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Crook County's veteran's service officer announces his retirement

Personal matters lead to Sid Carter's retirement decision
After a decade of serving the veterans of Crook County, Sid Carter has decided to resign from his post as the veteran's services officer (VSO).
   "I'm just going to retire, but I can't become inactive," Carter said. "I just need more time to take care of some personal matters."
   Initially, Carter became the VSO as a volunteer. His solidarity to the men and women of the armed forces spurred his enthusiasm for the position.
   "If you've been an a---e all of your life, then you try to give something back for the last 10 years of your working life," he continued. "There's a comradeship among veterans, so the idea is that you try to help any and all of them to the best of your ability."
   Carter's time in the military was spent, in part, as a Navy missile technician in the Vietnam War.
   "You don't think about those things when you're young - you just do it," he said. "It was safe unless your ship gets hit. There's nothing worse than taking fire at sea."
   From the veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, to the more recent influx of veterans coming from Iraq, the times have changed, but the system in place to get them help remains complicated.
   "This new crowd that's coming in from the Iraq wars has issues that none of us have any clue how to deal with, and require services, especially on the mental health side, that we've never had to deal with before," Crook County Judge Scott Cooper said. "The ugly truth of it is years ago, the people that we're getting back now would have died on the battlefield. Now we've got such wonderful life-saving technologies, they don't die on the battlefield, but they come back into the community with all of those issues. It's just a whole different environment."
   "The VA (Veterans Affairs) is getting harder and harder to deal with. As of Feb. 2, 2008, there were 653,595 claims pending (nationwide)," Carter continued. "So these guys returning have to get in line and wait. They can't work. A lot of them are disabled. It's pretty hard to get them through the door."
   Carter estimated that he has 3,000 veterans and veterans' relatives on file who either receive services or have cases pending.
   "My office door swings regularly," he said. "There's always somebody coming through my door. About the time I think, `Wow, I should have all these guys signed up for medical benefits,' they just keep coming. I signed up four people today."
   As Carter prepares to leave his post on June 30, he is hopeful the transition will be smooth.
   "I have such a caseload right now of people that are counting on me. I'm just not going to walk away from them. I will see them through and help whoever is sitting in this chair," he said. "We're not going to get any veterans screwed up because I want to go play right now. We'll take care of their problems as best we can."