A summer initiative designed to help Smith County veterans kicked off Tuesday.

The Smith County Commissioners Court and Veteran Services Office will hold four meetings throughout the county this summer as part of “Operation Reciprocity: Serving Those Who Served Us,” an outreach initiative for the local veteran community.

"What you get when you come to us is you get the expertise. You get the training that we've had, to know what to say and how to say it. What to file for and what not to file for, at that particular time," said Michael Roark, the Veterans Affairs Officer for Smith County.

He said filling out paperwork is oftentimes hard enough. If you walk in the office, Roark will help streamline the process so it's easier to get help fast.

Army veteran Chad Morphis said it took him awhile to fill out his disabilities paperwork on his own.

"There was a lot of back and forth. I wasn't sure if I was doing it right, and initially I did do it wrong," he said.

Morphis was not aware of the outreach program, but said it would've been extremely helpful to him. He has symptoms of PTSD, and has only been seen by a medical professional twice in two years because of wait time.

"If you're at the point where you're willing to seek help, those issues are just going to get worse if you don't get seen," he said.

Citizens and Veterans Outreach Meetings held throughout Smith County include:

  • 6:30 p.m., Monday, July 9, at Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1799, 14391 Rhones Quarter Road in Tyler
  • 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 16, at Kinzie Community Center, 912 Mt. Sylvan Street in Lindale
  • 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 14, at the Smith County R.B. Hubbard Facility, “The Hub,” at 304 E. Ferguson in Tyler.

“Operation Reciprocity” seeks to ensure that the office is providing the highest quality customer service to local veterans and their families and, when needed, to serve as a bridge to other veterans organizations that can assist veterans in need.

More information about the project, Smith County’s services offered to veterans and the feedback forms are available at www.smith-county.com.

The Smith County Veteran Services Office, located at 210 E. Ferguson, is open from 7:30 a.m. to noon and 1-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and can be reached at 903-590-2953.