Vets want to keep full time director

Gwen Chamberlain
John Busch, a U.S. Army veteran representing the Yates County Am Vets, addresses Yates County Legislators during the Oct. 6 Human Services Committee meeting as several other veterans listen from the gallery.

A group of Yates County veterans are asking Yates County Legislators to maintain the current level of staffing in the Veteran’s Services Agency after current director P. Earle Gleason retires later this year.

About 30 people attended last week’s Human Services Committee meeting to show their concern about the potential for reductions. Some of them were members of a task force that includes representatives from each of the six veterans associations in the county.

Addressing the committee and most other members of the legislature on Oct. 6, Jack Clancy, a veteran of the U.S. Army, said, “Please remember we are not asking for anything more. We are only asking that the agency that has served this county since the end of World War II continues to serve.”

U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Ellen Hey, who is also a nurse practitioner at Dundee Family Health Center, addressed the committee, explaining that the Veteran’s Service Agency serves reservists assigned to the Penn Yan unit. She said the agency serves as the transitional unit for soldiers returning from deployment. The local agency also helps Keuka College students who are veterans. “Many of them do not live on campus, and access services in the community, and the agency is an active component helping them get the services they need.”

The total net cost to Yates County property owners to operate the two-person Veteran’s Service Agency in 2014 was budgeted at $102,895, which accounts for $8,654 in state aid.

A 1945 executive law requires counties to maintain an office and to employ a director.

The office is the central point for veterans and their families to access a wide variety of services, including medical, educational, and other financial assistance. The office helps keep veterans informed of news and government action that will impact their lives, and assists with accessing medical services outside the immediate area. The office is charged with assisting indigent veterans and their families with a veteran’s burial arrangements.

Another member of the task force who spoke, John Busch, a U.S. Army veteran, representing the Yates County Am Vets, described representative veterans from many eras who count on help from the agency.

Other members of the task force are Herb Snyder, U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran of Vietnam, representing the Penn Yan VFW; Bill Jensen, retired U.S. Army veteran with service in Germany, Korea, and Saudi Arabia, representing the Dresden American Legion; Holly Trueman, U.S. Navy veteran, representing the Dundee American Legion; and Larry Krause, retired U.S. Army Colonel, Chaplain, representing the Dundee VFW.

Human Services Committee Chair Leslie Church told the group the issue will be discussed during the budget workshops. “We wanted you to come and share these stories. We appreciate your service to our community and our country,” she said.