SIDNEY — Chris North, a 2000 graduate of Sidney High School, has assumed the position of executive director/ CVSO (County Veteran’s Service Officer) at the Shelby County Veterans Service Commission. North has worked at the Shelby County office for a little over eight years.
“I started as an administrative assistant and then got Veteran’s Service Officer qualified, which means I can file disability claims and things like that. I did that for a while, then Ed (Ball, former executive director) decided to retire, and after that happened, they decided to promote within. I had the opportunity, and of course, I said thank you,” said North.
North, a veteran of the United States Navy, serving 2001-05, was stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, and then San Diego, California.
North has been married to his wife, Amanda, a licensed medical massage therapist, for nearly 16 years. They have two children, a 15-year-old son, Devon, and a 12-year-old daughter, Avery. His children attend Fairlawn schools.
North has coached cross country at Fairlawn for five years and is going on his second year coaching girls’basketball. North also sells real estate.
“We do anything and everything that has to do with veteran’s benefits. Stateside, we do financial assistance, disability benefits compensation, pension, non-service connected pension, widow’s pension, education benefits, help with healthcare,” said North. “We provide grave markers when they pass away, we assist with funerals, and we play a little role in helping with the military funerals. Theresa Manteuffe (16 years as a Veterans Service Officer and 20 years retired Air Force master sergeant) and myself take part in the firing squad when we can.”
The staff at the Shelby County Veterans Service Commission consider their mission to be “Veterans helping Veterans.” In addition to North and Manteuffe, Sherrye Lamma is a four-year Navy veteran.
The office provides free transportation to and from VA appointments in Dayton and Lima. The drivers, James Neilan and James McGee, are Army veterans. Driver Steve Waerly is a Navy veteran. The entire board is made up of Army and Marine Corps veterans. Transportation is provided in a handicap accessible bus that holds up to two wheelchairs.
“Nothing in the office comes at a cost. They already paid the cost with their service,” said North.
The staff has been involved in offering free dinners and free haircuts to veterans. In the Fall, they plan to offer an activity that leans more toward women veterans. There are some women veterans in Shelby county but not many. The staff hopes to combine with another county for such an event.
The office has combined new billboards along with articles in the Sidney Daily News to reach more veterans.
“Our door is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” said North. “If you ask, we’ll bend over backwards to do what we’re here to do. We’re here to help veterans. That’s the mission that was here before I took this position, and we want to use what we’ve learned under the former management and continue to grow on it and hopefully add a touch of our own to it.”
The staff hopes to touch other veterans and widows that do not know about the offers they extend through the new outreaches.
“We’re just a small group here in the office. We’re more like family, really. We’re just here to help veterans. Just know that if you don’t ask, we can’t help,” said North.