Butler County Marine’s new position focuses on better serving veterans

Butler County Marine’s new position focuses on better serving veterans

Mike Farmer, executive director of the Butler County Veteran Services Commission, says he felt like he could do more to help veterans.

“I felt like I could give more and wanted to learn more,” he said.

Starting July 10, he will have the opportunity to become National Service Director and board member of the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers (NACVSO).

He will retain his role with the Butler County VSC, but this new title gives him the opportunity to drive change on a national level.

“If you’re involved with the National Board, you certainly have a voice, a vote and an opportunity to have an influence and bring what’s working well,” Farmer said. “Focus on what’s working, what’s not working. And then take that to the Department of Veterans Affairs at the federal level and say, this is what we’re seeing across the country.”

NACVSO’s mission is to “ensure that every veteran receives the benefits he or she rightfully deserves,” according to their website.

The association was founded in 1989 and has since attracted members from 36 states and tribal nations to work toward better solutions for veterans.

“So, a lot of it is advocating for national policy, you know, supporting veterans in the county, service officers and funding from Congress so that we can deliver these benefits in every community, whether it’s state, municipality, county, tribe, across the country,” Farmer said. “So, when you look at the similarities between them, we’re dealing with the same VA and the same challenges that some other states aren’t as fortunate with or don’t have the funding and the financial assistance and transportation programs that many of us in Ohio do.”

In Ohio, state code determines funding for all 88 county Veteran Service Commissions. Farmer said some veteran service commissions in other states or municipalities survive on grant money that isn’t always guaranteed. In turn, the help they can provide to a veteran diminishes without guaranteed funding.

Mike Farmer hopes to create a level playing field for everyone.

“So we’ve asked Congress, there’s a couple different bills, legislation pending that would allow for County Veterans Service Officers to be funded at that level. So, the hope is, is that we can take a great program and deliver it nationwide to all of the municipalities and tribes that we serve,” Farmer said.

It is also about creating a more uniform way of processing paperwork in all offices.

“The way we serve our tribal communities, for example, and how they file claims is completely different than how veterans would file a claim here in Hamilton or Butler County,” Farmer said.

He said that training is sometimes an important part of accreditation.

“It’s, you know, whether they’re still working with paper files, and they’re doing things with pen and paper, pick any place in the country, there are still offices that are doing that, despite there being an electronic system. So, we’re bringing that voice to the table of, you know, how do we evolve the system and improve the delivery of benefits across the board,” he said.

As he prepares for this national role, he continues to push for ways to expand veterans services in Butler County by increasing hiring and completing a move to a larger space. Details of this will be made public once a final decision is made.

On August 24th, River’s Edge in downtown Hamilton will host their Butler County Veteran Appreciation Day.

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