MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 31, 2011

VARO director: We want this to be a world-class service

Jason McClellan said he looks forward to the challenges of being the new director of the VA Regional Office.

The VARO is Muskogee’s largest employer and the largest regional office in the United States. He was assigned the post Feb. 18.

McClellan, 40, said the scope of operations at the VARO affects not only Muskogee but thousands of veterans nationwide.

“There’s a long history of uncles, grandfathers and my dad serving in the military,” McClellan said. “Some went on to government services as well.”

Although he took some college classes, McClellan said he felt restless and decided to enlist with the U.S. Navy. He served three years as a gunner’s mate on the USS Conte De Grasse.

“The Navy gave me some time to get prepared for my next phase of life,” he said. “I learned the most from their commitment to excellence and the dedication the services have to ongoing training to be the best you can be.”

McClellan then enrolled at the University of Arkansas and graduated in 1996.

McClellan’s career goals began to shift and he took a “VA work-study” job at the Little Rock regional office. He worked as a veterans service representative for approximately five years. He then was promoted to first line supervisor, entered a leadership program, was sent to Washington, D.C., where he was a program analyst who oversaw a budget for VA regional offices.

Through an assistant director development program, he worked at the Muskogee VARO for two years before being named director of the Portland, Ore., regional office in 2007. McClellan said that when he was asked to be director of the Veterans Benefit Administration (part of the local VARO), he and his wife were glad to return to Muskogee.

“Although our family is in Little Rock, the two years we spent here before took hold of us,” he said. “It was the feel of the community, and the outstanding level of commitment to our mission in our employees.”

McClellan said the bulk of services for Oklahoma vets at the Muskogee VARO are veterans’ compensation and pensions. They also have an education service that covers 16 states and a vocational rehabilitation division that serves all of Oklahoma and three counties in northeast Texas. The VARO has a resource center that helps offices from around the nation. Their national call center handles more than 200,000 calls a month, and they process 38 percent to 40 percent of the veterans’ education claims in the nation. The Muskogee VA Regional Office processed 25,000 disability claims in 2010.

McClellan said everything accomplished here has been a group effort.

“We want this to be a world-class service,” he said. “We also want to leverage those resources to help the other offices by identifying what their challenges are and how the Muskogee regional office can be part of the solution.”

Reach Keith Purtell at (918) 684-2925 or kpurtell@muskogeephoenix.com.

Meet Jason McClellan

AGE: 40.

HOMETOWN: North Little Rock, Ark.

FAMILY: Wife, Leigh; children, Jason, Jacob and Kaylee Rae.

OCCUPATION: Director of the VA Regional Office

EDUCATION: Graduated in 1996 at the University of Arkansas with bachelor’s degrees in English and in history.

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