Franklin D. LeValley Pillars of Excellence Award
The Four Pillars of Franklin D. LeValley’s life Include:
Franklin D. “Doug” LeValley was born in 1947, in Fayette County, Ohio, less than one month before the birth of the United States Air Force. He joined the Air Force March 29, 1966. During his 20 years of service in the military, he worked for five years as a jet engine mechanic, three years as an instructor for jet engine school, and spent the last 12 years as a recruiter. One year of his first enlistment took him to Tuy Hoa Air Base, Vietnam, where he performed maintenance on aircraft. Mr. LeValley retired from the Air Force, April 1, 1986.
Three years after retiring, Doug began a new career as a county veterans service officer (CVSO) in Clark County, Ohio, where he served another 22 years before retiring in 2011. He attended the first National Association of County Veterans Service Officers executive committee meeting in February of 1991. Doug and one of the members of his Clark County team wrote the curriculum and set up the training program for the first conference held in June 1991 in Springfield, Ohio. He also was a part of the initial team who wrote the curriculum for the current accreditation and contract training.
Mr. LeValley received his accreditation in 1993 at the first opportunity with NACVSO in Peoria, Illinois. Then he joined the education committee for the association in 1994 and began teaching the accreditation course in 1995. During his career, he trained more than 6,000 CVSOs having a profound impact on the lives of millions of veterans across the nation. He also served as the Washington Liaison, Legislative Liaison, First and Second Vice President, and was elected to serve as the President in 2003.
Following Doug’s retirement as a CVSO, he remained on the education committee and training team, where he has played an important role as a mentor to the committee and the executive board. His leadership and mentorship fostered growth, new ideas, and camaraderie for the next generation of trainers.
On more than one occasion, Mr. LeValley has testified before congress about standardized training for service officers across the country, along with other pertinent legislation for veterans and CVSOs. His extensive knowledge of the VA claims process made him one of 14 people chosen to participate in a panel conducted live on C-span to discuss the backlog of claims in the Veterans Benefits Administration and offer recommendations to address the challenge.
As the Washington Liaison, Mr. LeValley attended quarterly meetings with the VA to discuss policy changes. Doug was at the foundation of creating and implementing the Fully Developed Claims process, which offered a solution to the VA backlog and expedited the wait time for veterans to receive their disability and pension benefits. George Hunt (2001 NACVSO President from North Carolina) and Mr. LeValley wrote this proposal together.
The accomplishment that Mr. LeValley is most proud of is helping CVSOs gain VA access to assist veterans during the claims process. This was a joint effort between Ann Knowles (2005-06 NACVSO President from North Carolina), George Hunt, and Mr. LeValley. These three leaders worked together to develop the relationships needed within the VA to help them understand that they could trust CVSOs. The VA access combined with the FDC process helped the VA operate more effectively and efficiently because with a fully developed claim, the VA has all forms and evidence needed to process the claim, and CVSOs have access during the process, which reduces the number of veterans calling the VA hotline.
Mr. LeValley also had a hand in the development of disability benefits questionnaires, and the duty to assist letters. He was a part of the team who helped develop the relationships with the VA leadership, the legislators, and then trained the CVSOs with the NACVSO education team on each of these changes.
Doug married his high school sweetheart, Kathy, in August of 1966. They have one son, Daniel, and a granddaughter, Adrienne, who is married to an Army veteran. Doug and Kathy work together to keep the CEU records current for the 1,800 members of NACVSO.
Ann Knowles Distinguished CVSO Award
The Four Pillars of Ann Knowles’s life Include:
Raised on a farm by her grandmother, Ann Knowles was the middle child of three siblings. Her career as a County Veteran Service Officer began at a soda fountain over forty years ago where county employees would come during to relax and unwind a bit during their workday. Upon seeing what a kind and outgoing personality she possessed, she was recruited by another county employee to take a position as a secretary within the County Veteran Services division and steadily worked her way through the ranks.
Upon becoming a VSO, Ann maintained that her office belonged to the veteran, the VSO merely manned the space. Believing it an honor to assist veterans every day, she has said “We don’t make the decision, we just help fix the bad decisions and deliver the news.” She is well known for listening with an open mind and possessing the wisdom to get the matter at hand sorted out in favor of the veteran and/or family member.
A true trailblazer, Ann’s involvement with NACVSO spans decades and has been an active member since the second annual meeting in 1991, becoming the organizations first female president in 2005. To her peers, she is well known to “bleed NACVSO” and cares deeply about the mission of advocating for veterans and family members. As such, the growth and success of the organization became her baby by seeing the need for greater advocacy outlets for veterans across the country. Ann has been an active voice and participant in nearly every aspect of NACVSO and is almost always the first to approach new members and dignified guests, introduce herself, and get straight to the heart of any matter at the forefront of her heart and mind. It has been said that the cut of her eye can change the mood or conversation in any room that she occupies. She has a sixth sense for the sub-context in her environment and can always get right to the heart of what is really going on. She is also a true southern woman possessing all of the soft warmth and kindness with a huge heart to match.
As a member of NACVSO and as a dedicated County Veteran Service Officer, Ann Knowles has had a career defined by compassion, respect, loyalty, and integrity. Those four characteristics, coincidentally, are also the backbone of an exemplary CVSO.