Pearsall Focused On Helping Veterans – Transylvania County, NC


Last updated 7/29/2020 at 3:17pm

When asked why he was the county’s Veterans Service officer, Frank Pearsall said it was not a job but a “calling.”

The 80-year-old, a retired master sergeant for the U.S. Marine Corps, has served in the position for 14 years.

On Monday, he gave the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners an update on his work, the vast majority of which is dealing with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ claims for veterans.

Expenditures have steadily increased each year, with the exception of 2018.

In 2019, expenditures from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in the county totaled $21,370,000, a decrease of $828,000 from the previous year.

Expenditures for compensation and pension totaled $11,068,000, while medical totaled $9,410,000. The 2018 veteran population in the county was 3,073. Of those, 891 veterans used the VA Hospital in Asheville for services.

Pearsall’s office in the Community Services building on East Morgan Street in Brevard is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are by appointment only. Pearsall said it could take roughly two hours to do the paperwork on a claim and he works to not give the VA an “excuse” to turn one down.

“You play a lot of Whack-a-Mole with the VA,” he said. “You’ve got to give them information, a lot of the times you don’t think they need, but that’s what they want, so that’s what you give them.”

Congress, he said, is currently looking at possibly adding three diseases – hypertension, hyperthyroidism and “Parkinson’s-like” diseases – to the Vietnam veterans’ list of eligible claims.

Pearsall said there are a lot of veterans in the county who suffer from hypertension.

Other frequent work for Pearsall includes requests for copies of discharge documents and requests for headstones.

“There is no time limit on doing headstones,” he said. “I do headstone requests for Civil War veterans. It goes back that far – either side.”

Each year, the number of veterans in the county is decreasing, but Pearsall believes the number will remain high for years to come.

Veterans often don’t realize what they are eligible for, he said. He mentioned a Purple Heart recipient who still has a scar from combat that continues to “hurt.” Pearsall told the veteran he could make a claim.

Any veteran who was a helicopter pilot usually suffers from hearing loss and lower back pain, while jet pilots suffer from glaucoma, he said.

All are eligible to put in a claim.

Sometimes you have to “drag information” out of the veterans, who often come in for one claim but after talking to them find out they may be eligible for others, Pearsall said.

Commissioner Jason Chappell said he appreciated Pearsall’s “diligence” to make sure the veteran gets what he or she needs.

In other action:

•Commissioners approved Commissioner Page Lemel being the voting delegate to the N.C. Association of County Commissioners’ annual conference on Aug. 6.

•Commissioners appro-ved the interlocal agreement for the administration of CARES Act funds.

•Commissioners appro-ved funding $50,000 for one more year to the town of Rosman for the Champion Park and pool. Staff will report back to commissioners about a longer-term agreement.

•Tax Administrator Jessica McCall gave commissioners the tax settlement report for 2019, which saw the county record an overall tax collection rate of 99.77 percent.

The total collected in all of the tax districts in the county in 2019 was $38,251,271

•The county submitted its first COVID-19 FEMA reimbursement for roughly $177,000.

•The county’s Solid Waste Department has been selected to receive the Local Government Federal Credit Union 2020 Excellence in Innovation Award for the Fungi Demonstration Project.

The project has led to enhancements at the solid waste facility to prevent erosion.


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