VSO Director shares data from the Veterans Affairs Office
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TN – At the July 6 informal County Commission meeting, Montgomery County Veterans Service Organization Director Andrew Kester presented his annual overview of the benefits and economic impact of military veterans in the community. The data he shared is from the latest information the Veterans Administration (VA) provided.
Montgomery County is in the top four percent of all military veteran populations in the U.S. and ranked 25 for their total known veteran population at slightly over 14%. Out of the 3,134 counties in the United States, Montgomery County ranks number 309 in the overall population and 127 in the total veteran population.
“When you consider the number of military veterans in the community who may be voters along with the voters in their household, I believe they make up at least 25% of our community,” said Kester.
From an economic standpoint, in 2021, a total of $459,412,000 has come from veterans' disability benefits alone. Montgomery County leads in economic impact over every other county across the state.
“That is not seen directly in our office but in the community in economic impact dollars in education, entertainment, and housing,” said Kester.
The three main concerns identified to VA by the veteran community were healthcare, disability benefits, and transportation. The degree of concern varied with age and demographics. The MCVSO assists and directs those three areas but primarily helps veterans with disability benefits.
"We are fortunate to have a local VA Clinic for healthcare but, if our veterans need to visit the VA Medical Center in Nashville, we have a 501C3 non-profit veterans van service for transportation. We are one of the few VSOs in the state that offers rides. We also provide veterans van service with a computer and phone, which is part of a cross-collaborative effort of the non-profit and public sectors,” added Kester.
Between 2019 through 2021, MCVSO served more than 9,000 veterans each year with no significant difference in numbers through COVID-19. Eighty percent of the veterans they serve live in Montgomery County, 10% live outside Montgomery County, and 10% live out of state.
“We make the biggest impact at our VSO and have the largest staff because of the support we receive from County Commissioners, our VSO board, the Mayor and the community, allowing us to provide the best services for our veterans,” said Kester.
To see the presentation, visit https://bit.ly/3OSot7z, and to find out more about MCVSO, visit https://mcgtn.org/vso.