VETERANS SERVICE AGENCY - 2018 ANNUAL REPORT
During this past year there have been 923 original compensation/pension claims sent into the Regional Office for adjudication. There is currently a backlog of 3500 claims at the Buffalo Regional Office and over 500,000 nationwide, 300,000 are pending over 125 days. The average case pending at the Buffalo Regional Office is currently about 135 days. Their goal in 2019 is to decrease that wait time to 125 days. Since the beginning of May, 92 claims were processed that were pending for more than a year.
This office has numerous claims in the appeals process and we are still waiting for their results. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun a new process for the appeals. Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) to assist in reducing the appeals process, but doesn’t go into effect until 14 FEB 19.
The office had 8603 contacts and has provided 6523 client services. We have completed 210 Veterans’ property tax exemptions. This number will increase due to the returning Active Duty Reservist/Guardsman.
The office has an established and continues to have a contractual relationship with DSS. This is assisting more and more veterans and their families. The veteran is applying to DSS for benefits and DSS is referring them to our agency to establish eligibility for federal benefits first. This is a substantial cost savings to the county. We have had 92 referrals and 52 veterans and/or widows who have qualified for federal benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This results in a greater reduction in the cost of local Medicare benefits.
Continued participation in the Veterans Mentorship Program. A relationship has been developed between this office and the County jail in order to get assistance to veterans upon their arrest and possible entry into the County Veterans Treatment Court. This has been in existence since 2009. The program has graduated 32 veterans to date with no repeat offenders.
The VA National Cemetery Administration put out the requests for construction contracts for the new Western New York National Cemetery in the Town of Pembroke that is located on the corner of Indian Falls Road and NY Route 77 in the Town of Pembroke by the. The date to break ground has yet to be determined, but the time frame is later this year. They are still hoping to receive remains, cremains in the fall of 2019.
This office has been inundated with the requests for assistance in completing the newest Pre-need VA form 40-1007. This form is completed by any veteran and spouse to see if they qualify for burial in any National Cemetery prior to or after their deaths.
It is placed on the Veterans Service Agency website for any veteran or surviving spouse of a veteran to complete and send to the National Cemetery Administration.
This agency has been a new recipient to be awarded a DWYER PEER-PEER grant along with Orleans & Wyoming Counties. The total amount of the grant is $185.000.00 and Genesee County will get $80,000.00 throughout the next 12 months and it will go through the Genesee County Department of Health and we have contracted with the WNY Heroes to run our program for the Veterans of Genesee County. This organization has had a Peer-to-Peer program of their own and with the experience they have, they were the best choice for this agency to assist in this grant program. This program is funding will be used in order to get veterans back together and return into the social activities, such as camping, fishing, lunches, etc. not only with other veterans but also with their family members.
This agency is highly involved with the NYS Department of Labor Representative. Our veterans are experiencing a very high rate of unemployment. With the reduction in our military presence in Afghanistan possibly in the near future, there will be more veterans looking for work and we need to be able to provide them with assistance in finding employment and networking, referrals, and outreach.
This office has been in constant contact with the Batavia Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) social worker. This open line of communication allows each and every veteran in Genesee County to not only have the possible opportunity for NYS veterans’ benefits but also Veterans health benefits due to their military service.