Many have helped me obtain this honor

December 28, 2005

By Bob Harris

Recently, articles have appeared in this newspaper heralding the recognition I have received for my performance as the Veterans Affairs Director for Franklin County, Pa..

My heart is filled with gratitude to God, this wonderful nation and especially to our veterans, who have maintained, through their sacrifices, the gift of freedom.

While the value of work can be assessed in many different ways, happiness is a huge factor in how a job is performed. Another is how the worker's performance affects the lives of others. This is relative to his or her job performance satisfaction. I have been blessed during these past 13 years with both.


During the award presentation, an official of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Veterans Affairs, provided statistics on how this office brought in more than $1 million to the county's veterans and their families this past year. More important for me is the effect the benefit has on the life of each individual veteran.

The satisfaction I receive from the veteran or his/her survivors' "thank you" is far greater that any award.

As a young infantryman more than 30 years ago, I learned that no one can take on an objective without support. It is your fellow rifleman laying down a base of fire, the artilleryman raining down rounds, the supply technicians and support service personnel providing ammunition and the medics who render aid who allow you to charge the hill and seize the objective.

So it is with the advocacy of Veterans Affairs. I have again been extremely blessed with a great support team.

That list begins with our county's Board of Commissioners, who have always supported me and allowed me to advocate for the veteran, regardless of who the veteran is or where he or she resides. Although we maintain a small office, I've been fortunate to work with two wonderful women, Lucinda Blevins and Beverly Rock, who work administrative miracles daily, run interference for me, and handle the office while I am off on frequent trips to the VA regional offices.

I am extremely grateful to Pennsylvania's Bureau of Veterans Affairs staff, especially Cliff Jeffries, the National Service Officer at the VA's Philadelphia Regional Office. Without his exceptional skills, dedication to the veterans and great work ethic, I would never be able to maneuver through the VA's bureaucratic minefields.

I'd be remiss in not mentioning some very important grunts in the support of veterans' affairs. These are your local state legislators and their staffs.

Both Mark Keller and Rob Kauffman, though new to their positions, have made it known that I may call upon them when the need arises.

Terry Punt and Pat Fleagle, though recently maligned for a mistake they made, have been there for our veterans and me during my entire tenure.

They and their staffs strive to get answers, provide services and resolve issues, regardless of the time of day I call for help.

As you can see, though the award has my name engraved upon it, there are many who are owed a note of thanks. I humbly and gratefully accept the recognition in their names and pledge to continue our services in advocating for this nation's veterans.

Bob Harris is director of Franklin County (Pa.) Veterans Affairs.

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