Butler County Marine taking over national position with a focus on better serving veterans

Serving as the executive director of the Butler County Veteran Services Commission (VSC), Mike Farmer said he felt like there was more he could do to help veterans.

“I felt like I had more capacity to give and wanting to learn more,” he said.

Come July 10, he will get the chance as the national service director and executive board member for the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers (NACVSO).

He will maintain his role with the Butler County VSC, but this new title gives him the ability to affect change nationally.

“Being involved with the national board, certainly you have a vote, you have a voice and the chance to influence and bring what’s working well,” Farmer said. “Kind of focus on what’s going great, what’s not going great. And then take that back to the Department of Veterans Affairs on the federal level, and say, here’s what we’re seeing across the nation.”

The mission of NACVSO is to “work to ensure every veteran receives the benefits rightfully earned,” according to the website.

The association formed in 1989 and has progressively brought on members from 36 states and Native Tribes to work on better solutions for veterans.

“So, a lot of it is advocating for national policies, you know, supporting county veterans, service officers and funding from Congress, so that we can deliver these benefits in every community, whether it be state, municipality, county, or tribal, across the nation,” Farmer said. “So, when you look at commonalities between them, we face the same VA and the same challenges where some other states aren’t as fortunate or to have the funding and the financial assistance and transportation programs that many of us in Ohio do.”

In Ohio, state code sets the funding for all 88 county Veteran Service Commissions. Farmer said some veteran service commissions in other states or municipalities may survive on grant dollars that aren’t always guaranteed. In turn, the help they can provide to a veteran wanes with no guaranteed funding.

Farmer hopes to create a level playing field for all.

“So we’ve asked Congress, there’s a couple of different bills, pending legislation that would enable to fund County Veterans Service Officers at that level. So, the hope is, is that we can take, you know, a great program and deliver it nationally to all the municipalities and the tribes that we serve,” Farmer said.

It’s also about creating a more uniform way of processing paperwork across all of the offices.

“How we serve our tribal communities, for example, and how they file claims is completely different than veterans here in Hamilton or Butler County would file a claim,” Farmer said.

He said training is a huge component, at times, toward accreditation.

“It’s, you know, whether they still work with paper files, and they’re doing things pen and paper, pick any spot in the nation, there’s still offices that do that, despite there being an electronic system. So, we bring that voice to the table of, you know, how can we evolve the system and for the betterment of benefits delivery across the board,” he said.

As he prepares for this national role he continues to push for ways to expand veteran service operations in Butler County with more hiring and finalizing a move to a larger space. Details of which will be published publicly once a final decision is made.

The Butler County Veteran Appreciation Day is coming up on Aug. 24 at RiversEdge in downtown Hamilton.

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