JASPER - The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) has reopened the department’s county-based veterans service offices that were temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
Most county offices are providing services by appointment only, and because of on-going preventive measures and due to limited space in some offices, walk-in appointments are suspended until further notice. Some veterans service offices are located in county facilities that remain closed to the public. However, a veterans service officer will be available at these facilities to take calls and assist veterans and their dependents.
Winston County's veterans service office closed several years ago, with Winston County veterans' needs serviced through the Walker County office. This office is currently only accepting phone calls and is not open to in-person service. Walker County's Veterans Service Office staff member John Benson can be reached at (205) 384-7277 Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Marion County office is taking phone calls only. Nathan Tidwell can be reached Monday, Wednesday and Friday at (205) 921-3161 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. or by email at email@example.com. Tidwell serves the Franklin County office on Thursdays only, and that office is also only accepting phone calls at this time. The phone number is (256) 332-8845.
The Cullman County office is open every day but Wednesday. Candace Reppond can be reached at (256) 775-4662 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ADVA and its county offices continue to follow preventive measures such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. For in-office appointments, the county offices will follow protocols for protecting both employees and veteran clients.
“Our county veterans service offices offer a vital service to our veterans and their family members, and we’re taking necessary steps to reopen the offices to deliver services while following protective measures that are in the best interest of public health and safety,” said ADVA Commissioner Kent Davis.
The ADVA operates 51 county veterans service offices, and as part of a 2019 initiative to expand services, the ADVA will open nine additional county offices in 2020. It is not known if one of those offices will be in Winston County. The department’s objective is to have a veterans service office in all 67 counties to serve the state’s more than 400,000 veterans.
The county veterans service offices assist veterans and their dependents with compensation and pension claims, educational benefits, VA home loans, and referral services for needs such as temporary housing, healthcare, counseling, and job placement.