BELTON — Bell County will fall in line with the rest of Texas in October when officials hire a full-time veterans services officer.

The move to fill the position occurred after recent reports highlighted Bell County was the only qualified county without one, County Judge Jon Burrows said.

Every county with populations of more than 200,000 is required by state law to employ a full-time veterans services officer. The officers help veterans file disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs and advocate for veterans’ needs within their communities.

Although the position is state-mandated, it is county funded, Burrows said. He said before last year’s media attention, officials never heard complaints from area residents about the lack of a veterans services officer.

“The only time we had any questions (about it) was from reporters, not from people,” he said.

Burrows said the position was neglected because of the vast amount of resources readily available at Fort Hood or with other area veterans organizations.

He said the county depended on a volunteer “veteran liaison” to help residents out for a long time, but it started to look like the workload was becoming too much as she approached retirement age.

The new veterans services officer will be added after the next fiscal year’s budget is approved and funding begins in October, and officials plan to budget a mid-range salary for the position, Burrows said.

The average salary range for a veterans services officer in Texas is between $20,000 and $40,000.

Contact Courtney Griffin at cgriffin@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7559

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