Veteran’s Affairs Commission History
“Change is not evil and the status quo is not necessarily good.”
Minutes show the Dickinson County Commission of Veteran Affairs first met in January 1920. The commission may have met previously; however, no record currently exists possibly due to fires, which destroyed previous courthouses. During their long history, commission has provided the necessities of life for honorably discharged war time veterans their dependents.
The Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) currently lists 2,008 veterans living in the county. The general population is about 16,000. The county has the 3rd highest per capita income in the state and the highest per capita income for the over 65 population.
In February 1993, forward thinking county commissioners decided they could do more for county veterans. They developed a plan, which included:
- All honorably discharged veterans and their dependents.
- An office in the courthouse.
- State certified Director.
- Proactively and aggressively getting the word out and soliciting applications for DVA benefits.
The director’s job averages 8 hours per day. In the beginning the hours were spent learning about DVA benefits and other state and federal programs of compensation, pension and health care. Today, most of the time is spent on the paperwork it takes to qualify and continue to qualify veterans and their dependents for these state and federal programs.
The commission still assists the poor and indigent county veterans/dependents. However, most of the veterans/dependents contacting the commission now do so concerning their DVA benefits. More county veterans are using the VA medical centers for part of their care and for most of their expensive medications. A van was obtained through the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Transportation Network. The DAV van provides free rides to the VA Medical Center, Sioux Falls, SD. All expenses for the van are paid by the medical center. Volunteer drivers make travel on the van possible.