Putnam County Veteran Service Officer Joe Moenter served 14 years in the United States Air Force.
Putnam County Veteran Service Officer Joe Moenter served 14 years in the United States Air Force.
By Gerry Jennings
Sentinel Correspondent
PUTNAM COUNTY - Advice for all Putnam County veterans - your first stop after separation should be to see Putnam County Veteran Service Officer Joe Moenter. Even if you served many years ago, it's still a very good idea to pay Moenter a visit.
While the armed forces are generally doing a better job of advising veterans of the benefits they are entitled to today then in the past, there are still a lot of veterans - those dating from World War II all the way to those just home from Afghanistan - who are still not aware of many of the benefits owed to them for that service.
Moenter, who served 14 years in the Air Force, has been VSO here since 1993. Even though he and his wife, the former Lori Schmiedebusch, loved the travel they experienced while Moenter was in the service, Moenter left the service in June 1992 when a sizable bonus program was being offered to separate. At that point they decided to settle back here.
"Putnam County is a great place to raise kids - good schools, not a lot of the problems you find in bigger places," he commented. "Plus, of course, we're both local and have family here." The Moenters raised a son and a daughter, Dustin and Angie, both O-G grads. Moenter and Lori have four grandkids - two boys, two girls.
Moenter says he's not seeing a lot of the younger guys from Iraq and Afghanistan yet. "Most of the younger guys go straight into college or some sort of higher education. Most of the people I deal with are older vets. I see a lot of Vietnam vets for disability. I also see Korea and World War II guys, for their own incurred disabilities and for nursing home benefits." He also deals a lot with widow's benefits. Either for widow's pension if their income is very low or for nursing home benefits. Another benefit for veterans is paying for their mileage when they go to a VA Hospital/Clinic.
Moenter says the most satisfying part of his job is being able to get veterans the benefits they deserve. The most frustrating? "The process. It can take six to nine months, though I can and do expedite in terminal cases. But that's just the way the system works. If I had my wish, I would be able to file claims directly form my desk rather than going through all the paperwork."
In addition to advising vets about the benefits due to them - "I'm always surprised at how many veterans don't know about many of their benefits" - Moenter does things like providing flight cases - cased flags - to widows of veterans, food vouchers for veterans and their families who need them, blue star banners for families with members in the service to display, gift certificates to vets in nursing homes and Thanksgiving dinners to needy veteran's families.
In addition to his work securing benefits for vets, Moenter works with a financial assistance board made up of local veterans to provide financial help to veterans who are experiencing temporary emergencies like threatened utility cut-offs, difficulty with rent payment and other cases where cash is needed in a hurry. This board meets in the Court House the first Tuesday of every month. "Financial assistance is a very big part of what we do through the VSO," Moenter noted.
There have been some big payoffs during Moenter's tenure as VSO that have brought him great satisfaction. "There was one veteran who received back benefits of nearly $200,000 after we worked through the process. That was just fantastic to be able to help him finally get what he deserved for the service he gave his country."
Moenter urges any veteran who might need information about their benefits or who might need help to contact him. His office is on the ground floor of the Court House. He can be contacted at (419) 523-4478 and through his email, putcovso@bright.net.