One-year pilot program jointly funded with Adams County and City of Aurora
The Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an agreement that will create a new Veterans Service Officer position to increase service to local veterans within the City of Aurora. Adams and Arapahoe counties will jointly fund the position, with the City of Aurora providing in-kind materials.
“This is the result of a truly collaborative effort between veterans and government that we’ve been working on for some time,” said Commissioner Bill Holen, District 5, a disabled U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam. “Our County Veterans Service Office receives as many as 1,000 queries and processes as many as 100 claims per month, so to be able to create this dedicated position, and to do it jointly with our county and community partners,is especially rewarding and will help give veterans better access to the services and attention they deserve.”
Veterans Service Offices are county-level departments in each state that assist veterans and their families by answering questions, advising, and educating individuals and groups on what benefits are available from federal, state, county, and local resources. These officers also assist eligible persons with filing the necessary claims.
This one-year pilot program is the result of intergovernmental discussions that began in February and continued amid the COVID-related changes and developments this spring. “Too often there is a disconnect that prevents veterans from receiving the benefits that they have earned through their military service,” Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said. “The VSO position created by this IGA will fill a critical gap by stationing a support officer near the VA Hospital and connect underserved vets to these services. I am pleased Aurora is collaborating with Adams and Arapahoe Counties to provide much needed support for our military heroes.”
The new position will help support the goals of the Align Arapahoe performance management program, including enhancing the quality of life for Arapahoe County veterans by helping them achieve successful claims or connecting them with Arapahoe County’s Community Resources department. “Colorado and the Arapahoe-Adams area are home to many veterans who can benefit from the services the two counties and the City of Aurora provide every day,” said Commissioner Jeff Baker, District 3, a retired U.S. Army Warrant Officer. “By creating a single point of contact, we hope to streamline and focus these operations and reach even more veterans than we already do.”
The office’s proximity to Adams County will also provide a welcome option for the area’s veteran population. “Expanding services to our veterans has been a priority for Adams County over the last few years,” said Emma Pinter, Adams County Commissioner and Board Chair. “It was our goal in adding this new position to bring additional resources and personnel to an area with a high number of veterans so that we can better serve those who have served our country.”
The hiring process for the position will begin around September 1, 2020. Once staffed, the position will provide services from Arapahoe County’s Altura Plaza office in Aurora. By creating this project as a “pilot,” the entities will be able to evaluate, after the first year, the usage of the position and the potential value of maintaining a shared position going forward.
The full text of the Board’s resolution is available here.