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service and her own time in the military, which earned O’Neal the award. “My dad, husband, son, brother, and myself are all veterans. We have every branch of the military covered,” she commented. “When I got out of the military, I really didn’t know about benefits or anything like that. They kind of just threw you out there and said, ‘Bye!’ All of these years, I didn’t know you could claim things or any of the opportunities until I moved to Georgia. It helped me to understand what a lot of veterans go through, especially the women.”
According to O’Neal, the best part about her job is getting to meet all of the veterans that come through her office. “Meeting so many different veterans from so many different branches of service, seeing their medals and all the things they did and accomplished, and hearing all of their stories is a big blessing,” she emphasized. “I’ve become friends with a lot of them.”
She reminisced about several events throughout the years that have been momentous, such as honoring World War II veterans during one of the Veterans Day Parades, acknowledging the women veterans, and others.
Rising to the rank of District Manager in August 2022, O’Neal now oversees five different city offices – located in Hinesville, Savannah, Glennville, St. Mary’s, and Brunswick, and manages 11 employees throughout those locations, which she regularly visits. Her Lyons office also serves veterans from Toombs, Jeff Davis, Telfair, and Montgomery Counties.
She said the Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the work of the local DVS, as the office is now open only by appointment, which has decreased the number of veterans seen per day from 9 to 4. “It’s not as many people seen per day, but having that set time to look things up and get to know more about each veteran has really been helpful,” O’Neal explained. “We have more privacy with this method, and I can really spend my time with each veteran and make sure everything gets done.”
Th eofficeiscurrently scheduling appointments and accepting any veterans who need guidance on their benefits. For more information on the office, or to schedule an appointment, call (912) 526-8860, or email O’Neal at [email protected] vs.state.ga.us.