VETERANS DAY: Four decades of serving

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 11, 2021

Morris has been working in the Lawrence County Veteran’s Service Office since 1977

Some people end up where they are meant to be, like Lottie Morris, who has spent 43 years in the Lawrence County Veteran’s Service Office in the courthouse.

“I started in November of 1977,” said Morris, who is the officer manager.

She was part of a job placement program and was placed as a cook at the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and it was a bit of an adjustment.

“I had only cooked for two people in my life, so you can imagine how that was,” she said.

She was then placed as a clerk for the Foster Grandparent program and caught the attention of the Lawrence County Veterans Service Officer Bob Griffiths.

“He had asked if I could transfer to the Veteran’s Office. I wanted to come,” Morris said. “And after the transfer, I’ve been here ever since.”

After graduating high school in Silver Springs, Maryland, she returned to the Ironton area and went to Marshall University and got an Associate Degree in paralegal and legal aid studies with an intention of a career in law. Then she went to Ohio University and got a Bachelor’s Degree in technical and applied studies with a minor in communication.

It turns out that the classes really helped prepare her for the job at the Lawrence County Veteran’s Service Office.

“It’s all things I needed for my job. You really have to understand VA law, it is very complex” Morris said. “So what I wanted to do in my younger days, I’ve tied it into this job.”

And she said it is a good job and that is why she has been there so long.

“I always say that if you like what you do, if you love what you do, you’ll stay with it,” Morris said. “Everybody always asks when I’m going to retire. You retire when you don’t like it anymore. If things get a little rough, I take a day off. But I thank God for my job and to be in a position to help people. You never know what you are going to face each day.”

She said many people don’t know that the Lawrence County Veteran’s Services exists or what services they offer.

“And those that do know we exist, don’t have a clue as to what we do,” Morris said, with a laugh.

It is Morris’ job to help veterans, their widow or their dependents navigate through the maze of paperwork that the VA and other departments need so they can get help.

And that is where her education comes in, since it gets complicated.

The office is a county office, paid for by county funds, but governed by the Ohio Revised Code, and is set up to help veterans deal with federal paperwork.

“There are a lot of laws that are required and they change daily,” Morris said.

“So, a veteran may come in because they are entitled to military retirement and VA services, but they may also qualify for services through Social Security.

“We push VA services, because they are veterans and they are entitled to it,” she said.

They also help homeless veterans by finding housing and they also have a financial assistance program for Lawrence County veterans.

But no matter how complex it gets, “I’ve enjoyed this job,” Morris said. “I enjoy working with veterans’ widows. It has been interesting to see.”

Many times, the widow needs help because her husband took care of paying the bills and she just got money for groceries and for the kids.

“That’s all she knew about and now the veteran is deceased and she doesn’t know what to do. We have been able to sit down with them and walk them through certain things and make sure they aren’t taken advantage of,” Morris said. “And that is important. We want our veterans and their families to get what they are entitled to.”

She said that to that end, the office has been advertising more to say “We are here. We are here for the county, we are here for the veterans,” Morris said.

She has high praise for Lawrence County Veterans Service officer Tim Carpenter.

“He’s excellent. He doesn’t mind researching and really getting the needs of the veterans,” Morris said. “He has a heart for the veterans.”

They have an additional service officer who started a month ago, Teresa Brown, who is going through the training process.

“She was hired because of the increase in the workload,” Morris said. “I can do claims and put the basics in the system and then Tim has to finish it up. So, Teresa will help with that.”

Morris said that she can’t even guess how many people she has helped over the past four decades.

And she really likes the veterans she has helped.

“We have some really good clients and they are grateful, they are appreciative for things we can help out with,” Morris said. “And if we can’t help them, we make it a point to find out who can help them.”

To find out more about Lawrence County Veteran’s Service Office, call 740-532-4327.

The office has recently moved and is now on the Fifth Street side of the courthouse.