Deschutes County – The Deschutes County Veterans’ Services Office announced wait times dropped to fewer than 10 days from October through December.

The solution was simple: an additional hire.

During the Deschutes County Commission meeting Wednesday morning, representatives from five county departments provided updates on their progress toward achieving a series of performance goals set by the county. The veterans’ services department, which helps veterans access federal benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was one of the departments to present a quarterly update.

Last summer, veterans in Deschutes County would have to wait between six and 12 weeks before getting to sit down with a veterans’ services officer. Like many veterans’ services departments across the country, Deschutes County suffered from a shortage of employees accredited to work with veterans.

But in June, the commission approved a fourth employee for the department who could handle some of the preliminary case work, freeing up veterans’ services officers to handle the claims more quickly.

The department schedules between 35 and 45 clients a week, according to the county’s website. The county’s objective, as part of its goal to enhance and protect the health and well-being of the community, mandated that the department should reduce its wait times to two weeks for the quarter.