There are approximately 1,000 veterans among Wallowa County’s 7,000 or so residents, and there’s a new officer in charge of helping those vets get the services they need.
Stan Getz recently came aboard as the county’s full-time Veteran Service Officer.
Local services from this office have been in transition for about year. The previous VSO, Charlie Neveau, was deployed. For a while, Marie Anderson filled that position. Upon her departure, Byron Whipple, VSO for Union County, was loaned to Wallowa County once a week to fill the need until Charlie’s return.
The position remained in a state of uncertainty until Neveau returned from deployment and indicated he was going to work full-time for the Oregon National Guard. Getz, who is fully accredited by the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, was quick to apply for the job.
Whipple is pleased with the hiring of Getz, an Army veteran.
“Wallowa County needs a full-time VSO in order for the veterans to be served well,” he said. “I served as Stan’s VSO when he entered the VA system and trained him when he became the VSO for Umatilla County.”
Whipple, retired from the Navy, is known for his relentless efforts to research service-connected documents that help substantiate a veteran’s claims.
“That’s how I train others,” he said.
“Every veteran is entitled to look at his or her benefits,” Getz said. “Even for hearing aids — four veterans got hearing aids this past year from the VA. And once the benefits are determined, they should be reviewed every five years because VA laws often change.”
Getz moved to Wallowa County from Pendleton; his wife Dena (Fordice) is from Enterprise. They have two grown daughters.
In preparation for his new position, Getz has met with Post 4307 VFW members in Enterprise. The VSO phone system has been reprogrammed, and his move to Wallowa is complete.
Getz looks forward to offering regularly scheduled office hours throughout the week.
“I see veterans by appointment only,” Getz said. “This may be frustrating at first. But in time I hope they will see that by scheduling this way, it allows me time to review an individual’s case and be prepared to devote that full hour to his or her needs.”
He also encourages female veterans to seek VA benefits. Widows of veterans also may request for a review of possible benefits for them.
“If they are uncomfortable speaking to a male VSO, I can arrange for a woman VSO from Portland to meet with them here,” Getz said. “The veterans can expect private, confidential and personal service from me. I encourage them to come in and see what benefits may be coming to them.”
The Wallowa County Veterans Service Office is located at 401 NE 1st St. The entrance is the former ambulance entrance on the north side of the old hospital building. The VSO phone number is 541-426-0539. Office hours are: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Wednesday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.