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Officials celebrate the opening of a new Veterans Service Office in Coosa County with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Goodwater location. Pictured from left are ADVA Assistant Commissioner of Operations Jeff Newton, Assistant Veterans Service Officer Carla Bolden, Goodwater Mayor Lonnie Caldwell, ADVA Commissioner Kent Davis, Veterans Service Officer Nicole Goodman, and Coosa County Judge of Probate Richard M. Dean. Photo submitted
By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
Coosa County now has a new Veterans Service Office operating twice a week in Goodwater, thanks to efforts from multiple individuals, including Goodwater Mayor Lonnie Caldwell.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the facility was held last Thursday morning, May 26, and the office officially opened for service on Tuesday, May 31.
The Goodwater location is the sixty-second county office statewide, and the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, or ADVA, celebrated with local officials and guests during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
ADVA Commissioner Kent Davis, District II Manager Rogers Wilson, Veterans Service Officer Nicole Goodman, Assistant Veterans Service Officer Carla Bolden, and other ADVA staff were joined by Mayor Caldwell to commemorate the new office. Other local elected officials in attendance were Sheriff Michael Howell and Judge of Probate Richard Dean.
Willie Gaddis from the Goodwater Disabled American Veterans was also in attendance, as well as Spencer Hardy and others from the local DAV.
“This is a great day for the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs and the veterans in Coosa County,” said Commissioner Davis during last Thursday’s ceremony. “I want to give a special thank you to Mayor Caldwell and additional city and county officials who made today possible. Our veterans service offices are a great benefit to the veterans community, and we cannot emphasize enough that veterans and family members should stop by for assistance with any questions about benefits and services. We are continuously working to have a veterans service office in all 67 counties, and today we are one step closer.”
The Coosa County office in Goodwater will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week from 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. to help serve veterans and their families. Nicole Goodman, veterans service officer for Tallapoosa County, will be the supervisor for the Coosa County office under the same job title.
The ADVA’s veterans service offices provide veterans with free services such as counseling, hands-on assistance in submitting applications for VA compensation and pension claims, and assisting with all other state and federal veterans benefits and services.
While the local office just opened this week, as of last week’s ceremony they already had 75 voicemails, with people also talking to them that afternoon. Additionally, the group had already assisted veterans who came into the office while they were still working to get it set up and opened, a true testament to how much the service is needed and how much local veterans appreciate it.
During the ceremony Commissioner Davis noted that when he took office only 50 counties in Alabama had a VA office. He said he made a pledge to open an office in all 67 counties, with five more counties left to go after Coosa County’s opened.
“The veterans in Coosa County deserve this type of personal service,” Davis said at the ceremony. “We are in the customer service business, and you [veterans] are our customers.”
Mayor Caldwell was also recognized as being instrumental in helping the new VA office to open in Coosa County.
Judge Dean, a veteran himself, said that Caldwell really “stepped to the plate” when he asked him to give VA the space, and he applauded Caldwell’s dedication to the effort.
Caldwell provided the office space, phone and internet connectivity for the VA office’s operations.
The Goodwater office is located at 22132 Alabama Highway 9. The office can be reached by calling 256-839-6301, extension 5.
For more information regarding ADVA, visit its website at www.va.alabama.gov or its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/alsdva.