Hersom Readies Himself
After 12 years as the Director of the Palo Alto County Veterans Affairs office, Ron Hersom will be retiring at the end of June.
The Vietnam War era veteran has been held his current position since October of 2002. Prior to being appointed director, he spent eight years as member of the county's Veterans Affairs Commission.
During his tenure, many things have changed in the world of veterans affairs. In the year 2000, $700,000 of Federal money came into the county for veterans and their dependents. For the year 2013, the number had risen to $4,778,000. Part of that increase was brought about by an open enrollment period from 1996 2003 when veterans with a discharge of anything other than dishonorable could enroll in the VA Healthcare system without disclosing financial information.
"Lots of times, the VA doctor would refer the veterans back to the county office to file a disabililty claim. It is very rewarding when you can help a veteran," said Hersom.
Having also retired from farming three years ago, Hersom said they have plans to travel. Plans are already in the works for a trip to the east coast.
Hersom is very involved in the veteran service organizations in the area, so he is likely to continue to promote the veteran cause. Chances are he will be seen in a few parades behind the wheel of his restored Army jeep.
Christensen To Lead
Palo Alto Veterans Affairs
Cliff Christensen of Ruthven will begin his duties as Palo Alto Veteran Affairs Director on Tuesday, July 1.
Christensen is no stranger to the organization. Before being selected, he served as a commissioner on the county's Veterans Affairs Commission. During his Navy career, Christensen did a lot of traveling and returned to Iowa after he retired from the military. For the last three years, he has been filling in for retiring director Ron Hersom when Ron has had to be out of the office.
In the near future, veterans who visit the office will notice technology upgrades that Christensen believes will aid in the claims process. Although the office hours will remain the same- Monday through Friday, 8 am Noon, he would like to eventually be open longer. He envisions being open earlier, before veterans start their workday or even having some evening hours.
Christensen has set a goal for himself in this new position. He plans to contact each and every veteran in the county. He wants to be sure that each veteran is aware the office is available to them and he is there to assist them.
He is aware the younger veterans many be hesitant to seek assistance. "I will be working at making sure they understand we are here to help," Christensen said. He credits Ron Hersom's diligent work in reaching out to the county veterans and is looking forward to continuing the work of assisting veterans.