One VA office to close

Published 3:58 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010

By By Lisa Tindell
news editor

Depending on which end of the county you live in, if you are a veteran, getting to services may soon require some travel.
Escambia County Commissioner Brandon Smith said officials with the Veterans
Administration informed county officials of a proposed closure of one of Escambia County’s two offices serving area veterans.
But Robert Horton, public information officer for Veterans Affairs, said VA officials will make the decision within a week.
Currently two offices are maintained to serve veterans in Escambia — one office at the courthouse annex on Belleville Avenue in Brewton and a second at the satellite courthouse on U.S. 31 in Atmore.
Smith said it would seem logical for the Atmore office to remain open.
Atmore’s VFW Post Adjutant Quarter Master John James said the possibility of the closure of the Atmore office would put area veterans at a great disadvantage.
James said the Atmore VFW post is the only post in the county showing a concern for veterans in the community.
James said he doesn’t want to see Brewton lose its office.
Veterans Affairs Service Officer Mike Hanks currently serves veterans in Escambia and Monroe counties, dividing his week among the offices in both counties.
Hanks said officials with the Veterans Administration have proposed consolidating the Atmore and Brewton office into one location and suggests the change could come as soon as May 1.
Horton said the reason behind the closing of an office in the county is simple — money.
Horton said the VA currently reimburses travel expenses for officers who are required to travel between offices where they serve.
Horton said the closure might not be permanent, with hopes that economic conditions improve throughout the country.
Horton said the changes aren’t ones the administration is happy about making.
A decision on which Escambia County Veterans Administration office to be closed is expected later this week.