January 13, 2018
4,585. According to the 2010 Census, that is the number of veterans in Chenango County, New York while continuous war keeps making more of us. Imagine, all those veterans, former military who laid their lives on the line for what they have been taught that their country stands for. They have come home to find that there are no services nor a service representative to lend support to them or their dependents.
Chenango County is breaking the law. It provides no one with knowledge of the huge array of programs, benefits, and services available to veterans. No one to give direct assistance, to be a helpmate in completion of forms, to make referrals to other agencies and serve as veterans’ advocate and representative when needed.
This veteran has spoken with service representatives in neighboring Otsego, Madison and Cortland counties. They spoke warmly of the resources they work on for their veterans, laboring to be certain veterans have the means to realize compensation and pension, healthcare, education and training, employment, burial and survivor benefits, housing, transportation, and military records. Full time service representatives in these counties receive a well-earned salary ($30,000 to $50,000) for all this hard work. They are provided with a paid assistant and office help.
Their annual training is one week long. It takes 1000 hours, a full year to become certified.
Chenango’s leadership is proud that county government has been declared to be “not in fiscal stress,” but cannot boast the same for constituents. A veterans’ service person would not break the bank. Chenango sends its students to community colleges elsewhere to the budgetary tune of $1.3 million, supports its huge jail with $1.7 million, but breaks the law by providing nothing for its veterans. A careful re-examination of the current budget would easily reveal places where elimination of a fiscal entry could benefit our deserving veterans.
I suggest that our not-in-fiscal-stress county begin interviewing to fill a full time veterans’ service position immediately. Veterans are owed.
Sincerely, Earl Callahan New Berlin NY Tel: 847-8460