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The New York State Council continues to receive much needed funds for our Service Officer Program. The monies we receive from Veterans Support Foundation (VSF) and VVA helps us to maintain our program.
We continue to serve not only our Vietnam Veterans who belong to VVA but have experienced an increase of Veterans formally being serviced by other organizations. They seem not to be happy of what is being done on their claim and are hearing the great job New York VVA Service Officers are doing. We also continue to see our newest Veterans coming to us. This is all good news but with good news bad news follow.
In New York, and we are sure throughout VVA, our Service Officers are starting to retire or leaving for better positions or health reasons. It is also increasing difficulty in finding replacements for these folks. With never enough funds to attract Service Officers we have to rely on retired folks who are looking to help us and themselves to extra income. Our Chief Service Officer, Dee Garcia is retiring in Buffalo. We searched for a replacement but never having enough funds we were able to hire Dee's brother to replace her. He is a Marine Veteran who has been out of work. It takes allot of time to get him trained enough but that is coming along. Also in Buffalo our part time clerk left so we are looking for replacement.
Now for updates with our VARO in New York City. Ben Weisbroth has been named Chief Service Officer for NY. Ben has been with us a number of years as a part time SO. Although we pay him 20 hours a week he works many more hours than that and his workload only increases. One of our chapters had an SO that worked for them and he has left for much more money to another organization and Ben has to take over all those claims and had already reached his limit to the point he cannot handle much more. Therefore we need to expand his office and hope we can hire help for him.
So the funds we are receiving from VVA through VSF is very much needed and appreciated and look forward to increase funding help from both VVA and VSF.
The New York State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America, received a $20,000 grant from the Veterans Support Foundation for the year 2007-2008. We used these funds to help support our very successful Service Officer Program. We not only matched these funds, we expanded our program considerably.
With the help of VSF, we recently hired a part-time Service Officer to help with our Buffalo VA Regional Office. Our Chief Service Officer, Dolores Garcia, has been overwhelmed with cases, including veterans from all generations.
Jennifer Setlock has been working with Dolores as an office assistant, and her promotion will help our operation immensely.
We also operate out of a VA Regional Office in New York City, where we have hired a part-time employee. Ben Weisbroth recently retired as deputy director of the New York Division of Veterans Affairs. He also served as manager of the Newark, New Jersey VA Regional Office and assistance chief at the New York Regional Office.
Although he could work for many veterans' causes, Ben has chosen to work with the New York State Council.We provide whatever equipment and supplies the Service Officers need to carry out their duties, and our increased budget and commitment to this program mirrors what VVA and VSF stand for. VSF funds help us in maintaining this program, and we appreciate their support in our mission of helping veterans.
The New York State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA/NYSC) has received a Grant of $25,000 from the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund (VVAF) for the 2006-2007 year. For part of this year we had three part time Service Officers, Frank Tobani, Ken Wales, and Boyce Holt to work in the New York City VARO on opposite days. Dolores Garcia, our Chief Service Officer still works full time in the Buffalo VARO Office.
The VVAF grant is used to help fund these positions, along with New York State and supplying state - of the art computers, printers, faxes and other office equipment. They receive on going training and attend meetings with the other Service Organizations, including the Veterans Administration. Both VARO's are seeing an increase of the newer Veterans seeking assistance. They seek our knowledge and professional service and with rapidly increase in the time necessary to assist the claims we will need even more assistance in our offices.
Once again in the past year our Service Officers have been able to secure over six million dollars for our disabled Veterans in New York State. They have many more outstanding claims, and with more new claims this figure can only increase.
If not for the support received from VVAF the VVA/NYSC could not operate and for that we are very grateful for these funds as are all those veterans who have and will receive assistance from our Service Officers Program.
VVA Chapter 20
Let me start by thanking the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund for the
support it has shown with a grant to support our efforts with the Vetsconnect
project. Chapter 20 decided to undertake this project after a talk given
by Jack Devine at our 25-year celebration. We believe that it's of the
utmost importance for us as veterans of the Vietnam War to help our brother
and sister veterans stay informed as to the benefits due to them for
their service to our country. The committee consists of representatives
from Monroe County Veterans Service Agency, The VA Medical Center, Vet
Center, and advocates. After a couple meetings the committee decided
on how we would accomplish this mission. The model that was presented
to us from national was one that aimed its efforts on the newly returning
home veterans. After much talk we decided to include veterans of all
eras in providing information on the benefits.
The following were the goals of the mission at the beginning.
• The first question was what do we hand out that a veteran would keep with this information on. As we all know that handing out flyers mostly end up in the trash. My idea was to produce a challenge coin that on one side would have the chapter logo and Welcome Home and on the other it would have the phone numbers of the Vet Center, VA Medical Center and the County Veterans Service Agency. We think that in most cases the veteran would keep this nice challenge coin. (see attached) To date the coins are in the process and are expected due to us the first week of May.
• Second we talked about how to get the information to the family of the veteran. We know that sometimes us as veterans are a little hard headed and would not seek help when on the other hand the wife, girlfriend, mother or dad would push them to get the help they need. To do this we will be hosting a coffee, danish social will be held inviting the family members and at that, information from the Agencies will be provided as to where veterans could seek help for their needs.
• We developed a poster that will be distributed and hung in areas that we feel veterans will be. They will also be handed out at different events with support from local church groups, senior centers etc.
• We will also be setting times with local reserve units to provide the same information and again with help from the agencies that are part of this effort.
• Last but not least important we will be looking into some PSAs from the local media both in print, radio and TV.
The following are the parts of our mission that we have completed
as of this date and the remainder we continue to work on.
• Chapter 20 Vetsconnect has set up twice in area malls with the help of the local VA Outpatient Clinic and the County Veterans service Agency passing out information on veteran's health and benefits, both times it was met with great success.
• Coins were handed out at area parades our Chapter Marching Unit participated in to newly arriving home veterans and some Vietnam vets that have not been informed of their benefits.
• October 6 2007 Chapter 20 in partnership with Monroe County Government held a Health Fair at the County Hospital. On hand were representatives from the VA and County Veterans Service Agency. This was the first of other outreaches we are going to doing with county government.
• Flyers have been mailed out to all military units in the area and feedback shows they have been posted in the units.
• Flyers have been handed out at local motorcycle rides and shows. At one event Skin and Steel we handed out some 3000 flyers.
• Coins have also been handed out at other events such as when we had the Moving Wall in Rochester in September, local carnivals, troops invited to chapter meetings.
• The coins have proven to be a great success and well received by the veteran, all veterans know what a challenge coin is and they keep it with them and at the same time keep with them the important phone numbers they need to know for health care and benefits.
Re: Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 20 Vets connect
Chapter 20 Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 20 is about to undertake a new program called "Vetsconnect" a program aimed at supporting our newer returning veterans from Iraq and the global war on terrorism. Vietnam Veterans of American was formed more than 25 years ago under the principle that "never again shall one generation of veterans abandon another". And today we continue this tradition.
This program called "Vetsconnect" has an agenda to keep newly arriving veterans informed as to the following.
• Secure compensation for injury and conditions caused by the war. These conditions are both physical and mental such as PTSD.
• Secure Health benefits for these veterans thru the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
• Provide opportunities for gainful employment.
• Advocate for veterans benefits thru local. State and the Federal Government.
• Help them form their own organization to continue these efforts and form a bond
The goal is to make this project an effort of veterans groups, local industry and government.
We at Chapter 20 feel that it is of the utmost importance that our troops are not only welcomed home but provided the highest quality of health care and benefits that are due to them for defending our freedom.
The Rochester based Veterans Emergency Relief Foundation, a non-traditional Foundation; designed solely to assist veterans and their families in times of crisis has again made a difference in the lives of several Rochester area veterans and their families.
From October 1, 2005, to October 31, 2006 the Foundation received applications from three separate agencies. Of those applications received, six were found to be qualified for emergency assistance under the Foundation’s guidelines.
Among those found to qualify, the Foundation provided emergency payments to secure a veteran’s transportation for employment, and the continuation of housing for a veteran and the veteran’s family, until regular and continuous revenue could be assured.
The Foundation continues to refine its procedures while providing emergency assistance to those veterans who qualify. In 2006, the Foundation found other sources of financial support for housing so that the Foundation could concentrate on more non-traditional of emergency assistance to veterans and their families.
Thanks in part to the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund the Foundation has had a successful year in providing emergency financial assistance to those veterans in need. Without the funding provided by the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund, several Rochester area veterans and their families would have become homeless.