NEWPORT — The Lincoln County Veterans Office has temporarily limited services while a new officer undergoes training.

Callers to the Lincoln County Veterans Service Office Monday were greeted by a voicemail recording that said the office was open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, but then said the office was “currently undergoing changes in staff and philosophy.” And with staff undergoing training, the message said, the office had to cut back on some services for the time being and would reopen for appointments Oct. 1.

Lincoln County Public Information Officer Casey Miller said the veteran service office, is, in fact, open, but the new veteran service officer, Keith Barnes, still needs to undergo training. The former officer, Devin Whitaker, recently resigned, as did his assistant, Pete Bavaro, after taking over for a short time.

There are some functions Barnes is not yet permitted to perform until his training is complete, Miller said, and he will be out of the office some in order to attend that training, but he is responding to messages and can help direct clients to the appropriate resources.

The Lincoln County Veterans Resource Center is located at 1231 SE Bay Blvd. in Newport, next to the Oregon State University Lincoln County Extension Office, on the north side of the road just west of the International Terminal.

Miller said he believed Barnes would help “restore some balance” to the office.

Barnes contacted the News-Times Wednesday, and regarding the reference to a change in philosophy, he said the office would now "focus on the whole veteran, rather than just processing claims."

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