Erie County Legislature Chairperson Betty Jean Grant (D-Buffalo) has created VALER 4 Valor, an ad hoc committee on veterans’ issues. The first meeting of the VALER 4 Valor ad hoc committee will be held at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, on the 4th Floor of Old County Hall, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo.
“The goal of VALER 4 Valor is to undertake advocacy and provide linkage and referral services to individuals and organizations that serve veterans,” Chairperson Grant said. “We will be focusing on the needs of the current generation of veterans who have returned or will be returning from combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The acronym VALER stands for Veterans’ Advocacy, Linkage and Empowerment Resource. The number 4 represents the four pillars of empowerment (education, business, government and non-profit) outlined in the mission of the Erie County Office of Veterans’ Affairs. Valor connotes bravery.
“VALER 4 Valor is primarily composed of veterans who represent organizations that are assisting veterans,” Chairperson Grant said. “Two legislators who are veterans will co-chair the ad hoc committee – Majority Leader Thomas J. Mazur (D-Cheektowaga) and Minority Leader John Mills (R-Orchard Park). They will be joined by former County Legislator Daniel Kozub.”
Chairperson Grant noted that VALER is neither intended to duplicate any services already provided, nor to provide direct services to individual veterans. It is designed to answer the question, “What can Erie County government do to facilitate a positive and effective transition for veterans returning to their civilian lives?”
Individuals serving on VALER represent three levels of government – federal, state and local (county). They also represent the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial), various branches of the military and veterans’ posts, as well as service initiatives provided by an array of community-based, non-profit health, human service and other agencies. The first policy area to be discussed is the provision of PTSD, mental health and substance abuse services to veterans, their families and the families of deployed military.
“We will strive to ‘help the helpers’ by tapping into the ‘Sea of Goodwill’ that exists in our community. A large number of county residents want to support veterans and military families. By amplifying the voice of the many individuals and organizations that are helping veterans now, we can help effect needed change at the local, state and federal levels of government. Community engagement is the core mission of VALER 4 Valor, and will provide a means to convey – through the veterans’ service delivery system – our compassion, encouragement and support to those who served our nation,” Chairperson Grant concluded.