Veteran services

Bastrop County Honors Veteran Services Officer

Bastrop County Commissioners Court on Dec. 14 honored county Veterans Services Officer Tomika Nowlin and the work his office has done to help veterans after receiving praise from residents who she helped.

“It was through her enlightened experience, selfless service and dedication to her work, in addition to being a veteran herself, that I observed what I can only explain as, beyond what I would expect of his position and responsibilities,” David Newman, a Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office investigator and an Army veteran, wrote in a letter to the Court of Commissioners.

Nowlin, who is the first woman to head the Bastrop County Veterans Services office, began serving that office in May 2019 after being selected to replace Richard Hutchins, who retired after 10 years on the job.

Nowlin works with more than 7,300 Bastrop County veterans to help them obtain disability benefits, Department of Veterans Affairs loans, education and housing.

The Court of Commissioners celebrated her at its December 14 meeting for going above and beyond to help veterans.

“She started running and hasn’t stopped since and has brought wonderful improvements, changes and expansion to our Department of Veterans Services,” Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said. “We’re just honored to have you on the team.”

During the meeting, Pape read two congratulatory letters, including Newman’s, sent to the court asking him to recognize Nowlin and his office for their work with county veterans.

“I strongly believe that by honoring Tomika Nowlin, and through her continued duty and service, veterans in our community, those who bring honor and service to this nation, will be able to continue to receive exemplary service provided to military veterans. and to their family. members,” Newman said in his July letter, which highlighted Nowlin’s work with several sheriff’s office employees.

The second letter Pope read was written by Mark Peres, a Bastrop County Army veteran who sent a letter in November to Bastrop County 1 Commissioner Mel Hamner describing his personal experience navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs with help from Nowlin.

Peres describes himself in the letter as a veteran with “substantial physical and mental challenges” who was overwhelmed by the Veterans Administration process before receiving help from Nowlin.

He was referred to Nowlin’s office by another veteran in January and wrote that his contact with her had changed his life for the better.

“Ms. Nowlin took the time to understand my situation and helped me by providing a roadmap for me to move forward. Since seeking her help, I have made more progress over the past 10 months than in the previous 20 years,” Peres wrote.

“Her actions, professionalism, positive outlook and encouraging words reflect her very well and demonstrate that Bastrop County truly cares about its veteran population,” he said.

The opportunity to honor Nowlin came when she delivered a Department of Veterans Services Department report to the Court of Commissioners.

Highlights of the report included the hiring of a part-time assistant to the office, Air Force veteran Daniel DuBose, as well as exploring a grant from the Texas Veterans Commission for county governments. from Texas.

When Nowlin was appointed as the County Veterans Services Officer, the Court of Commissioners said that one of the goals of the new office was to hire a part-time assistant for the office.

After Nowlin delivered his report, Pape and the Court of Commissioners presented him with a plaque Hamner had made to honor him for his service to county veterans.

“What we saw in you and what got you the job, you delivered and beyond,” Hamner said. “We thought you were going to help our veterans whose applications had been denied to receive their benefits, because that’s where you come to the VA from, and you’ve done it all.”

Nowlin came out of retirement to serve as the County Veterans Services Officer. She previously worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Waco from 2011 to 2016; she worked from 2007 to 2011 as a Family Readiness Support Assistant for the US Army at Fort Hood; and before that, she served in the US Air Force.