SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - When San Augustine County Commissioners Court added the county's interim Veterans Service Officer (VSO) Sherry Riley to June 23rd's meeting agenda, the military wife and mom had a life-changing story to share.
"I was appointed in January 2014, shortly thereafter I found out I wasn't qualified for the appointment. I was not qualified in any way,” said Riley, who
Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison appointed Riley as its VSO in 2014, but under Texas law for Veteran Assistance Agencies, Riley wasn't qualified to serve.
The 3 stipulations required the service officer to be:
- The mother or widow of a veteran killed while in service;
- A spouse of a totally disabled veteran
- Or be a veteran
"The only way I was going to be qualified for this position was to change the law,” Riley called.
So in April 2014, Riley began her research. Three months later in July, she wrote to State Senator Robert Nichols, Shelby County State representative Chris Paddie and San Augustine County's Representative Trent Ashby.
"[We] filed legislation to create a category that would allow for her to provide the service to veterans in San Augustine and Shelby counties that they deserve."
The new category allowed for the spouse of a veteran of 20 years or more of active duty to qualify as a service officer.
The bill passed in the House April 16th. Over in the Senate, it passed on May 26th. The governor signed it into law June 17th.
San Augustine County Judge Samye Johnson commended Riley's tenacity and follow through. "This is one of those things we needed to do to be in compliance."
"And I was delighted to have a small hand in this process," Representative Ashby said.
So Veterans Service Officer Riley now serves Shelby County's veterans population of 1,518 and San Augustine County's 858 veterans.