Internal investigation into Veteran Service Committee

Lincoln County Commissioners
After an internal investigation, the Lincoln County Commissioners are making sure the new...
After an internal investigation, the Lincoln County Commissioners are making sure the new appointments and nominations for the Veteran Service Committee are in corroboration with state statutes.(Marresa Burke)
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 4:43 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Last week, concerned veteran Keith Howell informed the Lincoln County Commissioners about the invalid process of appointing members to the Veterans’ Service Committee. After an internal investigation, the board is making sure the new appointments and nominations are in corroboration with state statutes.

Nebraska law requires that the Veterans Service Organizations throughout the county, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), provide nominees to be considered to the committee of Veteran Service Officer. The Veteran Service Officer provides multiple names to the county board to be selected. Following that, the Lincoln County Commissioners review the list and make nominations.

“Essentially, we had two people appointed to that board who said they would serve and volunteer, but they did not go through the formal process,” said Lincoln County Commissioner Chris Bruns. “We are rectifying that situation to ensure we are in line with state law.”

On Monday, the Lincoln County Commissioners discussed and considered the removal of Bradly Nelson and Troy Merritt from the Veterans’ Service Committee. The motion was carried out, and the two have been removed to assure the proper process to fill the vacancies. This motion did not affect those who were appointed last week.

Troy Merritt attended Monday’s Commissioner meeting and addressed the board.

“I understand it wasn’t done exactly in the state statute,” said Troy Merritt. “I believe I have done a good job, and I will continue to do a good if reconsidered for the position.”

The board thanked Merritt for his service in the position and added they hope to see his name as a candidate. Merritt shared he does plan on re-applying.

The person appointed to that committee and the position of the Veteran Service Officer will provide oversight on different programs that will benefit veterans throughout the county.

During the meeting, Commissioner Bruns mentioned Paul Cooper has a long list of candidates that the various veteran organizations have properly nominated. The Lincoln County Commissioners are optimistic about squaring the issue away in the upcoming weeks.

“Since we have kicked off the application process, we have had more interest from the veteran community,” said Bruns. “The veteran organizations have offered more names, and we are looking forward to selecting the right candidate for the position.”

The Lincoln County Commissioners are dedicated to righting this situation and assuring no liability falls onto the county for the process being done in error.

“In our internal investigation, we determined to found the county was not operating correctly under of state statute, and that is what we are going to fix.”

“If the veterans of Lincoln County and surrounding area will be represented and taken care of by Veteran Service Officer in the county, we just want to see it done the right way,” said Keith Howell. “However, there are still some underlying concerns.”

The state statute for board appointments can be found at: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=80-101

The state statute for county service committees can be found at: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=80-406

The state statute for organizations that can appoint to the Veteran Service Committee can be found at: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=80-401.01

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