History of Veteran Services
The “Soldiers and Sailors Relief Commission” was established by the Ohio State Statute in 1886 to assist Civil War veterans or their widows with emergency financial assistance. No records of the Williams County Veterans Service Commission exist prior to January 7, 1931. At that time the commission consisted of two members, Myron Curry and George Spletzer. Maggie K. Leavy served as secretary. They had no office so the commission met wherever space was available.
On October 16, 1945, the state law was amended to increase the commission to five persons with each serving a renewable term of five years. The appointments were, and still are, made by the Common Pleas Court Judge. The commission was given the authority to hire a county veteran’s service officer and other employees as necessary to assist veterans and their dependents in filing claims for benefits to which they may be entitled under state and federal laws.
In 1947 the Ohio State Legislature dropped the words “and sailors” from the commission name. On September 14, 1988 the Ohio State Legislature changed the name to Veterans Service Commission and defined the term “veteran” for those seeking financial assistance. In 1994 the state legislature amended specific sections of the Ohio Revised Code Title 59 and created the Governor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (GOVA).
Department of Veterans Services Establishment
In 2008, Ohio established the Department of Veterans Services (ODVS). The mission of the ODVS is to actively identify, connect with, and advocate for veterans and their families. Senate Bill 289 defined the mission and gave the department the responsibility to work directly with the county veterans service officers (CVSOs) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as with the various veterans service organizations and other concerned associations.
In Williams County the first service officer, Edward L. Flinn, was hired January 1, 1946. Ralph Ely was hired as an assistant on March 4, 1946. They resigned on January 28, 1947. On February 18, 1947, Warren Gardner was employed by the commission as service officer. The office was moved to the first floor of the Courthouse, southwest corner. Mr. Gardner served until December 1959 when he accepted the appointment of Postmaster for Montpelier, Ohio.
Leland R. Esterline was employed as service officer on December 29, 1959 and his wife was employed as Deputy Clerk on a part-time basis. The office was moved to the fourth floor of the Courthouse, northeast corner, in June 1961. He and his wife retired December 31, 1980. Randy G. Elegeer was hired by the WCVSC on January 1, 1981. On August 31, 1994 the office was moved to the Williams County Customer Service Center, now known as the Northwest Ohio Job Center. During his tenure, Janet Clark served as Deputy Director retiring in December 2010. Randy retired May 1, 2011.
In December 2010, Mary C. Oliver was hired by the commission to replace Mr. Elegeer. Ms. Oliver, a veteran of the United States Army, had been employed as a service officer for the Licking County Veterans Service Office since 1995 and had been director of that office since 2000. She was born and raised in Montpelier, Ohio and welcomed the opportunity to not only return home, but to continue the career she loved.
In March 2011 the office moved to 129 South Beech Street where staff had private offices and the commission had their own conference room. In January 2013 The Veterans Service office was once again relocated to the new County building called the East Annex. This was a major upgrade as it provided more room and more modern technology.
In 2018 the County Veterans Service office has a full-time staff to assist Veterans and their families. The staff consists of an Executive Director and CVSO Mary C. Oliver, and two new Service Officers in training Skyler R Engel and Dan L. Bonney.