Snyder steps into veterans position
After nearly 12 years in the ‘greatest position’ he’s ever had, Veterans Service Officer Marion Wallace will sign off duty for the last time Friday.
Wallace said the thing he’ll miss most is not being able to say he’s the Harrison County Veterans Service Officer.
‘I was really proud of it,’ he said. ‘It’s very rewarding and exciting.’
Wallace said the stress of the job and the workload became too much for him to handle.
He said the volunteer workforce is crucial to the operation of the office. More than 20,000 hours of work was donated by volunteers during Wallace’s tenure.
‘I just couldn’t have done it without them,’ he said.
Wallace said every facet of the job has increased in demand since he started.
More than 700 veterans in the county receive assistance in some form from his office. In 2013, more than $8.7 million came into the county through compensation and pension for veterans, Wallace said. Add to that medical benefits and services and the actual total money brought into the county from the federal V.A. program is more than $15 million per year, he said.
‘That’s spendable money in the county,’ Wallace said. ‘It’s very important.’
In June, when Wallace announced his pending retirement to the county council, he said 23 percent of veterans in Harrison County receive service connect money from the V.A. and more than 100 veterans use the van program for trips to the V.A. hospital in Louisville or for other appointments.
‘So many veterans are trying to get help,’ he said.
To help ease the transition for the new service officer, Desley Snyder, Wallace requested and was granted funding to hire Snyder part time for a couple months to allow Wallace to train her.
‘It’s so hard to turn loose the reins on something that’s so big,’ Wallace said. ‘She’ll do well.’
Snyder, a Navy veteran who was stationed for a time in Italy, will take over the job full time at the beginning of the year.
‘I always wanted to do something with veterans,’ said Snyder, who previously worked for Casino Aztar as a merchant mariner from 1998 to 2013.
Snyder then spent some time working for Save Our Veterans Inc., a nonprofit organization in Indianapolis with a goal of providing skills training, educational opportunities and paths to employment and housing for veterans.
Snyder, an Elizabeth native, said she had heard that Wallace was retiring and initially didn’t plan to apply for the job. But, after some thought and encouragement from a number of Harrison Countians, she did so and was eventually selected as Wallace’s successor.
‘Veterans need a little, deserve a little, extra help,’ she said.
Snyder said that all veterans from World War II to those currently fighting the War on Terror have benefits available to them.
‘I want to do whatever I can do to help them out,’ she said. ‘A lot of veterans don’t realize the benefits available to them.’
Snyder said she didn’t know benefits were available to her until 2010. She said her goal is to educate the veterans in the county.
Snyder plans to form a committee, possibly a veterans advisory board, to help bring together all organizations in the county that aid veterans.
‘I’d like to bring them all together towards the same goal,’ she said.
Snyder said a person is needed to fill her part-time role, as well as two work-study student positions and an intern.
‘We’ll do a lot more outreach and really get some stuff done,’ Snyder said. ‘I welcome anyone to come into the office for input on what they think we should do.’
The Harrison County Veterans Service Office, which is located at 245 Atwood St., Suite 102 in the Government Center in south Corydon, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To avoid delays, make an appointment, Snyder said.
To reach the office, call 812-738-4249, send an email to [email protected] or visit the Facebook page Harrison County Indiana Veteran Service.