By Kane – July 2022
Kane went into the field to interview Haverhill Veterans Services Officer Jeffrey Hollett at his office in Haverhill, MA. Jeffrey has dedicated his professional life to helping veterans navigate civilian life after serving our country with honor. Jeffrey, who originally served as a VSO in Dracut, said Haverhill gave him the unique opportunity to serve veterans and their families from various age groups and military campaigns. It wouldn’t be unusual for him to help a young adult veteran trying to find a new job and then help a veteran plan for retirement that same morning. Overall, Haverhill is a community with many veterans from various backgrounds and levels of need. Hollett, an Army veteran himself, says, “I love my job, but it strikes a chord with you.
Kane learned that many in the community believed the Veterans Services Officer’s job was limited to determining eligibility for burial benefits and submitting documentation. (Benefits of Chapter 115). While helping families with paperwork and burial costs is extremely important, the VSO wears many hats. A focus of the position is advising, engaging and advocating for veterans who reside in the town of Haverhill. It is a way of thanking veterans for the sacrifices they have made.
A key component of the position is networking and collaborating with a variety of local services and veteran organizations. Many of these organizations work together to pool their resources, but a key thing is knowing where to go to find them. Needs can be very large, such as finding housing for a homeless veteran or determining eligibility for school.
Jeffrey Hollett has found over the years that it is difficult for veterans to ask for help. Many have spent a lifetime of service putting others and their country ahead of their own needs. It’s not uncommon for Jeff to speak to people on the phone several times before they even set foot in the building. Kane learned that common needs are meeting like-minded people, finding a job, finding a place to live, and dealing with relationship challenges. Meeting another veteran allows for an expected community and understanding that feels safe and familiar.
Another key component of the VSO position is educating the public about veterans’ experiences and raising awareness. Jeffrey is working with Jamie Melendez (Lawrence VSO) to develop a program that connects a young child with a veteran to have conversations and spend time together. This program would bridge the generation gap and give veterans the opportunity to share their experiences of serving others and their county.
Another exciting event is the Massachusetts National Guard’s 215th Army Band playing at Haverhill Riverside Park on July 7, 2022. This event has come together through the networking of several different agencies. Jeff explained to Kane that events like this give Jeff the opportunity to meet veterans and their families organically in the community. It’s not as formal as a meeting in an office. It’s a great way to build relationships, meet people, and educate the public about the needs and sacrifices of veterans and, of course, to celebrate all they’ve accomplished.
All in all, Jeffrey Hollett started out as a VSO in Haverhill, MA. Kane understood why people love meeting Jeffrey. He is both approachable and knowledgeable in his field. Kane felt so comfortable that he took a short nap during the visit. If you would like to contact Jeffrey Hollett, here is his contact information:
978-374-2351 ext. 3933
Happy 4th of July everyone!
Kane Peaslee, Wow ◊