An office that many Wayne Countians are unaware of, a position that exists and is filled by a Wayne County veteran, is the Wayne County Veterans’ Service Office. Ronald Pulley, a U.S. Army veteran, accepted the position last year upon the retirement of John Allen Berry.
Mr. Pulley is an alumnus of Wayne County High School. He joined the U.S. Army during his senior year at WCHS. “I wasn’t a big fan of school,” said Mr. Pulley. “But when I enlisted and was sent to Fort Dix in New Jersey, I really started to wonder what I had gotten myself into!”
After what was initially no doubt a big adjustment and quite the culture shock, Mr. Pulley went on to serve twenty years in the U.S. Army. He was a Specialist in Arctic Mountain Warfare, and trained many up and coming soldiers in the skills needed for that specialty. Mr. Pulley retired from the military in 1995 and came back to Waynesboro.
Mr. Pulley is passionate about his position as Veterans’ Service Officer. Some veterans in Wayne County know about the office and come to see Mr. Pulley regularly. However, there are many more veterans and deceased veterans’ spouses that don’t know what a great asset the Service Officer is to our county.
One of the main jobs of the Veterans’ Service Officer is helping veterans fill out and obtain paperwork needed for their various claims and applications. Mr. Pulley said that a lot of veterans have held onto their important military paperwork. But, as Mr. Pulley said, life happens! Over the years, everyone loses stuff, even important papers that may be needed in the future. That’s where the Veterans’ Service Officer comes in.
The most important paperwork that veterans need to apply for veterans’ benefits and claims is their official discharge papers. These are the papers that give all the veteran’s information about his or her service, including their dates of service, where they served, and what awards/medals they received. If a veteran does not still have their original copy of these papers, they are on file at one of the country’s military records centers. What has become a problem, however, is that one of the main military records centers in St. Louis, Missouri, had a major fire several years ago that destroyed thousands of military records, including discharge papers.
What can a veteran do if they are trying to file a claim with the VA and don’t have the necessary documents? Or, what if they just need help cutting through all the red tape and simply getting a claim filed? Again, that’s where the Veterans’ Service Officer comes in.
Mr. Pulley said that he is more than happy to assist Wayne County veterans with these matters. He has been known to spend hours tracking down necessary paperwork, working the telephones and emails, until he is able to get everything in order. He doesn’t give up easily! He invites any Wayne County veteran or any widow of a veteran to come by his office at the Wayne County Administration Building (old courthouse) on the square in Waynesboro to just meet and chat, or bring anything that you may need his help with in order to file a claim with the Veterans’ Administration.
Rides to important doctor’s appointments is another service offered by the Wayne County Veterans’ Service Office that many are unaware of. The office’s Ford Explorer, which was donated by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, is driven by volunteers who take veterans to appointments in Nashville, Murfreesboro, Columbia, or even Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. Many veterans are getting older or disabled, and some simply don’t have a reliable means of transportation, especially to appointments as far away as Nashville. Mr. Pulley said that volunteer drivers don’t have to be veterans, although many of them are. “I’ve driven many veterans to appointments myself,” said Mr. Pulley. “But that means I have to close the office to drive, and that can get me sidetracked from working on claims and other issues at the office.”
The Waynesboro and Collinwood American Legion Posts both recently pitched in to cover the cost of new tires for the Explorer. Mr. Pulley said that many miles have been put on the vehicle since they acquired it, but maintenance is done regularly to keep it in safe driving condition.
“We really need more volunteers to drive these veterans to their appointments,” said Mr. Pulley. “It is a volunteer position, but it would be great if we could get enough drivers signed up so that no one would have to drive more than once or twice a month.”
We here at The Wayne County News love our veterans, and want to offer all the information we can to help them in any way. We hope to begin a “Veterans’ Corner” in our newspaper, and with Mr. Pulley’s help, we would like for this article to be the first of many that let veterans know about assistance they can receive free of charge.
Any veterans or veterans’ surviving spouses are encouraged to call or come by the Veterans’ Service Office for assistance with claims or to set up transportation to appointments. The office is open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, and from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon on Wednesday. The telephone number at the office is 931-722-9219.