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Columbia Regional Office

Meet Our Leadership Team


Director: Leanne Weldin

Leanne Weldin was appointed Director of the Columbia Regional Office (RO) on July 14, 2013. She administers benefits and services to the Veterans, Servicemembers, their families and survivors in South Carolina. Ms. Weldin served in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Charles Kimberger

Assistant Director: Charles Kimberger

Charles Kimberger was appointed to this position in October 2012. Prior to this appointment, he was Assistant Director of VA’s Office of Performance Analysis and Integrity in Washington, D.C. He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in July of 2017.  He served as a rifle platoon commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004/2005. 

Portrait of Woody Middleton

Assistant Director: Woody Middleton

Woody Middleton took this position in May 2010. Prior to this appointment, he was Assistant Director of the Pittsburgh RO.

Portrait of James Ard

Veterans Service Center Manager: James R. Ard

James “Ricky” Ard joined the US Department of Veterans in January 2000 as a Rating Veterans Service Representative. He has held the positions of Rating Veterans Service Representative, Coach, and Assistant Veterans Service Center Manager prior to being selected as the Veterans Service Center Manager for the Columbia VA Regional Office in February 2011.

As a combat, disabled Veteran of Operation Desert Storm, Ricky pursued a course of education through the Veteran Readiness and Employment Division prior to joining the Department. He has dedicated his entire professional career to serving Veterans, their dependents, and survivors.

James Lester

Veteran Readiness and Employment Officer: James Lester

Dr. James Lester arrived at the Columbia Regional Office in April 2019. Dr. Lester has been with the federal government for more than 15 years. He has been involved in many pilots, workgroups, and innovations throughout different government agencies, colleges, universities, and community organizations. He is a Veteran of the US Marine Corps and has accomplished multiple degrees, certifications, and leadership programs. He has volunteered and served on advisories, committees, and councils with dozens of organizations and agencies. His doctoral dissertation involved an innovative study of specific cognitive variances in military Veterans and its implications for rehabilitation and/or reintegration to civilian life. Dr. Lester’s ability to lead and make executive resolutions has been noticed in the community, as he has been asked to serve on several board of directors and oversight of major projects at local, state, district, and national levels.

Reubin Bookert

Support Services Chief: Reubin Bookert

Reubin Bookert is a native of Columbia, SC. He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. He earned a Master of Science Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and a Master of Science Degree in Management from Salve Regina University, Newport, RI. Reubin is a Navy veteran with 32 years of service. While on active duty he was promoted to the rank of  Rear Admiral. He retired from active duty in  March of  2006. Reubin began his career with the Veterans Benefits Administration in 2008. He was selected for his current assignment  as Chief of Support Services in June of 2009.

Wayne Oswald

National Call Center Manager: Wayne Oswald

Wayne R. Oswald began his VA career in September 1999 as a Veterans Service Representative at the Columbia Regional Office. In January 2008, he was promoted to a coach position in the Columbia National Call Center. In December 2009 Mr. Oswald accepted his current position of Call Center Manager. Mr. Oswald earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Saint Leo University, Saint Leo Florida while serving in the United States Air Force.