Sean Kirk and Nancy Laude have joined the Crook County Veterans Services team and are willing and ready to serve local veterans.
The faces of the Crook County Veterans Services office have changed, but the friendly service and hours have not.
Sean Kirk and Nancy Laude joined the office about a month ago, and both look forward to serving veterans in the Crook County community. Kirk works full time and works Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Laude works part-time Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The office is still located at 422 Northwest Beaver St.
Kirk reported that the office has been closed for a few months and they are in the process of getting their accreditation. Although they are working on training, they are still open five days a week as usual. He said they were looking to add one more person to their team eventually.
“We try to keep the same schedule that existed before, with everything by appointment except Tuesdays, which will be walk-in. It’s easier that way, and it’s a better service for people,” said Kirk about office hours. .
He said they are handling veteran paperwork at the office as usual, in addition to submitting claims. There are certain documents that they cannot sign until they are accredited, and these documents must be temporarily signed by another office. Kirk and Laude also use technology to get help with customer questions.
“We’re here to serve them, and what we don’t know, we find a way to get the answers to right now. The more people we see and the more scenarios we encounter, the better we will be in our knowledge – which means that we can do a better job of helping them,” Kirk continued. “They shouldn’t fear our immediate lack of experience or knowledge to automatically go to another office. We are there to serve them, and the more people we see, the better we get and the faster we are.”
He pointed out that they are the liaison with the main Veterans Administration and once the paperwork leaves the office they continue to check it, but cannot expedite it at this point.
“The clock starts, but we can only watch at that time. They just need to know we’re here, and we’re eager to help. I know there’s been a void and a vacated for a while, but the county is doing the right thing to fix this hole and get the office back up and running. The county knows the value of veterans and that they are important,” Kirk emphasized.
Kirk was in the US Army on active duty for 26 years, with four deployments. He deployed twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. After his retirement, he was in the branch transitions and other involuntary and voluntary separations. He moved to Bend after his retirement, but grew up in Medford. His wife is from Texas and they both love central Oregon.
Kirk and his family enjoy the outdoor lifestyle in central Oregon. They love to travel all over Oregon because the state has so much to offer.
“I tell people everywhere I’ve been posted, if you pick any place in the United States, then you can put it in Oregon – we’ve got it all.”
When he first joined the military, he was a cryptology electronic warfare signals analyst. After three years, he temporarily left the service to attend college. He then returned to his final 23 years, initially as a senior human resources specialist. During deployments, he was with infantry units.
“I was the senior enlisted adviser to the Turkish General for the Train Advice Assistance Command in Kabul and did that for a year in 2016,” he said.
Kirk had a number of promotions and held many roles throughout his military career, including as a recruiter in Hawaii. He served in Korea, Colorado, Montana, Spokane, Washington, Missouri, Kentucky and Fort Lewis several times. He attended Fort Jackson and Fort Bliss for promotion schools.
“When I retired, I went to work for Oregon State University for a few years because I needed to take a break.”
Kirk noted that his past experience and time in the service is an asset to his current position as a Veterans Services Officer.
“I know veterans, because I am one, and they are the people I am most comfortable with,” he added. “With my career as a recruiter, I’ve seen people – plus myself – go into the military. I worked at the military entry processing station, so I helped them through that process to sign their contract, to qualify and ship them. at the base. My last position was when they were in transition, and it seems like another natural progression. Now I’m helping people who are out. I’ve been through all the avenues, and I love helping people and veterans, and that’s why I chose the HR field in the military, and it’s just another way to continue that in an expansion.”
Nancy Laude also works in the Veterans Desk on Wednesdays and Thursdays each week with Kirk and is also a United States Veteran. She served on active duty in the US Army for just under 11 years. After leaving the service, she became a volunteer with COVO (Central Oregon Veterans Outreach), working with a service officer helping with veterans’ claims.
“That’s when I kind of got hit with the bug (that) it’s kind of an interesting line of work,” she said of her entry into treatment. veterans’ claims.
She had the opportunity to apply for and accept a job in 2011 with the Veterans Administration at the Winston/Salem Regional Office in North Carolina. She was hired as an assessor for the Compensation and Disability Claims Department.
“They make the decision on what percentages people will get, whether or not they will get a disability service login and that sort of thing,” she explained of the post.
Laude transferred to Portland in 2017 and worked there as an evaluator until 2019, when she retired. She said that while she might miss out on things like health care, she had a background and experience with disability compensation and pensions.
After retiring, she had hoped to be able to start helping veterans file claims again, but she only wanted to work part-time. When the position opened up in Prineville, she was happy to take the opportunity.
“It was perfect for me, so I can go back to doing what I love to do and do it on a reduced schedule.”
Laude wants Crook County veterans to know they are here and available to serve them.
“I think it’s important that people in the county can stay in the county and be able to come in and get the help they need – whether it’s claims or health care or whatever – whether they know we’re here and they don’t have to go anywhere else to get all the questions they have.”
She added that she would love to see young veterans come in and feel connected. She wants them to know that she has a good track record dealing with disability claims — even those who are currently in custody or reserves.
She concluded that she also had experience working with Vietnam veterans.
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