By Scott Robertson
Veterans living in Washington County now know the name of the man who will help them attain the benefits they deserve. Jerry Story, a U.S. Air Force veteran who will retire as assistant principal at Gray Elementary School next month, will become Washington County’s first Veterans’ Service Officer starting June 1.
“A lot of our local veterans don’t know all of the resources available to them,” Story told News & Neighbor. “Now they are going to have one person that they can go sit down in front of and talk to instead of maybe having to go through Nashville or the VA system and wait for who knows how long.”
Story said his office will serve as a clearinghouse to bring veterans together with the services they have earned, regardless of the funding organization. “One of our goals is, at some point in time, to get all those organizations that serve our veterans together under one roof to talk. We can see what each one – whether it’s the VA or the VFW or the American Legion – is doing. Are there gaps? Are there things that are going under- used because the veterans just don’t know they exist?”
Story was recommended by a search committee including County Mayor Dan Eldridge and several members of the veterans’ community including County Commissioner Gary McAllister, Brenda Barnett, Mike Johnson, Allen Jackson and Harry Gibson. That committee has agreed to extend its service beyond Story’s hiring and will now be know as the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Eldridge has also assured Story he’ll have opportunities to learn from other VSOs. Washington County is one of only six counties in Tennessee without a VSO. “I’m going to hit the ground running,” Story said. “Right now I already know some of the benefits, but I don’t know them all yet. These folks already know a lot of what I need to know.”