Madison County introduces new veteran services officer

·3 min read

MARSHALL - Dan Jackson has been involved with the Mars Hill Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5483 for the past four years, but now Jackson's responsibilities will expand, as the county introduced him as the new veteran services officer.

Jackson, a U.S. Air Forces veteran, was named the new veteran services officer earlier this month, replacing Edwina Craig.

Jackson said his main goal as the county's veteran services officer is to expand access to the county's veterans.

"I would like to increase the percentage of veterans that have been serviced in our county," Jackson said. "We're kind of new at having a VSO, as Edwina Craig was in this position before me. She had done an excellent job. I'm striving to see if I can get as close to 100% of veterans taken care of in Madison County. That's my goal - I want to contact all of them, whatever is available to them, and make sure they get that and are taken care of in their health and their disabilities."

Jackson said Craig has assisted him in the transition to the new role.

"She will continue to help me, and we've discussed that," Jackson said. "This is not one of those positions you just walk into and become effective right away. It takes quite a bit of training."

The Madison County Veterans Service Office offers a personalized service to veterans and their dependents in applying for VA benefits such as total disability pension, service-connected compensation, educational and scholarship benefits, hospitalization and medical care, burial benefits and discharge upgrades. 

Service officers file compensation and pension claims for veterans and widows of veterans. They can also fill out most paperwork for the VA Hospital, the Department of Defense, the State of North Carolina (license plate tags and hunting/fishing license forms, property tax), and Department of Veterans Affairs. All services are provided without charge. 

Jackson said Craig's mentorship is important, as the work the county is doing to provide assistance to local veterans is critical and "life changing."

"What this position does for veterans is life changing," he said. "There are veterans who are suffering financially, health-wise and emotionally. This is a way that we help them cope and live well in our society. We work hard to help them do that. But to do that, it takes a lot of training. We need to know a lot of things about medical conditions, financial situations and psychological aspects to help the different veterans and their needs.

"We're here to help them, and it's a somewhat large group that we're servicing. It takes a lot to make sure they're healthy and taken good care of."

According to the census bureau, the county had 1,462 veterans from 2017-2021.

But with the county's population increasing, the number of veterans in the county is growing at a similar pace, the new veteran services officer said.

"We have a flood of people coming into our county, and our population is growing. There are about 2,500 veterans in our county," Jackson said. "Our percentage in servicing them, so far, is quite good in relationship to some locations. We still have a long road ahead of us to take care of all of them."

Jackson enjoys blacksmithing, woodworking and fly fishing in his spare time.

Jackson and his wife, Linda Rice Jackson, live in Mars Hill.

Jackson's first day will be March 22. The Veterans Services Offices are located at 462 Long Branch Road in Marshall. For more information on Madison County Veterans Services, contact Jackson at 828-649-2722.

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Madison County introduces new veteran services officer Dan Jackson