Michael McPherson stepped into the role of Cheatham County Veterans Service Officer on Sept. 9
His experience with helping Tennessee veterans is extensive.
“I was hired by Tom Meadows for the state in 2013,” he said, adding that he worked as VSO in Dickson County as well as Wilson County for three years. He is now working with Meadows in Cheatham County.
“Knowledge is just insurmountable for any veteran who does what we do,” he said. “When we’re taking care of veterans, he (Meadows) knows how to do it. He has a great deal of information with such depth. He’s so knowledgeable.”
Knowledge and information are two of the keys that drive McPherson to deliver his best for fellow veterans.
“It’s important to get them the right amount of information on what this office does and what we can do for them,” he said.
Born into a military family in Auburn, Ala., McPherson is an Army veteran, having served 21 years. Among the locations where he was stationed are Berlin, Hawaii and three times at Fort Campbell, Ky. He is a graduate of Clarksville High School, having attended there when his father was stationed in Fort Campbell.
McPherson and his wife, Tracy live in Springfield. They have two sons and a daughter, ages 18, 20 and 25.
He said that one of the challenges for most veterans is understanding their entitlements.
“In the military there’s a tendency for most that when you’re ready to get out, you want to get out,” he said. “So, you just close that chapter, shut the door and move onto something else. So, you don’t pay attention to a whole lot of details about what you are entitled to now you’re a veteran. That’s the education part for us.”
He said that great joy for him is to bring a sense of normalcy to a veteran and to the veteran’s family.
“Now there are 322 Vietnam Veterans dying each day, still they persevered, and many are out there doing great things,” he said. “We want our veterans to know that we are here to help establish the normalcy that they need and let them know about the entitlements that are available such as education, and we’re here to help them find resources they need to establish and maintain a desired quality of life.”
As for the perks of his position that let him know he’s had a good day, McPherson again pointed to those he serves.
“It’s a good day when a veteran calls back to say ‘thank you,’ ” he said. “We are here to help because we know you can’t always do it on your own.”
Outreach for veterans
McPherson said he believes that education is the top priority for veterans to pursue for veterans, and the tendency is to turn to education only when things go bad.
“I want to help as many as I can” he said. “Getting involved with the VVA with support for the Memorial Veterans Park. We want to see community and vets get involved and interact. My goal for the memorial park is to bring the entire county together for one location. It would set a great day for Memorial Day or Veterans Day. We need to build trust, get this started and maintained to build on that trust.”
Plans are in the works to bring in an outreach two times a year to help vets navigate the healthcare system, with special attention to the elderly veterans as well,” Meadows said.
“I have known Michael for about six years. He is a true veterans advocate. He will be a real asset to the veterans of Cheatham County. his work ethic is outstanding,” Meadows said.
Bob Counter, the county VSO from 2012-2019, said he also was pleased by McPherson’s appointment.
“I advocated for the county to hire Michael,” Counter said. “He is very knowledgeable on all phases of being a VSO and from what I hear is doing an outstanding job. He seems to have the personality that will enable him to continue to do great work for the VSO office.”
McPherson recently visit The Waters on River Road where he met with several veterans who live there.
“It’s a pleasure to work here,” he said. “I love what I do. I don’t have to go to work. I get to go to work.”
VETERANS SERVICE OFFICE
Where: Sycamore Square
Hours: Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Contact: (615) 246-1477.