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Atmore VA office remains in limbo

By By Lisa Tindell
Depending on which end of the county you live in, if you are a veteran getting to services may soon require some travel.
Escambia County Commissioner Brandon Smith said officials with the Veteran’s Administration informed county officials of a proposed closure of one of Escambia County’s two offices serving area veterans.
Robert Horton, public information officer for Veteran’s Affairs, said VA officials will make the decision within a week.
Currently two offices are maintained to serve veterans in Escambia with one office at the courthouse annex on Belleville Avenue in Brewton and a second at the satellite courthouse on U.S. 31 in Atmore.
Smith said it would seem logical for the Atmore office to remain open consolidating the office with Brewton.
Atmore’s VFW Post Adjutant Quarter Master John James said the possibility of the closure of the Atmore office would put area veterans at a great disadvantage.
James said the Atmore VFW post is the only post in the county showing a concern for veterans in the community.
James said he doesn’t want to see Brewton lose their office and said keeping both open would be best.
Veterans Affairs Service Officer Mike Hanks currently serves veterans in Escambia and Monroe County dividing his week among the veterans in the two counties.
Hanks officials with the Veterans Administration have proposed consolidating the Atmore and Brewton office into one location and suggest the change could come as soon as May 1.
Horton said the reasons behind the closing of an office in the county are simple — economics.
Horton said currently VA reimburses travel expenses for officers who are required to travel between offices where they serve.
Horton said the closure may not be permanent with hopes that economic conditions throughout the country.
Horton said the changes aren’t ones the Administration is happy about making.
A decision on which Escambia County Veteran’s Administration office to be closed is expected later this week.