New chief at Reserve war veterans home

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 4, 2010

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – For the past month, a new face has been seen around the Southeast Louisiana War Veterans Home in Reserve. Dr. Paul Jones is not a resident, however. He is the home’s new chief administrator.

The Cincinnati native comes to the home with a high pedigree. He earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Cincinnati and a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree from Temple University in Philadelphia.

As one might expect, he is also a veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy for five years and the Navy Reserves for 15 years.

In his civilian career, Jones was a practicing podiatrist in Washington, D.C., before heading to the warmer climate of Louisiana.

He originally came to the state to take a podiatry job in Lafayette, but after he moved there, that job fell through. It was a disappointing but ultimately fortuitous situation as it started him down his current career path.

In need of employment, he took a civil service job in Baton Rouge.

“I figured it was a good place to start,” said Jones.

Because of his background, in 1997 Jones was recommended to apply for a position as an assistant administrator at the veterans home in Monroe.

“I stayed up there as assistant administrator until 2003,” he said.

In that year, he took over as administrator at the state’s original veterans home in Jackson, where he stayed until Nov. 1 of this year, when the state Veteran Affairs Administration decided to bring him to Reserve and send the Reserve home’s former chief, Jon Salter, to Jackson.

“I have no idea why. … It’s their decision,” said Jones, adding, “You’ve got to be flexible as an administrator.”

That flexibility has come in handy as Jones has acclimated to his new location.

“It’s a lot different,” he said. “The contrast is really night and day.”

The Jackson home is situated on 82 acres and is spread out. The facility also has its own waste treatment and water facilities. In fact, when he was in Jackson Jones lived on the grounds of the home.

In contrast, the Reserve home is much more compact and modern.

“This is a nice place. It’s a beautiful facility,” he said.

He sees a difference in the people as well. Given its proximity to New Orleans, the Southeast Louisiana War Veterans Home attracts a more urbanized resident. That was something he was somewhat prepared for, however, as he had already met some of the home’s current residents in Jackson.

“Reserve has a huge waiting list,” he said.

The Jackson home would sometimes take in those on the waiting list until they could be placed in the Reserve home, he explained.

While Jones admits he is still getting used to his new environment, one thing has stuck out in his mind already.

“One thing that I’m very impressed with is the volunteerism in the community,” he said.

He has also been impressed with how quickly he was able to settle into his new home.

“I felt welcomed by the community and welcomed by the staff,” he said.