• Former VSO honored

Former VSO honored

Donald Henry Smith Jr. was honored during the regularly scheduled Stephens County Commissioners meeting Monday, Nov. 14. Smith passed away a few weeks ago due to health complications and in his place at the meeting was his wife, Francis.

Smith served as the Stephens County Veteran Services Officer (VSO) until his health prevented him from continuing. Smith was a United States Navy Veteran who served our country during the Vietnam war and continued his service after the military by helping other veterans within the county.

Smith’s role as the VSO began with his desire to start a non-profit organization for local veterans that was outside of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other organizations, and wanted it to be focused on helping veterans by providing resources, including ways to cope with injuries and mental health injuries, such as post-traumatic stress.

Stephens County Judge Michael Roach said he had been approached by Smith regarding his wish to help local veterans, and when the local VSO position became available, Smith was the person he contacted for the role. Smith used the opportunity to not only help other veterans, but to receive the help he needed in order to better serve those around him.

“One thing that I want to share today about Don is that he wasn’t afraid to tackle his own vulnerabilities. I remember a time he came in and said “‘Hey, I found this resource down in Austin (...) and I’m gonna go through this program,’ and he was gone for a month or six weeks,” Roach recalled. “He went down and checked himself into a program that the (Veterans Affairs) had to assist vets and he came back a different person. It was just amazing.”

Smith also took part in specialized training and received a security clearance in order to use a computer program in conjunction with the VA that would provide access to resources not previously available within Stephens County. Smith was also able to connect local veterans with non-profit groups that aided with things like home repairs.

Roach continued by saying he had wanted to honor Smith in person, but due to rapidly declining health issues Smith faced, it wasn’t possible. Smith’s wife Francis was given a flag that was flown at the last Memorial Day ceremony he was able to attend.

“Today, even though he’s not here, hopefully he’s looking down and we wanted to honor him and Francis and provide this to your family. The last time Don and I were together honoring Veterans, it was this prior Memorial Day. We put a brand new flag out front. Don and I stood by as the VFW gave their presentation. We put this flag up and just took it down this morning. He stood underneath this flag and honored Vets for the last time, and we want to present this to you, Francis, with a resolution,” Roach said.

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Breckenridge, Texas 76424

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