Holcomb out of vets post | TheUnion.com

Holcomb out of vets post

Ray Holcomb, vilified by some war veterans after being named the county’s Veterans Service Officer two years ago, is no longer in the job.

County officials would not discuss Wednesday if the embattled Holcomb had been fired or resigned, but his termination occurred just four days before a Nevada County grand jury report blasted the veterans office for shoddy service.

“I can confirm that Ray Holcomb is no longer employed with the county and beyond that, due to confidentiality, I can’t comment further on personnel issues,” said Jeff Brown, the county’s Human Services Agency director on Wednesday.

Holcomb could not be reached for comment.

The veterans officer’s job used to be a department head position, but it was rolled into the Department of Social Services as a management employee two years ago, Brown said.

Holcomb was working directly under Social Services Director Alison Lehman and Brown when his termination occurred, and it was not a Board of Supervisors action, Brown said.

Lehman also could not be reached for comment.

The former veterans officer’s last day was Friday, office Secretary Suzzette Clothier said Wednesday. “He is no longer with the Nevada County Veterans Office,” she added.

Evelyn White, the second in command at the office, was on a vacation that she had planned two years ago, Clothier said.

“When she comes back, she’ll be swamped,” Clothier said.

Nevada County supervisors appointed Holcomb instead of White two years ago, over loud and angry protests by some veterans who wanted White in the post, based on their experience with her.

At a meeting for area veterans about the situation in September 2006 just after Holcomb was hired, hosts Brown, Lehman, county executive officer Rick Haffey, county supervisors Nate Beason and Sue Horne were loudly blasted and sometimes cursed for picking Holcomb over White.

White was even put on a 10-day suspension later that year after participating in the meeting protest and writing an “other voices” column for The Union in which she criticized Holcomb’s selection.

But she managed to keep her job.

A county civil grand jury report released Tuesday about the veterans service office said: “Disharmony among the VSO employees has had a marked effect on the ability of the office to provide services to Nevada County veterans.”

The report said because of the disharmony, Lehman hired a veterans affairs consultant to analyze the office and how it operated.

The report also criticized the office for giving incorrect and misleading information to vets and their families on occasion.

“Only a small percentage of the 12,000 veterans living in Nevada County seek assistance through the VSO,” the grand jury report said. “There are pockets of under-served and housebound veterans living in Nevada County who are currently not being adequately served by the VSO.”

The grand jury said a van service for veterans to the Auburn Medical Clinic and Reno Veterans Administration need to be reinstated to three from two days a week. It was also suggested the office get a van to do outreach in the county.

“The jury corroborated anecdotal evidence through interviews with multiple, independent sources,” the grand jury report said. Those interviewed included complainants, Lehman, workers inside the veterans office, two former Veterans Service Officers and volunteers.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

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