MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua County Veter-ans Service Agency has a new leader.
Acting County Executive Steve Abdella announced Gary Chilcott as the new Chautauqua County Veter-ans Service Agency director on Monday.
"I truly recognize the selfless sacrifices that our veterans and their families have made to protect our nation," Chilcott said on his first day. "I will continue to do everything in my capacity as Veterans Service Agency director to ensure our veteran programs and activities excel at the county, state and national levels."
Gary Chilcott, right, was named the new Veterans Service Agency director on Monday by acting Chautauqua County Executive Stephen Abdella, left. Chilcott will work with various organizations to ensure veterans in Chautauqua County receive benefits for which they’re eligible.
Chilcott began his new position Monday in replacement of Doug Diers who resigned in August to fill a position at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.
Chilcott was selected as the agency's new director through the help of a bipartisan committee which included veterans Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk; County Executive-elect and legislator Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point; Troy Smith, New York state veteran Counselor and former Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency director; and William Tucker, executive director of the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York and former lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps.
The committee selected three candidates for former County Executive Greg Edwards to interview. Prior to his resignation, Edwards worked closely with Abdella to select the most eligible applicant.
"Gary is a hard worker and has a very strong background in management, counseling, budgeting, and planning," Abdella said. "These traits combined with his 15 years of civilian experience in public education make him an excellent candidate for leading our Veterans Service Agency and connecting our county's veterans and their families with the benefits and services they deserve."
Chilcott is a retired colonel of the U.S. Air Force, for which he served 28 years. He said his experience as an Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps administrator from 2004-11 will aid him most in his new position.
"Health care needs of veterans come first and foremost, closely followed by education and employability," Chilcott said, adding that his career with youth revolved around building life skills, furthering education and gaining successful and worthwhile employment.
As administrator, he oversaw 108 programs in 11 states across the U.S. and Europe and worked with hundreds of educators, instructors, and administrators to evaluate school systems for compliance with public law, Department of Defense instruction and Air Force directives and guidance.
As director of the Veterans Service Agency, he will ensure veterans receive benefits for which they are eligible.
"When a veteran comes back, it's good to know there's someone there that can give you advice and reach out to you as a member of the United States military," Horrigan said. "I think he'll be a great leader for the agency."
Over the course of his career, Chilcott had numerous operational aviation, instructor and staff assignments, some of which have taken him to South Korea, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Spain and the Republic of Vietnam.
From 1996-2004, he served as an instructor at Delaware City Schools in Delaware, Ohio, and was a professor of aerospace studies at Ohio State University from 1993-96.
Chilcott earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and has a master's degree in personnel management from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
He and his wife, Cindy, reside in Bemus Point.