Butler County Common Pleas Judge Noah Powers has appointed retired Army Master Sergeant Bruce Jones to the Veterans Service Commission.
Jones, a 63-year-old Hamilton resident, was one of three veterans recommended by AMVETS Post 1983. He will replace Commissioner Lowell Stewart, who has served on the board for 22 years.
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Powers said a number of things about Jones stood out.
“His service record, his service in the community, his private sector work. He’s really just an outstanding individual in a field of outstanding individuals,” Powers said.
The board is responsible for helping the estimated 27,000 veterans living in the county. The commission is funded by a percentage of the general fund millage the legislature carved out to help veterans.
Four candidates, including Fairfield Police Chief Mike Dickey, were among those recommended by local AMVETS posts in Butler County for the seat.
Jones told the Journal-News he has always wanted to serve on the commission and he wants to help them further their goal of reaching as many veterans as possible.
“I just think that there are a lot of veterans out there that might not be aware there are some things out there that could help them, that they need help with,” Jones said. “We all earned some things as being veterans but there are some that need the programs we have. I hope to assist the rest of the group in finding those veterans.”
For years the veterans board was viewed as a dysfunctional group that got little accomplished because of warring factions. The appointing judges said they felt they had to worry as much about whether new members could play well together, as their qualifications for the job.
Advertising has been a big step forward for the commission, and the number of veterans they are now serving is proof. They hit a new high of 574 in October, whereas in the height of conflict they were in the low 400s.
Jones, who has attended the last two board meetings, said he believes he’ll fit right in.
“I don’t want to pat myself on the back, but I think I’ll fit in good with the team,” Jones said. “I’m not one to just say yes, I want to know why we’re doing something before I say yes or no to it and I believe that’s what that group has done that’s there now.”
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Board President Chuck Weber said he is pleased with the judge’s decision and this appointment marks the end of an era.
“The last guy that’s leaving was part of the old guard and we’re kind of the newish group now,” Weber said. “I think we’re a new and improved commission over the past two or three years… I think we’re into a group of very motivated people who want to see this thing work, to see it get better.”
Jones’ application was accompanied by six letters of recommendation, including his former employer Sun Chemical, where he managed a $2.5 million annual budget.
Jones will serve on the commission for five years.