Veterans Coordinator offers free service at The Well |

Americans love their veterans. As early as 1636, the Pilgrims passed a law to support disabled veterans. In 1776, the Continental Congress provided pensions for disabled Revolutionary War soldiers. In 1921, federal programs for veterans were consolidated when Congress combined veterans programs from World War I to create the Veterans Affairs Bureau, and then, in 1930, President Herbert Hoover elevated the status of the office by creating the Veterans Administration.

Why do I know all this? Well, I researched the US Department of Veterans Affairs website after speaking to Cleveland County Veterans Affairs Coordinator Charlie Neely this week.

Cleveland County loves its veterans too and we are the first, and I think only county in the state to have a County Veterans Coordinator.

Neely has become a friend since his county debut on April 12, 2021. He is a down to earth guy who served 23 years in the military before retiring and dedicating himself to helping other veterans combatants and their families to get the benefits they deserve. Neely serves as a one-stop-shop for questions from veterans about where to go for information and help, but now he’s qualified to help people more directly.

Neely is now a Veterans Affairs Accredited Duty Officer through the American Legion. He trained and tested over the winter and his accreditation came into effect in March.

“The VA realized after the Civil War that it couldn’t handle the deluge of claims from veterans, so it began sanctioning various organizations to file claims on behalf of those veterans,” Neely said.

This accreditation allows him to submit claims directly through the American Legion.

“I partnered with the American Legion Post 88 on Mondays in their walk-in clinic, now I can help veterans more directly too, even from my office in The Well.”

Neely also works with other veteran organizations in the area referring people and helping them in other ways.

“Monday mornings I’m at the American Legion, but the rest of the time people can come in and ask to speak to me here at The Well,” Neely said. “No appointment is necessary, but if you would like to make an appointment you can call or email.”

Neely can be reached at cneely@clevelandcountyok.com or by phone at 405-366-0673. If a veteran is incapacitated or deceased, Neely will work with their family members.

“I provided services not only to veterans, but to their spouses and dependents,” Neely said.

In addition to helping veterans apply for VA benefits, Neely can help with county and state benefits.

“We are very fortunate in Cleveland County that our veterans have a supportive county government and multiple service organizations working on their behalf,” Neely said. “I am proud to be able to participate in this effort.”

While Neely will refer veterans to other organizations if the location is more convenient for the vet, he stressed that right now there is no waiting to see him at his office. His background and training allows him to help in a variety of ways, including contacting Veterans Services in Muskogee to obtain the letter that 100% disabled veterans must present to our county assessor for tax exemption. land on their residence.