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Watauga County Register of Deeds Office Hosts Veteran’s Appreciation Reception

The office staff of the Watauga County Register of Deeds, all smiles and dressed in their patriotic attire, are surrounded by just a few of the veterans attending the appreciation reception on November 2. Photo by Sherrie Norris.

By Sherrie Norris

On Thursday morning, Nov. 2, local veterans were honored by the Watauga County Register of Deeds staff at their office in Boone.

The two-hour drop-in event, hosted by Amy Shook and her staff, was attended by about 50 veterans and several spouses, all of whom expressed their appreciation for the warm reception they received and the acknowledgment of their military service.

As long-time friends to local veterans, this was not the first gathering of its kind hosted by the office personnel. Coordinators of the Thank-a-Vet Program that offers discounts in partnership with many area businesses, Shook and her staff hosted a kick-off for the program in 2015 and have since maintained a strong relationship with all participants.

“I have a heart for veterans,” Shook told High Country Press. 

“I have a number of  family members who served (in the military) and some who are currently serving. I realize the sacrifices our veterans have made, and I am eternally grateful to them. I also believe we should honor and recognize these fine men and women as often as we can.”

Thursday’s gathering for the veterans was the first at that location since the pandemic, but it is Shook’s hope to make it an annual event.
When asked what she and her office hoped to accomplish during the reception, Shook responded, “First, I wanted to show appreciation to our veterans for their service and sacrifice. We can never thank them enough for the freedoms we have because they were willing to serve our country. Second, it gave the veterans a time and place to come together, see old friends and make new ones and share stories.”

Amy Shook provides service with a smile during the veteran’s reception on Thursday. Photo by Sherrie Norris.

As she overheard a number of those stories being shared,  Shook described — “some funny, some sad, some very heartwarming,” it made her even more proud to be an American, she added, “to know many of our veterans, and to be able to meet new ones during this event.” 

Just One of Many Services

With an ongoing relationship with local veterans, individuals and groups, (American Legion, Military Officers Association of America, DAV and others), one of the many services the register of deeds office provides for them is to record military discharge forms (DD-214).

“This provides safekeeping of the veteran’s record should he or she ever lose their original copy,” Shook explained. “By general statute, these records are confidential and are kept under lock and key.”

If needed, and it does occasionally happen, she added, copies of their recorded military discharge are provided upon request. “There is no cost for them to record or obtain copies of their discharge papers.”

And what about that veteran’s discount program, we asked?

It started shortly after Shook became Register of Deeds in 2015. “We began by reaching out to local businesses to see if they were interested in participating in the program by offering discounts or specials to veterans,” she recalled. “Then, around Veterans Day 2015, we held a big ‘Thank a Vet’ kickoff event with a reception and opportunity for veterans to obtain their ‘Thank-a-Vet’ card.” 

It has been a great success, Shook admitted. ”Our list of participating businesses continues to grow and we even have businesses from surrounding counties that participate, as well.”

A recent updated list, compiled by her office and distributed to the veterans, Shook said, now includes about 150 participating businesses.

“I would specifically like to thank two of my staff, Christy Warren and Kim Oliver, for their efforts in reaching out to businesses and getting the list updated.”

Shook and her staff invite and encourage all veterans in Watauga County — who have not filed their military discharge (DD-214) papers with their office — to bring the forms in to them and sign up for the ‘Thank-a-Vet’ program. 

“If the discharge papers have already been filed, the veterans can still come by the office and get a discount card. The program is free!”

Shook said she would also like to encourage businesses interested in participating in the program by offering discounts to veterans to reach out to their office for more information.
The Watauga County Register of Deeds is one of many across the state that offers the program. 

According to Shook, the idea started with Guilford County Register of Deeds in 2014, and has spread across the state with great success.

In summary, Shook said, “As Watauga County Register of Deeds, I consider it a huge honor to serve all of our citizens, and being able to do these extra things to help veterans is an added blessing. We want to remind everyone to reach out to us if we can ever be of assistance.” 

Shook is also quick to acknowledge and thank her “amazing staff, saying, “I couldn’t do what I do without them.”

For more information, call (828) 265-8052.

The Watauga County Register of Deeds is located in the Watauga County Courthouse, 842 W. King St. # 9 in Boone.