As a part of the Veterans Day program on the Courtsquare following Monday's parade, the Veterans Council presented a special award to Veterans Service Officer Alex Patton. It's an honor well deserved.
I first met Alex when he was a Harris Teeter store manager. Later, the 1979 graduate of Lincolnton High School became a Lincoln County Commissioner and chaired that board. In 2014, he ran for Clerk of Court and lost in a three-candidate race. I've told him since that God had other plans for him; he wasn't needed so much as Clerk of Court--he was needed as Lincoln County's Veterans Service Officer.
In addition to going well beyond what is required to perform his duties as Veterans Service Officer, Alex has been important to our community in many other ways.
He has served for many years as a member of the board of the Department of Social Services; he is the chairman of the board of Hesed House of Hope, the local homeless shelter. Perhaps most important to Alex himself is that he is a Sunday School teacher at Highland Drive Freewill Baptist Church.
As both a veteran himself and the father of a veteran, Alex has expanded his services as Veterans Service Officer. While it was no requirement of the job, he has been working with prisoners who are veterans at the local prison unit. When they are released, Alex hopes the help he and the prison staff can provide will help them to return to the community as productive citizens and not return to prison for committing another crime.
As the chairman of the board of Hesed House, he has taken many homeless persons--when they were interested--to his church. Under his leadership, Hesed House attempts to do more than provide a shelter and food; trying to help those who are there for those needs to fulfill a more important need--getting a home and finding a job.
I truly believe that Alex is where he is needed most--and I am grateful that the Veterans Council apparently agrees. Actually, across North Carolina, Alex is known by veterans organizations for the work he is doing here. A veterans group officer from a nearby county recently remarked, "you've (Lincoln County) got the best Veterans Service Officer in the state." We don't know them all, but can't imagine how anyone could be doing the job better. Congratulations to Alex Patton on his special award.