Brazos County Veterans Service Office closure raises concerns after sole service officer dismissal

Published: May. 21, 2023 at 10:10 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -The Brazos County Veterans Service Office is temporarily closed following a decision by county commissioners to terminate Alfred “Pat” Patterson, the individual in charge of the program.

When veterans in Brazos County require assistance with healthcare, disability benefits, and other matters, they often turn to the county’s Veteran Service Officer.

During a recent Brazos County Commissioners Court meeting, several veterans expressed support for retaining Patterson.

Veterans Service Office Closed Sign
Veterans Service Office Closed Sign(KBTX)

Many veterans shared personal stories highlighting Patterson’s above-and-beyond efforts to assist them.

Patterson’s termination was approved with a 3-2 vote, with Brazos County Judge Duane Peters, commissioners Chuck Konderla, and Wanda Watson in favor, and commissioners Steve Aldrich and Nancy Berry opposed.

Joe Rangel and Mike Southerland are just two of the numerous veterans whom Patterson assisted in obtaining their benefits after being turned away elsewhere.

“I received my back pay and I got my 10 percent - 80 percent, you know, and all of this is happening because of Pat. He did all he could to help, not only me, but a lot of the veterans,” said Rangel.

“He took me from 10 percent disabled to 260. It’s ridiculous that people couldn’t identify that. We had to wait that long, but that’s the difficulty of the VA system, and a guy like him knows it and he can work it and he can help you,” Southerland added.

Veterans Joe Rangel and Mike Southerland
Veterans Joe Rangel and Mike Southerland(KBTX)

Veterans say the county services officer was often a veteran’s best chance for help.

“It’s very difficult to get help unless you can talk to another veteran. I don’t know why that is but it is that way,” Southerland remarked.

Adding to the concerns of some veterans is the unknown reason behind Patterson’s termination.

County officials declined an on-camera interview but released a statement stating that It is against county policy to comment on personnel matters and while they understand the public’s interest in the matter, they are unable to disclose specific details regarding the separation.

Veterans who are now left in uncertainty argue that the county should have had a replacement plan in place.

“It’s crucial to have someone available all the time. When the county dismissed Pat, they didn’t have anyone to replace him. I think that’s a significant failure on their part,” said Southerland.

The county has stated that the position of Veterans Officer is currently open for applications, and the office will reopen once it is filled.

County leaders say until the Brazos County Veterans Service Office resumes operations, individuals seeking assistance are advised to contact the Texas Veterans Commission Northeast District at (254) 743-0549 or, or the Texas Veterans Commission, VA Regional Office at (254) 299-9962.

The full statement from Brazos County is below.