Veterans Service Commission members seek raises

Members of the Hancock County Veterans Service Commission asked for a raise on Thursday.

Officers Robert Essigner, Roger Neff, Charles Fisher and Charles Smith attended the Hancock County commissioners’ regular meeting to ask for the raise.

The commission officers explained that their monthly pay was decreased in 2006, when the county was experiencing money problems. A similar request was made in 2010, and again rejected.

Veterans Service Director Nichole Coleman said the commission members are now among the lowest paid when compared to other Ohio counties with a similar veteran population. There are currently 5,607 veterans in Hancock County, and the commissioners are paid $400 per month. They are requesting a raise of $100 per month.

Marion County, for example, has a population of 5,481 and pays its commission officers $640 per month. Lawrence County, which pays its officers $450 per month, has a population of 5,357. Commission officers in that county are also seeking a raise. Washington County has 5,866 veterans and pays $422 per month. Muskingum County has 6,117 veterans and pays $500.

If approved, Coleman said the raise would go only to new commission officers or those being re-appointed, beginning next year. Commission members serve five-year terms.

The additional cost to the county budget in the first year will be $1,200.

The Veterans Service Office advises and assists veterans and their families in seeking benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and provides other benefits. The office also makes picture identification cards for veterans.

Board members attend administrative meetings, report to member organizations and perform outreach. Commission officers also man the county’s memorial squad, which performs graveside services at over 100 military funerals each year. Members are also required to undergo district and state training.

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