Not everyone in the conference room on Laney-Walker Boulevard on Saturday needed U.S. Rep. John Barrow to take their case.
Several wanted to congratulate him. Some wanted to welcome him. And some, including Milledgeville resident James Dean, came to say goodbye.
“I just wanted to let people know how well he has done,” Dean said.
Barrow lost Milledgeville during redistricting and picked up Richmond and most of Columbia counties.
He held a meeting Saturday to give his constituents in Richmond and Columbia counties a chance to meet him and to fill out paperwork that allows him take over cases they currently have pending with U.S. Rep. Paul Broun. Starting that process now means work on those cases can continue uninterrupted when Barrow officially takes office in January.
“That’s the purpose of this, is to make sure everybody knows there’s a new sheriff in town for a lot of folks that I currently represent and we’re available and ready to help the new people who are coming into the district,” Barrow said to the estimated 25 people who attended.
Barrow told them that his role doesn’t give him power to influence federal agencies, but his experience dealing with those agencies can help constituents find ways around roadblocks they encounter.
Augusta resident Melden Bush said he hopes Barrow can help him obtain a Purple Heart and a 100 percent disability rating.
Bush sustained a brain injury while serving as a heavy artillery gunman in Vietnam from his weapon repeatedly hitting his head, which ultimately led to brain deterioration.
He can now interpret only 20 percent of his conversations and said the injury has affected his vision, focus, concentration, short-term memory and emotion. He already receives 80 percent disability, but because he can no longer work he wants 100 percent.
He said the Veterans Administration does not agree that the injury was sustained during the war because he worked at Savannah River Site afterward.
He hopes Barrow can help resolve his case.
“I want what’s due. I want my Purple Heart for the brain injury and I want my 100 percent (disability),” he said.
Sara Foshee does not have a pending case, but she wanted to see how Barrow interacts with constituents. As a Richmond County resident, Barrow will represent her for the first time.
She liked that he shares her concerns about Social Security and medical care and left feeling positive about her new congressman.
“I just feel like he’s going to be a lot more responsive than my previous representative,” she said.