Veteran services

Solano County Hires New Director of Veterans Services

FAIRFIELD — Solano County has chosen its next veterans services director from San Francisco.

Al Sims, 50, has been hired and will begin on March 28, the county announced in an online posting on its website. He is a veteran of the United States Army.

“I served in the first Gulf War as a radio operator with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, 502 Military Intelligence Company,” Sims said in an email.

“Mr. Sims will be responsible for overseeing a team of veterans benefits representatives and providing strategic direction and oversight of the department’s operations, including its budget,” the county’s announcement reads.

“In addition, (Sims) will oversee the department’s comprehensive benefit preparation, counseling and application process, which includes providing public education to veterans and their dependents, and maintaining mutually beneficial working relationships with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Affairs and Travis Air Force Base,” the county said.

Sims replaces Ted Puntillo, who held the position for more than 10 years and transformed the county office into one of the most successful veterans services operations in the state.

Michelle Heppner, a legislative, intergovernmental and public affairs officer and Navy reservist, has served as acting director since Puntillo’s retirement in late 2021.

Sims served in the same capacity as a Veterans Services Officer in San Francisco. He holds a Masters in Business Continuity, Security and Emergency Management from Buckinghamshire New University in England.

The Sims will be paid $118,640 a year, the county administration reported.

Solano County veterans and their dependents are encouraged to visit the Solano County Veterans Services Office for eligible benefits and services, including but not limited to survivor benefits, medical benefits, educational programs, monetary benefit programs, home loan programs, property tax exemptions, burial benefits and more. Visit or call 707-784-6590.