Boone County Veteran’s Affairs Officer Mike Spidel approached Boone County Commissioners at their July 5 meeting to request a full-time position.
Spidel, who works part-time, said he thought he could do a much better job if he were full time. He said out of the 92 counties in the state, only six to eight of had a part-time officer. All others staffed the position with a full-time employee.
In his position, Spidel researches disability claims to determine eligibility. He said his job is likely to be much busier soon, as the federal government recently announced it was going to release 44 more presumptive cases.
“That means they’ve already been through the court system to gain eligibility for that claim, you just have to show you were there and honorably discharged and exposed or injured in some way,” Spidel said.
Spidel said other presumptive cases include Vietnam veterans’ exposure to an herbicide that causes cancer.
“They’re in their mid-to-late 70s, but there’s a whole bunch of Gulf War veterans coming up and they were also exposed to things,” Spidel said. “They’re going to release 44 more presumptions. Most have to do with breathing issues and things they were exposed to. When they exited Kuwait and burned those oil fields, our boys were over there and had to breathe that smoke, the hydrocarbons coming off those oil fields. There’s a lot more coming down the pipe.
“The last time (the federal government) released (presumptions), they released six which increased the workload in the state of Indiana by over 6 million (claims).”
Because his position is part-time, Spidel said he must also work a full-time job elsewhere.
“I really feel committed to this and this is what I want to do, so I want to do it full time,” he said. “I’m just playing catch-up all the time. I’m just putting out fires.”
Public records show as a part-time employee, Spidel’s salary was $21,420.557 in 2021. The commissioners did not discuss how much Spidel’s salary would increase if the Boone County
Council approved the request. The commissioners voted to forward the request to the council with a unanimous favorable recommendation. The council will discuss the request in upcoming budget hearings. If approved, Spidel’s position would become full time in January 2023.