For the last 29 years, Barnhart has worked with the Georgia Department of Veterans Service and is manager of the field service office for veterans now housed in the white marble courthouse in Canton.
She is also a 29-year resident of Canton where she has lived with her husband, Curtis Barnhart.
The Canton office under Barnhart’s management is responsible for Cherokee County’s more than 16,000 veterans and their dependents as well as the veterans and their dependents living in Cobb, Gilmer, and Pickens counties.
Veterans who live in Cherokee County in 2011 received about $45.4 million in benefits of the $4 billion the VA spent statewide during the 2011 fiscal year, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
A local group of Vietnam and Gulf War veterans recently gathered at the Historic Courthouse to publicly recognize Barnhart for her hard work and dedication to Cherokee County veterans and their dependents.
The group, which meets monthly, presented her with a plaque that read “Rita Barnhart, thank you, For always doing a difficult job so well, But most of all, For caring about Us, Your Cherokee County Veterans.”
Also attending the ceremony with Rita’s immediate family and representing Commissioner Pete Wheeler of the Georgia Department of Veterans Service were Mike Roby of McDonough, Assistant Commissioner for Field Operations and her North Region Supervisor Harry Evans of Gainesville.
The Georgia Department of Veterans Service is the agency of state government established for the purpose of advising, counseling, and assisting Georgia’s veterans and their families in receiving their rightful benefits under the vast, frequently changing, and complex framework of veterans’ laws.
“We exist to serve those who have served,” says Georgia’s Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Pete Wheeler.
Wheeler encourages Georgia veterans living in Cherokee and surrounding counties to visit Barnhart, Justin Stockton and Daphne Nicholls at the state Veteran Field Service Office located in Suite G-20, at 100 North Street, Canton for information concerning their eligibility for federal and/or state benefits and on how to go about filing a claim for these benefits.
The Canton VFSO is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, except on approved state recognized holidays.
“Our job is to explain in detail federal and state benefits and, if entitled, assist veterans and their dependents in obtaining them,” Wheeler said in a release.
Wheeler explained the necessity for personal assistance in pursuing, filing, and tracking claims results from the legal principle that veteran’s benefits are not awarded automatically—all must be applied for.
“The VA pays a veteran exactly what he or she is entitled to by the law, and no more,” Commissioner Wheeler points out. “Our ultimate goal is to ensure a Georgia veteran or the dependent receive any and all benefits to which they are entitled.”
The Canton VFSO can also assist in certifying a veteran’s eligibility for the many benefits provided by the state such as drivers licenses, special motor vehicle license plates, honorary hunting and fishing licenses, discounts at Department of Natural Resources facilities, and Certificates of Exemption from payment of certain fees and taxation.