2019-01-12 / Front Page

New VA director

Mike Pepper has been appointed director of veterans affairs by the Potter County Board of Commissioners. He succeeds Bill Simpson, who retired at the end of the year.

Pepper, a Coudersport native, served in the U.S. Air Force. He joined the veterans affairs office in a part-time capacity last year and was mentored by Simpson. Pepper also attended training that led to his certification as a veterans service officer by the Pa. Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs.

All Pennsylvania counties are required by state law to have a director of veterans affairs. Primary role of the county officer is to assist military veterans in accessing benefits and services. Directors also advocate for veterans and connect them with resources than can assist with employment, social services and other needs.

Pepper will be looking to build on the foundation laid by Simpson and his predecessors, which resulted in Potter County being singled out for a National Excellence Award in 2016.

Among his goals is to expand the county’s Veter- ans Service Committee, on which he serves along with Commissioner Paul Heimel and Danielle Gietler, executive secretary for the commissioners. Each American Legion and VFW post in the county will be asked to provide a representative to sit on the countywide committee.

Meanwhile, Simpson plans to continue to serve military veterans through his affiliation with the American Legion Post 530 in Shinglehouse.

During his service to Potter County, he helped hundreds of veterans. He was also involved in special projects, including the Potter County Veterans Gravestone Restoration project and the 2018 visit by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall.

Potter County Office of Veterans Affairs is located in the Gunzburger Building. For more information, call 814-274-8290, extension 210.

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