Hidalgo Co. Veteran Services Offices Moving to McAllen

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WESLACO – Hidalgo County is making corrections to follow state law for veteran’s services offices. Veteran’s service officers will be moved to one building.

But a new place and route is a tough obstacle for a Rio Grande Valley veteran to overcome.

"I'm used to coming here and going, to get new change – not so good our veterans,” said Army Veteran Maria Vasquez. “We're not used to change, we can't handle new change anymore and it's a different environment over there.”

Vasquez said she went through many changes while serving in Operation Desert Storm. She goes to the Weslaco Veterans Services Office to get help with her claim.

On Thursday, she learned the office is moving.

"If we don’t get it done in time before he moves, I’m just going to let go and it's a lot of retroactive pay,” said Vasquez.

“So, you're going to let all that money go just because he's moving?” CHANNEL 5 NEWS reporter Angelo Vargas asked.

“Yeah,” Vasquez replied.

She said transportation is a major concern.

"I'm a little sad because there are a lot of veterans here that, you know, come here… The Edinburg office is actually closer to me,” she said, “but it's a lot farther for some of the veterans here – they can't drive because of their medical problems.”

A stack of files not yet processed line the walls in Veteran’s Services Officer Felix Rodriguez's office.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS asked him how many veterans he helps.

"I would guesstimate, maybe no less than 2,000 veterans,” said Rodriguez.

He said he helps veterans like Vasquez, who's from the Valley and also veterans living in Puerto Rico.

Air Force Veteran Angel Rivera is among them.  He tells us he doesn't mind the change.

"I'll be with him all the way through. I'll be with him wherever he goes,” said Rivera.

We went to Hidalgo County Human Resources Director Raul Silguero to learn more about the new venue.

“[The office will] have much bigger office space so we can accommodate more veterans and we can be able to interview them privately and correctly, instead of right now it's kind of chaotic,” said Silguero.

Government Code 434 states a county with a population of more than 200,000 must have a separate and distinct office from other county buildings.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS asked Silguero why the county is now abiding by state law.

“Nobody had really paid attention to it. When we were looking at adding more veteran’s officers because of the workload, we decided to review the relevant statute,” he said.

Silguero said the county plans to work with Valley Metro Services to help with transportation.

The new offices should be in operation by Feb. 1.

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