Bateman's efforts appreciated

Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Print Editor

If you love your job, going to work each day is a pleasure, not a drudge. Talk to Veterans Affairs Officer Kevin Batemen for just a few minutes and it’s obvious he loves helping veterans and their families.

And a recent exchange illustrates how much his efforts are appreciated.

Earlier this month, Nancy Beck, whose late husband received assistance through the Veterans Affairs Office, and John Reich, a local veteran, teamed up to surprise Bateman with a thank-you gift. They presented him with a custom-made wreath in Army camouflage to hang in his office.

Both shared stories of how Bateman went above and beyond to help them and said that he does the same for every veteran.

Reich, who served five years active duty in the Army, moved to Washington County with his son a little over a year ago in what he described as less than ideal conditions. The move, which had to be quickly due to circumstances beyond his control, interrupted his treatments. Struggling to get settled and back to the medical treatment he needed, Reich met Bateman.

“He arranged transportation to my medical appointments and gave me assistance in obtaining a VA grant – I didn’t even know the grants existed,” said Reich. “I was able to purchase a home through a VA loan. Kevin greatly assisted with that.”

Reich said Bateman is an invaluable asset to the local community because he is very knowledgeable. He’s learned of programs he never even heard of in any other place he’s lived. 

Beck came in contact with the office when her husband, Gary Beck Sr., was diagnosed with cancer and needed transportation to chemotherapy and radiation treatments. “Kevin provided all of that,” she said. 

Beck was working as a nurse, but eventually had to quit her job to care for her husband full-time. As the bills began to mount, her worry grew. “What do I do?” she said. Bateman helped her apply for a grant. “Thank God the money came in when it did,” she said. She received $12,00 to help with her husband’s burial expenses. Bateman also arranged military graveside rites.

Beck now helps transport veterans to medical appointments, saying she wanted to do something to give back in her husband’s memory. 

She said Bateman deserves recognition for his efforts. “He’s extremely sincere about veterans and what he does. He’s very fair and by the book; he doesn’t bend the rules for anybody.”

Reich agreed, explaining he is unable to drive due to seizures. The medical transportation “is a tremendous burden taken off my shoulders and my family’s shoulders,” he said. 

Bateman retired as sergeant major after 37 years in the Army. “I always took care of soldiers. When I retired, I missed that.” 

That’s why he applied for the veterans service officer position, at the urging of the late Frank Nobles, who was also a veteran. “He said he thought I would be a good fit, so I said, ‘I think I’ll try it.’ I like taking care of veterans and veterans’ families.”

Bateman has held the position three years. His office is located in the basement of the courthouse. The phone number is 812.883. 2063.


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