The federal government provides assistance and funds programs for veterans to receive education, home loans and medical treatment for combat-related injuries. The web of services requires the vet to make lengthy applications and follow guidelines specified in federal legislation. The veterans service officer, a federally funded position coordinated by state officials, gives assistance to vets in meeting the requirements in filing for special programs. The salary range is determined by federal funding.
Veterans service officers, or VSOs, are paid on a scale based on the federal employment schedule. Staff members employed as officers earn steps or classifications that include pay grades similar to military pay. Officers working in Missouri, for instance, earn pay based on the A17 grade and a pay index for the state cost of living. The annual salary levels for a VSO working in the Show-Me State ranged from a low of $27,6600 to the cap of $38,700 in 2011, depending on the number of years the VSO served in the position. The Denton County, Texas, salary range included assistant and associate VSOs earning from $24,902 to $60,009, the top salary for an officer holding the title of VSO in that Lone Star county.
The states determine the number of county VSO positions based on the amount of federal funding, and the funding varies according to the federal budget. VSOs working in large metropolitan areas earn more than rural officers working in remote locations due to the cost-of-living differential. The income required to live in Los Angeles, for instance, is higher than that for Fort Wayne, Indiana. The pay for veterans service officers recognizes these regional differences and uses the federal cost-of-living tables based on the annual consumer price index. Missouri officers in 2011, for instance, earned pay based on Index No. 5380 of the federal cost-of-living index. VSOs in Macon, Georgia, earned an average salary of $57,369 in 2010, while an officer serving in Manhattan, New York, averaged an annual take-home pay of $80,754 in the same year, according to the Economic Research Institute.
Scope of Duties
States with a small veteran population receive less federal funding and have fewer counties with veterans service officers. This places the majority of the duties for vets in less populated states on a small group of officers and the VSO position requires some travel to help the state's veteran population. Some offices, including the office in Middleton, Massachusetts, hire officers for part-time service during the weekdays, and the salary paid reflects the part-time assignment.
Nonprofit VSO Positions
Although the official VSO designation goes to federal employees, privately funded nonprofit veterans groups also hire VSO-type officers. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Veterans/AMVETS, Wounded Warrior Project and the Disabled American Veterans organizations all hire veterans assistance officers at a national level and a number also offer volunteer and paid assistance from officers at the local, state and regional offices. The scope of the services and the amount paid to nonprofit agency officers varies with the agency and the amount of contributions to the veteran group in any given year.