Wilson County’s newest Veterans Service Officer has her sights set on expanding the role of the office as well as making the Wilson County Veterans Plaza a hub for veterans activities.
Wilson County tapped ZaBrina Seay, a 1990 Lebanon High School graduate, to head its veterans service office in October after the departure of Michael McPherson. Seay retired from the Army in 2014 after a 20-year career in the military.
She said her passion for veterans and the military started at a young age because of the large group of family members that served in the military.
Military members in her family include her father, William Seay, who retired from the Army with over 20 years of service; brother Lorenzo Seay, who served eight years in the Marines; aunt Elizabeth Henderson, who retired from the Army with over 20 years of service and is currently in the Tennessee State Veterans’ Home Murfreesboro.
“I grew up and would see pictures of my father from Vietnam, and pictures of my godfather and him together in Vietnam. Then I’d sit around and hear the stories of them and all of their friends who were around,” Seay said. “I’ve been surrounded by the military all my life. That pride and that honor was instilled in me at a very young age and I’ve never lost that.”
Seay earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Xavier University of Louisiana. She received her commission from Tulane University, Army ROTC in 1994. Seay returned to Lebanon following her military career and immediately immersed herself in the community, which included a run for the Lebanon City Council Ward 3 seat.
“What I found during campaigning was a lot of veterans that are proud to be veterans and proud voters regardless of how they vote,” Seay said.
She said Wilson County’s love for veterans was something that caught her attention before she considered her current position.
“You have so much support of veterans in Wilson County it’s unbelievable. Since I’ve been here people call all the time and ask what they can do and how they can help. I’ve experienced that support before I even applied for this position,” Seay said.
Seay praised the patriotism of Wilson County residents and businesses, as well as community leaders, particularly for their support of the Wilson County Veterans Plaza, which was completed in 2017 with the opening of the Wilson County Veterans Museum.
“I am trying my best to bring extreme awareness to that. It’s amazing. It’s state-of-the-art. It’s top notch. It’s showing you the history of our veterans in our county. We’re walking around here with some amazing people and people have no idea,” she said. “It’s absolutely amazing. Look at the names on the plaza walls. Looking at that alone, you know this county and this mayor is absolutely supportive of veterans. You don’t find that everywhere.”
Seay said she wants to make the plaza a hub for all veterans activities in Wilson County. She said she has plans to expand the office’s reach in the community, which includes new programs and initiatives that are still in the works.
“We have some amazing veterans in Wilson County that need help. We have some that just want to come in here and talk and we’re here for all of it. I’m here for every bit of what they want to do,” Seay said.
Seay said the office is designed to help veterans and their families advocate to the Veterans Affairs office, but noted it was not tied to Veterans Affairs.
“We’re here to provide love, care or whatever we can to make sure our veterans, who are our heroes, are given and have access to everything they’ve earned and entitled to. That’s extremely important to me. Not only our veterans, but their families, too,” she said.
“During her interview and presentation, Ms. Seay presented herself professionally, was detailed and organized. We look forward to working with ZaBrina and have the highest of expectations for her and the Veterans Service Office,” Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said. “She’s been there and done that. She’s also a Wilson County native that was all over the world and chose to come back home to live. I think she will do a tremendous job and excited to see the things she will bring to the table here as she serves our veterans.”