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Jackson to lead Jasper County Veterans Affairs

Newton Daily News - 3/2/2017

March 02--The Jasper County Department of Veterans Affairs officially has a new director, following the Board of Supervisors' approval on Tuesday. Kurt Jackson now leads the veterans office.

Jackson is new to the director's seat, but he has almost three years of experience working in the department. He started as a volunteer, converting paper records to digital. Eventually, Jackson worked his way up to a 20-hour per week position with veterans affairs.

When former director Chris Chartier decided to leave the position for personal reasons, he asked Jackson to take over the role. The move seemed natural for Jackson.

"I love this job," Jackson said. "It's the only job in 40 years I have ever enjoyed from the minute I start to the minute I leave. There's a sense of accomplishment. I'm actually helping my fellow veterans."

As veterans affairs director, Jackson provides a myriad of services to Jasper County veterans. He helps veterans identify federal benefits, see if they're eligible and assists with the application process. It's a job that requires a lot of paperwork.

"I'm paperwork-oriented," he said. "Even in the service, I was moving paper. I served as a radioman. My whole objective was taking radio messages, distributing them where they needed to go and filing them."

Deciphering the eligibility of veterans benefits is not exactly straightforward. Each veteran must be assessed individually, Jackson said. There are health benefits, disability benefits, pension benefits and housing benefits.

"Each one of those four different areas has different eligibility requirements, so it's hard to say who is and who isn't (eligible) in one fell swoop," he said.

Jackson does not anticipate any major changes under his direction. His goal is to reach out to more Jasper County veterans. There are about 3,000 veterans living in the county, but only about 1,200 are identified in Jackson's system.

In an effort to connect with more people who have served, Jackson is organizing events. He recently gave a seminar to Korean War veterans about the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. After receiving positive feedback, he put together a tour bus that will tour the retirement home on March 15.

Keith Thorpe is taking over Jackson's previous spot as part-time help for the department. The pair get along well, Jackson said.

Jackson is leaving behind a full-time position at Love's Travel Stop in Newton to become veterans affairs director. He has lived in Jasper County for 25 years. Both of his daughters went through the Newton public school system.

"I love Newton," Jackson said. "Newton is a fantastic place to grow up, and I think my children have done well here. I couldn't have picked a better place to raise a family."

Contact Justin Jagler at 641-792-3121 ext 6532 or jjagler@newtondailynews.com

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(c)2017 the Newton Daily News (Newton, Iowa)

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