New director taking the helm of Adams County Veterans Services officePublished 12:14am Wednesday, September 25, 2013
NATCHEZ — Vivian Toussaint knows the veteran’s services system can sometimes be difficult to navigate.
And starting Oct. 2, she’ll be taking the helm at the Adams County Veterans Services office with the goal of making that navigation a lot easier for area veterans.
Toussaint has been hired to fill the veterans services director position vacated by outgoing director Erle Drane when he announced his retirement in August.
The surviving spouse of a disabled veteran, Toussaint said veterans have a special place in her heart, and her husband — Charles Toussaint — helped lead the drive to gather bricks for one of the memorials in Memorial Park.
After getting a bachelor’s degree at Jackson State University and studying law at Tulane University, Toussaint spent 10 years practicing law with Legal Services, representing financially disadvantaged clients. Since 1999, she has been the prosecutor for the Adams County Youth Court.
That professional experience, combined with her personal experience, gives her something to bring to the veterans’ services table, Toussaint said.
“There are a lot of benefits that veterans are not aware are available, and all too often I hear veterans say that they gave up because they don’t know how to access those services, that they think they wouldn’t benefit because they don’t know how to navigate the system,” she said.
“I have experience of having actually applied for veteran’s benefits for my husband, for myself and for my son, and I have helped others as well before. There’s a lot of red tape to have to cut through, and I think with my legal skills and my personal experience, I can help.”
Toussaint said one of her first orders of business will be to meet with all of the other groups and offices offering services to veterans so they can all network, know who has what to offer and hopefully streamline some processes.
“I am not trying to push anybody out — I am looking to bring everybody to the table,” she said.
Toussaint will still work as the prosecutor for the youth court on Tuesday and Thursday, but will have extended office hours for the veterans’ services office on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Those hours will allow veterans who have jobs to be able to access services before and after work, she said, and the office will also schedule occasional Saturday work sessions.
Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the board hired Toussaint from a field of seven applicants and board members were impressed with her ideas for how to improve veterans’ services.
“She had a lot of creative ideas that really impressed us and she was full of energy and enthusiasm for this position,” he said.