Columbus vets ask city to hire a 'Veteran Advocate'

Columbus vets ask city to hire a 'Veteran Advocate'

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Veterans are asking the city of Columbus to create a new position to help them. The suggestion was brought up during the council meeting Tuesday, where a local veteran presented the many ways it could help the community. 

Marvin Broadwater Sr. is a Retired Sergeant First Class and served our country for over 22 years. He is spearheading the effort for a new city funded position to help soldiers who are experiencing what he did when he retired. 

 "I went to that office but had that one person who understood what I was going through it would have saved me a lot of time," Sgt. Broadwater said.

Sgt. Broadwater also says when he retired it was confusing trying to understand the difference between federal, state and city benefits.

 During Sgt. Broadwater's presentation to council he told the mayor and city manager, "I love Columbus, but there is always room for improvement."

He also says in the city of Columbus, veterans are eligible for many benefits including certain tax exemptions, hunting and fishing licenses, and even specific scholarships. But many don't know it or they're unaware of the specific process required to obtain their benefits.

"A lot of times we have soldiers just not aware of the particular maze that the city government has. So what that office will do is act like a liaison between the city and the soldier," Sgt. Broadwater said. 

Frank Macon, a Veteran Reserves Chaplain, goes to the Vietnam Memorial every year on Veterans Day. He takes advantage of several of the federal benefits, but was not aware of some of the state benefits. This is a reason he says a city advocate for veterans is a great idea.

 "The men and women who served and sacrificed,  I think they need an advocate and that I hope that Columbus will have one and have a great one," said Macon.

 Broadwater says with Fort Benning being the fourth largest base in the country, he hopes Columbus can start offering more for the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country.

"In Augusta, GA at their mall they have a special parking spot for veterans, and maybe the advocate can help us get something like that here in Columbus."

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson says they are considering Sgt. Broadwater's suggestion, but due to the current budget situation, it's difficult to talk about adding a new position.

She says there are currently some resources available for veterans through the city's Human Resources Department.

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