In a small office in the Madison Courthouse Annex, Oliver Bradley works to provide the best benefits for veterans and their families. For 21 years, Bradley has worn the official title of County Veterans Service Officer, or CVSO, as he has aided veterans and their families on issues such as education, health care, pensions and employment. Before taking the position of CVSO, Bradley was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club for 10 years and worked with the State of Florida as a mental health coordinator before he started work at the Veterans Service Office. His previous employment kept him commuting between Madison and Valdosta once or twice a day. “This position became open and being a veteran and in the V.A system I applied,” said Bradley. “I saw an opportunity to help other veterans.” Bradley says his favorite part of being Madison and Jefferson County’s CVSO is “being able to help veterans get the benefits that they need in order to keep their way of living or bettering their way of living.” His job doesn’t just aid veterans, but spouses and sometimes the children of veterans who are still dependant on their parent. “A lot of the spouses’ husbands are deceased, so I work with a lot of widows,” Bradley says. His job is to see to it that the best medical treatment, healthcare, financial aid and benefits are available for the veterans or veteran dependants who need it. Bradley’s main task is for V.A. referrals for , home loans and pensions for veterans who can no longer remain in the work force or have served in a wartime and suffered injury or disease from their time of service. He helps secure education benefits for the veterans and veteran dependants alike. Bradley has partnered up with employment agencies such as Career Source to help the Madison County veterans who are in the job market secure a profession. Bradley says he loves his job and there have been many situations where he has helped a veteran or a dependant get the help they could’ve never gotten on their own. Those moments of triumph make the job completely worthwhile. “There have been several claims, but one in particular… a veteran had put a claim in and the claim had been denied. We had to track that claim for 10 years and he finally received his 100 percent service connected disability [pension],” said Bradley. “It took a lot of work, but we eventually got it and that made me feel like it was really worthwhile. He got all of his back pay and the best treatment he could receive.” On a general basis, just seeing the lives of Madison County Veterans improve is enough of a reward for the work he is doing here. “Especially with healthcare being so costly, [seeing] their way of life be improved through the system, through healthcare,” said Bradley. Another triumph that Bradley spoke proudly of was the success of getting the County Commissioners to approve an agreement with Big Bend Transit to shuttle the county’s veterans to Lake City to get treatment. Having a shuttle option open could be a complete game-changer for veterans who do not have the personal transportation to get there, or who have gotten to a point that driving themselves 60 miles just isn’t possible any longer. “We would like to encourage all of the veterans to enroll in the V.A healthcare system,” said Bradley. Even for those who may not yet need the benefits that the system provides, Bradley still encourages them to enroll. “We would like for them to enroll in the system, so that, when the day comes, it will already be set up for them.” He furthers his encouragement, saying that even he wishes that veterans would come in and check to see if there are any benefits already due to them. “When they [Korean and Vietnam veterans] came back home, they just went back to work and never did look into the V.A system,” said Bradley. “We want to encourage them now to see if there are benefits available.” Bradley lives in Madison with his wife, Jackie; a soon-to-be retiring P.E teacher at Madison County Central School. They have a son, Joshua, who plays on the MCHS Cowboys football team. His office in Madison can be found at 229 SE Pickney St. within the Courthouse Annex. He can be found there during any hour within the normal workday on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Bradley’s office in Monticello can be located at 445 West Palmer Mill St. He can be found there during normal work hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Oliver Bradley; County Veterans Service Officer