Mississippi County welcomes new veteran service officer
Dave Stout has been hired as the new Mississippi County Veterans Service Officer. The office has been without a service officer since the death of Bob Nelson on Feb. 24.
Stout, a Blytheville resident, is the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Blytheville. He was born and raised in Elwood, Ind., and graduated from Ball State University in Indiana with a bachelor's degree in speech and air science, an Air Force related degree.
Stout is an Air Force veteran pilot who flew KC 135 tankers during the Vietnam era.
Stout spent seven years in the military. Following his service, he acquired three and a half years of graduate work at Mississippi State thanks to the Veterans Administration benefits and GI Bill. His advanced degrees are in counseling.
"This is a way I can give back," Stout said.
Stout said the office involves all types of services to veterans and in some cases for family members.
"The Veterans Administration's primary goal is to meet the needs of the veterans," he said.
Stout worked in the pulp and paper industry as a performance development specialist and training manager for four different companies.
He served as associate pastor in Georgia and Virginia for seven years. He became interim pastor at Calvary in 2003 and was called to be the full time pastor in 2004.
His wife, Reba, is a native of Mississippi.
His new position as county veteran's officer is a new career choice and a challenge.
"It is a large county," Stout said. "When I came into the office, I had over 50 telephone messages."
Stout plans to keep the same schedule across the county. He is in the Blytheville office (763-0509) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He is in the Osceola office (563-1308) on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon. He is in the Manila and Leachville City Halls on Thursdays. He is in Manila from 10 a.m. to noon (561-4438) and Leachville 1-3 p.m. (539-2428) .
If a veteran in the nursing home or a shut-in cannot get to the offices, Stout will go to them to help fill out paper work and file claims.
"We will go the extra mile for people," Stout said. "They have an entitlement."
Stout said there is an answering machine at the Blytheville office 763-0509. If anyone wants to leave their name and number and a convenient time for him to return their call, he said he would get back to them as soon as possible.
Stout pointed out one of the most critical items for filing a claim is the veterans' proof of military service, Form DD214 (the official discharge document).
There are distinctions in VA benefit eligibility for service or non-service injuries and disability.
Stout is learning fast about his new duties as service officer.
"The veterans officer in Marion was helpful and the Little Rock Office has been very helpful," Stout said. "There is a lot of paperwork involved."
Stout said he would like to see the van service for veterans extended to the Manila and Leachville area.
"We have a van in Blytheville to take veterans to the VA Medical Center in Memphis twice a week," he said. "We only have four volunteer drivers. If we could get a volunteer for one day a week or even one day every other week from the Leachville/Manila area, the van service could be expanded. If we could find a retired person that has the time and would like to serve their community in this capacity, that would be wonderful."
Stout's goal is to make sure that the veterans of Mississippi County are served and their needs met. The service officer is the spokesperson for the area veterans.