The Howard County Board of Commissioners announced Monday that it has appointed U.S. Air Force veteran Dean Hockney as the Howard County Veteran’s Service Officer.
Hockney, who served nearly 10 years on active duty and another five as a U.S. Army logistics contractor, will assume his new role on March 1 and replace current VSO Jennifer Lett.
“As a veteran, being able to represent my fellow brothers and sisters on a full-time basis is a dream position, and I am humbled and honored that the commissioners have asked me to lead the charge,” said Hockney. “Howard County has one of the highest per-capita rate of veterans in the state, and I am excited to begin reaching out to them to ensure they are receiving all of the benefits they earned defending our great nation.”
“Dean has an incredible heart for veterans. There is no doubt our veterans will enjoy working with him as he provides them excellence in customer service and resources,” said County Commissioner Paul Wyman. “Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our community and Dean will ensure that they receive the care that they deserve,” he added.
“One of the highlights of Dean’s commitment to our veteran community is when he recognizes the service of a veteran on the field during the Kokomo Jackrabbits games,” said Wyman. “It truly is an awesome part of the game.”
The Veteran Service Office provides free claims counseling along with information and referral assistance to veterans, dependents and survivors. While the office focuses on Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, it can assist veterans in a wide range of areas such as education, aid and assistance and military funeral honors.
“It is important that we take good care of our veterans,” said Commissioner Jack Dodd. “Dean is the right guy to do that with his incredible leadership, military service background and his outstanding community service,” he added.
Commissioner Brad Bray is excited about Hockney as well.
“Dean has been a proponent for veterans in our community,” he said. “We are excited to have him lead our Veteran Service office team. He has tremendous contacts in our community and will connect our veterans to resources they need.”
Hockney is no stranger to Kokomo. He was born and raised in the City of Firsts and is a 1986 graduate of Kokomo High School. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1990 and served as a fuel technician/accountant with permanent duty assignments both stateside and overseas. Hockney was either deployed or provided direct support for Operations Desert Storm, Provide Comfort, Provide Hope, Deliberate Force and Southern Watch. After earning the rank of staff sergeant, he was honorably discharged in 1999.
Along with various Airman of the Month and Quarter awards, Hockney earned four USAF Achievement Medals for Meritorious Service, two USAF Good Conduct Medals, two Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medals, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, NATO Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.
After his discharge he returned to Kokomo and worked as the sports editor of the Kokomo Perspective until 2004, when he accepted a position to work as a civilian in Baghdad, Iraq. Hockney departed Iraq in 2010 after serving as the Director of Communications, Public Relations and Public Affairs for the Army’s LOGCAP III civilian contract, which included a workforce supporting military personnel in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Georgia and Djibouti.
Hockney is a life member of the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Air Force Association. He also spent several years working and coaching for the American Legion Post 6 (Kokomo) and Post 317 (Greentown) baseball programs.
Along with his military background, Hockney is known locally for working as a sports journalist and as the public address announcer for the Kokomo Jackrabbits at Kokomo Municipal Stadium. Hockney has spent the last four school years as the assistant to the transportation supervisor for the Kokomo School Corporation.
A community activist, he is the founder and current treasurer of the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame and is a board member of the Howard County Conventions, Visitors and Tourism Commission. He previously served as the chairperson and board member for Prevent Child Abuse Howard County, an organization for which he earned its Imagine Award. He also chaired the Kokomo Visitors Bureau Sports Committee for several years and was presented with the FIRSTS Award for outstanding support of local tourism. In 2011, he was named a Distinguished Hoosier by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
The Veteran Service Office is located in the Howard County Administrative Center at 220 N. Main St. in downtown Kokomo. For more information, call 765-456-2511.