Central Texas Heroes: McLennan County Veterans Services workers

WACO, Texas (KWTX) The McLennan County Veterans Services Office is housed at the Veterans One Stop in Waco.

And it’s plugging former service members into resources they didn’t even know about.

Watch the video on kwtx.com

Tucked into a side hallway at the One Stop you’ll find a row of offices with former veterans dedicated to helping those who’ve served.

Volunteer Kathy Isham said, “we look at everything. Are you receiving benefits right now? If not, we want to apply for benefits because you don’t know when you walk in the door if you are entitled.”

Isham is an Army veteran and after retiring from active duty and the VA she began volunteering with the Veterans Services Office to help veterans get the help they deserve.

“We’ll look at discharge, the type of discharge you had, your service, medical records, what you were treated for in service,” Isham explained.

And then they see how the law applies to you and what you might be eligible to receive, from monetary benefits to medical care to the pension program for starters.

“We really do so many more things, people that need rental assistance, we have places we can refer them to for that kind of thing, and just a whole gamut,” she said.

And there are three other veteran services officers on staff.

Steve Hernandez has been a part of it all since it began with the intention of dealing with issues the VA couldn’t.

“The mental health side, we had veterans that had bad character service discharges, or they had other issues that they were not eligible for federal benefits that the VA offered. We knew we still had them in our community and we had issues we had to deal with,” Hernandez said.

One of those issues was keeping veterans who needed mental health assistance out of jail..

“We don’t want the penal system to be the largest mental health facility, we want to treat veterans in the community,” he said.

And they’ve stepped up to address a wealth of issues.

Hernandez said, “we help with judicial involvement, we help with homelessness, we help with hunger issues, we help with clothing issues, we help find a mental health facility so if they can’t go to the VA, we still find a place for them to be treated.

And if transportation is an issue they can arrange that for veterans as well.

Hernandez told us, “you don’t want to leave a brother behind. You don’t want to leave a sister behind. You want to make sure that whatever they’re experiencing, you want to be there with them.”