New role in Aurora aims to connect local veterans to resources

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AURORA | In an effort to support more veterans in Aurora, a trio of local governments have agreed to fund a new position that will aim to connect veterans to local, state and federal resources.

The Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners approved the agreement to create a new Veterans Service Officer position to help veterans within the city of Aurora this week. The position will be jointly funded by Adams and Arapahoe counties, and the city will provide in-kind materials, according to a news release from Arapahoe County.

“This is the result of a truly collaborative effort between veterans and government that we’ve been working on for some time,” Arapahoe County Commissioner Bill Holen said in a statement. He’s a disabled U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam. 

The offices, which are located around the state and operated at the county level, assist veterans and their families by advising them on what benefits they are eligible for and helping them file claims. The Arapahoe County office receives up to 1,000 queries a month and files around 100 claims a month, Holen said.

“By creating a single point of contact, we hope to streamline and focus these operations and reach even more veterans than we already do,” Commissioner Jeff Baker said in a statement.

The new position will be a one-year pilot program that will station a support officer near the veteran’s hospital on the Fitzsimmons campus in Aurora.

Aurora City Council member Dave Gruber, an Air Force veteran, has applauded the agreement in recent meetings. Mayor Mike Coffman, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps., also said he’s pleased with the partnership.

“Too often there is a disconnect that prevents veterans from receiving the benefits that they have earned through their military service,” he said in a statement.

Discussions about the program began in February and continued during the pandemic. The role will help support the goals of Align Arapahoe, a performance management program intended to streamline the county’s services.

The new staff member will work from Arapahoe County’s Altura Plaza office, and the hiring process will begin in early September. After the pilot year is over the municipalities will evaluate whether it is worthwhile to continue the program.