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) into effect 14 FEB 19. This new process also opened up a new way of submitting a supplemental claim or what was called in the past a reconsideration claim by utilizing two new forms. Even though the process is somewhat new, the “RAPID” is non-existent. Also due to the Pandemic, appeals have been removed from the Regional office and placed the responsibility to the County VSO’s to conduct them as a Virtual Hearing at the office when they are scheduled. Also due to the current Pandemic situation, no reports come from the Regional Office as to how many claims have been submitted from this office since the last reporting period.
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 58 referrals and 25 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.
Over the past year, this office had 4464 contacts and has provided 5521 client services. We have completed 136 Veterans’ property tax exemptions. This number will increase due to the returning Active Duty Reservist/Guardsman.
Continue supporting the National Cemetery known as the “Western New York National Cemetery” located at NY Route 77 and the Indian Falls Road, Town of Pembroke, Genesee County by keeping in contact with our Federal, State Representatives and Local Legislature and providing assistance in preparation of the VA Form 40-10007(Pre-Need Application).
Since the opening of the Western New York National Cemetery in December 2020, They have been holding burials M-F ever since averaging 4-6 per day during the hours of 10:00 am to 3 pm.
A surrounding county Honor Guard also been established to render honors, counties so far that are participating are , Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, and Erie counties.
The WNYNC Memorial Council has been established with Bi-Laws and Board of Director’s and have obtained their 501c, but will “Piggy Back” with the WNY Heroes organization so they can accept donations while attempting to establish a bank account of their own.
The WNYNC Memorial Council also established the “Avenue of Flags” in which families donate their Burial Flag of a Veteran and the initial driveway of the cemetery is lined with 26 flag poles in which the flags are flown 24-7 from May through Veterans Day every year. There are only three (3) VA National Cemeteries authorized for this display and WNYNC is one of them. Donated flags are received at this office and also may be donated at the WNYNC during normal working hours M-F 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.
Continue and improve the Veterans Mentorship Program by increasing the number of Mentors. This has been in existence since 2009. We have graduated 48 veterans to date with no repeat offenders.
This agency also works with the NYS Department of Labor for jobs available to Veterans.
Continue to gain knowledge of what is available to veterans and their families by attending Service Officer training offered by the National Association of Veterans Service Officers and the New York State Veteran Service Officer Association.