ITALY - City and county officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the opening of a Veterans Services Office in the city of Italy.

Service officers will work inside the city council chambers at 105 W. Main St. from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month.

“We appreciate the mayor and the city administrator, Cynthia Olguin,” service officer James Wilhoite said. “Judge, thank you, and we appreciate the Commissioners Court. There is nothing that we’ve come to ask for that we have not received.”

“This is a great opportunity for the county to reach out to the veterans in the rural areas, specifically Italy and Milford,” County Judge Chad Adams said. “We do our best to meet the veterans where they are.”

An increasing number of the county’s veterans are young men and women who are returning home from deployment, Adams said, noting, “Not only is this a start of a county facility in this part of the county, but more importantly, it is a way for us to support our veterans.”

“This is an excellent place for the veterans to come in and feel comfortable,” Wilhoite said. “Not many veterans want to talk about their past - you have to get them in a good situation, feeling comfortable, so they can talk - and the price is great!”

Mayor Frank Jackson said providing the facility free of charge was another example of the city’s dedication to serving its residents.

“Thank you, Judge, for coming today and for taking care of our veterans,” Jackson said.

The Veterans Services Office is part of the Texas Veterans Commission and exists to assist local veterans and widows of veterans in obtaining benefits to which they are entitled as a result of their military service.

Wilhoite and Kelker participate in regular training programs through the Texas Veterans Commission and the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to provide comprehensive benefit counseling. “Every veteran with an honorable discharge is eligible for some type of benefit,” Wilhoite said.

Programs include:

VA Hospital/Medical Care Pensions and other financial compensation programs Orphan and Dependent Children’s Program Military Contact Program (assistance for servicemen awaiting separation because of disabilities incurred in service) Survivor Benefits Contact Program State Hospital Assistance and Transfer Program Department of Corrections Inmate Assistance Program

For information, call (972) 825-5099 or (972) 875-4531.