Kathy Hutchings, Director of the Caldwell County Veterans Service Office, will be retiring effective December 31 after 42 years of working with
Veterans in Caldwell County and across the Unifour area.
In recognition of her service, Ms. Hutchings was awarded the “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine,” by the Governor of North Carolina; an award that is given to honor persons who have a proven record of service to the State of North Carolina. In addition, at a recent event honoring her retirement, Ms. Hutchings received the Key to the City from Mayor Joe Gibbons of the City of Lenoir.
Hutchings was first hired in June of 1975 as an office assistant in the Veterans Service Office which at that time was located in the basement of the Caldwell County Courthouse. She was promoted to Veteran’s Service Officer after a few months and moved to the Caldwell County Administration building when the Veterans Service Office was combined with the County Human Resources (HR) office. During those years, Hutchings continued her duties serving veterans and also worked with services for County employees.
In 2010, the Veterans Service Office was separated from HR and made an independent department based on the volume of veterans and their dependents needing services. Hutchings was named Director. There are over 6,000 veterans in Caldwell County that receive around $24 million primarily due to the work of Hutchings and her staff.
“Working with Veterans has been my life, it is in my blood, I have a passion for it,” Hutchings explains. “I have worked with Spanish American War Widows all the way up to Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars and their dependents. Veterans gave us our peace and freedom. They made this country we live in possible and have done this at the risk of their safety, sanity and future without asking anything in return.”
The Caldwell County Veterans Service Office works with veterans daily to make sure they receive the benefits they are due and deserve. The office completes disability claims for those that have disabilities or military related illness and helps those veterans who have a low income apply for benefits.
Hutchings is accredited with the North Carolina and the National Association of County Veteran Service Officers. Both require testing and training annually. This accreditation allows Hutchings to act as spokesperson and representative of the veteran.
After retiring, Hutchings intends to continue working with the Veterans Services Office part time.
“After 42 years, these veterans are more like my friends and family. I still serve veterans or their widows that I first met 42 years ago,” says Hutchings. “There is nothing more touching than seeing a veteran being honored by providing benefits during their lifetime and especially at their time of death by the presentation of the American flag and a military gun salute.”
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