Mr. Michael B. Crouse, Sr., was appointed as Executive Director of the Waco Veterans Affairs Regional Office (VARO) effective November 21, 2021. As Executive Director of the Waco VARO, he is responsible for administering non-medical benefits provided to Veterans, Servicemembers, and dependents – including Compensation, Pension, and Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) benefits. The Waco VARO serves a potential clientele of nearly one million Veterans, living in a service area that extends from El Paso to Texarkana and from Austin to Amarillo, which equates to an estimated 158,000 square miles. Mr. Crouse oversees Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefits delivery programs with annual outlays of over $6 billion. The Waco VARO employs a total of approximately 950 employees.
Prior to this appointment, Mr. Crouse became the first ever sitting Director of the Fort Harrison VARO on February 3, 2019. In this position, he provided executive oversight and leadership, and he was responsible for administering a wide array of benefits in the areas of Compensation and VR&E to approximately 93,000 Veterans and their families throughout Montana, with annual monetary benefits exceeding $365 million.
From October 2015 to 2019, Mr. Crouse served as the Assistant Director over the Salt Lake City, Utah, and Fort Harrison, Montana, VAROs. In that position, he provided executive oversight to approximately 900 employees charged with administering VA benefits and services to over 237,000 Veterans and their families, with annual C&P disbursements of $717 million combined.
Mr. Crouse also served as the Special Missions Program Officer (SMPO) at the Seattle VARO. In that capacity, he was responsible for leading the day-to-day operations of a Disability Rating Activity Site (DRAS) that had the responsibility of processing pre-separation disability claims for VA and the Department of Defense. He provided leadership oversight to a staff of over 270 claims processors involved with the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). Mr. Crouse also served as the Veterans Service Center Manager at the Seattle VARO prior to serving as the SMPO, providing leadership oversight to a staff of over 500 claims processors. This office administered approximately $1.2 billion in annual federal benefits to over 600,000 Veterans and their dependents in Washington state. Prior to his stint in Seattle, Mr. Crouse served in multiple leadership assignments in the Lincoln, Nebraska, VARO.
Mr. Crouse is a retired U.S. Army Paratrooper and served in multiple leadership positions during his 20-plus years of active duty.
Darlene Jones was appointed as an Assistant Director at the Waco VARO on November 8, 2009.
Ms. Jones began her VA career in 1999 as a Veterans Service Representative at the St. Petersburg VA Regional Office. During her tenure at St. Petersburg, she advanced to the position of Rating Specialist; and subsequently to the position of Supervisory Veterans Service Representative, where she was responsible for various teams within the Veterans Service Center.
In 2007, Ms. Jones accepted a position with the C&P Service, as Chief of Program and Development Staff. In that role, she was a first line supervisor for one of the three procedures teams. She was responsible for supporting a number of programs, which included Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD), Quick Start Consolidation, and Pension Management Centers Consolidation. Also, Ms. Jones served as the VA Chair on the BDD Working Group for the Benefits Executive Council. She was instrumental in coordinating the development of various initiatives, including the Pre-Discharge website, BDD pamphlet, and Quick Start pamphlet.
Ms. Jones was born in Camden, Arkansas. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from St. Leo University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Troy State University.
Ms. Jones is an alumna of the Leadership VA (LVA) Class of 2009, the VBA 2010 Assistant Director Development Program (ADDP), and the Federal Executive Institute (FEI) class of 2011.
Ms. Jones and her husband, David, who is a retired Navy Veteran of 23 years, have two sons, Christopher and Brandon.
Pandi S. Van Houten was appointed as the Assistant Director of the VA Regional Office (RO) in Waco, Texas, on March 5, 2018. Prior to that, she served many years in the Veterans Service Center at the Waco RO. She was appointed the Veterans Service Center Manager (VSCM) on April 11, 2010, and preceding that, she served as the Assistant VSCM beginning in January 2001.
Ms. Van Houten began her career with VBA in 1991 at the Albuquerque RO as a Clerk-Typist. Subsequently, she served as Secretary for the Finance Division and then began working in the Adjudication Division, first as an Adjudicator and later as a Rating Specialist.
Beginning in 1998, Ms. Van Houten served as a Quality Review Consultant with the Systematic Technical Accuracy Review (STAR) staff in the Compensation and Pension (C&P) Service in VA Central Office. Following that assignment, she served as a Budget Analyst for the C&P Service, where she was responsible for the formation and preparation of the annual C&P Service budget and the development of legislative cost estimates, workload analyses and projections, and resource allocation models and actions.
Ms. Van Houten graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in the field of Computer Information Systems from Colorado State University. Ms. Van Houten and her husband, Adam, live in Waco, Texas, and have two sons, Joshua and Alex.
Dirk Mancuso was appointed as Veterans Service Center Manager (VSCM) on September 2, 2018. Prior to this, he served as the Assistant VSCM in the Houston, Texas, VA Regional Office (RO). Dirk has participated in several VBA leadership programs during his VA career, to include the Aspiring Senior Leadership Practicum, Leadership Enhancement and Development, Leadership Development Program, and the Executive Leadership Coaching Program. Prior to being the AVSCM at the Houston RO, he served as an AVSCM and First Line Supervisor in the Appeals Management Center, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Mancuso embarked his VA career as a Veterans Service Representative at the Winston-Salem VA Regional Office prior to progressing with higher level responsibilities as noted above. Mr. Mancuso is an Air Force Veteran and holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resource and Leadership Development from Louisiana State University.
Carolyn Williams was appointed the Veteran Readiness and Employment Officer (VREO) at the Waco VARO in September 2015. In this capacity, she joins the leadership team of the second largest VR&E office in the country, serving over 8,600 Servicemembers and Veterans with a staff of 91 employees. Ms. Williams began her VA career in November 2005 as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in Waco. After 3 years, she was promoted to Quality Assurance Reviewer in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2010, she returned to Waco and was promoted to Assistant VREO in 2013.
Ms. Williams was raised in El Paso, Texas. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Mary Hardin Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from Texas Tech University.
Ms. Williams is married to Willie G. Williams who retired after 30 years with BNSF Railway. She has two sons, Ernest and Juaquin, and four grandchildren.