Community Rallies To Support Veterans In Workshop Event

Representatives from Chautauqua County rallied together in support dozens of local veterans to raise awareness and offer solutions to problems and challenges that face veterans in our community.

Kristy Woodfield, Equal Justice Works Veterans Legal Corps fellow, received “2017 Chautauqua County Veterans Recognition Certificate” from the office of Vincent W. Horrigan, Chautauqua County Executive, presented by Gregory K. Carlson, director of the county Veterans Service agency. She was honored for her role in representing the Chautauqua County Veterans Coalition workshops, raising awareness about services available to veterans and their families.

At the event, volunteer attorneys provided free legal consultations to veterans. Charles DeAngelo, Mary Schiller, Lydia Caylor and Jonathon Bogey were a part of the legal team assisting veterans. Volunteer attorneys from Law New York included: Lynn Hartley, Kristy Woodfield and Carlton Hamann III. Amanda Brainard, Casey Schroder and Marika Koch also assisted veterans as AmeriCorps paralegals. Areas of expertise included housing/landlord tenant/foreclosures, public benefits (SNAP, Medicaid), social security, VA benefits/claims, wills, power of attorney, health care proxies, bankruptcy, debt issues, consumer law, employment law and worker’s compensation.

Mike Griffith, state Labor Department local employment representative, attended and provided a full range of employment service opportunities for veterans along with providing services, resources and incentives for hiring qualified veterans to businesses. Mark Mackey, a representative from the State University at Fredonia, Melissa Stormer, Jamestown Community College representative, and Michael Leonard of St. Bonaventure University attended. Participants from the Chautauqua County American Legion, Chautauqua Memorial Post 62, James S. Lemanski and Paul Oyer, county vice commanders, and Henry Link, past county commander, attended the workshop. Dan Kell, commander of John W. Tiffany Post 53, Marcello JR Rotunda, quartermaster, and Beth Ecker, secretary/treasurer of Auxiliary Post 53, hosted a table to recruit new members.

Mary and Jim Lanphere, AMVETS Auxiliary 726, Dept. N.Y., work to assist veterans and the community in many events, such as “Bags for Babies,” collecting new baby items for women veterans, donated to Women Vet Clinics/New York Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. Blue Star Mothers Susan Rowley and Ms. Fye were among many representatives of this growing organization, supporting and assisting current troops and their families.

Cindy Reidy, Dwyer coordinator at the county Veterans Service Agency, and Barbara Cessna of the Fenton History Center offered informational services to veterans. The Daughters of the American Revolution offered treats for veterans and their families. Connie Pilato shared about the DAR organization and tracking family history as it relates to the American Revolution.

Cummins Engine Inc. attended the workshop to discuss opportunities for veterans at the company. Cummins is recruiting veterans for employment opportunities and also participates in outreach for community endeavors and drives to gather goods to send to deployed military members.

Tracie Kaminski Lorenzo, Chautauqua County deputy clerk, attended and provided information at her booth regarding the “Return to Favor Program.” She is available to record discharge papers for veterans and provide information about the “Discount Card for Businesses” in Chautauqua County.

Josh Miller of Chautauqua Opportunities Inc. provided information regarding homeless prevention and strategies for home ownership. Karen Anderson, a registered nurse from the Buffalo VA, provided information on homeless prevention as well. The Robert Jackson Center’s “Defenders of Freedom Project” showed educational interviews during the workshop.

Greg Carlson, County Veterans Service Agency director, and David Adams and Michael Rauh, service officers, shared a booth containing numerous items, such as enrollment in VA health care, insight to filing claims for military disabilitie and information on filing pension claims. The agency advocates for veterans on state, local and federal levels, investigating benefits for which they may qualify.

Anthony Reitz and Kelly Riazzi from the Erie Vet Center had a booth and brought the Mobile Vet Center to support veterans with counseling services including those recovering from sexual trauma and bereavement.

Both the Jamestown VA Clinic and Warren VA Clinic sent representatives. Chautauqua County Health Department conducted free Hepatitis C testing provided by Health Department nurses; provided take home colon cancer screening tests provided by Cancer Services Program; provided CPR informational/practice clinics, distributed diabetes management tests; provided immunization information for adults and children; and distributed CHQ250 heart attack prevention information.

Heidi Raynor, Rachel Smith, Maya Ramos and Alexandria Raynor, volunteers, all represented Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care, which provides services to veterans in the community, including pinning ceremonies, symptom management and linkages to many resources.