Wilcox VA office set to close

Published 10:44 pm Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CAMDEN — As of Friday, 17 veterans’ service offices will close throughout Alabama. Because of a 34 percent decrease in the general funding for 2013, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs had no other choice but to close offices in areas surrounding Dallas County such as the Wilcox County, Perry County, and Chilton County offices.

In addition to a decrease in funds the Department of Veterans Affairs has also seen an increase in demand for services as veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan and veterans from previous wars begin to age.

Public Information Officer for the Alabama Department of Veterans Robert Horton said those veterans that utilize services in the Wilcox County office have been assigned to alternate offices in Dallas, Monroe, Marengo and Clarke.

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“It might take a little bit longer to process claims,” Horton said. “But we are going to do everything we can to assist those veterans that were affected by the closings of the Wilcox county office.”

The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs has tried to keep these 17 offices open over the last few years by providing internet services. Horton said some of these offices were only open once a week.

“We know that the closings will create an inconvenience for our veterans,” Horton said. “But to ensure that we have the resources necessary, we designated multiple county offices to cover one county.”

Veteran’s records from the Wilcox County office will transfer to Marengo County, but the department will allow veterans to choose the office they want to use.

As of 2008, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs had 141 employees, and in 2012 it was down to 110. No one will be laid off in this office consolidation, but no new employees will be hired to handle the influx of veterans.

“If our state and our nation sees an upturn in economy and more money becomes available through general fund appropriations, we will always consider the option of opening or reopening the offices that were forced to close today,” Horton said.

Veterans can also utilize accredited services such as American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and others if their local VA office will be too slow in processing their claims.