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VA Commission seeks added space to serve local veterans
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VA Commission seeks added space to serve local veterans

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VA Commission seeks added space to serve local veterans

Veterans Affairs Executive Director Janet Olsen

As the number of local veterans receiving services from the Page County Commission of Veterans Affairs continues to increase, so does the need of the agency for additional space.

Veterans Affairs Executive Director Janet Olsen met with the Page County Board of Supervisors Nov. 26 to review the bi-annual report for the commission. Along with that report, Olsen presented a request to expand the office space of the organization.

As part of her report, Olsen presented the board with a copy of a state report identifying the awards issued to each county.

"What that is saying to you is in the month of September of 2021, VA has brought in $419,816 this month. That is a little lower than my normal average. But if you will go through the entire report, you'll see that, comparable for the size of this county, I'm still well above the norm for the state of Iowa. That's very important to me and to our veterans," Olsen said.

The Government Expenditure Index for 2020 also showed $12,435,000 in funding was brought into Page County last year. Olsen said the commission has been able to consistently increase the amount of funding received by the count.

"They break it down by state and then they break it down by county. It's what's expended by the federal government for retirement money, benefits we get for the veterans, DIC to the widows, and it also includes Aid and Attendance to any veteran that goes into a nursing home. So it's a gambit of a lot of different things," Olsen said.

"We appreciate deeply how veterans are being served in Page County," Supervisors Chairperson Chuck Morris said.

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Although the Veterans Affairs Commission is performing well in terms of the financing it is able help veterans secure, the rising numbers of veterans requesting services has created a growing need for additional space. Currently, the Veterans Affairs Commission is housed in one of the offices in the Page West building in Shenandoah.

Olsen said the commission is seeing an increased number of veterans dealing with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is especially true among veterans how have served in Afghanistan

"We don't have the privacy that we need to deal with our veterans. I don't have the room in that room, if you will, and I don't have the ability to close it off. So, often, I'll have to take the client and go down to the conference room, shut down and interview them there," Olsen said.

Discussions had previously been held about the potential of moving the office to Clarinda. However, Olsen said the commissioners would prefer to keep the office in Shenandoah.

Instead, since the Page West building is owned by Page County, Olsen proposed changing offices with the Department of Human Services. Olsen said the DHS office is larger and is used by the agency less than three hours per month.

With the additional space, Olsen said a dividing wall with a doorway could be constructed this between the desks of Olsen and administrator Denise Bryant to create the necessary privacy needed when meeting with veterans. Olsen said Integrity Roofing of Shenandoah had provided an estimate of $9,000 for the renovations.

"The difference, annually, would only be $1,074 that you would lose for the lease agreement that you have with the DHS," Olsen said.

No action was taken on the request Tuesday. The board agreed to review the terms of its lease with DHS and discuss the proposed change of offices with their representatives.

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