MIDLOTHIAN — Serving those who protect our freedoms, the Ellis County Veterans Services Office has opened a new location in Midlothian to better assist local military veterans.
“One of the reasons we opened a location in Midlothian is for the years I’ve been doing it in Waxahachie, a lot of the clientele comes from Midlothian,” explained Ellsworth Huling, Ellis County’s Veterans Services Officer. “So the judge and commissioners figured that since there was so much traffic volume from Midlothian that we should set up an office out there to make it more accessible to veterans out that way."
Located at Town Place II on North Eighth Street in Midlothian, the office opened at the beginning of August and is a strong advocate for veterans and their families, informing and guiding through assorted Veteran Affairs (VA), and the State of Texas benefit programs.
“We’re not the VA,” Huling clarified. “We are a veterans service organization and we work for the Ellis County veterans.”
Huling also noted that with a county of nearly 200,000 people or more, the Texas government requires an implementation of a veteran’s service officer due to a significant portion of that population being veterans.
Adding to the perspective, the United States Census Bureau conducted a study over five years that extended from 2011-2015, which estimated that roughly 10,175 veterans live in Ellis County. It also found some 1,583,272 veterans residing in Texas with only 88 VA facilities recorded throughout the state.
“We offer a large amount of services,” Huling recognized the need. “It’s not all inclusive, but the main things we take care of is filing for pensions, dependency and identity, aid and attendance, housebound benefits, and we get them connected with the right people.”
The Veterans Service also advises with everything from filing disabilities to widow or survivor’s pension claims, obtaining military medical and personnel records, and providing information on Texas State benefits to those eligible.
“We do all the typing up of the forms; we just ask them [veterans] to bring the proper documentation that we need in order to file,” Huling articulated. “We are what I like to say ‘a one stop shop’ with the goal in mind to help veterans, surviving spouses, or family members improve their quality of life.”
Trained annually on current laws and regulations, Huling conveys that the heart behind the Ellis County Veterans Services Office is to find the appropriate information for their veterans and better their circumstances.
“I had one senior citizen veteran, and he came in to see me, and he was living off $700 a month by himself and needed some additional assistance,” Huling recalled. “So our job is to research, gather the right documentation and help them file. So in turn, we were able to file a claim for pension and get him an increase.”
“We’re passionate about what we do, and for me, it’s a ministry. I like to tell my veterans or surviving spouses that I work for them and that we want to improve their quality of life,” he finished.
To connect with the Ellis County Veterans Services Office, visit 330 North Eighth Street, Suite 106, Midlothian. Hours of operation are Wednesday’s only from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. or call (972) 825-5099 or (972) 825-5328.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer