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‘Helms treats veterans like family’

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Michele Roberts

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For The Lancaster News

Just in time for Veteran’s Day, a county employee has been named to two of the top spots in the state when it comes to veterans affairs.

Robin Helms, who was appointed director of the Veterans Affairs Office in Lancaster in 2010, took office as president of the S.C. Association of County Veterans Affairs Officers on July 1 of this year, a position she will hold until June of 2016. She was also appointed to serve on the S.C. Veterans Trust Fund board in June of this year.

“I just want to say that my position here in Lancaster County and the new positions I have taken within our wonderful state is truly an honor,” Helms said. “I am humbled at the fact that so many people have put their confidence in me and passed the torch to me. My job is not a job at all, it is a passion that I have.”

Helms said that her appointment to the president seat came as a result of being nominated by the rest of the association members. She had served as the second vice president of the association for the past two years.

Her appointment to the Veteran Trust Fund board came as a result of a nomination by S.C. Veterans Affairs Director Howard Metcalf.

“I think the whole process took about four months, but it was incredibly stressful,” she said. “I had to go before the Senate for confirmation and answer questions, I had to go before ethics boards and answer questions, and there were FBI background checks, credit checks, all kinds of things. And you know in your heart that you’re a good person, but you’re hoping that some weird skeleton doesn’t fall out of your closet that you don’t even know about, because they really have you under a microscope.”

The board of trustees of for the Veterans’ Trust Fund carry out such activities such as assessing service needs and gaps, soliciting proposals to address identified needs and establishing criteria for the awarding of grants. Helms said that being a part of that board is worth every bit of pressure she endured during the appointment process.

“I serve at the pleasure of the governor so my term is for an indefinite time,” she said. “And honestly, I’m not sure what it would’ve meant for me if Gov. Haley hadn’t been re-elected, so I’m just glad she was.”

Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis said Lancaster County is fortunate to have Helms as its Veterans Affairs officer.

“Robin is one of the most caring people you will ever meet,” Willis said. “She doesn’t look at our veterans like clients, she looks at them like family. She strives to make sure they get every benefit legally due to them.

“As she serves on the state association board it is obvious that she has the respect and admiration of her fellow VA officers across the state who elected her to that position. County Council is honored to help her in her efforts to support and assist our veterans and their families.”

Helms said she loves her work.

“I am so fortunate every day to come to a job that I love so much,” Helms said. “The last nine years I have been in the Veterans Affairs Office have been the most rewarding years of my life. I get to come to a job where I give back to our nation’s real heroes, and I get to serve those who have served us so honorably and unselfishly.

“I truly look forward to what the future holds and I hope that I can continue to fight for our veteran’s benefits for a long time to come.”