Medina Recognized as January Employee of the Month

Medina Recognized as January Employee of the Month
Posted on 01/12/2021
Manatee County has Veterans’ backs. That’s what Neighborhood Services’ Senior Veterans Counselor, Renee Medina, who was recognized at this morning’s Board of County Commissioners meeting as Manatee County’s January Employee of the Month, wants you to know. Medina advocates for and educates our County’s Veterans (now nearing 40,000) and their families about the benefits and services they have earned while on active duty.

“I live to help people with their claims,” said Medina.

Daily on average, Medina spends 6 hours in client meetings, with between 6 to 8 clients and takes 15 calls, often working to research eligibility and overturn denied benefits. She was nominated for the County’s Employee of the Month award by Lee Washington, County Veterans Services Officer, for her consistent track record—gained over the past five years—for receiving high client ratings and positive customer feedback, such as the following:

“She has been a wealth of knowledge for me and helped in any way possible to make sure I was getting benefits due to me . . . I realize without her, I would be lost in determining what I would or would not be qualified to receive as a Veteran,” said one Veterans Services’ client.

“Renee addressed my appeal with knowledge and professionalism. She quite skillfully helped in guiding me through the ‘bureaucratic maze’ required in order to effect a successful conclusion to this matter. She is a credit to this office! You are lucky to have her,” said another client.

Medina was promoted to Senior Veterans Counselor after only a year. She also was appointed to serve on the Florida County Veterans Services Officers Association’s scholarship committee and site committee and serves as the liaison for the Department of Veterans affairs Veterans Center (Mental Health Rehabilitation) and participates in the quarterly Brown Bag gatherings where Veteran advocacy groups meet to develop more effective ways to help our community Veterans. She is also active in the community outside of work, including the Boy Scouts.

Medina is from a family of Veterans. Her father and grandfather are Navy Veterans, and her husband is a Coast Guard Veteran, each having served for about 20 years. But it was her grandfather’s partner on the Detroit police force, whose stories of his adventures in the Coast Guard, who captivated her and led her ultimately to select that military branch.

“He referred to service people in the Coast Guard as the ‘Great Rescuers of the Sea,’” Medina recalled.

Although she had contemplated joining the Marines at one point, it wasn’t until the Oklahoma bombing in 1995 that ignited a new desire to join the armed forces.

Medina served in the Coast Guard from 1995 to 1999 active duty and was a Coast Guard Reservist from 1999 to 2003 (stationed in California and Florida), being recalled to active duty for a short time after the 2001 Bombing of the World Trade Center.

After the military, Medina worked as a 911 dispatcher in Monroe County (FL), then she and her family moved as her husband, who was still on active duty, was transferred.

First, they went to Miami where Medina was as an Intel Officer, then Washington State for four years in Ilwaco at Cape Disappointment (extreme southwestern corner of Washington on the north side of the Columbia River bar, west of Baker Bay.), then St. Petersburg where they decided to buy a house in Manatee.

Medina was working for the Manatee Tax Collector when her husband retired in 2014. However, a great experience her husband had with the Manatee County Veterans Office, led to Medina’s goal to land a job there.

“My husband had such a positive experience, that he came home, suggesting that I might make a great fit for their team,” Medina said.

After researching the Veterans Division, Medina agreed and began to religiously check job postings on the County Website. Finally, after a year, there was an opening for a Counselor and she jumped at the chance.

When Washington asked Medina during her interview why she felt she was qualified for the position, she was ready.

“I’ve been in every single aspect of Veterans benefits,” Medina recalled, “as a spouse, as active duty, a reservist, dependent and Veteran.”

At today's recognition, Washington noted that it is hard to fully understand the circumstances of the individuals who walk into our lobby, call or email them, but Medina’s care, compassion and directness enable her to quickly identify the needs of Veterans. 

“She is very compassionate, very thorough, and sometimes very direct . . . She is a straight-shooter and brutally honest when setting expectations,” said Washington.

Medina is happy to work on a team that helps those who have served to earn the benefits they've sacrificed so much to achieve.

“I feel this job was meant to be. I’ve been in the Veterans world since the day I was born. Veterans take you in and take care of you. They have your back. Our team is like family. We all look out for each other. The County has the backs of the Veterans in our community," said Medina.

If you are a Veteran or know a Manatee Veteran or dependent or survivor, he/she can connect by calling (941) 745-3795. There is no fee or cost for services or the submission of a claim for VA benefits, as this has been paid in full by having served in the military.

For media inquiries, contact Kelly Foster, Neighborhood Services Marketing. Follow Veterans Services on Facebook, and for general news impacting Manatee neighborhoods, follow @manateeneighbor on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter