Disabled American Veterans Chapter 33 to open office in Jemison

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Jemison City Council unanimously voted on Monday to allow Chilton County Chapter 33 of the Disabled American Veterans to open a volunteer office in Jemison.

Representatives of the chapter spoke to the council about utilizing space in the former rescue building located on Main Street in Jemison.

“We have outgrown the space we are currently using, and we would love to have permission to use the space in Jemison,” Phil Burnette, adjutant of Chilton County Chapter 33 of the DAV, said.

Currently, a volunteer office has been open at the Chilton County Courthouse for nearly two years to assist veterans with obtaining their benefits and services earned through military service.

The county’s original Veterans Affairs office, administered by the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, closed in June 2012 after a lack of state funding led to cuts in the Veterans Affairs department.

“We have found that a lot of people do not know we exist,” Burnette said. “We want to get the word out to the community that we are here, and we would be glad to provide assistance to veterans and their families.”

Burnette and Mike Welborn, commander of Chilton County Chapter 33 of the DAV, told the council the chapter is rebranding the office as the “Veterans Resource Office” with the hope of offering a broader range of services available to veterans.

Services include assisting veterans and their families in obtaining health benefits, educational benefits, disability compensation, survivor benefits, burial benefits, homebound aid and attendance and applying to have military records corrected or updated.

Jemison Mayor Eddie Reed told the council he thought the office in Jemison would be a great thing for the city.

“I think it would be an honor to have an office where we could help out veterans,” Reed said. “This would provide services for the people in this community as well as the county, and I think that would be a wonderful thing.”

Both Burnette and Welborn told the council they would like to see the space in Jemison used for monthly meetings with the Chilton County Chapter 33 of the DAV as well as various events sponsored by the chapter.

Currently, the Chilton County Chapter 33 of the DAV meets the second Saturday of every month at 11 a.m. at Real Estate Associates on Highway 31 North in Clanton.

“We think it would be a great advantage for us to use that space,” Burnette said.

Reed told the council the chapter would have to provide proof of insurance and sign a lease agreement with the city.

“It is a vacant building, and I think it is a wonderful thing to have a group who would like to meet,” Reed said. “This is something we can provide for them and offer services that I know are very valuable to the veterans of this community.”

The council voted to allow the Chilton County Chapter 33 of the DAV to lease the building in Jemison from the city for a year at a rate established by the city.

Councilman George Brasher was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Although no specific date was established for the chapter to move into the new location, Reed said on Tuesday he thought it would be within the next couple of weeks.

Burnette said the office at the courthouse averages roughly 100 cases per month with the hope of expanding.

“We are still encountering people who don’t know this place is open,” Burnette said. “I think when we move to Jemison, we will expand to more cases due to a large veteran segment in the north part of the county. I also think we will draw people from Shelby County. We have no geographical restrictions; they just have to let us know they need help.”

The council also voted to hire two reserve officers for the Jemison Police Department Reserve Program.

Jemison Police Chief Shane Fulmer recommended the council approve Darryl Glaze and Justin Killingsworth as reserve officers with the JPD.

The council also voted to approve an advertisement for $700 in The Clanton Advertiser’s football magazine.