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Board honors vets, introduces new veterans service officer

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The estimated 33,000 veterans who live in Placer County were honored by the Board of Supervisors last week for their service to the United States.

Board members voted unanimously to approve a Veterans Day proclamation expressing gratitude to local veterans who served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces, saluting them for contributing to the national security of the U.S. and helping protect the rights and freedoms of citizens.

“Their service has helped to protect the vital interests and preserve the basic freedoms that all citizens of our nation enjoy,” Chair Jennifer Montgomery said in a memo to the other board members.

All five board members expressed their gratitude to the approximately 75 veterans gathered in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at the County Administrative Center in Auburn.

“I honor you for your service to our country,” said Vice Chair Jim Holmes.

Afterward, board members held a reception in honor of the veterans.

During the meeting, board members also introduced Jonn Melrose, the county’s new veterans service officer.

Melrose was named recently to succeed Rick Buckman, who retired earlier this year from the top position in the Placer County Veterans Service Office.

Melrose is a veteran who has made assisting other veterans the main focus of his career work. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1990-1996, specializing in fire control. During his service, he was deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Desert Storm.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, Melrose worked from 2001-2006 at the newly formed Pension Maintenance Center in Milwaukee, where he assisted veterans with evaluating and administering pension claims. He also worked with the state of Wisconsin’s Veterans Affairs Committee and did volunteer work through the Milwaukee regional office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help ensure that homeless veterans were aware of the benefits available to them.

In 2007, Melrose went to work for the VA regional office in Reno. Placer County hired Melrose in August to serve as client services program specialist in the Veterans Service Office.

The Board of Supervisors established the office to assist veterans, their dependents and survivors in obtaining benefits from federal, state and local agencies that administer programs for veterans. The office’s services include comprehensive benefit counseling, assistance with claim preparation and follow-up, and help with appeals when appropriate.

“If there are services you need, please let us know what they are, so we can point you in the right direction,” Supervisor Jack Duran told veterans at the meeting.