The chairman of the St. Clair County Commission was nominated to a national committee on Veterans Affairs, according to a press release from the commission office.
Stan Batemon, chairman of the county commission for the past 14 years, announced Tuesday that he will be among a group of county government leaders tapped by the National Association of Counties to sit on its Veterans and Service Member Committee. Batemon will serve as a vice-chair for the committee, which is charged by NACo leadership “to develop a plan to help local governments prepare for and address the growing veteran population.”
“I will be working on the national level through my position with the National Association of Counties to analyze and improve veteran’s services at the county and local level,” Batemon said. “As a U.S. Marine Vietnam veteran, I am aware of the challenges and struggles of our veterans as the try to ‘fit’ back into our society.”
Batemon called the appointment an honor.
“One of the things that we have come to understand is that many of the people in our jails are veterans,” he said. “And one of the reasons for that is the lack of mental health care for our veterans. You’d think the least we can do is try to help the veterans caught up in that, and see if there’s a way to intervene in the jails.”
Mental health care, particularly mental health care for veterans, has been a key issue for Batemon and much of the county. In addition to the Veterans Affairs home opening soon in Pell City, the county has been actively active involved with the newly established St. Clair County Military Assistance Personal Support program.
The commission is also working closely with St. Clair County’s judicial leadership to establish a Veterans’ Court to address the unique legal issues experienced by returning veterans.
“There are a lot of gaps in veterans’ care, and it’s fallen down to the counties,” Batemon said Tuesday. “That committee will do a couple of things: it will lobby for more response from the federal level, and organize more response on the local level. Organizing veterans courts, coordinating mental health care for veterans.
“The health, education, and employment struggles our veterans are facing are a problem that we must do a better job addressing. We owe our very way of life to the fighting men and women of our military forces.
“It has just been something that’s very special to me. Not just because I’m a veteran, but then again, maybe that’s why it’s so possible. I have suffered some of the things that veterans suffer, and I am so aware of the lack of veterans care myself.”