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Brown Co. Veterans office moving to new location to save money

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BROWNWOOD, Texas - The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs ordered in June that more than 1,300 of its buildings nationwide either close or get repurposed as a way to save taxpayers millions of dollars.

The Brown County Veterans Service Office helps combat veterans get their VA benefits and guides them through the process, step by step. But the department's decision is forcing them to leave their current offices inside Brown County's VA.

"Certainly I didn't see this coming," Brown County Veterans Service Officer James Masters said at Monday's commissioners court meeting.

He told commissioners he has to move by the end of October from the VA located on the 2600 block of Memorial Park Drive.

VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a press release dated June 20 that his department "will maximize space management by leasing or eliminating office space nationwide." Shulkin said they'll also be reviewing "underutilized buildings" and demolishing non-vacant ones, which will save taxpayers close to $23 million.

"This is a national push, and I think we're seeing the first results in a change in administration," Masters said of his move.

The VA set a deadline to accomplish its objectives to 24 months, according to the press release.

Masters said he'll be opening his new office at the American Legion Post 196 on Nov. 1. It's located ay 2710 Crockett Dr.

"The VA healthcare system is expanding exponentially, so they're moving treatment to every room in this facility," Masters said. "We've got to make room for health treatment and we're going to support that."

Masters said the only change in moving to the American Legion is that his office will now have to pay for utilities. The county's veterans service office was in the VA building free of charge.

"The American Legion Post has an area that meets the security requirements that we have," Masters said.

Masters said the VA is turning his old office into a patient education room.

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