Luse serving as Veterans Service Officer for Yazoo County

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

Few people today understand the sacrifices that have been made over the years when local veterans serve in various branches of the United States Military. 

As a military veteran, Eddie Luse knows those sacrifices far too well and has dedicated his time to become the Veterans Service Officer for Yazoo County in order to ensure that local veterans are able to obtain the benefits that they deserve.

Luse began his military career by being drafted into the Army at 24-years-old with a wife and child at home.  He completed one tour during the Vietnam War, serving from 1969 - 1971.  Luse later went to work for the Mississippi National Guard where he served 33 years on active duty as a Battalion Logistics NCO.  He retired in 2004 as a Master Sergeant but always kept a special place in his heart for the military and other local veterans.

As the Veterans Service Officer for Yazoo County, Luse primarily focuses on helping veterans and their spouses file necessary paperwork in order to obtain their benefits.

"One of the things that I stress to veterans is to have all of their military paperwork available," he said. "Everybody that I see or know who have been in the military I tell them to take their discharge papers down to the Chancery Clerk's office so they can put it on file. I also advise people to keep copies of everything that they have done during their time in the military and keep it on file, because you never know when you may need it."

Luse said that having paperwork like the DD 214 on file can start the benefit process for veterans.  He added that paperwork like this is often needed for military funerals as well as for spouses to receive benefits after the death of a veteran.

"I try to stress to the older veterans to take care of this now and have it on hand because it's hard for a family to go back and find them later," Luse said. "We often have to send a request to the military personnel record center in St. Louis for paperwork and that can take 60-90 days or even longer before we get anything back."

Other duties that Luse carries out for veterans include counseling them, their spouses, and their families about the benefits they may be eligible for which may be provided by county, state, or federal laws, and advises the veterans or their survivors of their rights under military service benefit acts and other relevant legislation.  He also will investigate and conduct interviews with veterans and their dependents to obtain a comprehensive case history in order that eligibility for aid can be determined, and will also review and file all claims for veteran benefits.

"It takes time to process all of that information, filling out forms and applications for disabilities and things like that," Luse said. "I try to provide our veterans here with any help I can give them locally without them having to go to the VA in Jackson."

He added that since starting this job in March of this year, he is has learned enough to help most people with their benefits, but always keeps extra resources on hand as a reference when needed.

"Any veterans or spouses who need help or have questions, they can start right here," Luse said. "I have all of the information here on computers and all these forms and everything, and I will do an interview with them and see what their problem is, what they are looking for, and what they are applying for. I will be able to guide them through and fill out all of the paperwork and sign it right here."

Luse is available at the Yazoo County Veterans Service Office on Wednesday's from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  His office is located on the second floor of the Yazoo County Office Building, located at 212 East Broadway Street in Yazoo City.  Appointments should be set up before meeting by calling Luse at 662-746-1008, or emailing him at vayazoocounty@yazoocountyms.gov.