I recently attended a fundraiser at the Harvey D. Morin VFW Post in West Seneca that brought awareness to the post's mission of rejuvenation under new, young leadership. Experiencing the same membership decline as other posts across the country, local veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan took action to bring in new membership, as well as promote its unique purpose.
It was a great event and very well attended. I applaud all those involved for being proactive to save the Harvey D. Morin VFW Post and improve on its foundation. Our veterans’ posts serve a very important purpose of lending support and guidance, as well as being a home to much needed comradery and socialization.
Dan Venero, who is helping develop the post, said, “What we would like to do is spearhead the movement to show that the VFW can be a platform to help integrate new veterans and to help veterans who have been unable over the years to find success in their rehabilitation.” It is inspiring to hear passion within the veteran community.
Across Erie County there are organizations dedicated to connecting veterans of every generation with the services they need. One example, Veterans One-Stop Center, which opened earlier this year, defines its mission as bringing people, organizations, and resources together to effectively improve the well-being of all veterans and their immediate families. Located on Main Street in the City of Buffalo, Veterans One-Stop Center houses several onsite service providers, and also operates an extensive referral program. Anyone interested in learning more, should visit www.vocwny.org or call 898-0110.
On Wednesday, Aug. 14, Veterans One-Stop Center, along with the VA, Goodwill and WNY Veterans Housing Coalition, is hosting U.S. Military Veteran Stand Down at the Connecticut Street Armory to provide information about benefits, eligibility, employment opportunities and much more. All veterans and their families are welcome to attend. Call 862-8885 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Another organization that is doing great work for our returning and disabled veterans is Vets H.E.R.D. Offering a variety of services, Vets H.E.R.D. has helped connect many veterans with services they need. The organization hosts a number of great community fundraisers and events throughout the year, with its next big event being the Motorcycle Poker Run on Saturday, Aug. 24 in partnership with Hogs and Heroes NY Chapter Three Foundation. You can find more information on www.facebook.com/vetsherd.
These organizations play a critical role for all veterans, ranging from young veterans just returning from active duty to WWII veterans who need continued care. Unfortunately, the same focus is not found in Erie County government. For some time now, the county’s Veterans Services Department has been without a qualified director. It is often difficult to deal with the bureaucracy of the federal government, and having a veterans affairs commissioners helps ensure the county's veterans have easier access to the federal benefits to which they're entitled. This department is too important to the 70,000 veterans living in Erie County to be without leadership, and I urge the County Executive to make this appointment a priority. When Mr. Poloncarz took office he said he was committed to placing the best candidates in his administration’s leadership positions. I would hope now, more than 18 months on the job, he would continue to adhere to that same mentality and demonstrate his commitment to our veterans and immediately appoint a qualified director.
Anyone with questions about Erie County’s Veterans Services can contact my office at 858-8922 or email email@example.com.