Ribbon cut on Tennessee Department of Veterans Services field office at Arnold AFB
By Bradley Hicks, AEDC/PA
/ Published April 17, 2020
ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- An office providing resources and guidance to help ensure area veterans receive the benefits to which they are entitled officially opened March 12 at Arnold Air Force Base.
State and local officials, joined by base personnel, cut the ribbon on the new Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Tullahoma Field Office during a ceremony outside the Arnold AFB Medical Aid Station.
The new TDVS office, located within the Medical Aid Station at Arnold, is in place to provide veterans with help on their benefits, advocacy and other assistance.
Courtney Rogers, TDVS commissioner, said the office falls in line with Gov. Bill Lee’s vision of providing better support to veterans in rural communities across the state. Lee worked with TDVS Regional Director Steve Bell, who identified the Tullahoma area as an ideal location to help meet Lee’s objective.
“Today, I would like to thank Gov. Lee for his vision to support Tennessee’s rural communities – we want veterans across the state to have support in claiming the benefits they have earned through service,” Rogers said. “I would also like to thank the state legislature for their ongoing support of Tennessee’s veterans and family members and for enabling us to hire support staff to assist these rural communities.”
Representatives with the TDVS approached Arnold AFB personnel last fall to propose that Arnold host a new office. Following discussions with Col. Charles Roberts, Arnold Engineering Development Complex Test Support Division chief, and Master Sgt. Joshua Suggs, Arnold AFB Medical Aid Station Branch chief, the TDVS moved forward with establishing the new office at Arnold, the headquarters of AEDC. Existing space in the medical building was converted to make room for the office.
Roberts said approximately 1,200 Veterans Affairs patients are seen in the on-base VA office. He added the new office will provide greater convenience to these patients, as they will be able to meet with the TDVS at the same site to discuss disability compensation, health care eligibility and other veteran services and benefits specific to the state of Tennessee.
“With our current relationship with the VA, we realized hosting the Department of Veterans Services would be very complementary to the VA services provided to local veterans,” Roberts said. “Actually, getting a formalized relationship was simple since we already worked similar agreements and they already had personnel ready to work in our facility.”
During the ceremony, Roberts expressed his appreciation to the TDVS for bringing the office to Arnold.
“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to host the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services in this facility,” he said. “This is a great partnership, and I am excited to provide a landing place for services for our veteran community.”
The office at Arnold will be manned by TDVS Veterans Resource Coordinator Michael Rinck who, as a 24-year military veteran himself, said he appreciates the sacrifices each veteran has made. In his role, Rinck will connect veterans, transitioning service members and families with the federal and state benefits they have earned through military service.
The field office is located at 225 von Kármán Road, Building 225, Room 124 on Arnold AFB. To schedule an appointment, call 931-461-7169 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CDT.
In addition to his office at Arnold, Rinck has mobile responsibilities for the TDVS. He will be in Grundy County the first Thursday of each month and located at the Coffee County Lannom Library in Tullahoma on the third Thursday of each month. These mobile offices may be more convenient for veterans living in areas around Arnold AFB and will allow them to take advantage of the services offered. Rinck added he also has the flexibility to meet with veterans outside of the Arnold gate at other times if there are issues that might prevent them from accessing the base.
Due to the current closure of the Medical Aid Station because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Rinck said assistance is currently being provided via phone by contacting the number above. In-person appointments will resume once the Medical Aid Station reopens.