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Veterans Service Committee Meeting

Posted on Thursday, April 4, 2024 at 10:33 am


The Marshall County Veterans Service Committee meeting was held Tuesday, Feb. 26 at Hardison School Annex Building. The meeting was called to order at 5:00 p.m. with roll call. Dean Delk was the only Committee Member not in attendance.

The first order of business was approving the previous meeting’s minutes-motion passed. Public Comments opened and Walt Redding, Commander of American Legion Post 39, spoke first about: Local Veterans attended the state capital for the Veterans Day on the Hill to work on TCA 58-3-111 wording so legislators could introduce it in current work session.

Redding said, “We [local Veterans] feel confident about the changes and we have the support of the House.” To understand this fully, we must go back just a little before finishing the rest of February’s meeting, but we will get there.

Sharrin Lusco Peter has worked at the Veterans Service Office for five years as a part time employee. She volunteered at the office before she was hired. Peter is not accredited at this time. Accreditation would help her answer questions when Veterans need help filing claims and when they have questions with ongoing claims. Right now, she has to take a message for the Director if it requires accessing specific information because she cannot access all of a Veteran’s information. This not only delays Veterans getting answers but it adds to the Director’s workload. If Peter were accredited, she could assist the Director much more with his duties and the Veterans would be helped much faster in Marshall County.

Peter being accredited has been discussed ever since Cannon presented his 2023-2024 budget to the Marshall County Budget Committee – the expense for her accreditation was even approved in that budget. So why isn’t she accredited and why’s it important?

The reason local Veterans like Redding are concerned with any of this is because Marshall County Government and Veterans Service Office Director Brandon Cannon do not interpret it the same way.  Back in January’s Marshall County Veterans Service Committee meeting, Cannon said, “When it comes to TCA, that code’s talking about me, the Director and obviously I’m a Veteran but that law isn’t talking about an assistant. I’ve tried explaining that to the mayor and the attorney. I’ve even told them that the VA has non-veterans working for them and other Veterans Service Offices in the state.”


Below is the Tennessee law titled Director of Local Service Office.  Please note, it is not titled Deputy Director, Representative, nor Assistant.

2021 Tennessee Code Title 58 – Military Affairs, Emergencies and Civil Defense Chapter 3 – Veterans’ Rights in General § 58-3-111

Director of Local Service Office

  1. A Veterans’ Service Officer shall be chosen by the governing body or bodies of the political subdivision or subdivisions creating the Veterans’ Service Office by which the officer is to be employed.
  2. If a Veterans’ Service Office is created by contract between two (2) or more political subdivisions, the Veterans’ Service Officer shall be approved by the governing body of each subdivision participating in the establishment of the office. If the political subdivisions are unable to agree upon a Veterans’ Service Officer, then the officer shall be chosen by the Commissioner of Veterans Services from among the candidates proposed by the political subdivisions.
  3. All Veterans’ Service Officers shall be honorably discharged Veterans of the United States armed forces. Veterans’ Service Officers shall have the authority to administer oaths and to take acknowledgments related to any matter falling within the scope of authority of their office, including the presentation of claims and other functions incident to obtaining benefits for discharged veterans. No Veteran or dependent of a Veteran shall be charged any fee for services rendered by a Veterans’ Service Officer.
  4. All Veterans’ Service Officers shall successfully complete training and be issued accreditation by the department of veterans services within one (1) year from the date of appointment. Any Veterans’ Service Officer who does not complete the required training and receive accreditation within one (1) year of appointment shall be removed from office by the governing body or bodies of the political subdivisions creating the Veterans’ Service Office by which the officer is employed.

Now back to the most recent meeting, under agenda items, the next item of business was Final Adjustments/Approval of 2024-2025 Budget. The Veterans Service Committee had to discuss their budget and amendments before presenting it to the Marshall County Budget Committee. Cannon provided a copy of the proposed budget and explained it had not changed significantly from last year’s budget.

Cannon provided a document to the Committee with call volumes for February. Committee Member Nathan Johnson asked Cannon to start logging how much time he spends on each phone call and to keep record of how many people come into the office. He also asked exactly how many Veterans the office serves. This has been brought up before by Johnson and when it was, Redding pointed out that Marshall County Government is responsible, primarily the HR department, to observe and get details of job descriptions, call volume, call times, visitors in office, etc.

Chairman Ken Lee said that the attorney did not see an issue with getting Peter accredited as long as the accrediting agency agreed to provide the training. Johnson informed the committee of the criteria that needed to be met for the accreditation.

After a lot of discussion, there were some changes made to the budget:

  • adding $2000 for maintenance for the VSO van(2021-2022 budget showed $1000 in maintenance)
  • adding $1500 for gas for the VSO van (2021-2022 budget showed $500 for gas)

The 2023-2024 budget had removed these figures, since the van was not being used.

The new figures were added after Johnson proposed rescinding a motion from January’s meeting to sell the VSO van on or give it to another local government entity. His decision to rescind the motion was so that “future VSO’s would be able to use the van to transport Veterans.” A motion to rescind the previously approved vote to “get rid of the VSO van” was made by Johnson and seconded by Committee Member Craig Blackwell. The motion passed by a 3-1 vote with Blackwell being the only “No” vote.

A motion was made by Blackwell and seconded by Committee Member Terry Dunnavant to send the budget as amended with Peter’s additional hours (from 25 to 29) along with the position request for a Deputy Veteran Service Officer to the Marshall County Budget Committee. The motion passed by a 3-1 vote with Johnson being the only “No” vote.

Cannon told The Post, “We are trying very diligently to help the Veterans of Marshall County. My budget should be in discussion and up for vote in the near future with the budget committee and I would very much like the support of the citizens of Marshall County to help us help our Veterans.” The meeting adjourned at 6:11 p.m.