the federal government, but the VROs are funded by the county. As county commissioner, I promise to advocate for each of Sumner County’s veterans including Officer Eubanks.