OSCEOLA COUNTY — Edward Maldonado is the new Osceola County Director of Veterans’ Services, a position he takes seriously each day.

"I am a vet and spent eight years in the Air Force," he said. "I've got a genuine passion for the vets, healthcare and the advocacy field. It's a natural transition for me. These are my troops and I take care of my troops."

The Board of Commissioners created the part-time position last year for just under $30,000. In December, John Roskowski accepted the position, but then resigned a month later after accepting a position in Washington state with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In addition to his military service during the Gulf War, Maldonado received his undergraduate degree in nuclear medicine from Ferris State University, completed the physician's assistant program at Western Michigan University, then practiced in family medicine, internal medicine and emergency medicine. He also has experience in videography.

Maldonado began his new position at the end of February and said he's been busy assisting veterans who need help with everything from receiving dental work funding to tax assistance.

"Things are picking up really fast," he said. "I came in and went to a week-long accreditation school down in Lansing, then started here full-time. I've added 10 veterans claims that need to be managed.

"I get veterans connected and plugged into the varying agencies. I function as a liaison between everyone. I sit down with them, go through paperwork and give them good counsel on what the forms are for, but they have to do some of their own legwork. I'm not in a position to grant them an award, so I don't promise anything. I function as their advocate and will make sure everything is done correctly."

Though the paperwork on each claim is extensive, Maldonado enjoys the interaction with fellow veterans each day.

"I love the people I meet and the little tidbits of history I hear," he said. "These guys are a lot of fun to talk to."

Veterans can make an appointment with Maldonado by calling (231) 791-7082, (231) 912-7011 or by emailing veteransservices@osceolacountymi.com. Veterans also can visit him from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at Michigan Works! West Central, located at 240 E. Church Ave., Reed City.