Tuesday, February 3, 2015
I have been blessed with being employed for the last few weeks in one of my old positions with Milam County. I have been working in the One-Stop in Rockdale for the County Tax Assessor Collector. Don't anybody get upset...just a temporary thing while an employee recovers from surgery.
Those that have been to get registration or pay taxes in Rockdale know that the Veterans Service Officer is located just across the waiting room from the Tax Office. The location has given me an excellent view of the comings and goings of, and the number of clients the Veterans Service Officer works with.
I mention this because there was some mention of Ken Janicek's and another individual's presentation to the last Commissioners Court about the need to reinstate the full time assistant for that office. After almost a month sitting across the waiting room I have to agree.
I have always been a supporter of our veterans. My father was a vet, my uncles and many other family members served our country. I realize that while my family members survived their service with little need for the VA in later life there are many more that need and or require those services today.
Some have said the cut to a half time position for the office was a money saving move by the Judge and Commissioners. However, if you check the budget you will see that the full salary is still there. The person in that position was moved to a half position in the District Attorney's Office. At my high school two halves always made a whole. The whole salary, benefits and all is still there so, why the changes?
In my conversation with the DA he indicated that he could continue to provide equal service to his clientele without the half time position. I have tried to find some other logical answer for why the position was cut, but can only come up with it was what the Judge wanted.
In talking with some of the Commissioners they all seemed to support the Veteran's Service Officer and understood our need to support our veterans. I have heard a lot of other reasons as to why the position was cut, but none really hold water.
My time working this month has allowed me to see Ken be interrupted too many times to count by the telephone while he was interviewing and assisting clients in the office with paperwork. At the same time three, sometimes more clients were waiting to see him. Ken tries to make appointments and keep a schedule, but that is really hard to do when you are having to answer a phone and interview at the same time.
Back in April of 2013 I blogged about the cuts and how I did not agree with them because of my persoanl experience with assistance in obtaining benefits for my mother-in-law. Now I have first hand personal experience of seeing the numbers of veterans served in the Rockdale office.
Ken is in Rockdale on Tuesday and Wednesday of each week. He is in Cameron on Monday, Thursday and Friday. His days in Rockdale result in the Cameron office being open only half the day Tuesday and Wednesday. The other issue with half day support is that in Rockdale there is no support and in Cameron only half day support.
Now there are some out there that say we do not even need an office in Milam County. I have noticed the majority of these folks that say that are not veterans, are veterans who do not need or utilize VA services or can afford to go to Temple or Waco, or are just the idiots that complain about everything.
Last week the Judge had a column about the legislature and unfunded mandates. He mentioned how he will be fighting the legislature's move to regulate the Commissioners Court's ability to raise taxes in the future and speak out against unfunded mandates. He continues in the article to make sure that we all understand he will cut services if necessary. The Veterans Office could well be in his sights.
I wonder if he truly realizes who has paid the price that he can go to Austin and speak out against government. He and all the other elected officials have sworn to do their best for Milam County. It's high time that Milam County does its best for our veterans who gave us and continue to protect the freedoms we enjoy today.