Veteran services

Hamilton County hires first-ever Veterans Services Officer to help local veterans

Hamilton County Veterans Services Officer Charles Alsobrook

Help for veterans

The new Hamilton County Veterans Service Officer will be able to provide assistance in areas such as:

› Service-Related Disability Award

› Dependency compensation and compensation

› Enhanced Retreat Program with Containment/Assistance and Presence

› Registration for health benefits

› Funeral services, flags, headstones, headstones and military honors

› GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Assistance for Dependents

› VA Insurance Programs

› File Notices of Disagreement and Appeals (Form 9) for Denied Claims

› Order replacement copies of discharge papers, military records, service medical records, and order replacement numbers for earned medals.

Source: Tennessee County Veterans Services Officers Association

More information

Hamilton County Veterans Services Office 1250 Market St., Suite 1006, Chattanooga, TN 37402

Phone: 423-209-7884

Fax: 423-209-7887

Hamilton County has hired its first-ever Veterans Services Officer to help county veterinarians with benefit claims and other needs.

Charles Alsobrook, a native of Trenton, Georgia, explained his reasons for taking on the new challenge and his years of service with Georgia veterans during a recent interview at his office at the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Development Resource Center on Market Street. . He was one of 136 people who responded when the county announced it was seeking candidates for the position this summer.

More than 25,000 veterans live in Hamilton County, nearly double the number he helped in his last job.

“I feel like it’s a calling,” Alsobrook said of the job, which requires him to meet veterans and their dependents, interact with government agencies and conduct outreach. community. The position pays $50,000 per year.

Until recently, Alsobrook worked as a veteran duty officer in LaFayette, Georgia after a stint in the US Air Force. He earned a psychology degree from Louisiana Tech in 2010.

“It’s perfect for going out into the community and reaching out to veterans,” county mayor Jim Coppinger said. “We certainly want to help our veterans who have given so much to this country and to this county.”

Although he specializes in compensation and pension issues, he can help veterans with a range of benefit issues, some of which may not know they may be receiving, Alsobrook said.

Raising awareness of veterans’ benefits is a key part of its mission, he said.

“There seems to be a lack of education for veterans for what they are entitled to,” Alsobrook said, describing how he had to learn on his own what was available when he left the military. the air. In LaFayette, he was shocked to learn that some 90-year-old veterans were unaware that the Veterans Services office had existed in the city for 60 years.

He credited the help of Joe Wiram, coordinator of veteran student services at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, whom he described “as the first person to walk through my door.” Alsobrook also cited growing ties to organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars and The American Legion.

On a day-to-day basis, Alsobrook’s role calls for him to build one-on-one relationships, he said.

“The main thing for me is trying to have a customer service mindset and making veterans feel at home,” Alsobrook said. “A lot of veterans are forgotten or feel like they’ve been mistreated, especially [those who served in] Vietnam era. I adapt to their needs.”

Most of the time, Alsobrook said, that means serving as a facilitator to help his clients navigate one of the biggest hurdles between them and their benefits: the time it can take for the Department of Veterans Affairs to process an application.

“I’ve had cases where I’ve helped widows and veterans get $60,000 in back pay,” he said. “It’s like they won the lottery and they come in tears, thanking me. That’s why I really do the work, knowing that I have a huge impact in people’s lives.”

Looking to the future, Alsobrook said he hopes the demand for the office’s services will merit more staff. He said he relied on volunteers to help answer the phone and warn visitors through the secure entrance.

Enter Alan Syler, a former submarine missile technician and longtime veterans advocate who is president-elect of the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council.

Not only does Syler volunteer at the office one day a week, he was also instrumental in hiring Alsobrook. He served on a panel of veterans evaluating 10 candidates recommended by Hamilton County Human Resources staff.

The committee in turn recommended that Coppinger consider two finalists. Both had veterans service officer experience and were “head and shoulders” above other applicants, Syler said.

“It would have been a tough choice between the two,” Syler said. “Chuck is here for the long haul, and he’ll do his best for Hamilton County veterans.”

He praised Alsobrook for being “highly motivated” to help veterans who may face challenges long after leaving the service.

“Some of the things they go through stay with them their whole lives,” Syler said.

Contact editor Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @pleach_tfp.