By PHYLLIS HODGES
The local Disabled American Veterans (DAV)chapter considers Karen Powers its secret weapon. Powers is Hillsborough County’s Veteran service officer at the Southshore Regional Service Center in Ruskin. Chapter 110 Commander Steven Kistler says she deserves special recognition for going “above and beyond” to help veterans.
On Dec. 16, DAV members showed that appreciation by gathering at the Sun City Center Veterans Memorial, a fitting location, to present her with a plaque. Kistler said the chapter service officers often send veterans with complex cases to Karen with the confidence that she will persistently walk the matter through the system, no matter how difficult.
Powers spent eight years in the U.S. Navy but never knew what a veteran service officer was until she worked at the Florida Dept. of Veteran Affairs as an Office Operations Consultant. She decided she wanted to become one and joined Hillsborough County Veterans Services almost five years ago. “This is the most fulfilling job I have ever had, and I love every minute of it. It truly is an honor and privilege to help our veterans through the system to obtain the benefits they have earned,” she said. Powers interacts with an average of 20 veterans each day. She can be reached by email (PowersK@HCFLGov.net)
Attending the presentation was Ed Ortiz, general manager of Veteran Services, who said, “We get a lot of claims from this area; some are simple, and some are complicated. The DAV service officers certainly are a big help in processing them. Karen has the unique ability to focus on each case and has tremendous compassion.” Frank Strom, director of Consumer and Veteran Services, also on hand, echoed Ortiz’ comments, calling her a valuable asset to his department. Curtis Wilson, Power’s immediate supervisor, was unable to attend.
DAV Chapter 110, located in Sun City Center, normally meets monthly on the SCC Community Association’s Central Campus, but meetings are now being held by Zoom. Email for meeting information (email@example.com). To schedule an appointment with a chapter service officer, call 813-331-3871.
Powers is one of Hillsborough County’s seven veteran service officers. Other locations of officers can be located on the County’s website (HCFLgov.net)
Hillsborough County’s Veterans Services assists veterans, their dependents, and survivors in accessing federal, state, and local benefits. The staff also supports and manages veterans activities in the County, including events at Veterans Memorial Park and Museum at 3602 US 301 in Tampa. The department acts as a single point of contact for military members and their families seeking assistance with outside agencies, and there is never a fee to receive services or visit with any of the qualified Veterans Service Officers. Staff also provides outreach and support to veterans in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes.