Brock heads Harford Veterans Commission
December 20, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The chairperson of the Harford County Commission on Veterans Affairs has a proactive agenda for veterans as well as ties to Aberdeen Proving Ground. Annie S. Brock has served on APG's former Community Action Council and Military and Civilian Spouses' Club. The former Army officer and native Marylander is the first female to lead the commission which offers support and resources to all Harford County veterans and their families.
Brock served in the Army more than nine years in three different corps -- Signal, Adjutant General and Medical -- before leaving the military to focus on Family. She enlisted in 1979 during the height of the "Be All You Can Be" era when females were entering the military in unprecedented numbers, and serving in units and slots typically held by men. Brock served first as a communications specialist but it was during her time at Fort Bragg, N.C. serving as a 71 Lima battalion legal clerk that her career took a sharp turn upward.
Brock had done so well on the military entrance exams she was told she could serve in the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of her choice. While assigned to her battalion headquarters at Bragg, battalion leaders encouraged her to attend leadership courses and apply for a direct commission. While attending Jumpmaster School, Brock applied for and received her commission in the Medical Service Corps as a hospital administrator.
"When they asked who wanted to go to Jump, Air Assault and then Flight school I raised my hand for flight and was accepted," she said.
She trained at Fort Rucker, Ala. From Alabama she went to Germany and then returned to Rucker for transitional training when the corps switched from the Hueys to Blackhawks.
Brock gets misty when recalling notable tragedies during her service, like the 1988 air show disaster at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, during which a member of her former medevac unit was killed on the ground.
She left the military not long after that.
Brock and her husband, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Brock are members of the Susquehanna Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America. She previously served on the Harford County Commission for Women and her name was submitted for consideration for the Veteran Commission chair when the previous chair resigned. Brock was selected by Harford County Executive David Craig. She said her goal is to achieve a thriving organization with a membership reflective of the population.
"We are one of the few veterans' commissions left in the state of Maryland," she said, adding that because veterans served in an ethnically-mixed military she would like to see an ethnically-mixed commission, representative of the people of Harford County.
She called her first meeting of county Veteran Service Organizations small, drawing just seven participants, but promising.
"People are enthusiastic," she said. "They want a proactive commission. They know we are tasked to ensure services are available and that veterans and their families know how to access them."
Brock's priorities include increasing communication between local VSOs so they can work together and linking unaffiliated veterans to the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA outreach centers and hospitals and other programs and resources.
She said she'd like to focus on homeless veterans as well as those who did three or four years and don't realize their benefits.
"No one should slip through the cracks," she said. "I can't help but think there is a segment out there that needs taking care of; be it pride or stubbornness."
Included on her agenda is Chapter 70 of the Women's Army Corps Veterans Association; located in Aberdeen, the chapter is the only branch of the national organization, which was founded by members of the former Women's Army Corps, in the state.
"We're losing members of this generation of ground-breaking women every day and I'd like to recognize them in some way while there's still time," Brock said.
Other projects on her short list include a Welcome Home for Vietnam veterans in the spring; linking veterans to a used furniture program sponsored by the Harford County Chamber of Commerce military affairs committee; and assisting veterans needing to request online copies of their service record (DD Form 214). She also plans to reach out to APG's large veteran population of civilians and contractors as well as separating Soldiers and Wounded Warriors.
"I would like for the commission to become known as a group that is there to serve; not just in name, but as a resource," Brock said. "Collectively, we have the knowledge and experience to help solve issues or we at least know who to send them to.
"Together, we can help fellow veterans at every level by keeping the flow of information going, and that's what it's all about."